The word, “irritable” (ESV) or “provoked” (NKJV) is from paroxuno, a compound word combining, para, “beside” (Strong, s. v. παρα) and oxus, “sharp” (Strong, s. v. οξυς); thus, literally, “to sharpen alongside” (Strong, s. v. παροξυνω). The picture here is the sharpening of a knife. That’s paroxuno. It also pictures the sharpening of the mind, as in studying. The more you read and study the Bible, it sharpens your mind about the things of God, about correct theology, about sound doctrine.
Doctors use this word today, “paroxysm,” to mean, “a sudden sharp attack (as of pain or coughing); CONVULSION.” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary) It comes from the same Greek word, paroxuno.
Figuratively, it means, “to exasperate, easily provoke, stir” (Strong, s. v. παροξυνω); “to be provoked or upset at someone or something involving severe emotional concern – ‘to be provoked, to be upset.’” (Greek-English Lexicon, s. v. παροξυνω) “Here it means, evidently, to rouse to anger; to excite to indignation or wrath.” (Barnes) Robertson defines it as “irritation or sharpness of spirit.” (RWP)
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