Syntax Search Example: What “Qualifies” another Word?

As folks who have followed these syntax search examples know, I’ve been in a home group Bible study that is going over First Thessalonians. This has served as the background for many of these syntax search examples.

In the process of doing this, I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to ask different questions of the text.

So when the study group was in 1Th 4.15, and when the word παρουσία occurs (yet again), I asked myself, “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Why did I ask that question? First, we need to define Qualifier:

Qualifier: A Qualifier is a modifier that in some way limits or constrains the scope of the word it modifies. Common examples of qualifiers are words in the genitive and dative case, and also negative particles functioning at the word group level.

Porter, S., O’Donnell, M. B., Reed, J. T., Tan, R., & (2006; 2006). The
Syntactically Analyzed Greek New Testament Glossary
. Logos Research Systems, Inc.

So a Qualifier limits scope. In terms of παρουσία, which can be translated “return” or perhaps “coming”, when it occurs with a qualifier the qualifier limits the scope of the coming. Thus in phrases like “coming of the Lord”, the phrase “of the Lord” acts as the qualifier. It’s not just any “coming” or “return”, it is the return of the Lord. Just like in 1Th 4.15:

So when I ask the question “What other things qualify παρουσία?” I”m really asking “Are there any other similar sorts of ‘return’ or ‘coming’ phrases in the New Testament?” After all, to understand more how the word παρουσία is functioning here, it could help to see it operating in similar syntactic contexts — to see how παρουσία stands in relationship with other instances of words that modify it.

So I put together this video (Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound) to show how I constructed the query to find qualifiers of παρουσία.

After searching, ask yourself the question again: “What other things qualify παρουσία?” Now you have data to use when considering this question. As you evaluate the hits, you can ask further questions:

  • Are there any qualifiers that seem to repeat (hint: “his”, “of the Lord”, “of the son of man”, “of the Lord Jesus Christ”)?
  • What are the unique qualifiers (hint: 1Co 16.17; 2Co 7.6; Php 2.12, etc.)?
  • Is there anything that would allow one to say that the use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 is the same as or different from other syntactic usages?
  • If so, is 1Th 4.15 the use typical or non-typical?
  • How does the general understanding of the use of παρουσία with a qualifier in the New Testament affect how we look at the specific use of παρουσία in 1Th 4.15 (or does it)?

Here’s a link to the video: Flash, 8.5 megs, with sound

But note well: If you’d rather not go through the hoops of constructing the search as described in the video … just right-click the Greek word and run the Bible Word Study report. Check out the Grammatical Relationships section. One of the standard word relationships searched for is that of qualification. So this search is done automatically for you in the Bible Word Study report! No assembly required! And it even groups like qualifiers together, so you can see what repeats and what is unique just by looking at the result section.

Also note: A future post will show how to make this query even more generic and search for some things a little differently. So keep comin’ back!


  1. Rick,
    I am new to libronix and I have Scholars Library OC.
    I was wondering if you can help. I am at Colossians 1:10 and where the scripture say’s “every good work” I tried to have libronix find what the Bible say’s are “good works” by doing a search and by looking in other places but I’ve had no luck.
    My question is, what do I need to do to make a list of what the Bible calls “good works”.
    I am trying to find out how to do this only because I consider trying to find out what THE “good work” ARE, a (Topic Study) and as I said I cannot figure out how to do it.
    Thank You,
    GOD Bless,

  2. Hi George.
    Regarding your question, here are a few places you could start.
    1. Bible Speed Search. It is the little magnifying glass icon to the right of the word ‘Search’ in your toolbar. Open it up. Type in ‘good works’ (no quotes) to find all verses with the words “good” and “works” in them. If you use quotes, you’ll find all the verses where the words are next to each other. This is one place you could start.
    2. Bible Word Study. On your home page, in the “Study Word” section, try typing ‘work’ in the box and hitting the ‘Go’ button. This isn’t on “good works” but it is on “work”. You will be brought to dictionaries that discuss the word, you’ll be able to see the different Greek and Hebrew words translated “work”. Click on the word in the center of the diagram and you can run some concordances as well — these will be broken down by underlying Greek and Hebrew word. Click on the Greek or Hebrew word itself in that concordance listing to do further word study on the underlying Greek or Hebrew term.
    3. Topic Browser. This is in the View menu. In the ‘Find’ box, type “good works”. This will search your library (or the set of books selected in the ‘In’ drop-down) for where “good works” are discussed.
    Hope it helps!

  3. Rick,
    Nice example of practical use for syntax searching. Sorry for the belated comment, but I am working on understanding the syntax tools and I was wondering why you had to repeat the search criteria after reversing the string the first time? That is, why, was this part necessary?:
    Modifier 3
    Word 3 — lexeme_plain = “????????”
    Modifier 4: Highlight — category = Qualifier
    Modifier 5
    Modifier 6: Highlight — category = Qualifier
    Word 4 — lexeme_plain = “????????”