Jesus is the Path – no that’s not right, Jesus is the Way!
In modern English we think of a “way” and a “path” as being almost the same thing and translators frequently interchange the words but there is a difference in meanings in Hebrew. In the Greek the ideas are similar but I have always thought that many New Testament writers just express Hebrew thoughts with Greek words. (I will be using NIV scriptures and be referencing my KJV Strong’s Concordance with Vine’s Dictionary)
Orach is the main word used for both path and way it means well-trodden road, caravan route. The word derek (synonymously parallels orach) means a road or course of life, mode of action. Other words for path are: nethibah – to tramp, a beaten path, magalah – a track (circle), rampart. I like the thought with magalah in Psalm 23:3, that path of righteousness that may lead into the dark valley has the image of a running track that has walls on its side – your protected!
Back to orach and derek. The best way I figured out how to explain this is if you ask some one where a city in your area is they may point and say it is that way; you now have the general idea where it is. Now if you ask the same person how to get there they may give you a specific path, like take Road 123 and turn left at Route 66. Then some one says no take Road 456 and then a right on Road 21. So you study a map and you find out both of those “paths” will take you to that town. As a kid growing up in Boy Scouts we would go “that way” using a compass and a topographic map; if there was a path great if not we made our own.
Proverbs 3:17 “Her (wisdom) ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. (NIV)” Like many Proverbs this one uses way and path together and I think it illustrates the point well. As long as you are going the right direction the actual road will be good.
Jesus is the Way! I won’t waver on that idea but I know that within Him each of us has our own path. Our paths may cross similar places in the Way and may even join for a season but it is still my path. For things you can do on a path see “Follow Me.”