John W. Welch‘s discussion of the scriptural meaning of the word endowed is found in a 1993 Ensign article1:
What is the meaning of the word endued or endowed? In Luke 24:49, shortly after his resurrection, Jesus told his Apostles, “I send the promise of my Father upon you,” but they were to remain in Jerusalem, “until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Emphasis added; see also Acts 1:4–5, 8.) The Greek word in the text is enduo.
Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (published in 1828) noted that the English word endue (or indue) “coincides nearly in signification with endow, that is, to put on, to furnish, … to put on something; to invest; to clothe.” The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary notes that endue means “to put on as a garment; to clothe or cover.”2 Indeed, Joseph Smith’s diary uses the spellings endument and endowment interchangeably, as when he prayed in December 1835 that all the elders might “receive an endument, in thy house.”3
The Greek word enduo has two main meanings. The first is “to dress, to clothe someone,” or “to clothe oneself in, to put on.” Second, the word can also be used figuratively, meaning to take on “characteristics, virtues, intentions.”4
Thus, the endowment is a dressing not in ordinary clothes, but “with power from on high” (Luke 24:49) and in the virtues and intentions of God. It involves the opportunity to “put on (enedusasthe) Christ” (Galatians 3:27), so that “this mortal [can] put on (endusasthai) immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:53.) It is possible to see both literal and figurative significance in the word enduo in connection with the desire of the pure in heart to be encircled in the robes of God’s righteousness.
As suggested by the quotes above, the scriptures – as well as early documents from the history of the LDS church – provide insight into the meaning of the words endowed or indued. Other statements yield additional insight into the temple endowment ceremony as well as the divine origin of the endowment.
- Welch, John W. “New Testament Word Studies”. April 1993. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 17 December 2008.↩
- “Endue”. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 2 Vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971. 1:863.↩
- Jessee, Dean C. Ed. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984. 105.↩
- Bauer et al. Greek-English Lexicon. 263.↩