Monday, May 10, 2021

John Calvin Commentary Regarding Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not. As the Holy Spirit dwells in us, to him every part of our soul and of our body ought to be devoted. But if we give ourselves up to aught that is impure, we may be said to drive him away from making his abode with us; and, to express this still more familiarly, human affections, such as joy and grief, are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Endeavour that the Holy Spirit may dwell cheerfully with you, as in a pleasant and joyful dwelling, and give him no occasion for grief. Some take a different view of it, that we grieve the Holy Spirit in others, when we offend by filthy language, or, in any other way, godly brethren, who are led by the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:14.) Whatever is contrary to godliness is not only disrelished by godly ears, but is no sooner heard than it produces in them deep grief and pain. But that Paul's meaning was different appears from what follows.

By whom ye are sealed. As God has sealed us by his Spirit, we grieve him when we do not follow his guidance, but pollute ourselves by wicked passions. No language can adequately express this solemn truth, that the Holy Spirit rejoices and is glad on our account, when we are obedient to him in all things, and neither think nor speak anything, but what is pure and holy; and, on the other hand, is grieved, when we admit anything into our minds that is unworthy of our calling. Now, let any man reflect what shocking wickedness there must be in grieving the Holy Spirit to such a degree as to compel him to withdraw from us. The same mode of speaking is used by the prophet Isaiah, but in a different sense; for he merely says, that they "vexed his Holy Spirit," (Isaiah 63:10.) in the same sense in which we are accustomed to speak of vexing the mind of a man. By whom ye are sealed. The Spirit of God is the seal, by which we are distinguished from the wicked, and which is impressed on our hearts as a sure evidence of adoption.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Harold Hoehner and Ephesians 4:30

Harold W. Hoehner (1935-2009) specialized in NT studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. More significant for me, he wrote one of the most detailed commentaries about Ephesians that I've ever read. For this entry, I want to discuss Hoehner's remarks about the textual issues surrounding Ephesians 4:30--as a reminder, SBLGNT has this reading for 4:30:

καὶ μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως.

Hoehner contends that the coordinating conjunction καὶ links 4:30 with the preceding verse and its imperatival statement, πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω. So he believes that the command to utter no unwholesome word and μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ belong together conceptually. Like other commentators, Hoehner likewise reckons that since the holy spirit can be grieved, then the spirit of God must be personal (i.e., a divine person). He also invokes Isaiah 63:10 and other texts to support this position.

Next, Hoehner comes to
ἐν ᾧ ἐσϕραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως, which is rendered “by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” While he realizes that  ἐν ᾧ could possibly be referring to the sphere in which Christian sealing occurs, Hoehner professes that the construction "more likely refers to the instrument with which we were sealed (cf. 1:13)." That is, he maintains that Paul is depicting the spirit as the divine instrument whereby Christians are sealed: this claim is similar to Wallace's thought about the dative being able to portray means (instrumentality) with personal agents.

William J. Larkin supplies these observations (Ephesians: A Handbook on the Greek Text, page 103):

ἐν ᾧ. Instrumental (congruent with the dative of means in 1:13; not location, contra Salmond, 348, or sphere of reference, contra Lenski, 584, both of which tie the Spirit more loosely to the verb’s action; see also 1:3 on ἐν Χριστῷ).

Aor pass ind 2nd pl σφραγίζω. God the Father is the implied agent. On the meaning, see 1:13 on ἐσφραγίσθητε.
I can accept that Paul's use of ἐν ᾧ is instrumental here, but it still appears that theology primarily drives the rendering "by whom." If the relative clause is an example of instrumentality here, then why translate with "by whom"? I will attempt to demonstrate theology drives how translators render Ephesians 4:30 in a future entry.

Rotherham EB:
"And be not grieving the Holy Spirit of God, wherewith ye have been sealed unto a day of redemption"

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Korah: A Warning Example Against Pride and Overconfidence (Edited for This Blog)

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the verb "beware"  in this way: "used to warn someone to be very careful about something or someone"

For instance, when we see a sign that says "beware of the dog," it alerts us to the fact that we need to proceed with caution or be careful (see Philippians 3:2 KJV).

Tonight we're discussing the need to beware of pride and overconfidence. Why is this warning necessary?

Please turn to Numbers 16:1-3

While the nation of Israel was heading toward the Promised Land, an acute  problem arose: Korah, the son of Izhar, started to murmur and by this action, he was able to influence others to rise up against Moses. Verse 3 reveals the attitude that Korah assumed: "We have had enough of you!" he exclaimed. Can you just sense the arrogance, pride and overconfidence that Korah displayed? He took it upon himself to oppose the prophet with whom Jehovah spoke face to face (Numbers 7:89; 12:8). Yet there was more:

As we continue with Numbers 16:8-10, note how Moses pleads with Korah and the accompanying rebels (Read)

Despite Moses' earnest pleas, pride caused Korah to forget the privileges he already had: he was a respected Levite who enjoyed many sacred duties. The Levites performed numerous services at Jehovah's tabernacle that facilitated true worship; they interceded for the nation of Israel and even carried the sacred Ark of the covenant through the wilderness. But pride got the better of Korah and made him lack appreciation for his sacred privileges (Hebrews 12:15-16). Hence, what were the consequences of his prideful actions?

Numbers 16:32, 35 (Read)--the results were disastrous. Because Korah and his followers dared to act in a priestly capacity, which was not rightfully theirs, Jehovah destroyed them. Korah and his followers were guilty of rebellious talk and they did not respect Jehovah's representative.

An important lesson for us is that no matter how long we've been serving Jehovah , no matter what our accomplishments and privileges are, we must be humble. Those with many years of experience and privileges especially need to be humble: all of must beware of pride and overconfidence.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Assessing the REV Note for Ephesians 4:30

I read the REV every now and again. For those interested in learning more, the REV website explains just what this Bible version tries to accomplish:

The Revised English Version® (REV®) is the New Testament version by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International®. We call it the REV because we are presenting a revised version of earlier English versions, primarily the American Standard Version of 1901 (ASV), which we have used as the base text for our work.

 For more information on the REV, see

The purpose of this blog entry is to examine Ephesians 4:30 (REV) and to make some comments about the rendering of this text.

"And do not grieve the holy spirit of God with which you were sealed until the day of redemption."

I now want to focus on some aspects of the relative clause, "with which you were sealed . . ." The REV note informs us that this portion of Ephesians 4:30 grammatically could be translated “by whom you were sealed,” or “with which you were sealed.” However, REV maintains that one difficulty with using "by whom" is that ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε would then be a dative of agency. Yet, the REV claims that is an unlikely way for Greeks to express agency.

The REV note for Ephesians 4:30 quotes Daniel Wallace (GGBB, page 164), who explains that Greek customarily expresses agency by employing ὑπὸ + the genitive case or διὰ + the genitive (see Acts 4:25); on the other hand, it does not seem that ἐν + the dative expresses agency: Wallace apparently calls such usage, rare or nonexistent in Greek (GGBB, page 373). So if ἐν + the dative does not express agency, then REV argues that Ephesians 4:30 is not saying God (the Holy Spirit) is the agent "by whom" Christians are sealed, but rather, one should opt for the translation, “the holy spirit with which you were sealed,” thereby making the construction an instrumental dative "and that is quite common in the New Testament" (REV note). Furthermore, REV contends that Holy Spirit refers to God whereas holy spirit (lower case) signifies the gift of God.

As Wallace continues his discussion of how the GNT expresses agency, some other points he makes are that the only clear examples of datival agency occur with a perfect passive verb form (page 165). Wallace's remarks on pages 165-166 about the spirit of God illuminate his view of progressive revelation and GNT pneumatology: they are worthy of deep consideration.

What may we conclude from the REV note that discusses the relative clause in Ephesians 4:30? The REV is correct that Wallace thinks ἐν + the dative expressing agency is "a rare or nonexistent category, " but Wallace equally maintains this use of the Greek preposition ἐν likely conveys "the idea of means"; in other words, ἐν + the dative may express how a personal agent wields a non-personal instrument. Hence, Wallace contends that ἐν + the dative commonly occurs with persons in view although they may be conceived as impersonal (i.e., used as instruments by someone else). See GGBB, page 373. An example Wallace gives is parents being used by God to discipline a child. In this case, the parents would be personal instruments of God or the means by which God disciplines the child: but since they're instruments, Wallace contends they are conceived as being impersonal.

Could this line of reasoning affect one's understanding and treatment of Ephesians 4:30? Might
ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε be applied to a personal agent, who uses means to achieve a certain effect? I will post future entries dealing with this subject.

Addendum: Murray J. Harris believes that  ἐν + the dative expresses agency in Matthew 9:34 (ἐν τω̨̃ ἄρχοντι): he repeats this claims more than once in his work, Prepositions and Theology in the GNT. Mark Strauss similarly categorizes Mark 3:22 as a dative of agency: ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι. But Wallace views Matthew 9:34 as a genitive of subordination (GGBB, page 103 and a 'clear example' at that! Yet he does not mention on the page, far as I can tell.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Defining Ablaut/Compensatory Lengthening

After reading books on ablaut and compensatory lengthening for a couple of days, I know why I decided not to become a linguist. My head is now spinning, but for your information, compensatory lengthening has been defined in the following ways:

"compensatory-lengthening. (linguistics) The lengthening of a vowel sound which occurs when a following consonant is lost, an extreme form of fusion exhibited for example by many non-rhotic British dialects of English, which drop the /ɹ/ from /ɑɹt/ but compensatorily lengthen the /ɑ/, resulting in /ɑːt/ ('art')."

"In cases of compensatory lengthening, a vowel is lengthened following the deletion of a consonant or vowel that was present in the underlying representation. Compensatory lengthening (CL) is often recorded as a sound change from one stage of a language to another."

"noun Grammar.

(in Indo-European languages) regular alternation in the internal phonological structure of a word element, especially alternation of a vowel, that is coordinated with a change in grammatical function or combination, as in English sing, sang, sung, song; apophony."

On the subject of Bill Mounce and ablaut, see

Mounce defines ablaut as vowel length change, whether the change is quantitative or qualitative: his definition chiefly applies to ancient Greek.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Ephesians 4:30 (Grieve God's Spirit?)--In Progress

Greek: καὶ μὴ λυπεῖτε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως.

ESV: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

NWT 2013: "Also, do not be grieving God’s holy spirit, with which you have been sealed for a day of releasing by ransom."

Questions sometimes arise concerning the way to understand and translate Ephesians 4:30: it seems that the verse is a clear proof of the holy spirit's (Holy Spirit's) deity. Trinitarians claim that this verse proves the holy spirit is God--fully God, but is that necessarily the case?

The language of grieving God's spirit (
τὸπνεῦμα τὸἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ) originates with the Hebrew Bible. See Isaiah 63:10. Paul also warns against quenching the spirit in 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 5:19.

While commenting on Ephesians 4:30, one website claims:

When we sin, the Holy Spirit experiences grief in a manner appropriate to His deity. He cannot stand the presence of sin and hates it when we, His dwelling place, entertain transgression (Hab. 1:13). Yet even though the reality of His grief proves the Spirit’s personhood, His grief is not exactly the same as ours.
So the writer asserts that the "Holy Spirit" is masculine (or portrayed as masculine) by using the pronouns "He" and "His." This language likewise suggests that the writer believes the spirit of God is a divine person; after all, the site refers to the spirit's "deity." The claim is that the "Holy Spirit" is God and the last part of the quote explicitly identifies God's pneuma as a person and being able to grieve the spirit apparently demonstrates divine personhood in this case.

However, does grieving the spirit necessarily mean the spirit is a person? Firstly, the Hebrew Bible makes an intimate nexus between YHWH (Jehovah) and the holy spirit. In the verse from Isaiah (63:10), the prophet speaks of making "God's spirit" (i.e., the spirit belonging to God) grieved or feel hurt (saddened). Saddening God's spirit could be analogous to making a person feel sad, yet that would not mean that the spirit of the person is equally a person or personal. The Bible uses "spirit" (pneuma) to signify the dominant mental attitude of someone, whether the person is happy, sad or angry. Compare Genesis 26:35. We would not usually identify someone's spirit with the person himself/herself.

Additionally, I've often wondered if Paul was using the language of grieving in a metaphorical sense, that is, was he saying that the spirit might be saddened in a figurative manner by Christian disobedience? In any event, we often speak of defying gravity. Yet gravity is obviously impersonal--however one defines it.

One other point that I hardly see mentioned in discussions of Ephesians 4:30: we have neuter terminology in ἐν ᾧ ἐσφραγίσθητε. Most translations choose to render the construction with a masculine language ("by whom") but NWT translates by using "with which . . ." Another rendition is by S.M. Baugh: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

David Bentley Hart (The New Testament):  "And do not grieve the Spirit, the
Holy One of God, by which you were sealed with a seal for a day when the
fee for liberation is paid."

he relative pronoun ᾧ is neuter, and τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον is too. (Compare 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 1:12-13; 2:21; 5:18.) So why do translations then render Ephesians 4:30 with a masculine term?

I did not find an explanation in S.M. Baugh's commentary for Ephesians; A.T. Robertson (Word Pictures) simply writes:
"In whom (εν ωιen hōi). Not 'in which.'” The Anchor Bible commentary on Ephesians makes some interesting observations, but does not address this grammatical issue.

Does context or theology affect how translations render Ephesians 4:30? Which rendering might best comport with the neuter noun phrase in the verse? On the other hand, I realize the difference between grammatical gender and other ways to define gender.

J.P. Heil (Ephesians, page 200):

"There is a subtle progression then from being sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13) to being sealed within the realm of being in union with the Holy Spirit (4:30). The Holy Spirit 'in whom' (ἐν ᾧ) you were sealed recalls that the audience who have been sealed with the Holy Spirit are now living within the dynamic realm of being 'in the Spirit' (cf. 'in one Spirit' [ἐν ἑνὶ Πνεύματι, 2:18]; 'in the Spirit' [ἐν πνεύματι, 2:22; 3:5; 5:18; 6:18]). In other words, you have not only been sealed with the Holy Spirit (1:13), but in your union with the Holy Spirit you have been sealed for the day of redemption (4:30)."

Saturday, May 01, 2021

2 Timothy 4:2 (Grammatical and Lexical Analysis)--Research in the Works

Contextual setting for the Second Letter to Timothy: There are many theories and proposals, but I submit that Paul was writing to the young overseer, Timothy in this letter. The apostle potentially composed this missive between 62-64 CE while imprisoned in Rome for the second time: he speaks of death being imminent to which 2 Timothy 4:6-8 testifies. Timothy, a spiritual child to Paul, overseer, and co-worker with the apostle was in Ephesus when the letter was written. It is possible that he faced spiritual opponents, but it's less than certain who these Ephesian heretics were.

Greek (SBLGNT): κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως, ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον, ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ.

NRSV: "proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching."

Grammatical Parsing of 2 Timothy 4:2: κήρυξον τὸν λόγον: κήρυξον is the first aorist active imperative of κηρύσσω (see Robertson's WP).

τὸν λόγον is the direct object of the verb, so the phrase (determiner + noun) fittingly appears in the accusative case: the construction could be rendered "preach the message" or "preach the word." Mounce thinks the article is anaphoric and links
τὸν λόγον with πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος in 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως:  ἐπίστηθι is aorist active imperative 2nd singular of ἐφίστημι.

Here we see the occurrence of two adverbs that both pun another Greek word (
καιρός), and they combine to provide a rhetorical contrast ("favorable season, unfavorable season." NET Bible has "in season, out of season" in its footnote). Both adverbs modify ἐπίστηθι.

For ἔλεγξον, compare Matthew 18:15; Sirach 19:13-15. Louw-Nida has "rebuke" for this word: see semantic domain 33.417.

Another issue is whether εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως are objective (pertaining to those heard by Timothy) or subjective (pertaining to Timothy).

ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον: all three aorist verbs comprise a fivefold cluster with other imperatival verbs in 2 Timothy 4:2a-e. See Paul and the Ancient Letter Form, page 248, edited by Stanley Porter.

ἔλεγξον is the aorist active imperative 2nd singular of ἐλέγχω.
ἐπιτίμησον is the aorist active imperative 2nd singular of ἐπιτιμάω.

παρακάλεσον is the aorist active imperative 2nd singular of παρακαλέω.

The string of 2nd person singular aoristic forms indicate that Timothy is the addressee.

ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ: ἐν πάσῃ is a prepositional phrase that modifies μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ. The prepositional phrase describes the instrumentality or means by which something is done (i.e., "with all patience and teaching" or "with complete patience and teaching" as Mounce renders the construction. Compare NWT 2013).

Expositor's Greek Testament: ἐν πάσῃ μακροθυμίᾳ καὶ διδαχῇ: This qualifies each of the three preceding imperatives; and πάσῃ belongs to διδαχῇ as well as to μακρ., with the utmost patience and the most painstaking instruction.

Compare Titus 1:9. See the analysis in Bengel's Gnomon: he perceives significance in κήρυξον τὸν λόγον, ἐπίστηθι εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως, ἔλεγξον, ἐπιτίμησον, παρακάλεσον being asyndetic. Notice the examples he also musters to elucidate the adverbs εὐκαίρως ἀκαίρως.

From Rogers and Rogers-κήρυξον aor. imp. act. κηρύσσω to proclaim as a herald, to preach (s. 1 Tim. 2:7). Not “begin to preach,” but “preach as your first priority” (GGBB, 721). ἐπίστηθι aor. imp. pass. ἐφίστημι to take one’s stand, to stand by, to be at hand. The word was also used in a military sense—to stay at one’s post—but here it means to be at one’s task and indicates that the Christian minister must always be on duty (Kelly; Guthrie).

ἀκαίρως, adv. (< ἄκαιρος, unseasonable), [in LXX: Si 35 (32):4 *;]
out of season, unseasonably: opp. to εὐκαίρως (q.v.), II Ti 4:2 (cf. Cremer, 740; MM, VGT, s.v.). †

Linda Belleville (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary): Parakaleō [TG3870, ZG4151] is commonly used, with several possible meanings. The most likely meanings here are “exhort” (urge strongly to do something) or “comfort” (instill with courage or cheer). The context favors the former.

Donald Guthrie (The Pastoral Epistles): All these imperatives must be effected with great patience and careful instruction. The first denotes the manner and the second denotes the method which Timothy must adopt; makrothymia here translated ‘patience’ is a favourite Pauline expression, and is generally used of God’s forbearance. In Colossians 1:11 it is used, as here, of the Christian’s patience in trying circumstances.