Scriptural Meaning of the Word Endowed

John W. Welch‘s discussion of the scriptural meaning of the word endowed is found in a 1993 Ensign article1:

Hebrew Scriptures 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.

Sources:

  1. Welch, John W. “New Testament Word Studies”. April 1993. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 17 December 2008.
  2. “Endue”. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. 2 Vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971. 1:863.
  3. Jessee, Dean C. Ed. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984. 105.
  4. Bauer et al. Greek-English Lexicon. 263.

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  1. DH’s avatar

    Greg,
    Cool little post. I’ve read similar things to this. I like the Spanish word for endowment, investidura, because it has “invest” right in it and often makes me think along these lines.

    When I read of these kinds of things it only adds to my testimony of the truthfulness of the church. So many of us (even those that have read extensively) have only scratched the surface. The more you read the more you realize that it all fits together and it’s true!
    Thanks for the post
    DH
    http://www.fromthedust.org

  2. Greg’s avatar

    Hi DH – thanks for your comments. I’m jealous though – I have very little language skills! There is so much to be found studying the language of the scriptures. I remember President Hinckley saying something to the effect that he developed “a love affair with the scriptures” and the word of God.

  3. Jeremy’s avatar

    I have noticed much confusion among members of the Church when it comes to Luke 24:49 (and it may stem from the faulty views of a few early LDS scholars). Some believe Christ is here referring to the endowment like we receive in the temple today. Notably, this “endument” Christ speaks of deals with the bestowal of the Holy Ghost.

    So, the next time someone gets baptized in your Ward, could you congratulate them on recently being endowed?

    Word-play…..

  4. Greg’s avatar

    Hi Jeremy – Thanks for pointing this out. What a great concept. We seem to segment or compartmentalize the various ordinances of the gospel – (at least I know I have) – and for good reason, I suppose. I seem to remember President Spencer W. Kimball’s statement that may be applicable here. It was something to the effect that when a person is confirmed, they are commanded to receive the Holy Ghost. “He was not obligated to seek you out.” That’s a sobering statement to contemplate.

    28 Dec 08 Update – I thought I should clarify my response above since it may leave some the wrong impression. When Jeremy wrote that “Some believe Christ is here referring to the endowment like we receive in the temple today”, I believe the Savior’s reference to being “endued with power from on high” in Luke 24:49 is a direct reference to the ordinances of the temple and all that the word “endue” or “endow” may mean in the fullest sense of the word (see, for example Temple Endowment).

    President Kimball’s statement suggests an ongoing obligation on the part of the recipient to seek for the “unspeakable” gift of the Holy Ghost (D&C 121:26). That the endowment is a process is suggested by Elder David A. Bednar’s talk in the April 2007 general conference. In part, he said:

    The spiritual rebirth described in this verse [i.e. Mosiah 5:7] typically does not occur quickly or all at once, it is an ongoing process – not a single event. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience” (Bednar, David A. “Ye Must Be Born Again“. May 2007. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 20 December 2008).

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