The Biblical Meanings of RECEIVE



Most Christians do not take the time to study the Greek meanings of certain words used often in the Bible.  As we all know, most Christians do not even study the Word of God, let alone the Greek meanings of different words in the Word.


In this teaching, we are going to study the word ‘Receive’ and its different meanings AS IT PERTAINS TO THE HOLY GHOST FIELD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.  Much of the misunderstanding and wrong interpretation of God's Word and the Holy Spirit in the Bible results from not knowing that the word ‘Receive’ has at least two different meanings when the context is referring to the subject of the Holy Spirit.  We are going to focus on those two meanings and give you illustrations of the extreme importance of where and why these two different meanings are used.


Before we begin, it is necessary for you to understand that the Greek word for ‘Receive’ has seventeen different Greek word-forms!  We will focus on the two forms below as it relates to WHAT field? . . . . and in WHAT Testament?  In this teaching, we will not delve into the Old Testament.


When trying to understand pneuma hagion (holy spirit), it is of utmost importance to master this teaching.  It is actually a very simple but most important teaching.  There are two meanings to the word ‘Receive’:


Dechomai -- is subjective reception.  This means it is receiving from God spiritually within oneself.  When you are born again of God's Spirit, you receive spiritually in a manner where the word received is stated as dechomai - objectively.  The difference between the other usage of ‘Receive’ is much different in its definition.  Let's take a look at the second Greek meaning of ‘Receive’:


Lambano -- this means that you receive the spirit of God subjectively into manifestation in the senses world (speaking in tongues).  Basically, these two definitions are in reference to receiving the Holy Spirit.  Let's go to some examples to show the importance of the difference between these two words.


As mentioned, most people do not understand that many English words, when translated into Greek, have a number of different meanings.  By not understanding when a Greek word is Dechomai or Lambano, it is very easy not to understand and not to rightly divide the Word of God.  The following examples will illustrate this clearly.


Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: -- Acts 8: 14


You must be able to understand that there are two ways to receive holy spirit and Philip did minister the Holy Spirit to these people at Samaria.  But to understand the meaning of this verse and why Peter and John came down to Samaria, you need to understand the word “received”.  This word used here in the Greek is ‘dechomai’.  This means that they were born again and received God's gift of holy spirit within themselves.  However, they did not manifest outwardly the holy spirit.  What does this mean?  It means they did not speak in tongues after they were born again.  It's that simple.


When Peter and John heard this, they decided to go to Samaria to make sure that those believers lambanoed holy spirit.  That means that before they (Peter and John) arrived, they (the Samaritans) did not speak in tongues.  But Peter and John instructed them more fully as how to manifest the holy spirit into operation.  Take a look at verse 15.


Who, when they [Peter and John] were come down, prayed for them [the Samaritans], that they might receive the Holy Ghost: -- Acts 8: 15


You must take close notice that the word ‘receive’ in the Greek has now changed to ‘lambano’.  Peter and John made the trip to Samaria and prayed for those believers that they might lambano holy spirit which means to speak in tongues.  This is the major difference between the two Greek words for ‘Receive’.  Let's stay with the record.


(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them:  only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) – Acts 8: 16


Who was not fallen upon any of them?  The Holy Spirit was not fallen upon any of them into manifestation.  Only they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and had received (dechomai – objectively) the holy spirit within themselves.


Then [Peter and John] laid they their  hands on them, and they received [lambanoed] the holy ghost. – Acts 8: 17


[Now notice that there is a second problem when the word holy spirit is capitalized or not.  I will simply mention for now that the GIFT of holy spirit is not capitalized.  It is the giver which is God -- that is where Holy Spirit is capitalized.  That's another teaching.]


Now take a look at verse 17 above.  Do you see the word ‘received’?  It says they received the holy ghost.  Well, what could they have received?  They already received (dechomai) the holy spirit when they got born again.  Again, the word ‘received’ is the Greek word lambano - to receive into manifestation.  Manifestation means outward -- something that you can see and usually hear.  In this verse, it means that after Peter and John laid their hands on the Samaritans, they were then able to speak in tongues.


Do you see the difference in the importance of rightly dividing both of these words?  We will go through another example because the Bible is loaded with them.  At the end of this teaching, I will give you a chart which will show you where dechomai and lambano is used throughout the Bible.  If you are wise, you will mark a small ‘l’ or ‘d’ next to each word ‘receive’ so that you will be able to rightly divide God's Word.


Let's go to another example which is also found in the book of Acts chapter 19.  Here we have a quite similar incident where Paul had arrived at Ephesus and found a few disciples.  A great believer named Apollos taught these believers as much of the Word of God as he knew.  You can’t go beyond what you are taught.  Let's take a look at chapter 19 beginning with verse one.


And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at [in] Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus:  and finding certain disciples,  He said unto them, Have ye received [lambano] the [scratch ‘the’] Holy Ghost since ye believed [upon believing]?  And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.  And he [Paul] said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized?  And they said, Unto John's baptism.  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance [water], saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him [John], that is, on Christ Jesus.  When they heard this  [what Apollos taught], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [and dechomaied holy spirit].  And [But] when Paul had laid his  hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.  -- Acts 19: 1-6


There is a lot to learn from these six Scriptures.  This situation is very similar to our first example.  Notice towards the end of the verses that Apollos could not teach beyond what he had been taught.  He was familiar with John's water baptism and during this process, these disciples were still able to get born again and receive holy spirit.  But it is so simple to see that they were not able to lambano Holy Spirit.  In fact, at one point, they told Paul that they did not even hear of a Holy Spirit.  Paul was able to discern the situation quickly and he asked them, as already mentioned, whether they had received (lambano into manifestation) Holy Spirit.  He was asking them if they were able to speak in tongues.  They never even heard of such a thing, but when Paul laid his hands on them and prayed to God for them, take a look at what happened. 


They not only spoke in tongues, they prophesied also.  You see that Paul was very well instructed in the holy spirit field and surely God gave him revelation, word of knowledge and word of wisdom, as to what to do to correct and improve this situation.  Again, they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ but only via John's water baptism.  This allowed them to objectivity receive the Holy Ghost (dechomai).  But Paul knew the great power that we still have today when we speak in tongues.  So he made sure that these people not only were able to dechomai but to be able to lambano into manifestation the Holy Spirit. 


These are the two great meanings of the word ‘Receive’ in the Bible that must be understood if you are ever to rightly divide God’s Word and understand the Holy Spirit field.


We today, as Christians, do not really understand the power that is in the manifestation of speaking in tongues.  It was once said to me that when we speak in tongues, it is like a ball of fire rolling down the street.  For some reason, I never forgot that illustration.  When we speak in tongues, we build ourselves up spiritually.  Our spirit teaches our mind, so that the stronger we are spiritually, the more our minds can receive revelation from the true God.  When we study God's Word, we strengthen our mind only.  Now combine our study of the Word with speaking in tongues, and you can see clearly that ball of fire rumbling down the street, can't you?  It's really something and all it takes is for us to believe and to act on what the Word of God says and we will absolutely see results.  Sometimes it takes God a little while to show us those results.  Why?  Because He knows the exact right moment in time when something should take place. 


Before I give you the chart I promised you, let’s summarize the two Greek words we studied - DECHOMAI  AND LAMBANO.  It is very simple, but you must know where lambano is used in the Bible and where dechomai is used.  The chart I will give you gives you EVERY USAGE OF THESE Greek words in the New Testament.


From the examples given in this teaching, your mind should be crystal clear as to the differences between the two (2) words used for ‘Receve’ and the importance of discerning them properly. 


II Timothy 2: 15 -- Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  [emphasis added]


It is God’s Will and my will for you that you benefit greatly  by studying and marking every usage of dechomai and lambano in your Bible.  It does not take very long.  God bless you – you are God’s best.


[See Chart Below]






A. Dechomai - subjective reception:




     Matthew 10:14, 40 (used 4 times), 41 (1st and 3rd); 11:14; 18:5 (twice)


     Mark 4:20; 6:11; 9:37 (4 times); 10:15


     Luke 8:13, 40; 9:5, 11, 48 (4 times), 53; 10:8, 10, 38; 15:2; 16:4, 9; 18:17; 19:6


     John 4:45


     Acts 2:41; 3:21; 7:38, 59; 8:14; 11:1; 15:4; 16:21; 17:7, 11; 18:27; 21:17;  22:5, 18; 28:7, 21, 30


     Romans 16:2


     I Corinthians 2:14


     II Corinthians 6:1, 17; 7:15; 8:4; 11:16


     Galatians 4:14


     Philippians 2:29; 4:18


     Colossians 4:10 (2nd)


     I Thessalonians 1:6; 2:13 (2nd)


     II Thessalonians 2:10


     I Timothy 5:19


     Hebrews 11:17, 31; 12:6


     James 1:21; 2:25


     III John 9, 10



B. Lambano - objective reception into manifesta­tion or evidence, possible only after dechomai:



    Matthew 7:8; 10:8, 41 (2nd, 4th); 13:20 (2nd); 17:24; 19:29; 20:7, 9, 10 (twice), 11; 21:22, 34; 23:14; 25:16, 18, 20, 22, 24


    Mark 4:16; 7:4; 10:30; 11:24; 12:2, 40; 15:23; 16:19


  Luke 6:34 (twice); 9:51; 11:10; 15:27; 16:25; 18:30; 19:12, 15; 20:47; 23:41


    John 1:11, 12, 16; 3:11, 27, 32, 33; 4:36; 5:34, 41, 43 (twice), 44; 6:21; 7:23, 39; 10:18; 12:48; 13:20 (4 times), 30; 14:3, 17; 16:14, 24; 17:8; 18:3; 19:30; 20:22


    Acts 1: 8, 9; 2:33, 38; 3:5; 7:53; 8:15, 17, 19; 9:19; 10:16, 43, 47; 16:24; 17:15; 19:2; 20:24, 35; 26:10, 18; 28:2


    Romans 1:5, 27; 4:11; 5:11, 17; 8:15 (twice); 11:15; 13:2; 14:1, 3; 15:7 (twice)


    I Corinthians 2:12; 3:8, 14; 4:7 (3 times); 9:24; 11:23; 14:5; 15:1, 3


    II Corinthians 11:4 (twice), 24


    Galatians 1:9, 12; 3:2, 14; 4:5 


    Philippians 4:9, 15


    Colossians 2:6; 3:24; 4:10 (1st), 17


    I Thessalonians 2:13 (1st); 4:1


    II Thessalonians 3: 6


    I Timothy 3:16; 4:3, 4


    Philemon 12; 17


    Hebrews 2:2; 6:7; 7:5, 8, 9; 9:15; 10:26; 11:8, 11, 13, 35; 12:28


    James 1:7, 12; 3:1; 4:3; 5:7

    I Peter 4:10

    II Peter 1:17


    I John 2:27; 3:22; 5:9


II John 4; 8; 10


III John 8


Revelation 2:17, 27; 3:3; 4:11; 5:12; 14:9, 11; 17:12 (twice); 18:4; 19:20; 20:4