Sunday, December 29, 2019

Panim--Dual Noun in Hebrew

Most Hebrew dictionaries or commentaries I've checked don't say why panim ("face" or "faces") is dual (some call it plural, but dual is more specific). Here's something I found in one book:

"This particular word always occurs in the plural, perhaps indicative of the fact that the face is a combination of a number of features. As we shall see below, the face identifies the person and reflects the attitude and sentiments of the person. As such, panim can be a substitute for the self or the feelings of the self."

(Quoted from Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, page 727)

Besides Genesis 1:2, other examples of panim are Genesis 2:6; Exodus 33:11, 19-20; Deut. 5:4 and Psalm 139:7.

Here is also the NET Bible translation note for Exodus 33:23:

tn The plural “my backs” is according to Gesenius an extension plural (compare “face,” a dual in Hebrew). The word denotes a locality in general, but that is composed of numerous parts (see GKC 397 §124.b). W. C. Kaiser says that since God is a spirit, the meaning of this word could just as easily be rendered “after effects” of his presence (“Exodus,” EBC 2:484). As S. R. Driver says, though, while this may indicate just the “afterglow” that he leaves behind him, it was enough to suggest what the full brilliancy of his presence must be (Exodus, 363; see also Job 26:14).

Friday, December 27, 2019

Demas' Love for this Aion (2 Timothy 4:10)

Five Reasons Not to Celebrate Christmas

I have to speak out about Christmas sometimes. Why not celebrate Christmas?

1. We don't know the exact day that Jesus was born (the Bible does not say).
2. These days, in the West, Christmas is mostly about crass commercialism. At least companies like Amazon and Walmart are happy. :)
3. Christmas has accrued numerous myths that parents often tell their children (e.g., Santa and his reindeer. Don't forget the elves.).
4. Christmas is ultimately pagan rather than being Christian.
5. Jesus likely never celebrated his birthday; nor did his early followers or apostles. Remember those two birthdays celebrated in the Bible? Things didn't go so well.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Does Revelation 20:4 Contain an Inceptive Aorist?

Greek: Καὶ εἶδον θρόνους, καὶ ἐκάθισαν ἐπ' αὐτούς, καὶ κρίμα ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς, καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν πεπελεκισμένων διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ καὶ διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ οἵτινες οὐ προσεκύνησαν τὸ θηρίον οὐδὲ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἔλαβον τὸ χάραγμα ἐπὶ τὸ μέτωπον καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτῶν· καὶ ἔζησαν καὶ ἐβασίλευσαν μετὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ χίλια ἔτη.

I would humbly suggest that ἔζησαν in Revelation 20:4 is probably an occurrence of the inceptive aorist, but I would say that the "inceptive" is how the aorist is being used, not necessarily a grammatical feature of the aorist. See Wallace, GGBB, page 558ff.

It seems that the future was not used inceptively by ancient Greek writers/speakers. The aorist is imperfective aspect, but its Aktionsart will depend on lexical, grammatical and contextual features (i.e. its affected meaning). See

Another possibility is that Rev. 20:4 contains a constative aorist, which would depict activity in toto. See

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Anthony Thiselton's Remarks on 1 Corinthians 9:27--"Shadowboxing?"

I also like how Paul employs a mixed metaphor in 1 Cor. 9:27 by using both racing and boxing imagery.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Twenty Important Books

These are five books that I consider to be important. They are not my five favorite books of all time, and they're not what I consider to be the five greatest works of all time. These are just books that I've enjoyed reading in the past and I now commend them to you.

1. The Divine Comedy (Dante)
2. Divine Institutes (Lactantius)
3. Against Praxeas (Tertullian)
4. A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms (Richard A. Lanham)
5. Rhetoric (Aristotle)
6. A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament (Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor)
7. Intermediate New Testament Greek (Richard A. Young)
8. Early Jewish Hermeneutics and Hebrews 1:5-13 (Herbert Bateman IV)
9. An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek (C.F.D. Moule)
10. A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin (John F. Collins)
11. De Oratore (Cicero)
12. Antigone (Sophocles)
13. Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity (W.L. Craig)
14. God and the New Physics (Paul Davies)
15. Summa Theologica (Thomas Aquinas)
16. An Introduction to Logic (Richard Arthur)
17. Dogmatics-Volume I (Emil Brunner)
18. A History of Christianity (Paul Johnson)
19. The Christian Tradition-5 Volumes (Jaroslav Pelikan)
20. A Greek Grammar (Herbert W. Smyth)

Honorable Mention: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG)-Frederick William Danker (editor)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Introduction to Revelation (Modified Talk)

Play video that introduces Revelation

Revelation 1:20 (Read)

The “stars” represent the anointed overseers and, by extension, all the overseers in the seven congregations. Jesus can direct the “stars” in his hand as he deems appropriate. (Rev. 1:16, 20) So as Head of the Christian congregation, Jesus fully oversees all elder bodies. If an elder genuinely needs correction, Jesus will administer such discipline in His own time and way. (Rev. 1:14; 3:19-20)

In the meantime, we maintain proper respect for those appointed by holy spirit: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”​ (Heb. 13:17)

Hebrews 13:7-We can also imitate the faith of those taking the lead among us, and avoid being overly critical of them.

Revelation 2:1-2 (read)

This passage reveals that Christ sees not just general trends but concrete situations in his ecclesia. In some verses of Revelation, Jesus Christ mentions individuals, but in each instance, he gives appropriate commendation or counsel as the need may be. Notice the contrast between his words to Philadelphia and Thyatira.

Regardless of what transpires among the figurative lampstands, we can be confident that Jehovah actively leads his people by means of his Son, the head of God's spirit-directed congregation.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Greek Homophones?

It's comparable to some American English dialects in which Ben, bin, and been sound alike. Or "pen" and "pin."

1 Corinthians 8:1

Greek: Περὶ δὲ τῶν εἰδωλοθύτων, οἴδαμεν ὅτι πάντες γνῶσιν ἔχομεν. ἡ γνῶσις φυσιοῖ, ἡ δὲ ἀγάπη οἰκοδομεῖ. (SBLGNT)

ESV: "Now concerning[a] food offered to idols: we know that 'all of us possess knowledge.' This 'knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up.

NWT 2013: "Now concerning food offered to idols: We know we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."

Comment: We recently had one Governing Body member comment on this verse in the December broadcast for Jehovah's Witnesses. It reminded me of previous remarks I had encountered concerning the verse, specifically, that Paul was potentially discussing supposed knowledge instead of genuine knowledge. We might say so-called knowledge or "knowledge" in quotation marks. It's similar to what some have argued for 1 Cor. 8:5 and its use of "gods" and "lords."

Joseph Fitzmyer (Anchor Bible Commentary):

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Isaiah 11:3-5 (Minor and Major Fulfillments)--Based on a Talk

Bible prophecies have minor and major fulfillments: they are fulfilled in spiritual/physical or in lesser and greater senses. Isaiah 11 illustrates this principle since the prophecy applies to ancient Israelites, to our modern spiritual paradise, and to the coming earthly paradise.

Read Isaiah 11:3-5:

And he will find delight in the fear of Jehovah. He will not judge by what appears to his eyes, Nor reprove simply according to what his ears hear. He will judge the lowly with fairness, And with uprightness he will give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth And put the wicked to death with the breath of his lips. Righteousness will be the belt around his waist, And faithfulness the belt of his hips.

Isaiah chapter 11 is a messianic prophecy. It speaks about the glorious reign of Jesus Christ. Notice what kind of judge that Christ will be in the earthly paradise. Unlike human judges today, Jesus is impartial: he does not judge based on outward appearances or external factors. Rather, Christ judges the “secret person of the heart” (1 Peter 3:4). In this way, he sets an example for Christian elders, who must judge numerous matters in the congregation today. Christ gives reproof (correction) “with uprightness,” which serves as a model for how elders should offer counsel to erring sheep. Counsel should be given with mildness, and for the overall benefit of Jehovah’s people (Galatians 6:1).

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Genesis 18:22 and 19:27

A proposed emendation of Genesis 18:22 is that "Jehovah/YHWH stood before Abraham." Yet such a reading would contradict Gen. 19:27 and be problematic (seemingly) from a theological perspective.

Genesis 18:22 only contradicts Gen. 19:27 if the Masoretic text suggestion is accepted, but we have good reason to think the reading is fanciful. Robert Alter pans the suggestion, if memory serves me correctly, and the Targum Onkelos clearly says Abraham kept ministering/praying before YHWH. Textually, we also don't have reason to accept an emendation. So no emendation--no contradiction.

Victor P. Hamilton (The Book of Genesis 18-50, page 24)


Bill Mounce's Review of The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

2 Corinthians 5:14--What Kind of Genitive?

What kind of genitive do we have in 2 Corinthians 5:14?

Greek: ἡ γὰρ ἀγάπη τοῦ χριστοῦ συνέχει ἡμᾶς, κρίναντας τοῦτο ὅτι εἷς ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀπέθανεν· ἄρα οἱ πάντες ἀπέθανον·

Grammarians usually set forth 3 possibilities for 2 Corinthians 5:14: subjective, objective, and plenary genitive. I personally take the verse to be saying that our love for Christ compels us (i.e., objective genitive), but we cannot be dogmatic.

George H. Guthrie (Baker Exegetical Series): Most commentators interpret τοῦ Χριστοῦ (tou Christou) as a subjective[1] rather than an objective[2] genitive, reading the phrase to refer to “the love Christ has for us,” rather than “our love for Christ,” and this seems to be the best interpretation on at least two primary grounds. First, the immediate context emphasizes Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross for his people. Later in this verse, Paul confesses “that Christ died for all,” and in the next verse, “he died on behalf of all,” and that act of giving himself in death for the benefit of “all” certainly constitutes Christ’s expression of love. Second, in Paul’s writings, when a personal use of the genitive follows on the heels of the word ἀγάπη (agapē), as it does here, the construction speaks of the person “having or showing love, not the one receiving it” (Harris 2005: 418).[3]

A.T. Robertson (Word Pictures) also suggest that 2 Cor. 5:14 contains a subjective genitive.

NET Bible: tn The phrase ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Jh agaph tou Cristou, “the love of Christ”) could be translated as either objective genitive (“our love for Christ”) or subjective genitive (“Christ’s love for us”). Either is grammatically possible, but with the reference to Christ’s death for all in the following clauses, a subjective genitive (“Christ’s love for us”) is more likely.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible: Love of Christ constraineth us ... Did Paul here refer to his own love of Christ, or to Christ's love of him? "It matters little whether this be interpreted as a subjective genitive, `Christ's love to men,' or as an objective genitive, `our love to Christ'; the two suppose and interfuse each other."[23]

Henry Alford GNT: Christ’s love (not, love to Christ, as Œc(6), Beza, al.,—but Christ’s love to men, subjective, as most Commentators; as shewn in His Death, which is the greatest proof of love, see Romans 5:6-8. Meyer remarks that the gen. of the person after ἀγάπη is with Paul always subjective,—Romans 5:5; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39; ch. 2 Corinthians 8:24; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 2:4; Philippians 1:9 al. (but see his own note on 2 Thessalonians 3:5, where he maintains the objective sense), whereas with John it is not always so, 1 John 5:3. Paul usually expresses love of, i.e. towards, by εἰς, Colossians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Expositor's GT also understands the genitive to be subjective.

IVP NT Commentary: A further reason for preaching the gospel is found in verse 14: For Christ's love compels us. Conviction (4:14), fear (5:11) and now love motivate Paul to pursue his call. The text is literally, "the love of Christ." The genitive can be objective, "our love for Christ," or subjective, "Christ's love for us." Although we might instinctively incline toward the former, the latter is preferred by most modern translations. This is because Paul goes on in verses 14-15 to speak of Christ dying on our behalf--the ultimate demonstration of love. The basic sense of synecho (to compel) is to hold something together so that it does not fall apart. From this we get the meanings to "hold fast" (that is, to not allow to slip through one's fingers) and to "surround" or "hem in" (that is, to not let escape; Köster 1971:883). The idea is that Christ's love completely controls and dominates Paul so that he has no option but to preach. The hymn writer George Matheson knew of this kind of constraining love when he penned the words "O love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; / I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean deptes its flow may richer, fuller be."


Mark A. Seifrid (Pillar NT Commentary): Paul is not speaking here of his love for Christ, but of the love of Christ that encompasses all human beings, including Paul himself (v. 16). This love of Christ overpowers the apostle and determines his life and actions.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 (Universal Salvation?)

In 1 Tim 2:4, we read:

ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν.

Augustine of Hippo interpreted the "all" of 1 Tim. 2:4 as the predestined or elect. He believed that God wills for all the elect to be saved and he thus argued that "The passage did not say 'that there is no man whose salvation [God] does not desire, but that no one is saved unless God desires it.'" However, as Jaroslav Pelikan brings to our attention, this attempt to exegete 1 Tim. 2:4 is still attended by a number of logical and exegetical difficulties. Moreover, it does not answer the question, "Can we imagine without grieveous blasphemy that he [God] does not desire all men in general, but only some rather than all to be saved? Those who perish, perish against his will." See
Pelikan's Christian Tradition (1:321-327).

In the final analysis, if 2 Pet. 3:9 does not suggest universal salvation, then why should 1 Tim. 2:4. In 2 Pet. 3:9, we have:

οὐ βραδύνει Κύριος τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ὥς τινες βραδυτῆτα ἡγοῦνται, ἀλλὰ μακροθυμεῖ εἰς ὑμᾶς, μὴ βουλόμενός τινας ἀπολέσθαι ἀλλὰ πάντας εἰς μετάνοιαν χωρῆσαι.

According to Peter, God does not desire (μὴ βουλόμενός) any to be destroyed, but wills that all (πάντας) repent. In 1 Tim. 2:4, God wills (πάντας) that all should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. Even if we understand the "all" in 1 Tim. 2:4 as a reference to "all humans"without exception, how does it prove "universal salvation" if God wills that all men repent or be saved, but they still "perish against his will?"

Lastly, I'd like to offer some quotes on this topic from a few scholarly sources.

"And to say that God wants (not 'wills,' and therefore it must come to pass) all people to be saved, implies neither that all (meaning everybody) will be saved (against [1 Tim.] 3:6; 4:2; or 4:10, e.g.) nor that God's will is somehow frustrated since all, indeed, are not saved. The concern is simply with the universal scope of the gospel over against some form of heretical exclusivism or narrowness" (Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, page 64).

"God is, so far as His inclination or will is concerned, 'the Saviour of all men,' but actually, so far as we can affirm with certainty, 'of them that believe' (1 Tim 4:10)" (Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. 4:104).

There are some formal or functional differences between βούλομαι and θέλω, but the two words appear to have possessed similar meanings in the first century (BDAG 182).

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Colossians 2:9: A Parsing Sample by Cranford

Quoting from the work from which this sample parsing was taken:

Parsing of the Greek Text
The parsing of the Greek text below is based upon the system of Greek grammar analysis set forth in Appendix 2 of Lorin L. Cranford, Learning Biblical Koine Greek, 4th rev. edition (Boiling Springs, NC: C&L Publications, 2002). Some assessments may be subject to reevaluation. Please call attention to any errors by sending an email to

Monday, December 02, 2019

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 ("Unutterable Utterances"?)

Greek: ὅτι ἡρπάγη εἰς τὸν παράδεισον καὶ ἤκουσεν ἄρρητα ῥήματα ἃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἀνθρώπῳ λαλῆσαι.

Richard Lenski calls ἄρρητα ῥήματα an "oxymoron," rendering the phrase as "unutterable utterances."

ESV: and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

KJV: How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

NWT 2013: who was caught away into paradise and heard words that cannot be spoken and that are not lawful for a man to say.

Rogers and Rogers: ἄρρητος verbal adj., unspeakable, unutterable. The word was often used of divine secrets not intended for human beings (Windisch; Barrett). ῤῆμα word. ἐξὸν pres. act. part. nom. n. sing. ἔξεστιν it is allowed. The word is to be taken in connection w. ἀνθρώπῳ (s. v. 2); “which it is not lawful for a man to speak” (Plummer).

Zerwick and Grosvenor: