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God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who showed his knowledge of God’s Word at an early age (Luke 2:46-47).

When we look at the previous uses of a word, it is as important to note where the words clusters in sections of scripture as it is to investigate it first usage. Since the Bible didn’t originally have paragraph marks, punctuation, or even spaces between words, they utilized different means to indicate thought content. One way to do so was with clusters of words in the same word family. Word families develop from root words. Noun, verb, adjective, and adverbs forms should be included along with additional words formed by the addition of prefixes and suffixes and when compounded with other words. The Word Study Concordance has a word family index that is useful.

For example, let’s look at the Greek word, menō. It occurs 120 times in the New Testament. It means to stay, abide, or remain. It’s first occurrence is in Matthew 10:11 which were part of the instructions (Matthew 10:5-15) Jesus gave to the twelve when he sent them to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and to heal the sick. Jesus told them that as they entered a town that they should inquire who in the town was worthy and abide or remain with them until they left town. The same basic information is recorded in the other synoptics (Mark 6:7-13 & Luke 9:1-6).

We certainly get a clear picture of what menō means in the first usage. However, as we continue to follow it through the other occurrences, we come to John 15 where it clusters occurring ten times in seven verses (4-11). Verse 16 also has an eighth use that puts the cherry on top.

John 15:1-17:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide [menō] in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide [menō] in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth [menō] in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide [menō] not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide [menō] in me, and my words abide [menō] in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue [menō] ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide [menō] in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide [menō] in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain [menō] in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain [menō]: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. 17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

That certainly adds more depth to menō than just staying in someone’s home. When the terms cluster like this, the section is as important as the first usage when trying to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of it. In Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics, J Edwin Hartill discusses what he calls the full mention principle. He defines it as the principle by which God declares His full mind on a subject. Although I am of the mind to call it the extended mention principle, instead of the full mention principle, for I am not so sure God ever declares His full mind on any particular subject in any one particular place in His Word.

I do agree that this principle is where God gathers the scattered fragments that have to do with a particular truth and puts them into one exhaustive statement. These all-encompassing, exhaustive texts handle the subjects most completely. I Corinthians 13 is such a text on love. I Corinthians 15 is such a text on the resurrection. Hebrews 11 is such a text on the manifestation of faith and James 3 is such a text on the tongue. Psalms 119 is also such a text on the Word of God and how to use it to build one’s relationship with God.

So, when the context of a verse does not give us the information we read, we turn to look at previous uses. Of course, when we do a word study properly, we not only look at previous uses, but at subsequent uses also. As we do so we will find that words with multiple usages (i.e. meanings) may become apparent very quickly.