What does “trow” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

The term in question appears a solitary time in the text of the Authorized Version, Luke 17:9. We read it in its context: “[3] Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. [4] And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him. [5] And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. [6] And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. [7] But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? [8] And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? [9] Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. [10] So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Christ is addressing forgiveness in the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant. Whereas the Jewish rabbis (religious teachers) of the day taught someone was to be forgiven only three times, the Lord Jesus instructed His disciples to forgive someone as much as seven times in a day. Since the Apostles recognize this as a high standard being established, they seek more spiritual light so they can practice it in their own lives (verse 5). Therefore, the Lord issues The Parable of the Unprofitable Servants (verses 7-10). Basically, in this account, the servant is not permitted to eat and drink until he has first served his master with food and drink. The master “by and by” (immediately) commanded the servant to prepare food for him (the master) instead of for himself (the servant). Christ asks a rhetorical question: “Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not” (verse 9).

“Trow” (long /o/, rhymes with “go”) means “think, believe, trust.” In modern speech, we would say, “I do not think so.” To paraphrase verse 9, “I do not believe the master will thank the servant, for the servant was merely performing his duty!” Likewise, Jesus was directing Messianic Jews to forgive each other, for He as the Master had just commanded them and they were to obey. They were doing nothing special or extraordinary, just following their Lord’s orders, doing their bare minimum. For more information about forgiveness, especially as it sits in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, see our related study “true forgiveness” linked at the end of this study.

By the way, “trow” is an old English word—going back at least 1,100 years. It is related an Old Norse word “trua,” the German “trauen,” and the Gothic “trauan,” all meaning “to trust, believe.” The Greek word (“dokeo”) has also been rendered “think” 33 times and “suppose” seven times, among other translations and contexts in the King James Bible. For example, “it seemed good” in Acts 15:25,28; “supposed” in Mark 6:49 and Luke 24:37; “seemeth” (Acts 25:27); “thinkest” in Matthew 17:25 and Matthew 22:17; “seemed” in Galatians 2:6,9; and “thought” in John 11:13 and John 13:29.

Also see:
» What is true forgiveness?
» Why forgive “seventy times seven?”
» What is the difference between “remission” and “forgiveness?”