Is Celibacy the “Right” Thing? (1 Cor 7:37)
Does καλῶς mean “right” or “well”? This is one of those situations where I would think we hear things differently.
Paul has been arguing for celibacy, the gift that no high school or college student wants. His basic argument is that it is better to remain celibate so as to be able to focus on ministry, but it is only right for those with the spiritual ability to do so. (And all students sigh a sigh of relief.)
Within that context Paul says, “However, the man who stands firm in his resolve is under no compulsion but has control over his desire, and has determined this in his heart to keep her as his virgin, he will do well” (v 37).
The problem surfaces in the NIV 1984, which says,…
When is Greek Grammar Bad English Grammar? (1 Cor 9:6) – Mondays with Mounce 270
This blog can be placed in the category of the inconsistencies of formal equivalent translations, which try to keep Greek word order if possible. But what if the word order isn’t really incorrect grammar, but poor style?
Paul writes, “Or is it only I and Barnabas (ἐγὼ καὶ Βαρναβᾶς) who have no right to refrain from working?” Do you see the problem? Paul writes, “I and Barnabas,” but English style requires “Barnabas and I.”
The Many Faces of γάρ (1 Cor 14:23) – Mondays with Mounce 269
We all know that a word has a range of meanings. In fact, I am not sure there is a word that only means one precise thing. And while a word may have a dominant meaning, that doesn’t preclude it having secondary meanings that are sometimes used. After all, what’s the point of a secondary meaning that is never used?
We also know that Greek wants to start sentences with a conjunction that indicates the relationship of the second sentence to the first.
For example, δέ can mean “and” or “but.” It can also be translated by a period. After all, with the way English works, if you have two sentences in the same paragraph, we naturally read the second sentence as being in relationship to the first.
Take γάρ. Its dominant meaning is “therefore.” BDAG gives this as its…
Idioms and Context (1 Cor 2:7) – Mondays with Mounce 268
Idioms are notoriously difficult to translate. When they occur in isolation, they are a little easier since you can just find an English expression that carries the same meaning. But when they fit into the context of the passage, they are more difficult.
To most English readers, “before the ages” is meaningless. What ages? The Ice age? Which one?
To someone who understands the linear nature of the Jewish concept of time, it is…
Should You Practice Your Sermons? (1 Cor 1:17) – Mondays with Mounce 266
Paul tells the Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom (οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου), lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor 1:17; see the NJB, “wise words”).
The problem with this translation is that it would mean no pastor should speak with eloquence. I guess that means all pastors can speak wisdom but they can’t sound fluent or persuasive. And it means the two days I used to spend practicing my sermons were an unbiblical waste of time.
The NIV (2011) has, “not with wisdom and eloquence,” a poor change from the 1984, “not with words of human wisdom,” which makes…
“If” or “Since” We Stand Firm (1 Thessalonians 3:8) – Mondays with Mounce 264
In a first class conditional sentence, the protasis is assumed true for the sake of the argument. In other words, if the protasis is true, then the apodosis must follow. So Paul says, “If you live according to the flesh, you will certainly die” (Rom 8:13).
Where first class conditional sentences get a little tricky is when the “if” injects an element of uncertainty where none is intended. The tendency of some is to translate εἰ as “since” in these situations. “If I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matt 12:28). Jesus most certainly was casting out demons by the Spirit of God, and so some prefer “Since I cast out ….” Wallace…
Let’s Play “Fill in the Blanks” (1 Timothy 4:3) – Mondays with Mounce 263
Paul can hardly be accused of mincing his words. He is an apostle, knows the truth, and says it clearly and unapologetically. Sometimes he uses sentences that are so long we struggle a bit to follow his discussion, but the Greek often has clues that help.
In describing the false teachers, Paul says that “some” people (τινες) will depart from the faith, and then follows with a series of participles that tie the argument together. When the NIV and NET start a new sentence at 3, and the NLT starts a new paragraph, they break the flow of thought and…
Do all things really work for good? (Romans 8:28) – Mondays with Mounce 262
The reason these are poor translations is because they make it appear that “all things” mystically make everything that happens good.
Part of this is just common sense, after you have stripped away the religiosity and shallowness of the church’s stereotypical response. Don’t get me wrong; I believe our sovereign God is all good all the time, but it is just nonsensical to say that every evil thing that happens is good, regardless of how you massage…
Is there ever a time to use “man”? (Col 3:9–10) – Mondays with Mounce 261
Paul tells the Colossian church to “Stop lying to one another, since you have put off the old man (τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον) with its practices, and have put on the new man (τὸν νέον), which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:9–10).
The challenge is the translation of ἄνθρωπον and the dual meaning in the verse.
On the one hand, it is a contrast between our old sinful nature and our new regenerated nature, hence the NLT’s translation. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
Last Chance! Biblical Languages Certificate Introductory Discounts End Soon
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of learning the biblical languages, but going to seminary has never been an option. Or perhaps you once knew Greek and Hebrew well, but over time, you’ve lost some of your proficiency.
When you complete the new Biblical Languages Certificate Program, you’ll be able to work with the languages the Bible was originally written in.
You’ll discover meanings you might not see in an English translation. You’ll be able to see the kinds of rhetorical devices that get lost in translation. And you’ll be prepared for advanced language study.
Understanding Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic will transform how you understand and interpret the text of God’s Word.
Introductory discounts end this coming Friday, September 30.
Do you feel like a “glorious inheritance”? (Eph 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 260
In the words of Iron Man, “It’s good to be back.” I had a good session with the CBT on the NIV, except that a good friend dropped dead at 42 years of age and I left early to do the funeral. Good break this summer, fantastic board meeting for BiblicalTraining.org topped off with a trip to the Bahamas. Now it is back to work.
I have been reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. It is an exceptionally good book and I encourage all of you to read it. This part caught my eye on the flight back yesterday. “The wildest part is that Jesus doesn’t have to love us. His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18).…
Bill Mounce on Learning Biblical Greek Online
We recently sat down with Bill Mounce to discuss learning biblical Greek online. Here’s what he said:
Part of being successful in any task is starting the task with the end in mind.
So it is a really good question to ask, “What will you be able to do when you are done with this class?”
Like most first year language classes, what we are doing is giving you building blocks.
What you will have are all the building blocks necessary to get into exegesis, to get into the sermon preparation, to really be able to study the New Testament. Building blocks—that is what this class is about.
How to study the original languages
The best way to begin your study of the biblical languages is by signing up for the Biblical Languages Certificate Program.
In this program,…