Saturday, December 24, 2011

Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς moment in 1 Thessalonians 3:13

In 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, Paul is praying for his return to Thessalonica and for Jesus to increase the Thessalonians' love for each other and for all people.  By doing so, the result of the increased love will strengthen their hearts to be blameless in holiness in the presence of God when Jesus comes.
The end of 1 Thessalonians 3:11 states: 
...ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ. the coming of our Lord Jesus with all of his holy ones.
This phrase is an allusion to o the end of Zechariah 14:5 LXX:
...καὶ ἥξει κύριος ὁ θεός μου καὶ πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ.
...and the Lord (Yahweh) my God will come and all the holy ones with him.
In Zechariah 14, it is Yahweh who will come set foot of the mount of Olives, but in 1 Thessalonians 3:11, Paul replaces Yahweh with Jesus in his allusion to Zechariah 14:5.
Perhaps a better translation would be to include what is inferred by Paul's use of ὁ κύριος (The Lord): the coming of our Yahweh Jesus with all of his holy ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

1 Thessalonians 3:11, An Excerpt from an upcoming Study (rough draft)

This is nothing more than a rough draft.  This was written this morning (Dec. 21) and I thought that I would share the "work in progress".  It will be expanded without a doubt as the translation is a "rough in" and needs to be fine tuned.  Thus the reason that some of the words and phrases are underlined and are in italics.  I thought some may find this interesting.

Prayer Report
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.  12 And may the Lord increase you and may you abound in love for one another and for all just as we also have abounded in love for you, 13 in order to strengthen your blameless hearts in holiness before our God and father in the coming of our Lord Jesus with all of his holy ones, [Amen].
Technical Commentary
11 Paul now transitions into a prayer in behalf of and for the Thessalonians.  Paul first asks God to lead the company of the apostles back to Thessalonica.  Paul uses the singular verb κατευθύναι (may direct/lead) (BDAG, 532) with the compound subjects “God and Father” and “Lord Jesus”.  There are many reasons for this, but the most likely reason is that Paul has united both the Father and the Son for a single unified purpose.  It is probably not a statement of unity as both subjects are preceded by the article ( θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν καὶ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς) which makes them distinct.  See Wallace (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 482).
Paul asks that the apostles’ way may be directed back to the Thessalonians.  ὁδός (way) within this context is defined by BDAG as “a way for traveling or moving from one place to another, way, road, highway” (BDAG, 690).  The prayer here is for God to direct the apostles’ “way” back to Thessalonica, but only within God’s time and will, thus the use of the Voluntative Optative form of κατευθύνω (to direct) in this verse.  Wallace defines the Voluntative Optative as “the use of the optative in an independent clause to express an obtainable wish or a prayer.  It is frequently an appeal to the will, in particular when used in prayers” (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, 481).  It is Paul’s prayer that God’s will be done and that within his will that the way be made for Paul’s return to Thessalonica.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

1 Thessalonians 3:5, An Excerpt from an upcoming Study

Here is another excerpt from an upcoming study on 1 Thessalonians.  This is a rough draft.

1 Thessalonians 3:5

5 For this reason, when I was not able to bear it any longer, I sent in order to find out about your faith, lest in some way, the tempter had tempted you and our labor may have been in vain.

     5 Paul begins the last sentence with διὰ τοῦτο (For this reason) which is referring to “afflictions” that the Thessalonians were experiencing and why Paul wanted to really send Timothy.  Bruce, on the other hand, sees διὰ τοῦτο (For this reason) pointing forward as Paul wanted to know about the Thessalonians’ faith (Bruce, WBC, 63).  Both, in a sense, are probably correct as one thing always leads to another.  Paul then moves from the 3rd person to the 1st person by saying κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων (when I was not able to bear it any longer).  The phrase is somewhat of a repeat from verse 1 except Paul is now stating that he himself was the one who couldn’t stand not knowing what was going on with the Thessalonians.  Were they faithful?  Were they enduring?  Were they holding on to their faith while suffering afflictions from their own fellow-citizens?  Paul wanted to know so he sent Timothy in to find out!  Paul uses εἰς τὸ γνῶναι τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν (in order to know your faith).  The construction indicates that the action of sending Timothy back to Thessalonica would result in Paul understanding the Thessalonians’ faith.  He wanted to find out if they were still holding strong.
     Then Paul “lets the cat out of the bag” so to speak by saying μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων (lest in some way, the tempter had tempted you).  The “tempter” of course being Satan.  Paul has already referred to Satan in 2:19, but here Paul was concerned that “the temper” may have been taking advantage of the situation where the Thessalonians, being persecuted, could have been vulnerable to go back to their idolatrous ways in order to escape the persecution.  If that had been the case, then the Apostles’ work would have been in vain or to no effect.  For if “the tempter” used the Thessalonians’ situation in order to turn them back to idolatry, then Paul and company truly had “labored in vain”.  Paul’s usage of καὶ εἰς κενὸν γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν (and our labor may have been in vain) comes from Isaiah 65:23a LXX:
23a οἱ δὲ ἐκλεκτοί μου οὐ κοπιάσουσιν εἰς κενὸν...
23a and my chosen ones will not labor in vain...
Although Isaiah 65:23a is positive, Paul places it in a negative context here (Fee, NICNT, 120).  Paul’s use of εἰς κενὸν (in vain) is found throughout his letters (1 Corinthians 15:58; Philippians 2:16; Galatians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 6:1).
     Although there is debate over such notions as one losing one’s place in God and thus losing one’s salvation, from this context, Paul certainly thought that it was possible (Fee, NICNT, 120), but there is a big difference between a person sinning because of one’s fallen nature and completely turning away from one’s faith.  The tempter’s (Satan’s) main concern for tempting is to not just get christians to commit some sins, but to get them to completely turn their back on their christian faith (Green, PNTC, 164-165).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deuteronomy 22:5; Septuagint (LXX) Studies

The KJV renders Deuteronomy 22:5 as:  
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. 
The translators of the Septuagint/LXX translate the passage as:
Οὐκ ἔσται σκεύη ἀνδρὸς ἐπὶ γυναικί, οὐδὲ μὴ ἐνδύσηται ἀνὴρ στολὴν γυναικείαν, ὅτι βδέλυγμα κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ σού ἐστιν πᾶς ποιῶν ταῦτα.
A man’s vessels shall not be on a woman, nether should a man put on a woman’s robe, because everyone doing these things is detestable to the LORD your God.
So what does “a man’s vessels” mean?  BDAG* (927-928) defines σκεῦος in three ways: 1. a material object used to meet some need in an occupation or other responsibility; a thing, object; 2. a container of any kind; vessel, jar, dish; 3. a human being exercising a function; instrument, vessel (figurative of course).
What is interesting to note is that σκεῦος is never used in the NT as “clothing”.
The Hebrew word behind σκεῦος is kheli which also means “vessel” or “weapon”.  It has been argued that kheli means “clothing” in Deuteronomy 22:5, but if that is the case, then why did the Jews who translated the Hebrew into Greek use the plural neuter form of σκεῦος which never means “a man’s clothing”?
One more interesting thing to note in this passage.  The Greek word behind “robe” in the 2nd part of the verse is στολή.  στολή means “a long, flowing robe”.  It is used some 9 times in the NT and more times to count in the LXX and is used in describing both men’s and women’s robes.  Therefore, this word was a well known word.  If the intent was to refer to kheli as “clothing”, then the translators of the LXX would have used something other than σκεῦος.  In the end, it probably is referring to military utensils and garb used in war.
To be fair, I will do more research of the use of σκεῦος in the LXX.  So, more to come.
* (BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition - Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Matthew 27:46-50 The Need for Studying Biblical Manuscripts

Matthew 27:46-50  
46 Now about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which is “My God, My God, why have you deserted me?”)  47 And some of the ones standing there after hearing this were saying, “This one is calling Elijah!”  48 And immediately, one of them ran and took a sponge filled with sour wine and put it on a staff and gave it to him to drink.  49 And the rest were saying, “Leave him alone!  Let us see if Elijah comes to deliver him.”  50 And Jesus, crying out again with a loud voice, released the spirit.
Matthew 27:46-50 is a very familiar passage that describes Jesus’ last moments before his death.  My scholar friend, Jim Leonard, brought this passage to my attention in a recent visit to the Center for New Testament Textual Studies on the Campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  While we were discussing Textual Criticism, he brought to my attention that there was a significant variant reading that occurs right before verse 50.  A scribe decided to insert a paraphrase from John 19:34.  The reading is ἄλλος δὲ λαβὼν λόγχην ἔνυξεν αὐτοῦ τὴν πλευράν, καὶ ἔξηλθεν ὕδωρ καὶ αἷμα (And another one taking a spear stabbed his side, and water and blood came out).  First of all, this variant reading is supported by some really good 4th and 5th century witnesses including Codex Sinaiticus which is the oldest complete Greek Bible.  Now at first glance, this seems to be just an attempt to make the passage conform with John 19:34, but in the process, the scribe makes it seem that it was the spear that killed Jesus and not the crucifixion!  The reading didn’t make as future scribes corrected it.  If this reading had stood, it would have presented us with a quite different outlook on the death of Jesus.  This is how the reading would have looked within the main passage:
49 And the rest were saying, “Leave him alone!  Let us see if Elijah comes to deliver him.”  And another one taking a spear stabbed his side, and water and blood came out.  50 And Jesus, crying out again with a loud voice, released the spirit.
The question now remains: Why would a scribe present such a reading as this in a place where it would seem that a spear was responsible for Jesus death?  We may never know for sure, but I can say this, The Center for New Testament Textual Studies is dedicated to studying Biblical Manuscripts.  If an answer can be found, they will find it!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yahweh = Adonai = Κύριος = Ἰησοῦς Revisited

Earlier this year, I presented a few blogs on how Paul always refers to Jesus as Κύριος (Lord) and how he always places Jesus in place of Yahweh when quoting Old Testament passages.  If you are not familiar with that topic, I suggest that you go here before you read this blog.
 Let's look at some of the impacts this has on Pauline Scripture.  Let's take a look at Romans 10:9-10:
9 that if you confess with your mouth "The Lord is Jesus"*, and you believe in you heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered.  10 For with the heart one believes onto righteousness, and with the mouth, one confesses onto deliverance.
If we apply what to this confessional saying what Paul truly meant, then the passage would be translated:
that if you confess with your mouth "Yahweh is Jesus"...
From this we can see just how important this confessional was.  The impact is deep as it is from this confession that salvation is produced.  Why?  Because we must acknowledge who Jesus is before we can be delivered.  This passage is backed by Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 12:3:
3 Therefore, I make known to you that no one speaking in the Spirit of God says "Cursed is Jesus", and no one is able to say "The Lord (Yahweh) is Jesus", except speaking in the Holy Spirit.
One must have his Spirit in order to be saved and one must have his Spirit in order to confess this and mean it!
*The translators of the KJV translates the passage incorrectly with "that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus".  This makes the passage ambiguous.  One confesses that "The Lord is Jesus"!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

1 Thessalonians 2:13, An Excerpt from an upcoming Study

The following is an excerpt from a Study that Stephen Brown and I are writing.  It is broken into 4 categories: 1. Translation from the original Greek, 2. Technical Commentary, 3. Variant Reading among various Greek manuscripts, and 4. a devotional segment called "Echoes from the Word".

Feedback is welcome.  This is a rough draft.

Thanksgiving Continued
13 And for this reason, we also give thanks to God continually that you received God’s message that you heard from us.  You have not accepted the message from people, but as it truly is, the message of God, which also is at work among you who believe.
Technical Commentary
Verses 13-16 serve as a transition from what the Apostles were not and were to a new narrative beginning in verse 17.  We will separate them and comment on verse 13 separately as it is a thanksgiving.
13 Paul and company renew their thanksgiving which was started in Chapter one.  In 1:2-3, the thanksgiving that was giving there was about the faithfulness of the Thessalonians while here, the thanksgiving is about when they first heard God’s word (Fee, NICNT, 85).
Paul starts this passage with Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο (And for this reason).  One would assume at first glance that the “reason” for this second thanksgiving comes from the preceded passage, but we will show that the “reason” for the thanksgiving is in this very verse.  Some scholars see the preceding phrase from verse 12 as the “reason”, but the end of verse says “God who calls you to his own kingdom and glory”.  As discussed above, this phrase sets up the eschatological passage that occurs in Chapter 4.  If we go further back to the 1st thanksgiving, Paul and company are thankful to God for the Thessalonians’ faith and how they have been able to endure.  In verse 13 though, we see a quite different thanksgiving.  This thanksgiving is around the message that the Thessalonians both “heard” and “accepted” as being from God.  This is quite different from the rest of the letter before it.
Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως (And for this reason we also give thanks to God continually) is formed in such a way as the reader must look forward to the remaining content of the verse in order to find the “reason” for the thanksgiving.  As Fee puts it, “It is the renewed aspect of the thanksgiving that explains the double ‘and/also’ with which Paul’s sentence begins -- the ‘and’ serving as the link to verses 9-12, the ‘also’ pointing forward to what he is about to say regarding their reception of the apostolic message” (Fee, NICNT, 86-87).
Connecting two clauses, we find our conjunction friend ὅτι (that/because).  As discussed in the commentary of 1:5 and 2:1, ὅτι can be translated causal (because) or explanatory (that).  In this case, ὅτι either points to the content of the thanksgiving (that), or points to the cause of the thanksgiving (because).  In either case, the first clause points forward rather than backwards.
The clause that follows ὅτι (that/because) is παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ᾿ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ (you received God’s message that you heard from us).  The literal translation from the Greek seems a bit perplexing as it would read: “receiving a/the word of hearing from us of God”.  The ones who received the “word” are the Thessalonians.  The λόγον... τοῦ θεοῦ (a/the word of God) can be best understood in a couple of ways.  1. the “word” is the “message” that the Apostles preached to the Thessalonians.  2. the “word/message” originated from God, not mankind, thus the rendering “God’s message”.  παραλαβόντες is considered as a “technical” term for receiving a tradition.  In this case, it is Paul who has giving the tradition and its origins are from God.  Thus, this tradition handed down to the Thessalonians has a sense of authority (Wanamaker, NIGTC, 110-111).
λόγον ἀκοῆς (the message of hearing) points to the what the Thessalonians actually “heard”.  BDAG defines ἀκοή within the context of 1 Thessalonians 2:13 as “that which is heard”.  BDAG also offers this translation: “the word of divine proclamation that goes out from us” (BDAG, 36).
Another striking aspect of this phrase is that τοῦ θεοῦ (God) appears at the end.  In Greek, the writer would place emphasis on something by placing it at the beginning of the sentence or phrase while placing placing less emphasis on other things by placing them at the end.  Wanamaker offers a good reason for the position of God in this phrase as  it is probably an afterthought inserted by Paul to show who was the originator of the message (Wanamaker, NIGTC, 213). 
Paul goes on to say ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων (You have not received/accepted the message/word from people/men).  Paul uses a different verb here for “receive” than he did in the last clause.  There, he used παραλαμβάνω (to take, to receive as a tradition) and here he uses δέχομαι (to receive, to accept).  Within this context, BDAG says the word means “to indicate approval or conviction by accepting” (221).  The Thessalonians did not accept the message as coming from mankind, but accepted what the Apostles taught them as coming from God.  Paul clarifies this in the very next clause.
Paul uses ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ (but just as it truly is, the message of God) to clarify what the Thessalonians had indeed accepted.  The adverb ἀληθῶς (truly) is used here to drive that the message didn’t originate from Paul or mankind, but originated from God.  λόγον θεοῦ (word/message of God) should be taken as the message from God and not the message about God as the context is describing who the message originated from.  As Fee puts it, “In the phrase λόγον θεοῦ the genitive can only be subjective (= functions as the subject of the verbal idea in the qualified noun), not objective (= ‘the message about God’)” (Fee, NICNT, 88).
The verse ends with ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (who/which is also at work in you who believe).  What is interesting is that ὃς (who/which) is a bit ambiguous.  Normally a relative pronoun matches the case of the noun that it is standing for, but both preceding words do not match the case of ὃς which is in the nominative case.  λόγον (word/message) appears here in the accusative while θεοῦ (God) appears in the genitive and is modifying λόγον.  The key to explaining ὃς and what it stands for is found in how ἐνεργεῖται (is at work) is used throughout the rest of the NT.  BDAG states that ἐνεργέω in the middle (as it is here) is always used with impersonal subjects (335).  In other words, a person subject such as God can not be used here with the form that ἐνεργέω is in (the middle).  Therefore, ὃς must be standing in place of λόγον (word/message).
The very last part of the verse is ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν (in you who believe).  The preposition ἐν can mean “in”, “on”, or “among”.  Since Paul is writing to a group of people in Thessalonica, then the appropriate translation for ἐν is “among”.  The effects of the message that was preached to the Thessalonians is at work among them.  Paul then clarifies who the “you” are.  It is the “ones who believe”.  τοῖς πιστεύουσιν is in the present tense, thus it carries a continual aspect and could be rendered as “the ones who continually believe”.  What they believed what not only the “message” that was preached to them, but also that Jesus is the Anointed One.
Variant Readings
  • 06, 010, 012, 015, 0278, 33, and M omit Καὶ (and) at the beginning of the verse.
Echoes of the Word
1Thessalonians 2:13
One of Paul’s main themes in his writings is that there is one gospel.  He even curses to hell anyone who brings a different gospel.  Here we see the reason for his adamant proclamation and position.  He holds out the very word of God.  He has been entrusted to deliver this message directly from God, a trust he serves with a heart both zealous for the truth of God and and humble at being chosen to bring that word 
The verse begins with thanksgiving, expressing gratitude for the Spirit working in and through the message of the apostles.   The Thessalonians had not only received the gospel message, but had understood and embraced it as the very word of God.  The raw, undiluted power of the gospel thus was given full reign in the lives of these believers.  There was an undeniable change as the Spirit worked in their lives and the word went out.  The word continues to change lives today, unchanging and eternal as its source.
It is God using the word to work his salvation, the breath of God active and life giving, imparting life into creatures once dead, but now reconciled and restored to true life.  The trumpets in heaven find voice on earth through the words of man and the song of the overcomers swells in strength and joy with each soul added to the heavenly throng.  All praise and glory is given to the King of Kings.
Believing is a verb, and is confirmed by change. Receiving begins an intimate walk with the Spirit.  Becoming reflects the regeneration, or genesis of a new creation that will find its culmination when Christ returns.  God has begun the work, using the earth found in the clay of humanity and is molding and shaping the bride of Christ, the church, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  It is not a place constructed by the hands of man, but a joining in one Spirit of hearts made new and built up into the temple of the Lord.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

1 Thessalonians 2:7, Gentle or Infants?

7 Although we had the power to throw our weight around as apostles of the Anointed One, we became children in your midst.

Here is an excerpt of a upcoming book on 1 Thessalonians.

       Not only did the three Apostles not “throw their weight around” in their visit in Thessalonica, they ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι (became children).  νήπιος can mean “little child” or even “infant”.  It is a striking contrast for Paul to refer to himself and the other two apostles as “ones who had the power to thrown their weight around” to “little infants”.  The passage is debated by scholars due to the Nu (ν) of the word νήπιοι.  If the Nu is removed, then we have ἤπιοι which means “gentle”.  Some scholars think that “little infants” is too strong of a metaphor that is used in the context yet Paul uses “nursing mother” in the same verse (Fee, NICNT, 65).  In the textual tradition, “little infants” is the preferred reading Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 561-562), but it really seems that “gentle” fits the context better which probably lead to the variant reading “gentle”.  Since νήπιοι (little infants) is the preferred reading, a hard stop would need to appear at the end of 7b in the English sentence.  Even though νήπιοι is the preferred reading, it still could have risen from an error.  As Wanamaker states: “If  νήπιοι were the original reading, ἤπιοι could have arisen through haplography (deletion of a letter); If ἤπιοι were the original reading νήπιοι could have come about through dittography (adding of a letter) of the ‘ν’ of the previous word, ἐγενήθημεν.” (Wanamaker, NIGTC, 100).
“Little infants” provides a strong metaphor for Paul as opposed to “the weight that could have been thrown around as apostles”.  It probably means that Paul, Silas, and Timothy were “as innocent as little infants” (Fee, NICNT, 71).

Monday, September 26, 2011

1 Corinthians 11:4, Garment or Hair? Wonderful Greek Idioms!

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 tends to be “controversial” at best.  For the most part, the argument around the passage has to do with if the “head covering” spoken of in verse 4 is “hair” (long or short) or some type of "garment" or "veil".  For starters, let’s look at the renderings in the most popular English translations:
11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head (Christ)*. 
11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head (Christ)*. 
Both renderings pretty much look the same.  But what does “having his head covered” mean?  One must consider the Greek idiom κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων behind the translation “having his head covered”.
Here is a literal translation from the Greek.  Take note of the idiom.
11:4 Every man praying and prophesying, having down from the head, puts his head (Christ)* to shame.
As we can see, it is not as easy as it seems to translate the passage because of the Greek idiom.  So, how should we try to resolve this?  We must find out what κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων (having down from the head) meant in ancient times and what better place to look than the Bible itself!  The idiom can be found in Esther 6:12 of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) where the Greek idiom was used to translate the Hebrew for “head covered”.
Let’s take a look at our most popular translations again for an English rendering of the Hebrew.
6:12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief

6:12 And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered
Now the LXX:
Ἐσθήρ 6·12 ἐπέστρεψεν δὲ ὁ Μαρδοχαῖος εἰς τὴν αὐλήν, Αμαν δὲ ὑπέστρεψεν εἰς τὰ ἴδια λυπούμενος κατὰ κεφαλῆς
6:12 And Mordecai returned into the courtyard, but Haman returned home grieving down from the head.
As we can see from the Greek idiom, Paul is not referring to “hair” as the covering.  He is referring to some type of garment as indicated in Esther 6:12.
So what does this mean for the total passage?  Well, there are still many unanswered questions as we just don’t know what the “tradition” was that the Corinthians were keeping that Paul had passed to them.  One thing is for sure: Paul sets up an allegory between “head coverings” and “hair” later in the passage which results in the following:
No head covering garment = short hair = man
Head covering garment = long hair = woman

*Christ is the “head” of a man per verse 3.  παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν (The head of every man is Christ/The Anointed One).

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, Causal or Explanatory?

Here is an excerpt from an upcoming Study on 1 Thessalonians.  I lean Epexegetical (Explanatory).

4 We know your choosing, brothers and sisters loved by God, 5 because our Good News did not come to you in word only, but also with power, that is, with the Holy Spirit and [with] full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we became [among] you for your sake.

     But that may not be all that is going on with this passage.  At the beginning of verse 5, ὅτι (because) introduces the clause.  The way that the passage in translated above, uses ὅτι as the “cause” that Paul knows that God has chosen the Church in Thessalonica, but that is but one way to translate ὅτι.  ὅτι can also be translated as “that”, thus the passage would now be epexegetical or explanatory, thus explaining the way the Church in Thessalonica was chosen (Fee, NINTC, 31-32) (Fee, GEP, 40) (Green, PNCT, 93-94).  If this is the case, then verses 4 and 5 may be translated: “We know your choosing, brothers and sisters loved by God, that our Good News did not come to you with message only, but also with power, that is with the Holy Spirit and [with] complete certainty...”  If this analysis is correct, then we are seeing a conversion experience described here.  The missionaries’ message went forth, accompanied with power (miracles?) which is brought on as the Thessalonians are filled with the Holy Spirit which leads to the full certainty that the Thessalonians had truly been converted.  In the end, the meaning here is probably two-fold, The message (word) of the Gospel (Good News) in which the Missionaries preached was Spirit empowered and lead to the conversion of the people in the Thessalonian Church (Fee, NINTC, 36).

Friday, September 16, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:3, Translation Issues?

3 We remember before our God and Father your work of faith, your labor of love, and your perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.

Below is an excerpt from an upcoming Study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  This is an example of how hard translation can be.  As you will see below, the passage can mean and be translated three different ways.  As Robert Mounce says in his son's book, Basics of Biblical Greek, "The way a translation handles an ambiguous verse such as this reveals the theological leanings of the translator." (Referring to Romans 9:5, Basics of Biblical Greek, 2nd Edition, William Mounce, Page 13).

     3 The grammatical issue with this verse is where would ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν (before/in the presence of our God and Father) be placed in an English sentence?  In the Greek text, the prepositional phrase is located at the end of the clause, but just because it is located at the end does not mean that it modifies “our Lord Jesus Christ”.  It could also be functioning as an adverbial phrase and modifies  the participle “remembering” (We remember).  If we follow the word order, then the clause would be translated: “remembering your work of faith, labor of love, and the perseverance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.”  If we keep the word order, why then would Paul want to say that Jesus is in the presence of God and furthermore, what would that rendering have to do with the thanksgiving that Paul is writing about?  The obvious answer is “nothing”.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy where simply stating that as they are praying, they are in the presence of God remembering the Thessalonians. (Fee, NICNT, 22)  On the other hand, Bruce sees the phrase modifying the the attributes of the Thessalonian Church.  In other words, the Thessalonians’ practice of faith, love, and hope are done in the presence of God (WBC, 12-13).

Friday, September 9, 2011

John 3:3-8, Wonderful Word Plays

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from above/again, he is not able to perceive the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus says to him, “How is a man, being old, able to be born?  Is he not able to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from water and spirit/wind, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of God.  6 What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit/wind is spirit/wind7 Don’t marvel because I said to you ‘You must be born from above/again.’  8 The spirit/wind blows where it will and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from and where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born from the spirit/wind.
The Greek word for “from above” is ἄνωθεν.  It can also mean “again”.  ἄνωθεν is used 5 times in the Gospel of John.  The 3 times it is used outside of the above passage, ἄνωθεν means “above”.  See John 3:31, 19:11, 19:23.  Since 3:31 is actually part of the above passage, then one can see the use.  Verse 31 begins “Ο ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν” (The one who comes from above is over all things).  The main Greek word for “again” is πάλιν.  John uses it 45 times in the Gospel.  So, there is no confusion about the words.  John uses the word to create the confusion in Jesus’ and Nicodemus’ conversation.  Jesus means “from above” while Nicodemus is thinking of the alternate meaning; “again”.  That’s what prompts his questions.  In his 2nd question in verse 4, the Greek word for “not” here is μὴ.  When μὴ is used with questions, a negative or “no” answer is expected.  There are two words for “not”.  οὐ with questions expects a positive or “yes” answer, while μὴ expects the “no” answer.
The problem with translating ἄνωθεν as either “from above” or “again” misses the word play in the Greek, but there is no equivalent English word that will do the job!  The really fun thing about this is that Jesus and Nicodemus would not have had this conversation in Greek!  They would have had the conversation in Aramaic.  So, John is probably doing this in a stylistic way.
The other word play is with τὸ πνεῦμα (spirit or wind).  There is another word for wind which is ἄνεμος and John uses it in 6:18.  So, he is using πνεῦμα for wind on purpose here in this passage as he is aware of the other Greek word for wind.  The verb form of πνεῦμα is πνέω and it means “to blow”.  John uses it here and in 6:18.
Finally, what are to make of these word plays?  John either used them as a matter of style or used them to draw attention to what was being written.  I tend to lean toward the latter and will add that John’s Gospel was written to be read in Greek and not in any other language as a translation just doesn’t do the passages (at least this one) justice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Blog Going Forward


Thanks for reading this blog.  For the past year, Nuggets in the Biblical Greek has gone from a look at certain passages/verses to an outlet for full-blown New Testament studies.  Going forward, the Nuggets in the Biblical Greek blog will return to what it was originally created for: certain passages/verses, thus "Nuggets".

I (and contributors) will continue to do the "full-blown" studies, but new blog sites will be created for them.  To start, Stephen Brown and I have created "Exploring Paul's Letters" in order to provide the "big" study.  The first letter covered will be 1 Thessalonians, followed by 2 Thessalonians.

After that?  We will start on John's letters at "Exploring John's Writings".



Friday, September 2, 2011

Revelation 22:6-21, Epilogue; The Coming of Christ (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true, and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets1 sent his angel to show his slaves what must come soon2.”
     7 “And behold, I am coming soon3 . Blessed is the one who keeps4 the words of prophecy in this book5.”
     8 And I, John, am the one who hears and sees these things6. And when I heard and saw these things, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he says to me, “See that you don’t do this!7 I am your fellow-slave and of your brothers the prophets, and the ones keeping the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he say to me, “Don’t seal the words of prophecy of this book, for the appointed time is near8. 11 Let the one who does wrong still do wrong, and let the one who is impure9 still be impure, and let the one who is righteous still perform righteousness, and let the one who is holy still be holy.”10
     12 “Behold, I am coming soon11 , and my wage12 is with me to give to each one as is his work13. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega14, the first and the last, the beginning and the end15.
     14 Blessed are the ones who wash their robes16 so that their authority will be over the tree of life17 and they may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs18, the sorcerers, the male prostitutes, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and performs lying.
     16 I, Jesus, sent my angel to witness to you among the churches these things.19 I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”20
     17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”21 And let the one who hears say “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who is willing receive the water of life without cost.
     18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book; If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues whichhave been written in this book, 19 and if anyone may take away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life22 and from the Holy City which has been written in this book.23
     20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon24.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 
     21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.25

1 Echoes Numbers 16:22. The spirits of the prophets speak as they are moved on by the Holy Spirit. Mounce** (Pg. 390). Beale* thinks that the phrase echoes Daniel 2 and that John is among “special prophets” that God has commissioned to reveal his word. (Pgs. 1124-1126).

     Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his
servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

     The first verse of Revelation claims the message comes from God through the mighty hand of His Son, Jesus Christ. The revelation is then given to John, delivered by an angel. If the word of God is revealed, it can be no other than the Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God.

2 ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει (what must come soon) 

Greek: “what must happen in quickness”. Parallels with 1:1.

3 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

4 “Keeps” is figurative language for “obey”.

     Implied is the obedience that can only start with hearing this word, which means understanding and application.

5 τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου (in this book) 

or “of this book”. I’ve translated the genitive as an objective. I do so throughout the passage.

6 Beale* (Pg. 1128) states that “seeing and hearing” is the basis for a “legal witness”. He cites 1 John 1:1-2 to confirm this.

Ἰωάννου α 1·1 Ὃ ἦν ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς _ 2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν _

     1:1 The one who was from the beginning, who we have heard, who we have seen with our eyes, who we beheld and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life_ 2 and the life was made know, and we have seen it and testify to it and send to you the eternal life which was with the Father and revealed to us _

7 ὅρα μή (See that you don’t do this!) 

Greek: “See not!” Parallels with 19:10.

     John indicates here that while we may have different gifts we are brothers and sisters in the one body of Christ. We are given access to the same Spirit and made alive in the same kingdom of God. There is only one that is to be worshiped. It is the same God and Son that is on the throne.

8 The opposite of Daniel 12:4 where Daniel must seal the words until the end. The end had started with the coming of Jesus. Now the words are not to be sealed for everyone must know.

9 ὁ ῥυπαρὸς (the one who is impure) 

or “the one who is morally filthy”.

10 Verse 11 can mean several things: 1. It is a warning to the unsaved to rethink their lives; 2. Encouragement to the believers; 3. A reminder that whatever people do in their lives will not stand in the way of Christ’s coming; 4. A reminder that there is little believers can do to stop evil other than to continue to proclaim the Good New; 5. A reminder to believers to continue to walk in faith; Osborne*** (Pgs. 786-787), 6. From John’s point of view, there is no time remaining because Jesus is about to return; Mounce** (Pgs. 392-393). Beale* (Pgs. 1131-1133) says the passage is based upon Daniel 12:10 and interprets the phase based on the passage in Daniel. In Daniel, it is predicted that in the latter days that false members of the OT covenant will not understand that prophecy is being fulfilled and will continue to disobey God, but the Godly will obey God and see that the prophecy is being fulfilled. The change from the Daniel’s “prediction” to the Apocalypse’s “imperatives” show that the prophecies in Daniel were beginning to be fulfilled.

     In the final days before Noah and family entered the ark, even as it began to rain and despite warnings of coming destruction, life was carried on as if there was no end in sight. Those that did not listen were given over to their blindness. So it will be in the final days.

11 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

12 ὁ μισθός μου (my wage) 

or “my reward”.

13 τὸ ἔργον (work)

or “deed”. The verse can be seen in two ways: 1. Jesus is bringing his reward with him to reward each believer for his righteous deed. 2. The phrase is meant to be an encouragement and a warning. The wages paid to the one who does work for the kingdom will be eternal life, but the wages paid to the one who works against the kingdom will be eternal death (2nd death). Option 2 is the most probable. Osborne*** agrees (Pg. 788), as does Mounce** (Pg.393), and Beale* (Pgs. 1136-1137). The passage is an echo of Proverbs 24:12.

     It might be possible to apply this to both. Jesus renders judgment on both believer and non-believer, and they receive according to the choice they made. The wages of sin is death. The work of faith, of enduring to the end, will bring the crown of life.

14 These titles were applied to God in 1:8 and 21:6, but here to Jesus himself. This shows us that the Father and Son are unified as one.

15 These titles have already been applied to Jesus in 1:17 and 2:8.

16 The TR/KJV replaces οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν (the ones who wash their robes) with οἱ ποιοῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ (the ones who do his commandments).

The passage has a close parallel to 7:14. Mounce** draws to our attention that the participle οἱ πλύνοντες (the ones who wash) is in the present tense and carries a continual aspect. (Pg. 394).

17 If one has authority over the tree of life, then one has access to the tree of life. In other words, the passage probably means that believers have unlimited access to the tree of life.

18 This is the only use of “dog” in Revelation. Throughout the NT, “dog” is used to refer to “apostate” christians or Jewish christians who still hold to the Jewish law. (Phil. 3:2-3; 2 Peter 2:20-22). In the OT, “dog” is used of Israelites who violate the OT law. Beale* (Pgs. 1142-1143).

19 “You” here is in the plural. The problem is that we don’t know if Jesus means for “you” to be the same as “the churches” or is “you” is separate from “the churches”. ἐπὶ (over) with the dative can also be translated as “in”, “on the basis of”, or “at”. John is very fluid with his language so it could also be translated as “on” or “over”. Since the entire Apocalypse was written to the seven churches in Asia (See chapters 2-3), then in keeping within the context of the book, we should see “you” and “the churches” as being one in the same.

Osborne*** disagrees and says that “you” probably is a circle of “prophets” who were helping John. (Pg. 792). After much convincing analysis, Beale* agrees with “in” or “among” thus identifying “you” with “the churches”. (Pgs. 1143-1146).

     It may be that we can view this message as applying to to us all. Just as John is used to deliver the word revealed to him, we can see this message delivered at a particular time and people, but containing a universal application, blessing not only the original hearers, but the entire body of Christ.

20 Allusions to Isaiah 11:1 and Numbers 24:17.

21 It is the Spirit and the bride (believers) who say come because the bride is filled with the Spirit! Paul says in Romans 8:26-28 that the Spirit intercedes for believers in “groaning” for our weaknesses. The passage in Romans 8:26-28 deals with the preceding passages (18-25) where the church in Rome was “groaning” for the coming of the Lord (the adoption of our bodies). Therefore, in that passage, the churches’ “weakness” was in asking for the Lord to come. Why? We are all human.

     When no words are found for the despair in our hearts, when we open our mouths in pain and anguish, only to hear no sound, we can take comfort that we are yet heard. The Spirit knows our spirit, our needs and troubles. He knows better than we do what is taking place and our perfect end. Jesus has sealed us with the great Comforter to strengthen and guide us into His rest.

22 The TR/KJV replaces ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς (from the tree of life) with ἀπὸ βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς (from the book of life). This reading in the TR appears in no other Greek manuscript. Bruce Metzger explains: “The error arose when Erasmus, in order to provide copy for the last six verses of Revelation (which were lacking in the only Greek manuscript of Revelation available to him), translated the verse from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. The corruption of “tree” into “book” had occurred earlier in the transmission of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word ligno (“tree”) as libro (“book”). A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament (Pg. 690).

23 Echoes Deuteronomy 4:2. In other words, Jesus was warning against false teachers which we see in Chapters 2 and 3. Those false teachers were trying to get certain churches to compromise and become idolaters in order for everyday life to be easier. Idolatry is detested by God throughout the entire Apocalypse. Osborne*** says that the passage also has to do with false teachers who would change the book of Revelation in order to restructure the Christian faith. (Pgs. 795-796). Beale* agrees with my analysis. (Pgs. 1150-1154).

24 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

25 The TR/KJV replaces the entire line with Ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. ἀμήν. (The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.) With that said, there are actually seven different endings among all of the manuscripts.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)