Fasting was and still is a religious ritual that many people follow. The bible talks a lot about fasting and praying. Also, it speaks about fasting in the sense that it’s not optional, but something God expects from His people. So what does the word fasting mean in Hebrew and Greek?

Here is the definition of fasting from the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary:

“The act of abstaining from food.”

All scriptures are taken from NKJV unless otherwise marked.

What Does The Word ‘Fasting’ Mean In Hebrew?

tsown- fast.

What Does The Word ‘Fasting’ Mean In Greek?

asitos- without taking food.

nesteia- abstinence.

This term is used to describe the voluntary absence of food. This can be found in Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29, and Acts 14:23.

Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

– Luke 2:36-37

In Acts 27:9, “the fast’ speaks of the Day of Atonement.

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nesteuo- to abstain from food.

Christ and His followers observed such fasts as that on the Day of Atonement. However, He didn’t impose frequent fasts. He taught mainly what was suitable for the change of character and purpose which He designed for His disciples.

Also, His claim to be the Bridegroom in Matthew 9:15 and the reference to the absence of fasting involved a claim to be the Messiah.

“And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

– Matthew 9:15

nestis- abstinent from food.

Related: Fasting 101 | All About Biblical Fasting


All in all, the word fasting means to abstain from food either on purpose or because of unfavorable circumstances. That’s what the word fasting means in Hebrew and Greek, as well.

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