July 3, 2024
Ministry Voice

Exploring the Meaning of Alabastron in Greek



Parts of Speech: Noun Neuter

Alabastron Definition

NAS Word Usage – Total: 4

  1. a box made of alabaster in which unguents are preserved

The ancients considered alabaster to be the best material inwhich to preserve their ointments. Breaking the box, probablymeans breaking the seal of the box.


What is the significance of the term “Alabastron” in Greek within the context of the Bible?

In the context of the Bible, the term “Alabastron” holds special significance, providing insight into cultural practices and values of the time. The word “Alabastron” is of Greek origin and refers to a small container, typically made of alabaster, used for holding precious oils, perfumes, or ointments.

In the New Testament, the term “Alabastron” is notably mentioned in the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany. In the Gospel of Mark (Mark 14:3-9) and the Gospel of John (John 12:1-8), a woman, identified as Mary of Bethany, is described as breaking an Alabastron of expensive perfume and anointing Jesus with it. This act of devotion and reverence towards Jesus sparked controversy among the disciples, with Judas Iscariot questioning the wastefulness of using such costly oil.

The significance of the term “Alabastron” in this biblical account lies in the symbolism of the act itself. The Alabastron, as a container of precious perfume, represents sacrifice, generosity, and worship. By breaking the Alabastron and anointing Jesus with its contents, Mary demonstrated her deep love and faith in Jesus, disregarding material value in favor of spiritual devotion.

Furthermore, the use of the term “Alabastron” emphasizes the extravagance and purity of the gift offered to Jesus. Alabaster, known for its beauty and rarity, symbolizes the sincerity and wholeheartedness of Mary’s gesture. Just as the Alabastron held valuable perfume, Mary’s actions held deep significance and meaning in her relationship with Jesus.

What is the historical background of “Alabastron” and its cultural relevance in ancient Greek society?

In the ancient Greek society, the term “Alabastron” held significant cultural relevance and historical background. The word “Alabastron” originates from the Greek word “ἀλάβαστρον,” which refers to a small container or vessel commonly used for storing perfumes or oils. These vessels were typically made of alabaster, a type of white or translucent stone that was highly valued for its beauty and durability.

During ancient times, alabaster was a luxurious material reserved for the elite and wealthy members of society. The Alabastron containers were not only functional but also served as status symbols, reflecting the social standing and sophistication of their owners. These vessels were intricately designed and often adorned with elaborate engravings or paintings, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistic skills of the craftsmen.

In the biblical context, the term “Alabastron” is famously associated with a story involving Jesus Christ and a woman who anoints him with expensive perfume. This narrative is found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, where a woman is described as breaking an Alabastron of costly perfume and anointing Jesus with it, an act of great reverence and humility.

The use of the Alabastron in this biblical account symbolizes the woman’s deep devotion and reverence towards Jesus, highlighting the significance of selfless acts of worship and sacrificial giving. The gesture of anointing with expensive perfume from an Alabastron conveys a sense of honor, respect, and love towards the recipient, portraying a spiritual significance beyond its material value.

How is the concept of “Alabastron” portrayed in biblical narratives and teachings?

The term “Alabastron” originates from the Greek word “ἀλάβαστρον” (alabaston), which refers to a vessel made of alabaster stone, often used to store precious oils or perfumes in ancient times. This beautiful and costly container has significant symbolism in the Bible, especially in the portrayal of devotion, sacrifice, and worth.

In the New Testament, the concept of the Alabastron is prominently featured in the story of a woman who anoints Jesus with expensive ointment. This narrative, found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, highlights the act of pouring costly perfume from an Alabastron on Jesus as an expression of deep reverence and love.

The Gospel of Mark describes how the woman breaks the Alabastron to pour the ointment on Jesus, signifying a complete surrender and offering of her most precious possession to honor him. Despite criticism from some present at the event for the perceived wastefulness of such an extravagant gesture, Jesus defends her, recognizing her act as a profound symbol of devotion and understanding the true value of her sacrifice.

In this context, the Alabastron serves as a poignant symbol of genuine worship and sacrificial giving, illustrating the essence of selfless love and dedication to God. It conveys the idea of offering the best of what one has, without reservation or concern for personal gain, solely out of a heart filled with adoration and faith.

In biblical teachings, the Alabastron represents the importance of wholehearted devotion, the willingness to give generously of oneself, and the understanding that true worship involves valuing God above all earthly possessions. It encourages believers to examine their motivations and prioritize spiritual treasures over material wealth, highlighting the transformative power of authentic love and reverence in one’s relationship with God.


In conclusion, the word “Alabastron” in Greek holds significant meaning in the context of the Bible. It refers to a specific type of vessel used for storing precious ointments or perfumes, symbolizing devotion, reverence, and sacrifice. Understanding the cultural and historical significance of this term enriches our comprehension of various biblical passages, shedding light on the extravagant gestures of love and worship towards God. By delving deeper into the linguistic roots and contextual usage of “Alabastron,” we gain a clearer understanding of the spiritual significance behind these ancient practices, strengthening our connection to the timeless messages of faith and devotion conveyed in the Bible.

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