Thursday, January 26, 2012

1 Thessalonians 4:3; "The" or "Every"?

How about a bit of Textual Criticism!  We will be looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:3 from Codex Sinaiticus*.  If we look carefully at the text, we will see a change.  The issue here is around ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας (you from sexual immorality).  If we look closely, Sinaiticus has the proper reading, but a scribe/copier “corrected” the original text by altering τῆς which in English is the equivalent to “the”.  The scribe/copier added a line to the tau (Τ) and erased part of the top of the tau to try to make it into a pi (Π).  Then the scribe added AC above the now formed Π and the latter HC to give the “corrected” reading.  Therefore, the new reading is απο πασης πορνειας (from every sexual immorality).  If you look at the last line, you can see the space that the T takes up.

*Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest, complete Greek Bible in the world.  It was produced in the 4th century.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Matthew 5:17-18, One Iota and One Horn

Matthew 5:17-18
17 Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets.  I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill (the law).  18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one horn will never pass away from the law, until all things should happen.
Everyone has heard the phrase “not one iota” (ἰῶτα), but few know that the second part of the saying is the feminine Greek word κεραία for “horn”.  Of course, Jesus is referring to letters of the alphabet in this passage.  The “iota” referring to the “smallest letter” of the alphabet while the “horn” is referring to “hooks” on the letters of the alphabet.  Thus the KJV: “one jot or one tittle” and the NIV: “the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen”.
Just some fun facts.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 Excerpt from Study

How about another excerpt from the study of 1 Thessalonians?  As always, this is a rough draft.

Chapter 4
A Life Pleasing to God (Introduction)
1 As for the rest then, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that just as you received from us how to live and to please God, as you even live, that you may abound more.  2 For you know what instructions we gave to you through the Lord Jesus.
Technical Commentary
Paul now starts a series of instructions in order to supply “what is lacking” in the Thessalonians’ faith.  The “supplying what is lacking” starts here at 4:1, but goes through 5:11.  We will break this long passage up in order to examine the different thoughts.
1 Paul begins he transitional statement with Λοιπὸν οὖν (As for the rest then).  Λοιπὸν οὖν is not so easy to translate into a contemporary English phrase.  Although λοιπός is being used here as an adverb, its meaning as an adjective is “pertaining to that which remains over, esp. after action has been taken, left” (BDAG, 602).  Many translations translate it as “finally”, but as Fee points out (NICNT, 139), the letter is far from over.
What follows is an “asking” and an “urging” for the Christians in Thessalonica to live their lives and please God as they were instructed by the apostles to do.  What it interesting about what Paul asked and urged them to do is exactly what Paul says they are doing!  Therefore it becomes an apologetic and is not a new teaching, but the same as what they had previously been taught while Paul was in Thessalonica (Fee, NICNT, 141).
As expected, Paul uses ἀδελφοί (brothers and sisters) to start the passage, thus maintaining the family language used throughout the letter.  He then states ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ (we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus).  The first verb, ἐρωτῶμεν (we ask) carries the idea of a simple request (BDAG, 395).  Paul is keeping the letter “friendly” as the Thessalonians are doing so well.  But he still follows this verb with the next verb παρακαλοῦμεν (we urge), which he has already used in 2:12, 3:2, and 3:7.  The verb adds an additional force to what Paul is about to say.
Before Paul writes what receives the action of the two verbs, Paul writes that the Thessalonian received instruction on τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ (how to live and to please God).  The literal translation is more like “how it is necessary for you to walk and to please God”.  Therefore the thrust of the clause not only reminds the Thessalonians that “the how” is necessary “to walk/live” and that is what pleases God, but also shows that living correctly is required (Wanamaker, NIGTC, 148-149).  Paul then states that the Thessalonians are indeed doing these things now with καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε (as you even live).  The force of the latter phrase is more like (just as in fact you are living now).  There are a few things to summarize: 1. the “how” came from instructions that were giving to the Thessalonians from Paul, Silas, and Timothy; 2. this way of life pleases God; and 3. the Thessalonians are in fact “living” the way they should be in order to please God.  It is worthy to note here that the Thessalonians are to live and to please goes contra to their current pagan environment which was the reason for their persecution by their fellow-countrymen.
Now we finally get to the point that Paul and company “asks and urges” the Thessalonians to do: ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον (that you may abound more).  In other words, the more they live to please God, the more their faith builds and strengthens and that results in pleasing God even more.  Thus, their relationship with God grows (Fee, NICNT, 141).  The full force of the sentence is for the Thessalonians to continue to do the things that they are currently doing and this will allow them to grow their relationship with God.
2 Paul again reminds the Thessalonians that this is nothing new that Paul is writing to them and explains where the moral instruction really comes from: “through the Lord Jesus”.  Paul begins with explanatory word γὰρ (for) and οἴδατε (you know).  In doing so, Paul is reminding the Thessalonians that what he is about to say is something that they should already know.  What they should know is τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν (what instructions we gave to you).  The word παραγγελίας (instructions) is defined by BDAG as “an announcement respecting something that must be done, order, command, precept, advice, exhortation” (BDAG, 760).  Therefore, the instructions giving were guidelines that the Thessalonians must follow in order to please God.
Finally, as stated above, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the source of the instruction that is necessary to please God.  It is none other than the Lord Jesus himself who is the source that drives the apostles in the first place.