Request an Exam Copy

Mounce Archive 19 - Relying on Headers

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.

Quite often, we put too much faith in the headings translators have added to our Bibles. As Mounce explains in this post, a quick glance at the header can shape the way we read the passage. He calls us to read the Word carefully.

If this preview whets your appetite,  you can click here to find the original post.

Usually adjectives used substantivally (i.e., as nouns) are pretty easy to figure out. Between the meaning of the adjective and the context of the passage, the translator can figure out how to treat the word. But every once in a while things can confuse the picture, and one of those things are headings in modern Bibles.

The most notorious heading is the one before Eph 5:22 and I have already blogged on that, but another bothersome heading is the one at 1 Cor 12:1. The NIV has “Concerning Spiritual Gifts” and then starts with, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.” “Spiritual gifts” is a translation of the adjective πνευματικῶν, a masculine or neuter plural adjective from πνευματικός, meaning “spiritual.” But spiritual what?

By the time you get to verse 4, you can see Paul is speaking about Spiritual gifts, but nothing in vv 1-3 is necessarily about gifts. But because Bibles put a heading before v 1, the assumption by many is that the entire chapter is about the gifts of the Spirit. “After all,” many would respond, “the Bible says, ‘Concerning Spiritual Gifts.’”

(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

A Sudden Scholar - An Excerpt from I (Still) Believe
A Sudden Scholar - An Excerpt from I (Still) Believe Can serious academic study of the Bible become threatening to one’s faith? I (Still) Believe answers this question with ...
Your form could not be submitted. Please check errors and resubmit.

Thank you!
Sign up complete.

Subscribe to the Blog Get expert commentary on biblical languages, fresh explorations in theology, hand-picked book excerpts, author videos, and info on limited-time sales.
By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates. You may unsubscribe from these email communications at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at This form is protected by reCAPTCHA.