Saturday, March 25, 2023

How to Tell The Grammatical Gender of Greek Nouns

Let's presume that you're working on Greek or never really learned how to identify the gender of Greek nouns as to whether they're grammatically masculine, feminine or neuter. If you're reading a Greek text, then how can you tell which gender the noun is?

If you have not begun to recognize the endings of nouns yet, maybe you could try this suggestion. First, I will post a well-known favorite (John 1:1):

Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος.

The first noun is part of a prepositional phrase, so let's skip it for now. However, what is the gender of ὁ λόγος? One way you can tell is by the article that accompanies the noun: if you know the gender of the article, then you can easily discern the noun's gender.

The same principle applies to πρὸς τὸν θεόν, but that might be tricky for beginners since the noun form is accusative and singular and it's part of a prepositional phrase as well.

Regarding John 1:1c, θεὸς is anarthrous in this case, so you can't rely on the article to determine the noun's gender. However, notice that John 1:1 ends with ὁ λόγος, so I hope this tip comes in handy. Moreover, depending on the Greek article works with noun phrases like ἡ σοφία or
τὸ πνεῦμα. Try this tip when reading Greek, but in the long term, I would recommend mastering noun endings to some degree along with verbal suffixes.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Maintain Joy Despite Disappointments (Modified Talk)

Have you ever wanted to fulfill a theocratic assignment but couldn't because of health problems, advanced age or some other factor? These situations can be disappointing; however, it's good to know that we're not alone if we've faced this situation before. One biblical example that could guide us when these things arise is King David, when he desired to build the temple in Jerusalem.

David was a zealous worshiper of Jehovah, a man after God's own heart who fulfilled numerous assignments in Jehovah's service (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). He was a shepherd, musician, prophet and king. More importantly, David placed complete trust in the Most High God no matter what duty he performed. It is no wonder that David desired to build a beautiful temple for his God. Please notice his words at 1 Chronicles 17:1-2 (Read).

Jehovah blessed the son of Jesse with plenty of material wealth: the king had an impressive dwelling but he said the ark of the covenant was "under tent cloths." In light of his zeal for true worship, it is no surprise that David wanted to build a temple to Jehovah. What joy the temple would bring to lovers of Jehovah and how it would magnify the living and true God. Even the prophet Nathan encouraged David to carry out whatever his heart desired in this respect. Nevertheless, Jehovah had other things in mind for David. Please read 1 Chronicles 17:4.

Although he earnestly desired to build the temple in Jerusalem, Jehovah informed David that he would not be the one to accomplish this significant theocratic task. Can you imagine how David must have felt? He was undoubtedly disappointed, but did he slow down in his theocratic activity? Did he allow Jehovah's decision to take away his godly joy? We find the answers in 1 Chronicles 17:7; 18:14.

Jehovah personally chose David to lead his people: he was a divinely chosen ruler and shepherd of Israel. Even after Jehovah told David that he could not build the temple, he continued to immerse himself in theocratic activities. David did not allow this limitation to diminish his joy, and he threw his whole heart into supporting the temple project. What an example that David set for us when we cannot fulfill an assignment due to health, age or maybe we need to develop a Christian quality to a fuller degree like humility.

Compare Acts 18:5.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Revelation 3:5 ("you will be clothed like them in white robes"-NRSV)

Greek: Ὁ νικῶν οὕτως περιβαλεῖται ἐν ἱματίοις λευκοῖς καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐξαλείψω τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῆς βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ὁμολογήσω τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ἐνώπιον τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ ἐνώπιον τῶν ἀγγέλων αὐτοῦ.

The Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, assures the "angel" of the Sardis congregation that those who conquer will walk in white robes (garments) like the Christians mentioned in Rev. 3:4. Additionally, the conquerors will not have their name blotted out from the book of life, but Christ will profess the conquering one's name before his Father and before the Father's angels. What a privilege those who conquer this world will have: they walk eternally in imitation of their Master (John 16:33; 1 John 5:4).

Some interesting comparisons are made in The New Interpreter's Bible (Volume XII, page 583). The commentary references Revelation 2:1; 3:18; 4:4; 6:9-10; 7:14; 14:4; 16:15; 19:14. Cf. Revelation 15:1-8; 19:11-21. We also read that Christ is a "heavenly scribe" who possesses the ability to blot out names from the book of life. Compare Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27.

The congregation at Sardis receives correction because it has the name of being spiritually alive, but it's largely dead in the eyes of Jehovah and Christ (Revelation 3:1). However, there are still some in Sardis, who have kept their spiritual robes clean. If they continue in their Christian course and conquer, they can look forward to eternal blessings as God and Christ put their names indelibly in the book of life.

G.K. Beale (The Book of Revelation) perceives allusions to Daniel 11:35; 12:10. Cf. Daniel 12:1-2.

περιβαλεῖται is the future middle indicative third person singular of περιβάλλω. Buist Fanning III calls the verb, "middle intransitive" (Revelation, page 166). Compare Song of Solomon 1:7 (LXX); Revelation 19:8.

StepBible Apparatus Criticus:
περιπατήσουσιν] ς WH περιπατήσουσι] Byz

Monday, March 13, 2023

Occurrences of "Philosophy" or "Philosophers" in the Bible

The Greek word translated "philosophy" (φιλοσοφία) appears just once in the GNT; the word for "philosophers" (φιλόσοφος) likewise occurs one time.

Colossians 2:8 (WH)-Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς ἔσται ὁ συλαγωγῶν διὰ τῆς φιλοσοφίας καὶ κενῆς ἀπάτης κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου καὶ οὐ κατὰ Χριστόν·

Acts 17:18-τινὲς δὲ καὶ τῶν Ἐπικουρίων καὶ Στωικῶν φιλοσόφων συνέβαλλον αὐτῷ, καί τινες ἔλεγον Τί ἂν θέλοι ὁ σπερμολόγος οὗτος λέγειν; οἱ δέ Ξένων δαιμονίων δοκεῖ καταγγελεὺς εἶναι· ὅτι τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν εὐηγγελίζετο.

An Additional Reference:

1 Corinthians 1:20-21 (SBLGNT): ποῦ σοφός; ποῦ γραμματεύς; ποῦ συζητητὴς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου; οὐχὶ ἐμώρανεν ὁ θεὸς τὴν σοφίαν τοῦ κόσμου; ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἐν τῇ σοφίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔγνω ὁ κόσμος διὰ τῆς σοφίας τὸν θεόν, εὐδόκησεν ὁ θεὸς διὰ τῆς μωρίας τοῦ κηρύγματος σῶσαι τοὺς πιστεύοντας.

Compare 1 Corinthians 3:19; Colossians 2:4.

Robert G. Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook to Colossians and Philemon, page 52:
The worthless deceit of human wisdom represents "the philosophy and empty deceit" (compare RSV). It is improbable that Paul is here referring to two different things; it is likely that "empty deceit" characterizes "the philosophy" he is talking about (one definite article governs the whole phrase). The Greek word philosophia appears only here in the NT (see "philosophers" in Acts 17.18). Here it means what is merely human wisdom, as contrasted with the divine wisdom in the Christian message. The word for "deceit" appears also in Matt 13.22, Mark 4.19, Eph 4.22, 2 Thes 2.10, Heb 3.13, 2 Peter 2.13. The scholarly consensus as far as I can tell is that Paul is not condemning philosophy qua philosophy but rather, a certain school of thought or philosophy in the sense of a Weltanschauung.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

How Can We Make Our Thinking Reflect Jehovah's? (Romans 8:5-6)

Do you think like God? Is that always the case? That is highly unlikely: imperfect humans normally find themselves in the same boat as the apostle Peter, whom Jesus corrected for not thinking God's thoughts but those of men instead (Matthew 16:22-23). Everyone has their "Peter moment" including me. Therefore, what does it take to be a spiritual person or to think like Jehovah thinks? Compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-16.

One definition given for a spiritual person is someone who is "God-oriented." A spiritual person tries to reflect Jehovah's thinking even when there is no explicit law to supply direction, even with no express command. "You must not murder" is an explicit dictate (Exodus 20:13). However, Jehovah doesn't give explicit dictates for every situation in life. So, how can we reflect God's thinking when we don't have clear-cut laws to direct us? How can we possibly sync our thinking with God's if we don't have a law governing our choices (e.g., the law against murder)?

Rather than having clear-cut laws for everything, Jehovah supplies Bible principles. Mature Christians train their perceptive powers (powers of discernment) to distinguish right from wrong based on godly principles (Hebrews 5:14). One Bible principle is that we should do all things for God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31); another principle is that Christians should cleanse themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit (2 Corinthians 7:1). What will make it possible for us to apply such principles in the proper way?

1) A regular routine of Bible study and 2) We need to do research as the words of King Solomon suggest (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10; cf. Psalm 1:1-3).

Another essential step is prayer. Jehovah promises to direct our paths and make them straight if we rely on him, and look to him in all of our ways (Psalm 62:8; 65:2; Proverbs 3:5-6; 1 John 5:14-15).

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Lactantius on Statues, Children, and Adults

"Children think that statues are people, whereas the adults think they are gods" (Lactantius, Divine Institutes 1.22.14).

Both groups of people are mistaken in their own way.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Robert Alter on El Shaddai

Robert Alter (Hebrew Bible):

El Shaddai.
The first term, as in El Elyon (chapter 14), means God. Scholarship has been unable to determine the origins or precise meaning of the second term—tenuous associations have been proposed with a Semitic word meaning "mountain" and with fertility. What is clear (compare Exodus 6:3) is that the biblical writers considered it an archaic name of God.

G.J. Wenham (WB Commentary on Genesis):

For another potential explanation of El Shaddai, see John Skinner, ICC on Genesis, pages 290-291.