Sheer Speculation on the Greek Word: Phobetron

Poster from 'Terminator: Rise of the Machines'

Every time I read God’s Word, I stumble across phrases, dates, passages, and sometimes individual ‘words’ that leap out at me. This morning, it happened again.

I’ve been working my way, haltingly I’ll admit, through the 90 day reading plan created by Zondervan. This quick and challenging plan permits the reader to consume God’s ‘bread’ every quarter of the year, from Genesis to Revelation.

This morning, I began the assigned chapters, beginning in Luke 20, but (as often happens), my brain applied the brakes early into the assignment when I came across this phrase in chapter 21:

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21: 10-11 ESV)

Now, I’ve put the word ‘terrors’ in bold, because that is the word that caused me to stumble and apply the mental brakes. For the first time while reading this chapter, I asked myself (and God) what that word actually means.

Today is September 13, and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 has just passed, so the word ‘terror’ and with it ‘terrorism’ and ‘war on terror’ are fresh in my brain. So, what does Jesus want us to understand when he says to his disciples and those of us living today (for these are events to occur in the last days) to watch for ‘terrors’ and ‘great signs from heaven’?

The Greek word translated ‘terrors’ is a curious word indeed. In fact, it quite surprised me when I looked it up. It is phobetron (pronounced FOE-bay-tron). According to Strong’s (G5400), phobetron implies ‘that which causes terror or fright’. It comes from the root word ‘phobeo’ (from which we derive our English word ‘phobia’). Phobeo is that which causes fear, or it can be something that instills great respect or reverence. It can instill awe or amazement, or simply compel us to flee for our lives.

Perhaps, you also were struck by the ‘tron’ ending of phobetron. Curious, isn’t it? Today, we automatically think of a machine when we hear or read a -tron ending. Electron, Neutron, cyclotron, magnetron, cosmotron, dynotron, even the movie ‘Tron’ all speak to scientific machines of high intelligence and design–computerized machines.

Now, is it possible that phobetron implies one of both of two possible options? One: A rise of terrorism across the globe that hurls mankind into a seemingly endless war? Two: A rise of intelligent and even sentient computers that may or may not be mixed with human components, leading to the creation of a most terrifying machine that both causes us to stand in awe, while also compelling us to flee for our very lives.

Phobetron only appears in the Bible once. Just once. Luke is the only one whom the Holy Spirit inspired to use this curious word. One small word that may imply many, horrendous events yet to come. The rise of machines. A ‘singularity’ of sorts. Think of this next time you use an ATM with its winking camera eye fixed upon you. Or whenever you read of our police departments using unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol cities. Some of them capable of carrying offensive weaponry. Think of it the next time you watch the movie, Terminator.

Phobetron. You know, if I wanted to be very speculative, then I might also mention flying machines as a source of terror and I would connect this ‘sight’ with the phrase that follows it, ‘great signs from heaven.’  FROM heaven? Not IN heaven, but FROM?

I’ll end it here. You get the idea. This is, after all, just speculation.

Have a wonderful day, and remember that no matter what phobetron terrors may come our way, we are safe and secure in the hands of our Father in Heaven. Jesus Christ knew about these things from the foundation of the world, and He is our PEACE. Trust in Him. Always.


  1. Wow; great speculation. Phobetron has become the latest word added to my vocabulary; thanks.

  2. Great insight. Thank you for posting.

  3. You may like to read Ecclesiastes 7 v 29, where the word Inventions is used.

    Inventions: # 2810 A Warlike Machine, or mental machination–engine, invention

    What this is conveying is that the human being itself has looked to make itself a warlike machine.

    I am not suggesting mixing human and machine together either, as so many focus their attention on, I mean where a human being is nothing more than a programed warlike machine itself.

    These outward machines that so many look at, are only an outer witness to what the human being itself has made of itself, machinelike, and of course warlike.

    Just another brick in the wall so to speak, in that tower of babel.

    Ask around and see how many people can tell you the last time they had an original thought.

    Be prepared to get a glazed stare.

    Take care and I hope the verse helps you.



  4. Minds at work, great thinking.. Enjoyed reading it. The Bible has always been ahead of the times, it is wise to read with an open mind about some things we can not explain.

  5. The word phobetron can also be found in Is 19:17 in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Liddell-Scott Greek-English lexicon gives it the following meanings: “scarecrow, bugbear, terror/s”, and can also be found in Hippocrates and Plato apart from the two verses in the Bible. BAGD, the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker, lexicon calls it a “terrible sight or event, horror.”

    Of course you are speculating; however, for those who take this seriously, it is an exegetical fallacy called “Semantic Anachronism.” That is when a late word such as “terrorism” or even “tron” is read back into earlier literature, while the modern meanings of the word were not envisaged by the New Testament writers. So, to take a word with a certain meaning today, and then to read it into a word that was used 2000 years ago with today’s meaning, is simply bad exegesis.

  6. Lexicon Strongs G5400 a derivative of G5399 Phobetron- that which strikes terror, a terror, (cause of) fright. Take this and read Daniel 2:43 (referring to the toes/feet in Daniel 2:42 which Jesus smites in Daniel 2:34)
    Daniel 2:43 states- And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men; but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

    My question is who are THEY? They are not human because they mingle(Strongs H1933 come into being,become,be) themselves with humans. Could this give new light on alien abductions.

  7. The word that God inspired Luke to write was actually Phobetra, not Phobetron.

  8. The problems with just using a strongs is that it only lists the base word, not the modified words used in diferent instances. A great free program is Interlinear scripture analyzer – it allows you to see the exact word inspired in each instance, you can the use google to do searches to narrow down the exact meanings.

  9. I went one further… I looked up the suffix “tron” and it reads as follows:

    Greek: a suffix referring to a device, tool, or instrument;

    Which would add meaning to the word phobe-tron Literal translation: a device, tool, or instrument which causes fear, terror, or fright…

    Therefore, in today’s world a phobetron could be a machine, drone, WMD etc… even a cyborg… it is not specified but only translated as terrors (unnamed) and left for the peoples of the age that it speaks to translate and understand as it happens…

    And that is good exegesis…

  10. Camilla, the problem still remains that the word Phobetron was not used by Luke, it was Phobetra. The “tron” suffix is not used, the “tra” suffix is, which denotes “place”, so when read in context…. “fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven”, perhaps it is simply referring to a place where there the terrors will be seen, in the sky, since the greek word translated as “heaven” also means simply the sky, and the word translated as “from” means also “in” or “out-of”. The Bible says the return of Christ in the clouds will terrify.

  11. In looking further into the suffix “tra”, it seems to aslo mean “that which causes”, so it could simply be saying “that which causes terror”…

  12. NAT thanks for the web site. I have spent the last hour looking up phobetra and it depends on where you go. I doubt that its Christ return because the next verses talks about being pesecuted and not killed(vs18 not a hair on your head perish). There will be saints killed during ther tribulation for the word of GOD and for the testimony which they held.(REV 6:9). I thank God that I found this web site. Trying to talk in depth to 99.999% of the Christians and Pastors I have met in the last 20ys. don’t get past John 3:16 and don’t want to. If I see Gary Stearman of Prophecy in the News I’ll ask him about phobetra.

    Thank You All very much and may GOD Bless You.

    A Saved Sinner In Oklahoma

  13. Phobos is one of the “Steeds of Mars” along with brother Deimos (Terror and Rout).
    That the Greeks would see and name these small moons of Mars centuries before the invention of the telescope is understandable once you come to the knowledge of the ancient orbit of Mars. The passovers (flybys) of Mars crossing the Earth’s orbit, at the spring and autumn equinoxes on a cyclical basis caused immense plasma configurations, earthquakes, volcanoes and interplanetary electrical discharges–that is to say–great terror. It is the answer to Isaiah’s question (22:1),
    along with Joshua’s Long day, Uzziah’s “commotion”, retrograding shadows, etc.
    A time or two when Mar’s pass was close to the Roche Limit, the Earth flipped over and later back again. (Isaiah 24:1) When the hills “skipped like rams” and “melted like wax.”
    “Seek him (the maker) that…maketh the seven stars (planets) and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: the Lord is his name” Amos 5:8
    This is from whence cometh Phobos = terror.
    (See Mars-Earth Wars, also Peratt Instabilities, plasma discharge

  14. Have a look at the English translation of the Aramaic Text (New Testament). Christ spoke Aramaic and Greek. He taught first in Aramaic and Hebrew, His deciples later taught the “Gentiles”.

  15. Author

    Wow! I’m so grateful to the Lord for bringing each one of you to this discussion. May His Holy Spirit guide all of our minds as we seek to discern Christ’s message to the Bride! — Hugs, Sharon

  16. Hi Don, yes the next verses go on to talk about people being persecuted etc, but it says that these things (the things mentioned after verse 11) will happen “before” the time of terrors and signs in the heavens mentioned in verse 11…

    11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.
    12 But “before all these”, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

    So it well may be speaking of Christ’s return.

  17. When I see footage of 9/11 and I remember all these horrible images, I always take comfort in knowing that through Jesus Christ, I am saved!

  18. Sharon, What you found is just another confirmation that the Bible is God’s Word! Wow!!!

  19. HI Mark Thank you for reminding me about the moons of Mars. You can read/download the book THE MARS-EARTH WARS written by Donald W. Patten and Samuel R. Windsor at They layout how Mars was on a orbit that passed close to the earth every 54yrs. Computer modeling shows Mars passed between the earth and moon and would explain the long day of Joshua, Noahs flood, 360day year vs 365 ect. I think you already know this but for others that don’t know its a very interesting theory.

  20. If you all want a blessing try this take the genealogy in Genesis Chapter 5 and write down the names Adam thru Noah. (Every name in Hebrew has a meaning)Look up the meaning of each name and it should look like this.


    You have a picture of salvation in the first book of the Bible.
    Now take the names of the Jewish tribes in Revelation Chapter 7 and do the same thing and you will get a picture of salvation in the last book of the Bible.
    My thanks to Chuck Missler for this.

  21. Our country has been in so much pain because of war that i believe that the word terror should be assigned next to all Muslims and non christian people.

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