Tuesday, August 31, 2010

John 15:26-27 The Conclusion

Ἰωάννην 15·26 Ὅταν ἔλθῃ ὁ παράκλητος ὃν ἐγὼ πέμψω ὑμῖν παρὰ τοῦ πατρός, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, ἐκεῖνος μαρτυρήσει περὶ ἐμοῦ·  27 καὶ ὑμεῖς δὲ μαρτυρεῖτε, ὅτι ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἐστε.
John 15:26-27
Whenever the intercessor comes, who I will send to you from the Father: the spirit of truth which goes out from the Father, that one (the intercessor) will testify about me.  And you will also testify about me because you are with me from the beginning.
ἐκεῖνος “that one”
Most translations render ἐκεῖνος as “he”.  In this passage, ἐκεῖνος can’t refer to τὸ πνεῦμα “the spirit” because τὸ πνεῦμα is a neuter word while ἐκεῖνος is a masculine word.  The only noun that ἐκεῖνος can be referring to is ὁ παράκλητος, “the intercessor”.  I know we are splitting hairs here, but I wanted to bring out how the Greek is working in this passage.
ὅτι ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἐστε.  “because you are with me from the beginning”
Most translations render this, “because you were with me from the beginning.”  The greek “to be” verb here is in a 2nd person plural present tense.  In Koine Greek, the present tense carried an aspect of a continuing action.  So, the disciples were continually with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.  John could have used an Imperfect tense that is past time, continual aspect, but he chose to use a present tense verb.  What does that tell you about how Jesus felt about the disciples remaining with him?

Matthew 6:13 The Lord's Prayer Concluded

13 καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ. 
Matthew 6:13
And do not bring us into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.
ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ (from the evil one)
πονηροῦ is from πονηρός meaning evil.  It is in a genitive singular form in this passage.  πονηρός used mostly as an adjective, but here it is being used as a singular noun.  Most translations render this simple as “evil”.  Jesus may be pin-pointing who we are to ask to be delivered from.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Figures of Speech (from 2006)

Figures of Speech

The Everyday Language of Jewish People during Jesus’ Time

Russell Beatty

One thing that I have come to find in my quest to learn Koine Greek (Biblical Greek) over the last few months is that it is often very difficult to translate the original meaning into the English language.  Many times, it may take more than one English word to translate one Koine Greek word correctly.  Often though, translators will not add more words to the translation.  This is done in order to try to maintain a (somewhat) word for word translation (KJV, NASU).  In some cases words are added (Amplified Bible).  I would like to share something that came to me as I was listening my pastor’s message one Sunday morning.

Currently, I’ve finished the Greek noun system and have started on verbs.  At this point, the teacher encourages the students to take their Greek New Testament to Church with them.  I did and to great delight, I could follow along pretty well.  The first New Testament passage that my pastor read was from the below narrative.  I have included the entire narrative here.  Typically, I use the NIV for studying, but since the KJV is more common, I will quote from it.

Matthew 16:13-20
13When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
 14And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
 15He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
 16And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
 19And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
 The main thing that strikes me in this text is how the Lord uses “figures of speech” to get his message across.  In fact, Jesus used this form of talk in many of his teachings.  “Figures of speech” were commonly used by the Jews during this time.  “What is a figure of speech,” you ask?  It is a saying or analogy we use to communicate or to get a point across.  Typically, we use figures of speech in our everyday language.  Ok, how about an example?

If a person was trying to explain to me something and I understood what he was saying I could say,  “I hear ya’” or “I get ya’” instead of saying “I understand”. 

How about this one…

I could say, “I’m going to get a Coke”, but I come back with a Pepsi.  Every one knows that “coke” means soft drink.

How about one more…

“I’m going to close the door on this subject.”  Everyone knows that this simply means I’m finished talking about that particular subject.

Make sense?  We use these all of the time.  In fact, we use them so much, that they have become part of our culture.  That’s the way it has always been.  Times change, but people have always had their funny ways of talking and expressing themselves.  This same thing also happened among the Jewish people some 2000 years ago.

From the text!

From the above passage, there are at least 5 “figures of speech” that Jesus uses.
1. “…for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee…”

Flesh and blood is a figure of speech.  So what does it mean?  This one is pretty easy to decipher.  In its basic meaning, Peter (himself) didn’t come up with who Jesus was, nor did any other man give it to him.  God gave him this insight or revelation.  This insight, and how Peter gets this insight, forms the context of the reminder of the passage.  The complete context of a passage must always be in play and referred to in order for us to fully understand how this affects us as children of God.  We will find out later that this narrative is very important to the Church as a whole.

So why did Jesus say it this way?  I don’t think anyone knows, but most likely, this was the common way the Jewish people talked and expressed themselves.  In other words, it was probably the normal, everyday language.

2.  “…thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”

In order to understand this figure of speech, one must take a look at the original Greek.  This is what I read that inspired me to write this.  The Greek word Πέτρος means stone or piece of rock.  The word itself is a masculine word.  Here, the translators transliterated the Greek word instead of actually translating it.  The word Peter is the English version of the Greek word.  The writers of the New Testament used this word in every instance to refer to Peter and never used it when just referring to stones or rocks.  The word is used several times in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) and refers to pieces of rocks most of the time.  The Greek word for “rock” in the second part of this text is πέτραThis is a feminine word that means large rock or bedrock.  It’s the same word used in Luke 6:48 when Jesus is describing the house that was built on a rock.  The Greek’s used masculine, feminine, and neuter cases to define their words.  Normally is doesn’t change the meaning of the word or how it is used.  It was just their way of language.  For instance, the word for God, θεός (Theos), in the Greek, is masculine.  The word for the earth, γῆ (gay), is feminine.  The word for angel, ἄγγελος (angelos), is masculine, and the word for a ruler, ἀρχήv (archay), is feminine. 

The thing about this passage, once one looks at the original Greek, is that the Church is not built upon Peter, as Peter is only a stone or a piece of rock.  It is built on a large rock. What it let’s you see is that Peter is made of the same substance as the foundation that the church is built on, but he is not that bedrock.  In a sense, Peter is “a chip off the ole block” so to speak.  Although he may be made of the same substance, he is just not big enough or strong enough to have a Church built upon him.  As we see in Acts and in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Peter does have his problems within the Church.  He’s unsure if the Gentiles should enter into the Church, and he’s unsure of how to handle Gentiles’ non-conviction of circumcision. 

Keeping this within the context of how Peter gets his insight as to who Jesus is, we must look at the possibility that this could be a type of a prophecy or some type of a warning to Peter.  Peter is not the “all knowing” and Jesus may be looking to the future as to how Peter will end up handling himself as a leader in the Church.  It may also be that Jesus is reminding him of his place.  “Peter you are a small rock, but the Church will be built on Me (The Rock! bedrock).  Peter, you may be a part of this, but always remember who gives you this knowledge.  It is not of yourself, but God.

3.  “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The “gates of hell” or πύλαι ᾅδου in the Greek.  The word πύλαι (pulie) is plural and is from the word πύλη (pulay) which means gate.  The word ᾅδου (hadou) is the genitive form (possessive) of the word ᾅδης (hades) which means “mansion of the dead” or “place where the dead go”.  In short this passage means that the Church will stand in the way of the doors of the dead opening.  If the doors of the dead can’t open, then we can’t taste death and we’ll receive the promise of eternal life with him.  This is a very consistent teaching as it is confirmed in other parts of the New Testament: John 3:16, 1 Co 15:54-55, 2 Tim 1:10 just to name a few.

4.  “…I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven”

What an appropriate segue way Jesus has given us to get to this verse.  He refers to the closing of gates or doors in the preceding passage, and now, He brings us to the “opening of heaven to us”.  This is just what Peter does on the day of  Pentecost.  The Church is born and Peter delivers the message of a lifetime: The way to eternal life was opened to us that day!  Peter used the keys (more insight) to open the way for us.  One small thing to note here in the Greek is that the word for heaven is actually the plural form.  The literal translation should be “the kingdom of the heavens”.  This possibly is speaking of the fact that God’s realm is a very large place.

5.  “…and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Interestingly enough, this was a common figure of speech among the Jewish people during the time of Christ. 

The best way to understand this concept is to read this quote from Craig S. Keener from “The Basics of Biblical Greek” by William Mounce:

“This is the language of the law court.  Jewish legal issues were normally decided in Jesus’ day by elders in the synagogue community (later by rabbis).  Many Jewish people believed that the authority of Heaven stood behind the earthly judges when they decided cases based on a correct understanding of God’s law.  (This process came to be called “binding and loosing.”)  Jesus’ contemporaries often envisioned God’s justice in terms of a heavenly court; by obeying God’s law, the earthly court simply ratified the decrees of the heavenly court.”

This is the context of what Jesus is trying to tell Peter.  “Peter, your authority, power, and knowledge come from God.  God has already blessed you with the knowledge of who I am.  Later on, if you stay within the faith, you will also pass God’s rules and judgments to others.  Remember though, it is from God, not of yourself, that you receive this thing.”


Figures of speech are fun to explore in the Bible.  It also let’s one know that Jesus talked to his disciples and to all of the people in everyday language and speech.  I think that’s cool.

So what is the theology* behind all of this?  Simply put; no man is above his master.  The wisdom and understanding of God come, not from one’s self, but from God and him alone.  In Matthew 18, Jesus grants the Church the very same honor of binding and loosing, but there is a prerequisite…we must become one of his own.

Matt 18
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven…

18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Matthew 6:12 The Lord's Prayer Continued

καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν· 
And forgive us our debts, 
as we also have forgiven our debtors
Matthew 6:12
ἀφήκαμεν (we have forgiven).  This is in the perfect tense that describes an action that was completed in the past, but is still having impacts at the time that the prayer is being uttered.  It’s interesting that only after we have forgiven the one’s who owe us, then we can ask for forgiveness of our debt from God.


John 15:18-25 Part 4 in a Series

Ἰωάννην 15·18 Εἰ ὁ κόσμος ὑμᾶς μισεῖ, γινώσκετε ὅτι ἐμὲ πρῶτον ὑμῶν μεμίσηκεν.  19 εἰ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἦτε, ὁ κόσμος ἂν τὸ ἴδιον ἐφίλει· ὅτι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ ἐστέ, ἀλλ᾿ ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, διὰ τοῦτο μισεῖ ὑμᾶς ὁ κόσμος.  20 μνημονεύετε τοῦ λόγου οὗ ἐγὼ εἶπον ὑμῖν· οὐκ ἔστιν δοῦλος μείζων τοῦ κυρίου αὐτοῦ. εἰ ἐμὲ ἐδίωξαν, καὶ ὑμᾶς διώξουσιν· εἰ τὸν λόγον μου ἐτήρησαν, καὶ τὸν ὑμέτερον τηρήσουσιν.  21 ἀλλὰ ταῦτα πάντα ποιήσουσιν εἰς ὑμᾶς διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου, ὅτι οὐκ οἴδασιν τὸν πέμψαντά με.  22 εἰ μὴ ἦλθον καὶ ἐλάλησα αὐτοῖς, ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ εἴχοσαν· νῦν δὲ πρόφασιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν περὶ τῆς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.  23 ὁ ἐμὲ μισῶν καὶ τὸν πατέρα μου μισεῖ.  24 εἰ τὰ ἔργα μὴ ἐποίησα ἐν αὐτοῖς ἃ οὐδεὶς ἄλλος ἐποίησεν, ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ εἴχοσαν· νῦν δὲ καὶ ἑωράκασιν καὶ μεμισήκασιν καὶ ἐμὲ καὶ τὸν πατέρα μου.  25 ἀλλ᾿ ἵνα πληρωθῇ ὁ λόγος ὁ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ αὐτῶν γεγραμμένος ὅτι ἐμίσησάν με δωρεάν. 

John 15:18-25
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before you were hated.  If you were from the world, the world loved its own kind, but because you are not (presently) from the world, I chose you out of the world.  For this reason, the world hates you.  Remember the word that I spoke to you, ‘The slave is not greater than his master’.  If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.  But they will do all these things to you because of my name because they don’t know the one who sent me.  If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin.  But now, they don’t have a valid excuse concerning their sin.  The one hating me, also hates my father.  If I did not do the works among them that no one else did, they would not have sin.  But now, they have both seen and hated both me and my father.  This was done so that the word may be fulfilled which was written in their law, “They hated me for no reason.”
ὅτι δὲ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου οὐκ ἐστέ (but because you are not (presently) from the world) or (not presently a part of the things that the world does).  They are not presently from the world because God has pruned them and Jesus has placed them in the perfect spot to produce fruit.  Others may have other takes on this passage, but this makes the most sense.  We know that the disciples were "from this world."  So, it would make sense for the world to hate one of its own who was not being seen or acting as one of its own.
ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ εἴχοσαν (they would not have sin)
This is an idiom (figure of speech).  It means that “they would not have known that they were sinning.”  Idioms are very common in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  That's why it's very important to understand how they were used in the ancient world.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

John 15:12-17 Part 3 in a Series

12 Αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ ἐντολὴ ἡ ἐμή, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς.  13 μείζονα ταύτης ἀγάπην οὐδεὶς ἔχει, ἵνα τις τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ θῇ ὑπὲρ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ.  14 ὑμεῖς φίλοι μού ἐστε ἐὰν ποιῆτε ἃ ἐγὼ ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν.  15 οὐκέτι λέγω ὑμᾶς δούλους, ὅτι ὁ δοῦλος οὐκ οἶδεν τί ποιεῖ αὐτοῦ ὁ κύριος· ὑμᾶς δὲ εἴρηκα φίλους, ὅτι πάντα ἃ ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου ἐγνώρισα ὑμῖν.  16 οὐχ ὑμεῖς με ἐξελέξασθε, ἀλλ᾿ ἐγὼ ἐξελεξάμην ὑμᾶς καὶ ἔθηκα ὑμᾶς ἵνα ὑμεῖς ὑπάγητε καὶ καρπὸν φέρητε καὶ ὁ καρπὸς ὑμῶν μένῃ, ἵνα ὅ τι ἂν αἰτήσητε τὸν πατέρα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου δῷ ὑμῖν.  17 ταῦτα ἐντέλλομαι ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους. 
John 15:12-17
This is my commandment that you love one another as I loved you.  No one has a greater love than this, that someone may lay down his life for (in behalf of) his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you to do.  I am no longer calling you slaves, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing.  But I have called you friends, because all things which I heard from the Father, I made known to you.  You didn’t choose me, but I chose you, and I have placed you that you may depart and produce fruit, and that your fruit may remain so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  I command these things to you, that you love one another.
τὴν ψυχὴν αὐτοῦ (his life or his soul) from ψυχὴ.  I wanted to point out that greek word for “soul” can also mean “life”.  
ὑπὲρ (in behalf of).  Most translations render ὑπὲρ as “for” in this passage, but I don’t thing that brings out the true meaning of this preposition.  In this text, “in behalf of” means that one gives his life so that you don’t have to give yours.
ὁ κύριος (lord, master, sir).  This is the same greek word that renders “Lord” when referring to Jesus.  I wanted to bring out the different uses of this word in the New Testament.
ἔθηκα (I have placed or I have put) from τίθημι.  Many translations render ἔθηκα “to appoint”, but it makes since in this context that Jesus “places” them in the right “spot” in order to produce fruit.  See my blog of verses 1-4.  http://biblicalgreeknuggets.blogspot.com/2010/08/john-151-4-start-of-series.html

Friday, August 27, 2010

Matthew 6:11: The Lord's Prayer Continued

τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον· 
Give (to) us our daily bread today.
Matthew 6:11
τὸν ἐπιούσιον (daily) is an adjective that means “the next day” or possibly “necessary”.  An early christian writer, Origen, said that this word may have been created by the disciples themselves and was part of everyday speech.  It may be idiomatic in nature.
Based on what we know, it could be translated: “Give us our tomorrow’s bread today” or “Give us our next day’s bread today”.  That can be interpreted as “give us the future food that we need for existence on a daily basis.”  As you can see, this is not a very easy passage to translate, but I think the traditional translation is correct.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

John 15:5-11 Part 2 of a Series

ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος, ὑμεῖς τὰ κλήματα. ὁ μένων ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ οὗτος φέρει καρπὸν πολύν, ὅτι χωρὶς ἐμοῦ οὐ δύνασθε ποιεῖν οὐδέν. ἐὰν μή τις μένῃ ἐν ἐμοί, ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα καὶ ἐξηράνθη καὶ συνάγουσιν αὐτὰ καὶ εἰς τὸ πῦρ βάλλουσιν καὶ καίεται. ἐὰν μείνητε ἐν ἐμοὶ καὶ τὰ ῥήματά μου ἐν ὑμῖν μείνῃ, ὃ ἐὰν θέλητε αἰτήσασθε, καὶ γενήσεται ὑμῖν. ἐν τούτῳ ἐδοξάσθη ὁ πατήρ μου, ἵνα καρπὸν πολὺν φέρητε καὶ γένησθε ἐμοὶ μαθηταί. Καθὼς ἠγάπησέν με ὁ πατήρ, κἀγὼ ὑμᾶς ἠγάπησα· μείνατε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ τῇ ἐμῇ. ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολάς μου τηρήσητε, μενεῖτε ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ μου, καθὼς ἐγὼ τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ πατρός μου τετήρηκα καὶ μένω αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ ἀγάπῃ. Ταῦτα λελάληκα ὑμῖν ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡ ἐμὴ ἐν ὑμῖν ᾖ καὶ ἡ χαρὰ ὑμῶν πληρωθῇ.
John 15: 5-11
I am the vine, you are the branches.  The ones who remain in me and I in him, this one [he] produces much fruit, because apart from me, you are not able to do anything.  If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch and dries up.  And they gather and throw them [branches] into the fire, and he [anyone] is burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you wish and it will happen for you.  My Father is glorified in this that you may produce much fruit and may become my disciples.  As the Father loved me, I also loved you: Remain in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will remain in  my love, as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.  I have spoken these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
“And they gather and throw them [branches] into the fire, and he [anyone] is burned.”  
καίεται is a singular present middle/passive indicative 3rd person verb.  The two previous verbs for “gather” and “throw” are plural 3rd person verbs.  Most translations render καίεται as “they are burned”.  That makes more since to the english reader because the two previous verbs are in the plural.  The reality is that καίεται is a singular 3rd person verb.  Since this is a singular verb, then it’s subject must be singular.  What is it?  Anyone (that is not remaining in him)!  I think Jesus makes it very clear who is going to burn in this text.

Matthew 6:10, The Lord's Prayer continued

ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου, γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς.
Your kingdom come!  Your will be done, on earth even as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:10
Both ἐλθέτω (come) and γενηθήτω (be done) are in the imperative which indicate a demand.  Some translations soften this by saying “May your kingdom come” and “may your will be done”.  The word γενηθήτω is from the verb γίνομαι.  It means to become, to come into existence, or to happen.  So, the prayer is for God’s will to happen on earth just like it is happening in heaven or to come into existence on earth as it is in existence in heaven.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

John 15:1-4 The start of a series

1Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἄμπελος ἡ ἀληθινή, καὶ ὁ πατήρ μου ὁ γεωργός ἐστιν. 2πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπόν, αἴρει αὐτό, καὶ πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον καθαίρει αὐτὸ ἵνα καρπὸν πλείονα φέρῃ. 3ἤδη ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε διὰ τὸν λόγον ὃν λελάληκα ὑμῖν: 4μείνατε ἐν ἐμοί, κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν. καθὼς τὸ κλῆμα οὐ δύναται καρπὸν φέρειν ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ ἐὰν μὴ μένῃ ἐν τῇ ἀμπέλῳ, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὑμεῖς ἐὰν μὴ ἐν ἐμοὶ μένητε. 
I am the true vine and my father is the farmer.  Every branch in me not producing fruit, he [God] takes it away, and every one producing fruit, he [God] prunes it so that it may produce more [or larger] fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word which I have spoken to you: Remain in me and I will remain in you.  As the branch is not able to produce fruit from itself if it does not remain in the vine, so neither can you produce fruit if you don’t remain in me.  John 15:1-4
ὁ γεωργός 
Farmer.  Some translations render it vine-dresser.  Vine-dressing is just one thing that a farmer does to make things grow.  What else would a farmer do?
I have spoken.  This verb is in the perfect tense.  The perfect tense verb describes an action that was completed in the past, but still has affects at the time of the speaker speaking the words.  In this case, the verb most likely is focusing on the continuing effects of that action.
Most translations render this word as “clean”.  The word can mean both.  I chose “pruned” because it fits the context better.  In verse 2, God “prunes” the branch.  That word also can mean “clean” or “prune”.  It is a verb in that verse.
Remain!  This verb in an imperative so it is a demand.  It could also be a plea which may make since in this passage as Jesus loves his disciples.
“As the branch is not able to produce fruit from itself if it does not remain in the vine, so neither can you produce fruit if you don’t remain in me.”
Jesus is setting up something here.  More to come.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Romans 9:5 What does it say?

Romans 9:5 may be the biggest controversy in the Greek New Testament.  Many say that it affirms the deity of Jesus, while others say it doesn't.  It can be translated many ways to begin with, but when you add the fact that Koine Greek was written 2000 years ago in all capital letters, with no spaces, no punctuation, and no accent marks, it becomes an even larger problem.
Here’s the passage in today’s accented koine greek.
ὧν οἱ πατέρες, καὶ ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ σάρκα: ὁ ὢν ἐπὶ πάντων θεὸς εὐλογητὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν. 
of whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh [decent], who is over all. God be blessed forever! Amen.
of whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh [decent].  Who is, while being over all, the blessed God forever. Amen.
of whom are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh [decent], who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. 
or...just check your favorite translation.
Here’s an analysis on the accented greek.
ὧν is a relative pronoun which in this form is plural.  In this passage, it is referring to the Jews of whom Jesus is from according to decent.  
ὢν is a present participle of “I am” [don’t confuse it with ὧν!  Note the accents and breathing marks].  It can be translated “is” or “while being”.  It carries a continuous aspect.
Both θεὸς and εὐλογητὸς are in the nominative case and are both nouns [εὐλογητὸς is actually an adjective, but it is functioning as a noun here *my opinion].  In most cases, a “to be” verb is inferred.  God be blessed forever!
This view is supported in some translations, but not all.  Take a look at the footnotes on the NIV passage.
I will be the first to admit that this is a hard passage to translate.  Think of this: the original was in all capital letters, with no spaces, no punctuation, and no accents.  This is how it would have looked.  I’ve highlighted ΩΝ (ὧν or ὢν).
So what happens when no one is really sure of how ΩΝ should be accented?  One’s theology comes into play.  My Greek teacher once said that you can discover a person’s theology based on how he translates the Greek.  The truth is that no one really knows what Paul meant in this passage except Paul and God.  This is one that you have to pray over and follow your heart.

When I first started learning Greek, I thought that I would really be able to learn what the New Testament really says.  Then this verse comes along.  It's just not as simple as that.  There's a lot of research on the internet about this passage.  I would encourage you to go check it out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lord's Prayer Series blog 1

This is a series of blogs that I will be collaborating with my friend, Stephen Brown.  It is based on the Lord’s Prayer as it is found in Matthew.  The link to his blog/blogs is below.  I will update this blog as his is updated.
Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς: Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου, 
Therefore, this is how you pray:  
Our Father, who is in the heavens, 
Hallowed be your name.  Matthew 6:9

If you were to line up the words of the beginning of the prayer in english, you will get a surprise.
Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
Father our the in the heavens
Does this make any sense?  Not in english.  The greeks inferred many “to be” verbs in their language.  Note ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.  The article ὁ normally means “the,” but in this case, it is showing the reader that a “to be” verb is to be inferred.  That ὁ is also referring to the previous noun, Father.  So, the translation is “who is”.  This is in front of a prepositional phrase  “in the heavens”.  Most translations render “heavens” as “heaven”.  I can only speculate as to why, but in my studying of the Greek New Testament, I’ve found that the singular and plural forms of heaven are used interchangeably.
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου,
ἁγιασθήτω is a present passive imperative verb of ἁγιάζω.  The definition is below.  The imperative can act as a demand.  In this case, it is not demanded from God for his name to the hallowed, but it is demanded that his worshippers hallow his name.

ἁγιάζω,v  \{hag-ee-ad'-zo}
1) to render or acknowledge, or to be venerable or hallow  2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God  2a) consecrate things to God  2b) dedicate people to God  3) to purify  3a) to cleanse externally  3b) to purify by expiation: free from the guilt of sin  3c) to purify internally by renewing of the soul 

More to come on this.  Below is Stephen’s Blog on the same subject.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

1 Corinthians 13:12

βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι' ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον: ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.
1 Corinthians 13:12

For we currently see through a mirror in an enigma, but then, face to face.  I now partly know, but then, I will know thoroughly, even as I also am thoroughly known. 
δι' ἐσόπτρου: through a mirror.  In Paul’s time, mirrors were made from polished bronze or steel, not glass.
αἰνίγματι is the dative form of the word αἴνιγμα {ah'-ee-nig-ma}, which is where we get the word enigma.  In this passage, it is in a prepositional phrase preceded by ἐν [in], thus the dative form of the word.  An enigma is a statement whose meaning is hidden under obscure or ambiguous allusions, so that we can only guess at its significance; [New Oxford American Dictionary].
I chose the actual word enigma, instead of obscurity, for one reason/question: How much do we really know God?  He is so infinite that our minds could not possibly comprehend him.  We only get small insights into God when his Spirit moves in our lives.  That is a result of our limited, human body and mind.  He truly is an “enigma” to us.  With that said, he has given us just enough of him: not too little that we may not get a glimpse of him, and not to much as we may be overwhelmed by him.  Moses got so much of God that his face shined.  One day, our faces will also shine as His face shines!  Face to face!
A different take on the same thing
*Corinth was well known in the ancient world for producing some of the finest bronze mirrors available. Paul’s point in this analogy, then, is not that our current understanding and relationship with God is distorted (as if the mirror reflected poorly), but rather that it is “indirect,” (i.e., the nature of looking in a mirror) compared to the relationship we will enjoy with him in the future when we see him “face to face” (cf. G. D. Fee, First Corinthians [NICNT], 648)
*Taken from the translation notes of the NET Bible.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

John 9:24-34 (Elitism in action!)

24Ἐφώνησαν οὖν τὸν ἄνθρωπον ἐκ δευτέρου ὃς ἦν τυφλὸς καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Δὸς δόξαν τῷ θεῷ: ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν. 25ἀπεκρίθη οὖν ἐκεῖνος, Εἰ ἁμαρτωλός ἐστιν οὐκ οἶδα: ἓν οἶδα, ὅτι τυφλὸς ὢν ἄρτι βλέπω. 26εἶπον οὖν αὐτῷ, Τί ἐποίησέν σοι; πῶς ἤνοιξέν σου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς; 27ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς, Εἶπον ὑμῖν ἤδη καὶ οὐκ ἠκούσατε: τί πάλιν θέλετε ἀκούειν; μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε αὐτοῦ μαθηταὶ γενέσθαι; 28καὶ ἐλοιδόρησαν αὐτὸν καὶ εἶπον, Σὺ μαθητὴς εἶ ἐκείνου, ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως ἐσμὲν μαθηταί: 29ἡμεῖς οἴδαμεν ὅτι Μωϋσεῖ λελάληκεν ὁ θεός, τοῦτον δὲ οὐκ οἴδαμεν πόθεν ἐστίν. 30ἀπεκρίθη ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἐν τούτῳ γὰρ τὸ θαυμαστόν ἐστιν ὅτι ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε πόθεν ἐστίν, καὶ ἤνοιξέν μου τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς. 31οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτωλῶν ὁ θεὸς οὐκ ἀκούει, ἀλλ' ἐάν τις θεοσεβὴς ᾖ καὶ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιῇ τούτου ἀκούει. 32ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος οὐκ ἠκούσθη ὅτι ἠνέῳξέν τις ὀφθαλμοὺς τυφλοῦ γεγεννημένου: 33εἰ μὴ ἦν οὗτος παρὰ θεοῦ, οὐκ ἠδύνατο ποιεῖν οὐδέν. 34ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ, Ἐν ἁμαρτίαις σὺ ἐγεννήθης ὅλος, καὶ σὺ διδάσκεις ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω.
John 9:24-34
Therefore they [the Pharisees] summoned the man who was blind a second time and said to him, “Give glory to God!  We know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.”  Then that one [the formally blind man] replied, “I don’t know if he [Jesus] is a sinner.  This is what I know: that while being blind, I am now seeing.”  Then they said to him, “What did he do to you?  How did he open your eyes [cause you to see]?”  He replied to them, “I told you already and you didn’t listen to me.  Why do you desire to hear it again?  Do you not also desire to become his followers?
And they criticized [heaped insults on] him and said, “You are that man’s follower, but we are followers of Moses!  We know that God has spoken to Moses, but we don’t know where this one [Jesus] came from.”  The man answered and said to them, “For this is an astonishment because you don’t know where he came from and he opened my eyes [caused me to see]!  We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone may be godly [a sincere worshipper of God] and may do his will,  he [God] listens to this one [who is godly].  From the ages [eternity] , it has not been heard that anyone opened the eyes of one who has been blind from birth [cause one who was blind from birth to see].  Except this one was from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything!”  They answered and said to him, “You were born entirely in sin, and you are teaching us?”  And they threw him out.
There are many lessons in this passage.  I will first point out a few things in the greek, but after that, I’m going to preach!
ὅτι τυφλὸς ὢν ἄρτι βλέπω [that while being blind, I am now seeing].  
This is very interesting passage in the greek.  ὢν is a present active participle of “I am”.  In the greek, this participle’s action is a continuing action.  The choice of this word could indicate that the man was still blind, but in spite of being blind, he is now seeing.  Think of it this way, if the man is continually blind, then the miracle has to also be continual in nature as well.  Have you heard of the phrase “the gift that keeps on giving”?  That can be applied here.  The miracle that Jesus performed here is an active, continual, and on-going thing.
μὴ καὶ ὑμεῖς θέλετε αὐτοῦ μαθηταὶ γενέσθαι; [Do you not also desire to become his followers?]  
The man is introducing a little sarcasm here.  μὴ means “not” in greek and is used here to imply a “no” answer.  In other words, the man knew that the Pharisees did not want to be disciples of Jesus.
The REAL lesson learned
The Pharisees, the one’s who thought they were the most devout in their own eyes, would not rejoice with this man’s healing.  They should have been overwhelmed with joy that God would work through a man [Jesus] and heal a blind man who had never seen anything in his life!  They couldn’t get past their own rules that they had created and believed.  Jesus had healed this man on a Saturday, or the Sabbath.  The Pharisees thought that it was a sin to do any type of work on the Sabbath.  Apparently, it didn’t matter if the work performed was a miracle from God or not.  It went against what they believed, so it had to be wrong.  They didn’t believe that something like this could be done by someone who did not see “eye to eye” with them or believed the way they did.  Instead of rejoicing with the man, they insulted him and then threw him out of the Synagogue, their church.  The man that had just been touch by God!  It could be stated that they didn’t want this “miracle man” in their church at all.
I see this all of the time today.  Some of us have gotten to be so “holy” that we are no earthly good.  We think “We are the only ones who know the truth!”  We don’t think anyone, other than ourselves, is godly and we certainly don’t think that God has anything to do with anyone other than ourselves.  Who are we to question other people’s experiences, healings, and miracles just because they go to other churches that don’t believe the same way that we do?  Do we honestly believe that they are doing these things “By the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of demons” [Luke 11:15]?  
Have WE become modern day Pharisees? Do WE wear our tassels on our garments longer than everyone else so that they will think that we are holier than they are [Matthew 23:5]?  Do WE pray to God and thank him that we are better than this tax collector [Luke 18:12]?  Are WE truly the Vipers of this age [Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. Matthew 12:34]?
What if WE are the one’s who are wrong?  What if WE cause new believers to slip away because of our elitist* attitude?  How would WE answer to God in such matters? 

*The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination. Such elitism has social and psychological consequences.  [Wikipedia]

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ephesians 2:8

τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως:
For by grace, you are saved through faith (belief):
We are focusing on ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι which literally means "you are having been saved". ἐστε means "you are" and σεσῳσμένοι means "having been saved". This is a present perfect participle. In classical greek, the greeks would use this construction to show a continuing nature of an action of a verb that completed its action in the past, but still has an affect in the present. Think of when Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus said, "It is written" or "It has been written". In that context, the written word had been completed in the pass, but was still having an affect during the time of the temptation. By the time koine greek came around, much of this continuous force had fallen out of use by the greek speakers and writers. With that said, this verse is one of those where it is used.
Paul is trying to show that the Ephesians were saved in the past through their faith and they were still saved at the time of the writing of the letter. That verbal "force" gets lost in translation from greek to english.
The main emphasis of this verse is right at that beginning. 
τῇ γὰρ χάριτί (For by grace)
The greek sentence is not based on sentence structure like english sentences are. If the greeks wanted to put a big emphasis on something, they would put it at the beginning of the sentence. Paul is trying to make sure that without God's grace, salvation is not possible.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

1 John 3:2-3

2Ἀγαπητοί, νῦν τέκνα θεοῦ ἐσμεν, καὶ οὔπω ἐφανερώθη τί ἐσόμεθα. οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἐὰν φανερωθῇ ὅμοιοι αὐτῷ ἐσόμεθα, ὅτι ὀψόμεθα αὐτὸν καθώς ἐστιν. 3καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἔχων τὴν ἐλπίδα ταύτην ἐπ' αὐτῷ ἁγνίζει ἑαυτὸν καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we will be.  We know that when it [what we will be] is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is.  And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself as that one [Jesus] is pure.
A short one today.  The Greek can be very interesting at times.  Please note the brackets in which the pronouns are referring to.
καθὼς ἐκεῖνος ἁγνός ἐστιν [as that one is pure].  The use of ἐκεῖνος [that] is not uncommon.  It ἐκεῖνος is presented here in it’s masculine form, so it infers [he].  Many translations render this verse [as he is pure].  In it’s basic form, ἐκεῖνος means [that one] if it is standing alone, but there is no doubt that ἐκεῖνος is referring to Jesus in this text.  The NET Bible actually puts Jesus in it’s translation.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Translation of 1 John 1:1 - 2:2

1 John 1:1 - 2:2
Here is my translation of the entire passage.  Note the translated passages in bold.  How do they relate to each other?
1Ὃ ἦν ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν, περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς 2καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν 3ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθ' ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 4καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. 5Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. 6Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν: 7ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. 8ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 9ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 10ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 
1Τεκνία μου, ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν ἵνα μὴ ἁμάρτητε. καὶ ἐάν τις ἁμάρτῃ, παράκλητον ἔχομεν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν δίκαιον: 2καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστιν περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐ περὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we [impressively] beheld and our fingers touched, concerning the Word of Life-- And the Life was revealed, and we have seen it, and we are testifying to it and we are proclaiming to you eternal life which was with the Father and was revealed to us.  We are proclaiming to you what we have seen and heard so that you may also have fellowship with us, and our fellowship is also with the Father and with his son Jesus, the Anointed One.  We are writing to you these things so that our joy may be completed.
And this is the message which we have heard from him and are proclaiming it to you, that God is light and darkness is absolutely not in him.  If we say that we have fellowship with him and we are walking in darkness, we lie and we are not doing the truth, but if we are walking in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of his son Jesus cleanses us from all sins.  If we say that we do not have a sinful nature, we lead ourselves astray and the truth in not in us.  If we [continually] confess our sins, he is faithful and just that he may forgive us [our] sins and cleanse us from all iniquity.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word in not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.  And if anyone may sin, we have an advocate with the Father; Jesus Christ the just!  And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not for our [sins] only, but also for [the sins] of the whole world.

1 John 1:5-7

5Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. 6Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν: 7ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας.
1 John 1:5-7
And this is the message which we have heard from him and we are proclaiming it to you, that God is light and darkness is absolutely not in him.  If we say that we have fellowship with him and we are walking in darkness, we lie and we are not doing the truth, but if we are walking in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of his son Jesus cleanses us from all sins.
καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία
“and darkness is not in him No!”  The greeks would use a double negative to really get a point across, thus the translation “and darkness is absolutely not in him”.
 Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετ' αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν
If we say that we have fellowship with him and we are walking in darkness, we lie and we are not doing the truth
Notice how John puts this.  “we are not doing the truth”.  Believing in the light and walking in the light are two different things to John.  The truth is something you do (walking in the light).   Walking in the life allows us to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  In greek, a present active indicative verb has a continual action (καθαρίζει: cleanses).  As long as we are walking in the light, his blood is cleansing us.