Greek (oikumene)

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The phrase “him near to you” is a literal rendering of the Greek word it comes from. The word neighbor in the King James Version implies a person near (neigh), and our ancient ancestors did not conceive of that including aliens, or outsiders, under normal circumstances.

πλησίον (4139), with the Article (Accusative τὸν at Rom. 13:9 and Gal. 5:14; Dative τῷ at Rom. 13:10 and 15:2; Genitive τοῦ at Eph. 4:25) appears five times in Paul (Moulton-Geden), is a Substantive, and is always translated “he near to you”, or something similar, but in the A.V. is simply “neighbor”. The form πλησίος, which is both an adverb and a preposition, means “near, close to...” (L & S) and itself is a derivative of the adverb πέλας which is “near, hard by, close...” (L & S). Either word, πέλας or πλησίος, used as a Substantive, was used to denote “one’s neighbor”, and L & S gives examples of this from secular writers who used either ὁ πλησίος or ὁ πέλας. Yet in secular Greek there are other words used by contemporary secular authors and in the N.T. translated “neighbor”: γείτων (1069), which is explicitly “one of the same land, a neighbour...” (L & S) and is found at Luke 14:12; 15:6, 9; and John 9:8, and περίοικος (4040) which is “dwelling round...οἱ περίοικοι neighbours...” (L & S) and found at Luke 1:58.

While it can surely be demonstrated, that in Palestine and throughout the  οἰκουμένη (the Greco-Roman world), one’s neighbor was most often, and was expected to be, of one’s own tribe, that this is the true meaning of  πλησίον in the New Testament is evident in other ways, besides the use of γείτων or περίοικος where it was appropriate.

First, at Acts 7:27, an account of Exod. 2:11-14, one Israelite is referred to as τὸν πλησίον (A.V. “neighbor”) in relation to another Israelite, but certainly not in reference to the dead Egyptian - yet Moses, as evidenced in the Exodus account, could not have known that these men lived in proximity to one another, as we understand the term “neighbor” today. He only could have known that the men had a tribal relationship. Now some may think this conjectural, but it surely is the circumstance.