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What does the name 'Christian' mean?

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Question #1:

Dear Doctor--I have two quick questions for you: you know the word "Christian" in the bible? And it was first used in Antioch, was it not? So, is that word in the earliest and oldest and best manuscripts, and was it originally used as a term of contempt by non-Christians? The bible doesn't say anything about that part.

Response #1: 

Acts 11:26 is indeed the first place where the word/name "Christian" occurs in the Bible, but not the only place. The same word is used later in Acts 26:28, and also at 1st Peter 4:16. As Meyer (Commentary on Acts in loc.) points out, all three instances can be read as outsiders using this name as a reproach. To take them in reverse order, Peter says "if you are suffering as a 'Christian'", which may mean being reproached under that (not complimentary) name; Agrippa is the subject in Acts 26:28 and he is certainly not being kind when he says, "do you expect me to declare myself a Christian?"; the first passage, the one you ask about, says, variously translated, that "the disciples were first called 'Christians' in Antioch". The verb there, chrematizo (χρηματίζω) is in the active voice, and it can mean "take the name", in which case one assumes that it would not be derogatory (since, if the sense of the verb really is active, Christians are then applying the name to themselves), or, if it were, that the brethren were wearing this (derogatory) name as a badge of honor, "sharing the reproach of Christ". However, there is good evidence for the verb, though active in form, being used in an impersonal sense as a passive equivalent (i.e., "one began to call them Christians there for the first time"), and that is the sense to preferred here (based on a parallel usage at Romans 7:3, et al.). I do not find convincing the case for identifying the suffix on the word, -ianos, as a pejorative diminutive (i.e., used disparagingly: "little Christs"), though that is frequently alleged. This suffix is most likely a gentilic possessive, often used of slaves and the household to which they belonged (i.e., "Christ's crowd", based on e.g., Herodianus, "belonging to the household of Herod). However, I think Meyer is probably right. If the name were just a description picked by Christians themselves, it likely would be more frequent in the New Testament. Although the word itself is not necessarily derisive, the fact that all three places where it occurs are in contexts that are most likely expressive of external contempt is probably not an accident.

As to the ancient manuscripts, they all have the word in all three places and their testimony is identical – with one critical exception. The best and earliest codex of all, Sinaiticus (aka Aleph, א, the ms. is now on-line; see the link: Sinaiticus), has instead of Christianoi (Χριστιανοί), Chrestianoi (Χρηστιανοί) – and it has this reading in all three places where the word occurs.  Therefore it is impossible, in spite of the Nestle-Aland tentative suggestion for Acts 26:28, for it to be an itacism (i.e., a popular misspelling based on third/fourth century shifts in pronunciation, something of which this manuscript is, it is true, replete). For one thing, I find no parallel for changing a long "i" (iota) to a longe "e" (eta) in this manuscript (and the unusual spelling would not have happened three times by mistake). Equally interesting is the fact that in all three cases, the right vertical stroke and the horizontal stroke of the ETA have been erased to produce an IOTA (yielding the traditional spelling). This is very unusual. Sinaiticus was corrected many times, and each generation of correctors had their own discernible "tics". But simple erasure without further comment seems to be unprecedented. Moreover, the empty space left by the erasure is, in all three cases, not filled up. This shows that without any question the scribe of Sinaiticus deliberately meant to write "Chrestian" in all three instances; it was not a mistake. The plot thickens when we consider that two of the earliest secular references to Christianity, Tacitus, Annales 15.4, where Tacitus talks about the Christians being persecuted by Nero as "Chrestians", and Suetonius, Claudius 25, referring to Claudius' expulsion of the Jews mentions a certain "Chrestus" as responsible, we find precisely the spellings one would predict if these authors (or their sources) were deriving their information from the same tradition which the spelling of Sinaiticus suggests.

Based upon this evidence, here is my own guess about what happened historically:

1) The unbelieving gentile inhabitants at Antioch took notice of this new group which was trying to convince them to join (evangelism recorded in this chapter). Not having a Jewish background, the word "Christos" meant nothing to them, so that referring to these people in terms of "the anointed One" would have been a bit too much for them when referencing this group whose activities and beliefs (to the extent they understood them or were interested in understanding them at all) seemed ridiculous. Ready at hand, however, was an excellent pun on the name that seemed to fit them to a tee. Rather than "followers of the anointed One", they were "the goody-goody bunch" or "members of the household of Goody-Goody" (Greek chrestos, χρηστός, often meaning "good" or "moral" in Hellenistic Greek). Besides being a good pun, this appellation caught precisely the sanctified behavior that characterizes believers and which contemporary unbelievers in particular found so odd (cf. 1Pet.4:4: "They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you").

2) This pun was so good, in fact, it caught on rapidly as the main way of identifying this new sect. Believers preferred to be called "brethren" or "disciples" after scriptural parallels, and also occasionally as "followers of the Way" (cf. Acts 24:14). As the new appellation caught on, it was apparently always used with a large measure of scorn, and believers were certainly aware of this. For that reason, they did not apply this term to themselves, except when making a point of the ostracism to which the secular world often subjected them (this accounts for both the rare use of the term in the NT and the fact that in all three instances it has this negative connotation of external abuse). 

3) Eventually, Christians reacted, and began to say, in effect, "You've got that wrong! We are followers of Christ! Not of somebody named 'Goody-Goody'!" When this began to occur, the correction "Christian" for "Chrestian" most likely became a self-designation. We see the transition no doubt already accomplished by the time we get to Tertullian, writing at the turn of the next century. He actually vents his spleen against the mis-pronunciation "Chrestianus" (which may actually have been the original form changed by Christians to reflect the Lord's rightful title): "But Christian, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned, is derived from anointing. Yes, and even when it is wrongly pronounced by you "Chrestianus" (for you do not even know accurately the name you hate), it comes from sweetness and benignity" (Apology 3.5).  This same attitude is to be found in Ignatius' letter to the Romans (3.2): "[I pray] that I may not only be called a 'Christian' (i.e., by others as a term of abuse), but be found as one [in truth]".

4) Later readers and correctors of the earliest manuscripts began to see the spelling Chrestianos as an error for Christianos. Oral readers in the scriptoria where manuscripts were copied sometimes consciously sometimes unconsciously made the change in pronunciation as they read resulting in the later editions showing no trace of the original ETA (the scribes never knew the difference). What happened in the case of Sinaiticus is similar. I doubt that it was a conscious effort to obliterate and cover up any trace of the earlier, correct reading. Rather it most likely struck the person who made the changes (at what point, early or very late, we cannot tell), as a mistake that needed correcting. He probably thought he was doing us all a great favor. Fortunately, the evidence has not been entirely erased, even if two thirds of the ETA has in all three passages.

What does all this mean? Are we Christians or Chrestians? While the word "Christian" might never have been coined except as a corrective, defensive mechanism, we certainly have the right to use this fine designation to describe ourselves, whether or not it originally came from the Bible. For we are in very truth, "members of the household of Christ", and proud of it.

In the Name of the Anointed One, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Doc! What exactly does it mean to be a Christian? I received different responses that have caused some confusion. Here's one:

"The etymology of the word Christian is from its historical origin. The Praetorian Guard of Caesar were willing to give their lives for Caesar. This Guard came to be known as the Caesarines. The world at the time of early Christianity, seeing the same willingness to die for their testimony of faith in Christ, began to call those of The Way (what believers in Christ were first known as) Christians. That is what defines a Christian. It is not a proclamation, but a willingness to die for Christ. Most professing Christians of today are not even willing to live for Christ. I think I have clearly given what the Bible defines Christian to mean. I have given the etymology of the word Christian and, therefore, why it cannot be changed to mean "little Christs" or even "Christ-like." The word is based upon a history that redefined the word martyr. Granted, that definition has been perverted in many ways, but it does not help to simply continue propagating the false misnomers about what the word Christian means."

Then I got this also:

"That etymology falls apart on several levels, primarily, everyone who was called a Christian was not a martyr, furthered by the fact that an even more precise word study of the greek etymology reveals that the ianos was a latin modifier for the greek, it was used to describe slaves. The word survived greek to latin intact. Maybe you can't believe what you read, because you didn't understand it. My point is EXACTLY that "BONO" calls HIMSELF a follower of Christ... does that make him one? NOPE... but if you read the worldly magazine interviews... they all call him a follower of Christ, a "Christian". Being a "follower of Christ" is more than a proclamation. I agree. Now tell me what you think it is? Is it different than what the world says is following Christ? YEP.

A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures

Ac 11:26 Christianous (Christians) is simply predicate accusative. This word is made after the pattern of Herodianus (Mt 22:16, Heroidianoi, followers of Herod), Caesarianus, a follower of Caesar (Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, p. 377, gives papyri examples of the genitive Kaisaros meaning also "belonging to Caesar" like the common adjective Caesarianus). It is made thus like a Latin adjective, though it is a Greek word, and it refers to the Hebrew belief in a Messiah (Page). The name was evidently given to the followers of Christ by the Gentiles to distinguish them from the Jews since they were Greeks, not Grecian Jews. The Jews would not call them Christians because of their own use of Christos the Messiah. The Jews termed them Galileans or Nazarenes. The followers of Christ called themselves disciples (learners), believers, brethren, saints, those of the Way. The three uses of Christian in the N.T. are from the heathen standpoint (here), Ac 26:28 (a term of contempt in the mouth of Agrippa), and 1Pe 4:16 (persecution from the Roman government). It is a clear distinction from both Jews and Gentiles and it is not strange that it came into use first here in Antioch when the large Greek church gave occasion for it. Later Ignatius was bishop in Antioch and was given to the lions in Rome, and John Chrysostom preached here his wonderful sermons.- AT Robertson

Which is the correct meaning of Christian and how are Christian suppose to behave? Please help.

Response #2:   

It seems there are two questions here: 1) the name "Christian", and 2) what a true Christian is/ought to be. Acts tells us very clearly where the name came from:

... and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 11:26 NIV

The word Χριστιανος itself is clearly derived from the word "Christ" plus the suffix -ianos -e -on (1/2 declension). This suffix, not a typical Greek formation, is generally agreed to be derived from Latin along the lines of what Robertson says in the quote you include. As such, the word expresses our relationship to Jesus Christ: we are His.

What this means is of course is profound. Being servants of Jesus, we ought to serve Him well. That would entail doing, saying and thinking exactly what He wants us to do, say and think all the time. In order to get to that point, the point where living really is, as Paul say in Philippians 1:21, "Christ", spiritual maturity is required (and that of course requires spiritual growth). So the formula I often repeat of "reading the Bible, praying consistently, availing oneself of substantive Bible teaching, believing the truth and putting it into practice in living for Him and passing the tests that come our way, then, after growing up in Jesus, helping others to do the same" is at the heart of being the Christian that Christ wants us to be. In short, there is no easy fix. This cannot be accomplished "outside - in" by conforming to some detailed definition (since everyone's gifts, ministries, and effects, just to take one part of the formula, are obviously going to be different; cf. 1Cor.12:1-11). Being the Christian Jesus wants us to be requires a continuing and continual inner-transformation of spiritual growth followed up by the consistent and diligent bearing of fruit for the Lord. For is "by their fruits that you will know them" (Matt.7:16; 7:20).

Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the revitalization of your thinking, so that you may be able to discover what God's will is, that is, what is good, well-pleasing, and mature (in His sight).
Romans 12:2

In the One we strive to please at all times, the Lord who did everything for us and died for us that we might live forever with Him, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #3: 

I was wondering what Bible translation you used for the quote of Hebrews 12:1-3 on the posting for 9/15/2007? I cannot find any translation where the word "originator' is used. Just curious.


Response #3:   

Good to make your acquaintance. The translation is my own. The word at issue, "originator", is the Greek archegos, a compound word of two elements, arche-, meaning "beginning" and/or "rule", and hegeomai meaning in this context "lead/leader" (cf. "hegemony"). In normal Greek usage, an archegos is usually a "chief, prince, founder, [person or thing which is the] first-cause, or originator". The English word "author" as a common translation is almost certainly due to the KJV's use of that word for archegos (Wycliffe had "the maker of faith"). No doubt the KJV translators had in mind the Latin word auctor which, while it is most commonly transliterated as "author", means "originator/founder" of things in general, and that aspect of the word was apparently fairly strongly felt at the time of translation, whereas in the 21st century "author" is hard to separate from the metaphor of writing, and not so often used in the sense of general origination without understanding a metaphor being present. That is the reason I decided to go with a word more reflective in today's English usage of what the Greek actually says in spite of the KJV's influence, since, as suggested above, that influence is at this date often pointing people in the wrong direction through misunderstanding of what many of the English words used implied in the 17th century.

Whenever there is no attribution for the translation (as here), you may assume that the translation is original with me. You can find more information about all this in the two relevant FAQ's:

12. Translations: Where do the translations of scripture that appear at Ichthys come from?

Most of the translations given at Ichthys are my original work. For those that are not, the version's abbreviated name (e.g., KJV = King James; NIV = New International; NASB = New American Standard) appears just to the right of the verse citation. An index of original translations currently available may be found at the following link: Ichthys Translations

20. Sigla: Would you explain the abbreviations and symbols used in the translations at Ichthys?

Put simply, square brackets indicate words supplied by me which are added to the text to bring out the full meaning of what the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic is actually saying (i.e., square brackets contain interpretive information). The King James version, for example, uses italics for this same purpose (although much more sparingly than I do). On the other end of the spectrum, the New International Version, for example, only explains such things via footnotes (and is not consistent in doing so): in the NIV it is usually unclear that words or phrases have been added for the sake of interpretation. Parentheses, on the other hand, when they are followed by explanatory abbreviations (such as cf., e.g., i.e., lit., etc.) are used to provide explanatory information, such as the Greek or Hebrew word being translated, parallel passages, etc. Where no such abbreviation follows, the words in the parenthesis are a part of the text. You can find out more about this and other information about the sigla and about how to understand and use these translations generally at the following link: How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys.

Hope this helps – do feel free to write back about this if further explanation is desired.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #4:

Hi There--I noticed something in the different translations of Luke 22:16. Most Bibles have Jesus saying that He will not eat the Passover AGAIN with His disciples, until "it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God." My NASB has "again" and so does the KJV, though it says "any more" which is the same thing. But the RSV leaves out the "again" and has Jesus saying He won't eat the Passover until all is fulfilled, though a footnote says "other ancient authorities have 'again'" So, it must be a textual issue. So, the Nestle/Aland and Textus Receptus have "again/any more." Do you know which Greek texts leave out the "again"? It seems rather silly for me for Jesus to sit down to the Passover and watch His disciples eat it, and not partake Himself. Plus, He did say that He desired to "eat this passover with you." So, it seems to me, that the ones with "again" in it would be the better ones, but I'm just guessing. Also, is there a Greek text called the "Bezae"? Or something like that? And in your opinion, which Greek text do you think is the best and most accurate? I have always heard that most scholars favor the Nestle/Aland.

Thanks again. Take care.

Response #4: 

There is no difference between the 26th and 27th Nestle editions on this verse. I would imagine that almost all modern critical editions would print exactly the same thing. The issue is whether to read ou "not" or ouketi "no-longer", and from a text-critical point of view the former is to be greatly preferred. In terms of meaning and translation, I would understand the same thing and translate the same way regardless. As you suggest, everything in the context suggests that Jesus did indeed eat this Passover meal; and nothing specifically says that He did not. Matthew 26:29 has our Lord explain that He will not drink "from now on" (Gk. ap' 'arti) and we should conclude that the commemorative meal is meant in the same way. That includes this verse even if we read ou instead of ouketi because the Greek often leaves out things that are obvious (even the direct object) whereas in English we get all out of sorts if such things are not explicitly stated in every case, even where they would (or should) be obvious if missing. As Jesus reclined and ate and said "I will not eat it until", the disciples understood as we also should "AGAIN" or "AFTER THIS ONE". The purpose of the statement is to show that this is the last Passover, and that He will soon be departing "to the Father" – that is true regardless of how one translates. So over-translating the absence of -k-eti (which is what we understand to be in ellipsis here) doesn't really accomplish anything except confusion among the readers. That is most likely why, for example, the NIV text does not half-bracket "again" even though it prints the word (and their policy is to half-bracket words and phrases which they have supplied as understood), viz. because this does not even rise to the level of supplying something that is "not there"; the negative ou in this particular context so strongly implies "not again" that to translate into English as simply "not" would be misleading and perhaps even an out and out mistranslation. The reason why the KJV does not use italics for the phrase "any more" is because the Textus Receptus (based upon later and inferior mss.) does have ouketi not ou. This, however, is very much an inferior reading in terms of all the better witnesses which do not read ouketi. Further, it is very easy to see how ouketi slipped into the text, as this is essentially what is meant, and the "correction" might have been adopted either consciously or unconsciously – but it is hard to see how ouketi might have fallen out. So the text is clear, and so is the meaning; even though the correct reading in Greek is simply ou, I could not support a translation that just said "not" without some serious arguments to convince me.

As to codex Bezae, this is sometimes called a "Western type" of text, though I don't buy into the family tree structure that is currently in vogue. It dates to perhaps the fifth to sixth century (it is an uncial text). It is a fairly good witness, but in this case it is clearly in the wrong (reading ouketi). There is another even better witness that reads ouketi, "C" or Ephraemi Rescriptus. These two, however, are greatly outnumbered and by all the best witnesses. The decisive factor is the lack of plausible explanation from a text-critical standpoint for getting from point B to A (whereas A to B is very understandable):

If the word [ouketi] were present originally, there is no satisfactory explanation to account for its absence from [all the best witnesses].

B. Metzger in A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, in loc.

As to what text I prefer, I like the UBS Greek New Testament 3rd edition (corrected) which is based upon Nestle's 26th edition text. That is because the font face is very readable, the textual apparatus is very helpful (though not as complete as the actual Nestle's), and there is a very nice commentary on textual issues for this edition by Metzger (just quoted above). The edition of the text itself really makes little difference to me as long as the apparatus criticus is fairly complete. I have years of marginalia and other resources, and if I am translating I generally check the text of Sinaiticus (the queen of the ms.). So I base my translations upon what in my experience I conclude to have been the original text, not what any editor or edition has printed (and I "correct" the text as I read whatever copy I am reading). About 98% of the Greek text is the same in all versions, and in only about half of the remaining two percent is the difference likely to be significant. Don't get me wrong – this is all very important; it's just that it is possible for someone with a bit of experience to navigate these matters successfully regardless of the particular edition on the desk. And it is getting easier by the day. Sinaiticus is now on-line several places (see the link: codex Sinaiticus), and even in cases where the codex, papyrus or other witness is not on-line in facsimile form, there are often very helpful resources on the internet. For example, I found Scrivener's collation of "D", codex Bezae, available for download at Google Books (see the link: codex Bezae).

Hope this helps.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I've wondered often while reading through your very thoughtful bible series, do you have the entire bible translated? You use translations throughout your work. I would love to have a copy of your complete translation of Scripture.

Yours in thought and prayer,

Response #5:   

Always good to hear from you. As to your question, while I very much appreciate the sentiment, I have never even entertained the possibility because I would never be able to do it (probably not even just the NT) and continue my Bible study work. A complete translation requires a massive effort and I am certain I won't live long enough to have such time on may hands. Also, there is the issue that the more I know, the more I change my translations to better bring out the power of what is there in the Hebrew and Greek. So I would never finish in a million years since I would always be adapting to fit what I've learned. Finally, there is also the problem that a complete translation has to have a certain readability and economy of form which I am not happy to provide. As you must have noticed, I generously "salt" my translations with additions and parenthetical explanations to the point where they are often more lessons within themselves than traditional translations per se. There were some hundred or so scholars of great experience who did the KJV. I'm going to have content myself with "improving" where there needs to be some clarification or correction, and leave the hard work of a complete work of art to someone else. I do, of course, collect the passages personally translated in one place for easy reference, in case you are content to look at individual verses and chapters. See the link: Translations at Ichthys.

Thanks again for your prayer support!

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #6:

I have a question about Fuller Theological Cemetery, I mean, Seminary--always thought it was kind of the bane of literal-conservative interpretation. I say that because I am thinking about making a run at a Phd program there. What questions might you ask Admissions and maybe even someone in the OT department, assuming they consider that the Ezra-Nehemiah period is, in fact, Old Testament.

Many Thanks,

Response #6: 

That's quite exciting news. Fuller always impressed me (from the outside looking in). I'm sure they have a very "lit-critty" type of biblical interpretation, but I'll bet they also still have a deep faculty when it comes to the languages and history. I would imagine that you would have to be very careful and be picking and choosing professors there.

Were it me, I would want to make sure (first) that there was at least one person on faculty with whom I was sympatico when it comes to basic exegetical approach to the Bible, because when it comes time to do a dissertation, your director has quite a "hold" on you. So (second) I would advise you do as much homework as possible on the /tenured/ profs (i.e., the ones who'll still be there in four or five years). It's easy enough to Google them and what they've written, and many of the journal articles are available through JSTOR <http://www.jstor.org/> (see the link) and their books on Google books and Google scholar (at least the info and reviews) to get an idea of the kind of research they are up to. If I were interested in being an OT professor, Fuller is definitely someplace I would look into. But the faculty is the key, so I would home in on what professors are actually teaching the things you are interested in.

That's the next (third) batch of questions. Once you've identified a group of profs who seem reasonable and potentially helpful and assured yourself that they are actually in Pasadena (not emeritus or adjunct or so famous they are never there) and are actually teaching classes and directing dissertations (rather than only doing research or admin). Then the next step (fourth) is to check out several semesters' worth of course schedules and see whether or not they are actually teaching all the wonderful classes that appear in the catalog (and how often – some places have lots of great classes that are never actually offered – I confess to doing a little bit of this at U of L for the sake of sanity and personal survival). Support is another (fifth) issue about which I would not be shy to ask: if you are going for a Ph.D./Th.D., generally speaking at some point they ought to give you free tuition or at least a tuition break, and also give you a way to earn your way (e.g., through teaching some classes or being a research assistant). Sixth group of questions would deal with their response to what you are interested in doing as a "plan". I would press hard here. They are likely to tell you what you want to hear (that's the tendency in admissions), but you might want to get an appointment with an actual prof or two to see whether or not what you dream of doing is something they allow. For instance, were I going to go to Fuller, I would be zero interested in literary criticism techniques, and very interested in detailed language study, textual criticism, ancient history, ancillary languages etc.; do they allow my focus or not? Lastly (seventh), after you've talked to the authorities generally and in the department, ask to have some meetings, formal or informal, with current graduate students, and ask them all of the same questions. That is when you get "the truth".

Best wishes for this!

Yours Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Dear Brother Bob,

A retired-pastor friend of mine startled me recently. He said that seminaries no longer require students to study Latin, Hebrew, and/or Greek. Please tell me that he is incorrect or at least partially so.

In Jesus,

Response #7:   

Well, there are a lot of different seminaries in this country, not to mention in the world, and they come in all manner of denominational "flavors", independents included. But I have to say that your friend's impression is the same as my own. I certainly would not want to paint unknown quantities with the same brush as I use for those I know, but if the ones with which I am familiar are any indication I would have to say that no one requires Latin (except possibly those connected with "break-away" Roman Catholic groups – I had a Latin student once who was involved in that, and his seminary did require extensive Latin). There are only a handful of denominations which still absolutely require Greek and Hebrew, and, generally speaking, of these most only have an absolute requirement of just a year or two of Greek (and Hebrew can generally be avoided entirely). With the exception of a few hold-out institutions, a person can usually avoid the languages if they want to. Moreover, having had "seminary Greek" sandwiched in between a Classics B.A. and my M.A./Ph.D. work in Greek, I can tell you that a year of such Greek is probably not even enough to make a person dangerous. All this is part and parcel of the general trend in this country and contemporary Christianity at large to put the emphasis upon social relationships, programs, church buildings and church-building, music and all the various and sundry things that a "church" might conceivably ever want to do while neglecting the one thing that Jesus told Peter to do: "Feed my sheep".

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
1st Timothy 5:17 KJV

The passage above is illustrative of this point. Many versions have "preaching and teaching" whereas the Greek actually says "those who labor in the Word and in teaching", which clearly means the process of digging into the Word to discover in depth what it truly means, understanding and believing the truth oneself, then teaching others (who do not have the gifts, the skills, the experience and the time to do so) in a way that truly edifies them. In other words, the scriptural mandate is the farthest thing from "preaching" as presently defined and practiced that I can personally imagine. But without Greek and Hebrew, a person is working in the dark to a very great degree, should they really want to understand the truth of the Word at a level deep enough to be able to teach it to others (most, of course, do not care to do so).

C.I. Scofield, of Scofield Reference Bible fame, shows that a person can go a great way without the languages, but that work in my view also shows up some of the major limitations of an "all English" approach, even in the case of an exceptionally dedicated and gifted person as he was. Key terms in Greek and Hebrew do not track 100% with those in English; tenses, voices and moods are not precisely compatible; and as in every language also in Greek and in Hebrew (to a greater degree than most others in my linguistic experience) there is always something "hanging in the air" that the sound, texture and cadence and arrangement of the words produces, often critical to the precise meaning of the whole; all translations therefore are to some degree interpretations of "what is meant", a fact which accounts in part for the variations even among good versions. Without Greek and Hebrew, a person is limited in just how far they can go in finding out "what is actually there". That should not be the ideal nor the standard, especially today when we have more opportunities to know more about the original languages, cultures and literatures, histories and historical issues than was ever the case before, with the sources often readily accessible on our computer screen. I think it says quite a bit about the nature of the present-day church visible that it is far more the rule than the exception that a young man going off to seminary may not only not have any Latin, Greek or Hebrew before he arrives, but may not even see the need to acquire any once there – and that this appalling view may be held by most of his professors.

In the One who is the truth in every language, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for your response. A Messianic I am debating has doubts that those verses are in the earliest manuscripts because he doesn't think Paul's writings are inspired by the HS--at least not all of them--and just doesn't like what Paul writes. And Peter obliquely refers to Paul's letters as "scripture" and says those that distort them are unbalanced, etc. Messianics are all over the place when it comes to Jesus. They all believe He is the Messiah, but many believe He is NOT God in the flesh, but just a perfect man. Many also believe that it is necessary to obey the Torah, including keeping kosher, not mixing fabrics, etc. They rarely take Bible verses at face value, like Acts 10 and Acts 15, that clearly show that keeping the Torah isn't necessary for salvation. They have to twist them and say we have to look at them through "Messianic" or "Hebraic" eyes in order to understand them properly, which is poppycock. Some will say it is not necessary, that we are saved by Yeshuah alone--but then will say that, once you believe in Yeshuah, then you will want to obey His Torah and all its rules. Some say it isn't necessary, in God's eyes, to keep it perfectly--since the temple no longer exists, it would be impossible, anyway--just so long as they try their best. Which flies in the face of scripture, as you well know. Some say Jesus is the "Torah in the flesh." Stuff like that. We have discussed this before, so won't go over it again.

By the way, are you familiar with the BDAG, 3rd edition? We have the 2nd edition. I am deeply suspicious of the 3rd edition, which I won't go into now, but just want your opinion. Also, you mentioned once a Greek Lexicon, I think it was, that you think is the best. You used initials at first, for it, and I had to ask you what it meant. I don't know what letter that is in, to hunt for it, so could you please tell me what it is, again?

Response #8: 

I have the 1957 edition. I use it from time to time, but frankly I don't find it terribly valuable. The chief advantages of a literature specific lexicon are 1) listing all uses of a particular word (so that it acts as a kind of substitute concordance), and 2) help with technical terms unique to a particular author or literature. Since BAG is very liberal, and since theology is my specialty anyway, the latter advantage really doesn't apply. In terms of concordances, there are plenty of them available in Greek for the NT, and BAG is poorly organized in that respect anyhow. BAG was essentially a replacement for Thayer which is really superior to it in my view. For quick reference to NT meanings, the UBS lexicon bound with its Greek text is adequate. I also like Abbott-Smith's Manual Lexicon to the Greek NT since he does a very good job of indicating what Hebrew words might be behind GNT usage. All in all though, I like to see what the word means "in Greek", and for that there is no substitute for Liddell and Scott. That is the standard Classical Greek lexicon (it comes in three sizes: abridged, intermediate, and unabridged, all of which are very useful in their own right – Oxford Univ. Press). In any case, the farther one gets with any language, the more lexicons are really only temporary helps. Generally speaking if I am looking up a word it is to hone in on precise meaning, and concordances are usually more useful in that respect since they give more contexts and more opportunities to narrow in on a word's precise semantic field. Anyone who is depending on a lexicon is running with their shoe-laces tied together, and depending on any edition of BAG is like putting a blindfold on in the process, especially if a person believes uncritically that what they say is "true". In fact, of course, as with all dictionaries, what they suggest as meanings might be correct, but it is a mistake to believe either that what they suggest is the sum total of possibilities or on the other hand that every possibility they suggest is really correct on other (especially if a person makes the fallacious assumption that any suggested meaning can be plugged into any context – that's the stuff that false interpretations is made of). One should always check for oneself, and in this context "checking" is examining how the word is really used in Greek in an adequate number of contexts; that is the only way to be sure.

You make a very good point about the temple – this is something I like to point out as well. Without a priesthood and a temple, about 90% of the Law is impossible even to attempt to fulfill – one can't even go through the motions. It's amazing to me that some people would think that giving it a good effort with "good intentions" would mean anything, since these are the very people who are relying upon strict legalistic observance for their salvation.

In our Lord who is the end of the Law for all who believe, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Hi--Thanks for your help. I didn't even know that the BDAG (BAG?) went back to 1957. Liddell and Scott? I think that is the one I was thinking of. I think we have Thayer on disc, but not sure where it is right now, on which computer. What did you think of what that guy wrote about the Hebraic perspective of John 3:16 and his analysis and translation?

"For in that way God loves the world, that He gives the uniquely begotten Son, so that everyone committing to Him should not perish but shall have eternal life." (John 3:16)

I am curious to know your viewpoint. He rewrites the bible, giving it his own translation, then writes commentaries on it, using his own translation to back up his commentaries and seems to think the BDAG is the last word in Greek translations.

Response #9:   

Actually the 1957 version is the fourth edition of BAG as opposed to BDAG – the D = Danker who is apparently the one doing the "updating" of the new series . . . but it's all based on Bauer's lexicon (he's the "B") which in turn is based on Thayer's et al. . . .

As to John 3:16, aside from the points of grammar and vocabulary covered in our previous discourse, I don't think that the person's translation is helpful since it is a bit too much like gobbledegook. Since it doesn't really make sense in English (i.e., you can read it over and over and not really understand what is being said), how can it be a legitimate reflection of the Greek text (which is completely and easily understandable)? Also, one could "use" BDAG in this way (or any other lexicon for that matter) to come up with all sorts of different translations; that is to say, this translation is not something that flows of necessity from the suggestions they print, so to suggest they the lexicon is "the authority" for the translation or even worse the cause of it is something that would have Herr Professor Bauer turning in his grave.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi--Thanks for your explanation. I don't mean to belabor the point about this guy, but here are some more of his translations:

"12 For as many as lawless sin as lawless also will perish: even as many as according to Law sin, through law will be judged." (DLT: torahtimes.org, Rom. 2:12), or

"12 For as many as lawlessly sin lawlessly, also will perish: even as many as according to Law sin, through law will be judged" (ibid).


The ESV has :

"For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law" (ESV).


How's this for a nice, wooden translation? He thinks that it's a double standard because :

"It implies that only Jews will be judged by the Law while implying that those not having Torah will perish somehow but not because they are judged by Torah. If you look at the least post, I showed how to fix the problem from Greek, so there is no double standard. Everyone will be judged by the Torah, whether by its norm or by the exception being judged in Messiah."

I think he also wrote that saying "under law" is "anti-semitic", that it should be "wtih the Law". That "en" doesn't mean "under". Hupo does. I told him that "en" has a huge range of meaning, and a real Greek scholar would know that. And that those UNDER the Law would also be "with" the Law, wouldn't they? See his take on Jesus' "this cup is the new covenant in My blood...."


"Luke 22:20 [And he said unto them, This is my blood of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many]. the renewed covenant: η καινη διαθηκη . See comment on Matthew 26:28 where the word is καιν lacking. This whole verse is lacking in Codex Beza, many of the Latin Itala, and a significant portion of the Syriac tradition. Looking at the reconstructions in Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, one cannot help but get the impression that an ancient theological war was fought over the words and order of the last supper. The text critical evidence certainly looks like the wreckage left over from such a dispute. The book of Luke has the distinction of being the only gospel to be used by the heretic Marcion and his numerous Gnostic followers, who may have even held a majority of Christians in the second century. Variants by Marcion do figure in textual studies. It was he who introduced the divisive titles "Old Testament" and "New Testament" as a way of dividing the Scripture. Divide and conquer they say. Well Marcion was so successful that his new names for the Scripture are still used to this day among Christians everywhere. From the textual evidence, it appears that the battle all went in Marcion's favor in the West, but that in the East he was disputed.

comment: Did Yeshua actually say the word at the last supper? It is clear from Jer. 31:33 and God's other promises in the Torah to completely sanctify Israel that Yeshua meant the Ancient Covenant (τ ς παλαιας διαθηκης), which is the same as the b'rit olam ( ) — the "everlasting covenant" (Psalm 105:10; Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 37:26). The most harmonious solution in light of the added words in 1Cor. 11:25 is that Yeshua made two statements, and that the Lukan and Pauline occurrences refer to as second time when Yeshua added the words "as often as ye do this". With or without the word , the meaning is equivalent. just puts the emphasis on the eschatological newness of the prophetic promise in the Torah.

Literal Translation and Commentary: (http://www.torahtimes.org/translation/luk2220.html)


As I said, this guy has his own translation and writes commentaries on it, to appear "authoritative." I looked up the word for "new" here and it does NOT mean "renewed." I think there is another Greek word for "renewed." But what do you think about his contention that this verse is lacking in many of the Greek manuscripts and many of the Latin ones? And what do you think of his explanation for "Old Testament" and "New Testament"? I thought Jerome came up with those. Oh, well. I don't mean to belabor the point. But this guy strikes me as thinking he is the last word in translation, that he is the only one who got it right. He is trying to get someone to publish his translation and commentary. So far, it is only on his own blog site. I hope it stays there...

Take care and God bless you.

Response #10: 

On Romans 2:12, I don't see any substantive differences from any of the published version. And the text is clear enough: if you rely on the Law for your salvation, the Law will be your judge, and you will perish, because "by the works of the Law will no flesh be justified in His sight" (Rom.3:20).

On the New Covenant, some things don't even require comment. I would have to doubt the salvation of someone who believed and was trying to convince others to believer that there really is no New Covenant!? As far as textual issues are concerned, the argument reported here is nonsensical. The new covenant of course goes back to Jeremiah's prediction of it (Jer.31:31), and the word "new" occurs in all of the manuscripts for Luke 22:20. Because a 2nd century heretic named Marcion who played cut and paste with the Bible generally took it out of his own personal scriptures is hardly a reason to doubt it. Paul repeats the phrase in 1Cor.11:25 re: communion, and again in 2Cor.3:6 and Heb.8:8; 8:13; 9:15; 12:24.

All of this of course depends on what the "covenant" really means, and here many people miss the boat, not only your correspondent. In my view, the difference between the Old and New is only one of presentation, looking forward through shadows to the atonement of Christ in the Old, and looking backward to its reality in the New. A covenant is essentially a promise from God; the agreement part is non-meritorious acceptance by us of what God offers; that is, salvation by grace through faith apart from any works. The rest of the Old Covenant is to teach and to sanctify, just as the writings of the New Testament teach us how to live for Jesus. Thinking of these two as completely separate or building abstruse and detailed systems of theology upon them and their supposed differences is not only unnecessarily confusing, but spiritually dangerous. Please see the links:

The Old and New Covenants (in SR 5)


In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #11: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill--This will be the last thing, I promise, that I will send you from this guy. But again, time permitting you, what do you think of his explanations? And that all the other translations of these verses were wrong? It just seems to me that he and others like him will do anything to put us back under the Torah:

[This is from an "all rights reserved article" so it cannot be reproduced here; the original article is at http://www.torahtimes.org/translation/ThetrueGospel.html]

Response #11:   

This is a lot of material, but I will say a few things. To start, it occurs to me that the Jerusalem council settled the issue during apostolic days of whether or not the Law needed to be kept for salvation. As I recall, we have it from scripture that all that gentiles were asked to do was to refrain from meat sacrificed to idols and that which still had the blood in it, along with refraining from indulging in idolatrous prostitution (Acts 15). It also occurs to me that we have entire books of the New Testament devoted to this issue, Galatians, for example, which addresses just such a problem, namely rebuking the legalizers who wanted to put the yoke of the Law and circumcision on new converts, and Hebrews, which goes to great lengths to point out that it is wrong for believers to be involved in the temple rites since Christ has now fulfilled these shadows. Romans, while not exclusively dealing with these matters, also has much to say about faith versus works of the Law – as we all should know. So I feel that it is very important before commencing any sort of discussion to point out that this issue does not rest upon the exegesis of a handful of verses. Rather, the entire New Testament assumes the fulfillment of the Law in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. One of the key things that contrarians usually lack, and an important point often overlooked, is a sense of the scale of things. Assaulting the scriptural principle of grace and the effectiveness of the atonement of Christ throughout the New Testament and scriptures in general with a bit of pseudo-scholarly gymnastics applied to a handful of verses is a bit like attacking a battleship with toy boat made of popsicle sticks. It doesn't matter how well the toy boat is glued together – chances of success in displacing a single rivet on the battleship are below minimal, and expectations to the contrary are sure to be disappointed.

Even so, the glue job is not too impressive either. Case in point is the key verse with which correspondent begins and ends, namely, Romans 10:4. I translate:

For Christ is the fulfillment (lit., "end") of the Law, resulting in righteousness for everyone who believes [in Him].

Your correspondent goes to great length to "defuse" this verse by translating Law as "custom". While the Greek word nomos (law) does not have that particular word as a suggested translation in BAG, I would say that in a vacuum this might be a possibility (it sometimes does mean that in other Greek authors). But correspondent's interpretation here in this context is – apart from the fact that it produces a verse without meaning in place of one which is very understandable – impossible for two additional reasons: 1) nomos is not only the word used for the Mosaic Law virtually everywhere else in the New Testament and the Septuagint (so that it is the "default setting" for interpretation by a wide margin wherever the word occurs), but it means precisely that in Rom.9:31 directly preceding in the context as well as in Romans 10:5 directly following in the context. For any author to change the meaning of a key term in the middle of a discussion of that very term with no indication in the text that he is doing so is, in any language, a dubious proposition; Paul has clearly not done so; 2) there is no definite article with the word "Law" here; occasionally in Greek words which are so significant in their own right that they are to be distinguished from all other exemplars of their particular category do occur without the definite article for special emphasis and require us to translate them as if they were definite. The most famous example is the word basileus or "king" which, without the article, is always more emphatic and means "THE king", namely, the king of Persia who was more important by degrees of magnitude during the Classical period than any other monarch with whom the Greeks had to do. The Mosaic Law could easily fall within such parameters = "THE Law" (i.e., the Law of Moses as opposed to humanly produced law), but an unidentified and abstract "norm" certainly could not. All this means that the translation "end of the norm" is impossible; "end of a norm" might be possible, but, in addition to making no discernable sense, would require Paul to immediately explain which "norm" he was talking about and what precisely he meant (which he does not do because, viz., he is talking about the Law of Moses); even if a reader were to take the word this way (a statistically insignificant possibility), the only such "norm" possible in context would be . . . the Mosaic Law . . . of which Christ is "the end".

And, finally, dikaiosyne can mean justice as well as righteousness, but here it means the latter, since in this whole context (indeed since the beginning of the book) Paul has been using this word to refer to the righteousness we receive by faith. In context, in the preceding verse, Paul is criticizing those who, apparently just like correspondent, are attempting to establish their own righteousness based upon the Law and as a result refuse to submit themselves to God's righteousness (which is only available through faith in Christ). It is in this vein that Paul then says that Christ is the fulfillment/end[goal-purpose] of the Law in regard to righteousness – and that makes perfect sense: if we have Christ, we do not need to worry about keeping the Law because Christ has fulfilled all of its requirements by dying in our place. Indeed, we cannot keep the Law perfectly and that is a large part of the Law's purpose since "through the Law comes the consciousness of sin" (Rom.3:20).

As to the "mystery of lawlessness", this is a prophecy which has its main application during the Tribulation. For whereas Paul says that it is already at work, he also states that it will not explode in all its horror until the restraining ministry of the Spirit is removed at the outset of the Tribulation (please see the links: "The Mystery of Lawlessness" in CT 2B, and "Unleashing the Mystery of Lawlessness" in CT 3A).

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4 NASB

The entire Bible is the blessed Word of God. Everything found in the Law is "inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2Tim.3:16). I love the Torah and the entire Tanakh and read it in Hebrew every day. But everything has to be properly interpreted, and failure to distinguish the times is a common error made by many individuals and groups. If we fail to understand that we are not in the apostolic era, for example, we may become vulnerable to those who say we are not really saved if we are not speaking in tongues. During the Tribulation, if we fail to understand that our primary role is one of martyrdom, we may endanger our salvation by "fighting back against the beast" in a way that in another time and place against another dictator might be admirable. Likewise if we fail to understand, as the recipients of Hebrews had failed to understand, that Christ's death fulfilled the shadows of the Law, we will be likely to make similar, deadly errors. We accept that "the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully" (1Tim.1:8), but that requires understanding its original purpose (to point to Christ) and its present limits: it is still a wonderful and godly means of instruction, but spirituality does not come through keeping it (which is impossible), far less salvation.

In our dear Lord Jesus who fulfilled all the prophecies about Himself, including those of the Torah which speak of His substitutionary death on our behalf.

Bob L.

Question #12:

Dear Dr. Luginbill--Some Messianics put their own "spin" on Galatians and Romans, and Colossians. They try to tell me that the gentile Christians were actually obeying the Law of Moses, observing the OT festivals, etc., and that the gentiles were criticizing them for it, hence, what Paul said in Col. 2:16. But I tell them that can't be, because in vs. 17, Paul calls all these things SHADOWS, BUT--here is the contrasting word, "but"--"Christ is the substance." They don't like it when I say that. As for Acts 15, they say that it was the Rabbinic laws that were too great a burden to bear, but that is nonsense, since vs. 5 clearly says "Law of Moses." OR they say that this was just for the newest converts, for the beginning, until they could be taught more because "Moses is preached in every city," and this means that they would teach the gentile converts to observe the Law of Moses. I tell them THAT can't be either, because vs. 28 says that they were to have NO greater burden laid on them except those four things, and it goes on to list them. "NO greater burden than." I sometimes wonder if they can ever read properly. Oh, and they put a Messianic, Toraic "spin" on Galatians (yes, they manage, believe me!), that Paul didn't really mean this or that. Or it's been mistranslated. Or the Bible isn't inerrant, parts of it are; some reject Hebrews--I've heard all kinds of excuses for not simply accepting at face value what the word of God ACTUALLY says. By the way, where does Hebrews say it is wrong for believers to observe the OT laws and such?? I would love to read that part. Haven't done a systematic study of Hebrews yet, but hope we will someday, in Wednesday night bible study class.

Thanks for your help.

Response #12: 

Good for you on Colossians 2:16 and Acts 15; of course Romans and almost all of the other books likewise present problems for this topsy-turvy view of things. As you say, one would have to resort in the end to claiming that the New Testament doesn't matter in order to support such a view. I am especially interested in the interpretation you report to the effect that Acts 15 refers only to Rabbinic laws; after all, if we take out all of the laws for sacrifice and everything else that had to do with the temple, and if we take out all of the laws that dealt with or required the priesthood, and everything dealing with criminal and civil law (which is necessary since we don't live in Israel), and if we then say that Rabbinic interpretations of the rest are inoperative, we don't have a whole lot left aside from the 10 commandments!

On Hebrews, the most salient verse on this is Hebrews 6:4-6, quoted here with parenthetical explanations:

(4) For, in the case of those who have been enlightened (i.e., have become believers, "light in the Lord": Eph.5:8), and who have experienced the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit (i.e., have been baptized with the Spirit so that He indwells them, and by the Spirit into union with Christ), (5) and who have experienced that the Word of God is good, and [who have experienced] miracles [foreshadowing] the age to come, (6) it is impossible to restore them to [true] repentance after having fallen [into sin] as long as they keep crucifying the Son of God afresh and exposing Him to open shame (i.e., while they continue in their sin, the particular sin in question here being continued participation in the sacrificial rites of Law which foreshadowed Christ's work on the cross and suggesting by that participation that His work was ineffective
Hebrews 6:4-6

Later, Paul will encourage these wayward believers to abandon ritual Judaism entirely, to "go outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore" and choose the true sacrifices of praise and good works rather than the obsolete rituals of the Law which Christ has now fulfilled (Heb.12:11-15).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill--This guy quotes the 3rd edition of the BDAG, in which "norm" is supposedly the first definition given. In my 2nd definition, it is the second definition given, if I remember right. So, he won't believe you if you were to say it isn't in its range of meanings. He thinks the verse "Messiah is the end of the norm for justice for all those who faithfully trust" means, if I remember right, "Christ is the end of what the sinner actually normally deserves from God's justice, for those who faithfully trust [in Christ]." In other words, Christ ended the justice that God would normally mete out to sinners--eternal death in hell. Which is actually true. But he still translates "nomos" as "norm" most of the time, except when it applies to one of man's laws, or where the bible actually talks about the Law of Moses, as in Acts 15:5. Most of his translations (and he admits they are literal) are stiffer than a frozen poker. And don't add anything to understanding, if you ask me. I mean, what is wrong with "believe" instead of "faithfully trust"? He sees antisemitism in a lot of Bible verses. Remember the one I told you about in which he said the verse translated as those who are "under" the Law--which uses "en" for "under"--should be "with the Law." He said the ESV showed its antisemitic bias, since he said "en" can't mean "under." I don't see it as one of the myriad meanings in our BDAG, but it does have a lot of meanings, with "etc." after some of them, so I think it is possible. Strong's gives it as one of the meanings. And anyway, those with the Law are usually under it, so what is the big deal? He still won't tell everyone where he learned his Greek and Hebrew. I suspect he is self-taught, or took it by correspondent course. I told him his translations aren't authoritative and he said I was really hung up on "authority." I told him that the translations we have now were done by known experts in their fields, most having Ph.D's in them, and were peer reviewed. Who reviewed THIS guy? I got no answer to that.

Thanks for writing back.

Response #13:   

In addition to the criticisms on this translation leveled in my previous e-mail (which I feel are decisive: the context is the Law, and there is no definite article so it can't mean "the norm"), if correspondent's interpretation were correct, Paul would have written just "end of justice/judgment" without adding anything about "norms". This would at least make sense in English (though it doesn't fit the context), but there is no way he would have written "end of THE NORM for justice", which makes little sense in English or in Greek.

On en nomoi, I agree with you that this is a distinction without a difference. If I may, I think that, besides obfuscating away any real meaning in any of the verses which cause problems for his interpretation, most of the actual infelicities of translation he produces really don't amount to much semantically speaking. Bottom line: "under the law" and "with the law" would mean in either case "those who keep the law". As to en nomoi not being capable of meaning "under the law", that is absurd. For one thing, we are talking about English, and in English we do use "under" in the sense of "subordinate to"; that is very clearly what en nomoi means in Paul, however one wishes to translate it into English. For another thing, en is without question the most flexible of the Greek prepositions as it is used in the New Testament; that is because it is very flexible already in Classical Greek, and in the NT we have the added factor of that preposition also representing the Hebrew preposition be, resulting in an essential combination of the semantic fields of both. Not only that, but we also find the actual phrase "under the law" (Greek hypo nomon; cf. hypo-thermia) in 1st Corinthians 9:20 as well as in Galatians 4:21, with no discernible difference between the meaning of the phrases in their contexts as compared to the usage in Romans (showing that Paul thought of these phrases as completely interchangeable). It's pretty selective exegesis to omit that particular little gem. I don't think we can accuse Paul of antisemitism.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi--Thought you might be interested in what this guy has to say about the "new covenant" in the Last Supper. I nearly exploded when I read these:


Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

the covenant: της διαθηκης . The 'authorized version' has the words "new testament". However, better manuscripts have become available. Apparently the word "new" is not in them. Also, strangely, the word covenant gets turned into testament when the translators cross from the Torah and the Prophets into the gospels. Did you ever wonder why? A testament is a will, which is a unilateral transfer of possessions from one party to another upon the death of the will maker. A covenant, on the other hand, has two sides to it. If we are faithful and do our part, then God will be faithful and do his part. Providentially, God's part includes a pardon for those who want to do what is right, since we all fall short.

comment 1: Even if Yeshua did say the word , the meaning is the same as just saying "covenant" due to the fact that means renewed in Hebrew. And likely, he repeated the statement a second time with the word (cf. 1Cor. 11:25). The Greek word καινη also covers the sense of anew or again. The omission suggests that the Scripture wants to emphasize continuity here, or that was Matthew's intent with his Judean audience. Jeremiah 31:31-34 certainly includes the Torah in the renewal. However, it cannot be denied that the word also includes the concept of new in the sense of "distinctive" or "in nature, different from the usual, impressive" (TDNT, καινος), but it is not the Greek word to use for "what was not before," "what has only just arisen or appeared," or "new in time or origin" or "young, with a suggestion of immaturity or of lack of respect for the old" (TDNT). The Greek word to express the latter idea is νεος. There is probably some overlap in the two Greek words and the Hebrew includes both concepts. We must depend on context and correct theology to sort out which senses are meant.

comment 2: The English word "new" for "new covenant", is, unfortunately loaded down with a lot of useless theological baggage from the last 19 centuries of anti-Torah exegesis, doubtless due to the fact that the theology is the interpreters of the concept is being informed by a host of mistranslations from the Pauline epistles and misconceptions based on the letter of Hebrews. So it is necessary to say what is "new" about the new covenant. It is new because it points to the fulfillment of the promise in Deut. 30:6, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live". This promise has not yet come to completion, but it is exactly what is promised in Jeremiah 31:33, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;" For the faithful who trust God and look forward to this promise, there is no deficiency in the Torah because God has promised to make Israel perfect with it. And indeed the promise is repeated in the prophetical of Leviticus 16:30, "For on that day he shall make an cleansing for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD" (compare 1John 1:9).

comment 3: Blood is the symbol of life, which is represented by the fruit of the vine in the third cup. Yeshua's life is given up as payment for the penalty of our sins, and then Yeshua's life is raised up, so that His divine life can be imparted to us through the sanctification of His Holy Spirit. The payment is finished, however, we still must faithfully (trustingly) wait for the righteousness of God which shall be fully imputed to us when Messiah returns (Gal. 5:5; Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:33).


Luke 22:20 [And he said unto them, This is my blood of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many].

Literal Translation and Commentary: (http://www.torahtimes.org/translation/luk2220.html)


How do you like that "renewed" covenant??? I double-checked Strong's and there is no way that the word could mean "renewed" that I could see, since it means "new, fresh." There is a perfectly good word for "renew" in Greek and I gave it to. He didnt' like that. He is trying to find a publisher of his "bible." So far, no takers. It's not as bad as say, the NWT of the Jehovah's Witnesses, or that horrible "Good as New Bible" that came out a few years ago, but still...I wouldn't buy it!

Response #14: 

I think I addressed this issue of covenants in a previous e-mail about this fellow's translations, but on the issue of "new" or "renewed", while it is true that Greek has two words for "new" (kainos and neos), in practical terms there was very little difference in meaning between the two in Classical times and by the time of the New Testament they are used interchangeably (comparable to the situation with the two words for good, agathos and kalos: while there is small historical difference, it would be foolhardy to attempt any exegetical gymnastics based upon the use of one as opposed to the other).

The truly important point here, however, is that in Hebrew there is only ONE word for "new", namely, the word correspondent quotes, chadash. This is true both in Modern and in Biblical Hebrew, so that we have to assume that this person either doesn't really know Hebrew very well or else is being completely disingenuous when he insists that chadash must mean "renewed" (impossible for this adjective) and can't mean just "new" (which is what it always means in fact).

As to getting his translation published, in my experience publication of books is in fact not very difficult since the calculus is always has to do with the expectation of sales and little else. Journal articles are peer reviewed (and scholars are paid nothing for them). That is also the case with scholarly presses, but not necessarily with commercial presses. An article always has to pass the gauntlet of peer review, while a book may merely have to demonstrate some sales potential (depending on the publisher).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

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