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Mounce Archive 17 - Translating Father (and Mother?)

Categories Mondays with Mounce

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

Often when translating, one word can be translated multiple ways. Sometimes the differences matter, but even when the answer is not so clear, and when neither translation is theologically incorrect, attention to the nuances is important.

Click here to engage with the original post.

I heard a Father’s Day sermon yesterday in which the preacher said Ephesians 6:4 applies to mothers and well as fathers, specifically that πατήρ can mean “mother.”

Paul writes, “And fathers (οἱ πατέρες), do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” To his credit, he asked me afterwards if he was right, so here is my answer.

BDAG’s first definition of πατήρ is, “1. the immediate biological ancestor, parent.” Sub-definition a. is “male, father,” and b is ”male and female together as parents οἱ πατέρες parents. Under the later they give three biblical references, our verse, Col 3:21 and Heb 11:23.

(Continue reading the entire post here.)


William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

Learn more about Bill’s Greek resources at and visit his blog on spiritual growth at


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