Friday, April 21, 2023

Greek Thought for the Day (David L. Mathewson and Elodie Ballantine Emig)

Defining the Greek nominative case has posed a challenge for grammars. Sometimes it is described in terms of one of its primary functions, to indicate the subject of a sentence (Dana and Mantey 68–69). Though this is one of its common uses, the description is too narrow and does not account for all of the nominatives. As frequently recognized, the Greeks themselves designated it as the “naming case” (Robertson 456). The nominative is the case that designates, or specifies, a nominal idea. It simply names or designates an entity rather than specifying a relationship (as with the genitive or dative).3 The various syntactic functions explained below may be understood in this light. Furthermore, in relation to the other cases, the nominative is the unmarked case and carries the least semantic weight (but perhaps sometimes more marked than the accusative; see below), although at times it can have important functions in a discourse.
Mathewson, David L.; Emig, Elodie Ballantine. Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament (Kindle Locations 318-325). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Why Depict Death As An "Enemy"? 1 Corinthians 15:26

Greek (SBLGNT): ἔσχατος ἐχθρὸς καταργεῖται ὁ θάνατος

YLT: "the last enemy is done away -- death"

"The last enemy to be destroyed is death."

καταργεῖται is present passive indicative third singular of καταργέω (bring to an end, make to cease, to render useless, annul).

One question I have is what's the derivation of the language depicting death as an enemy.

ἐχθρὸς is applied to Satan in Matthew 13:25, 28, 39 (he's the Enemy), it's used generically in Romans 12:20. Paul asked the Galatians whether he became their enemy by imparting truthful counsel to them, and James warns that if anyone loves the world, he is making himself an enemy of God (James 4:4). Therefore, what influences Paul to employ this language?

Jeffrey Keiser suggests that Psalm 8:7 LXX might supply inspiration for viewing death as an enemy. Compare Euripides, Alcestis 62-71.


Others point to Genesis 3:19 and all that transpired in that account: see also Revelation 6:8.

A verse that occurred to me is Ecclesiastes 8:8 (ESV):
"No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it."

There are a host of intriguing issues raised by Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57. For instance, the apostle utilizes the vocative to address death, which is not the normal usage of the vocative case. Secondly, Paul speaks of death's "sting." Compare his language with the Hebrew of the OT texts he quoting and see the LXX.

Monday, April 17, 2023

How Some Commentators View Job 42:11

David Clines (Job 38-42, WBC): The little phrase of the narrator’s, “for all the misfortune that Yahweh had brought on him,” lets slip the fact that neither Job nor his friends ever get to know anything of the events in heaven that precipitated his woes, or anything of the role played by the Satan. On the other hand, if they had known what readers know about the origins of Job’s sufferings, they may still have been inclined to refer to them as “the misfortune that Yahweh had brought on him,” since it was Yahweh who had no doubt been morally responsible for all that had transpired—despite the fact that the Satan was their immediate cause.

John Hartley (The Book of Job, page 541): Like the dialogue, this scene attributes the cause of Job's misfortune to Yahweh. There is no discussion of intermediate causes, for it was believed that Yahweh was the cause of all that takes place.

Norman Habel (The Book of Job, OTL, page 585):
Job is now approachable like other mortals; he is no longer the isolated hero challenging heaven with his lawsuits. The misfortunes which Job experienced are here identified as "all the evil" (ra'a) inflicted by Yahweh. The agency of the Satan is now irrelevant. The "evil" Job experienced is indeed the "evil" he acknowledged from Yahweh's hands (2:10; cf. 30:26). God does indeed cause the innocent to suffer evil; such things are part of his cosmic "design."

Robert Fyall (Now My Eyes Have Seen You): Two important expressions crystallize the events as they have unfolded and are yet to happen. Verse 11 speaks of ‘all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him’, and verse 12 says that ‘The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.’ The Lord is the sole cause of all that has happened and will happen. Verses 11–12 raise a number of questions that bear especially on the relationship of God and evil.

Robert Alden (Job, NAC):
The first to welcome Job to his restored state were his siblings and friends, presumably the ones who shunned him during the height of his trial (19:13-15). They did what the friends had originally come to do, “comfort and console/sympathize with him” (2:11). “Trouble” is rendered “evil” in the older translations, but the Hebrew word is also the opposite of “prosperity/peace/well-being” as Isa 45:7 indicates.

Greg Welty (
It is one thing to acknowledge God’s sovereign and purposeful providence over the moral and natural evils mentioned in the Job, Joseph, and Jesus narratives. It is quite another to claim that God is sovereign over all moral and natural evils. But this is what the Bible repeatedly teaches. This takes us a considerable way towards licensing the GGT [greater good theodicy] as a general approach to the problem of evil. The Bible presents multitudes of examples of God intentionally bringing about natural evils – famine, drought, rampaging wild animals, disease, birth defects such as blindness and deafness, and even death itself – rather than being someone who merely permits nature to ‘do its thing’ on its own.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Romans 9:18: God Hardens "Whomever He Wills"

Romans 9:18 does not tell us that God hardens all evil humans; it only informs us that "he hardens whomever he wills" (ESV). Jehovah (YHWH) hardens Pharaoh's heart in a sense by permitting circumstances to occur that result in Pharaoh ultimately hardening his own heart (Exodus 7:3-4; 8:11; 9:12; 10:1; 14:4). These points are detailed in Rotherham's Emphasized Bible and Gesenius' Hebrew grammar.

The Complete Word Study: New Testament (by Spiros Zodhiates) makes this observation on Rom. 9:17: "It is not that Pharaoh was 'beyond' the help of God's mercy, nor that God made him wicked, but simply that God withheld his mercy and left him to his own wickedness" (page 522).

Exod. 8:15, 32; 9:34 show that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. See Gen. 3:16ff for an example of God permitting things which the Hebrew Bible says that he causes. Compare 2 Samuel 12:11-12; Jeremiah 8:10.

Sunday, April 09, 2023

Revelation 8:1-2 and the Seven Angels

Greek: Καὶ ὅταν ἤνοιξεν τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν ἑβδόμην, ἐγένετο σιγὴ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ὡς ἡμιώριον. καὶ εἶδον τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλους οἳ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἑστήκασιν, καὶ ἐδόθησαν αὐτοῖς ἑπτὰ σάλπιγγες.

Buist Fanning III speaks of a "minor variation" here with some texts reading
ὅτε, a reading that Stephen Smalley calls better attested but he indicates the lectio might not be original; other texts read ὅταν. Fanning thinks the two particles are overlapping relations in this context; he deems it more likely that scribes would have changed ὅταν to ὅτε to make it harmonize with chapter 6 of Revelation. See Fanning III, Revelation, page 279. Compare J.K. Elliott,
"Revelations from the apparatus criticus of the Book of Revelation: How Textual Criticism Can Help Historians," page 8.

G.K. Beale (The Book of Revelation): 

Some mss. have οτε (“when”; so  א052 M) instead of ὅταν (“whenever”). The latter is preferable because of its better witnesses (A C 1006 1611 1841) and as the harder reading, because it usually is used to refer to repeated actions and not definite action (it is often translated “whenever”). Consequently, ὅτε is what a scribe would have expected here for the definite past reference to the opening of the seal.226 Furthermore, ὅτε is used to introduce the first six seals. Some grammarians view ὅταν as suggesting a repeated act of opening the seal,227 although this is unlikely because of the uses of ὅτε in 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12.228 Furthermore, ὅταν refers to a definite future action in 18:9 and possibly in 4:9. Consequently, 8:1 is conditional in form but definite in force.
ἤνοιξεν τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν ἑβδόμην-It is generally thought to be the Lamb per the context, who opens the seventh seal. The verb ἤνοιξεν is aorist active indicative third person singular of ἀνοίγω ("I open"); the agent of the verb is not clear from the verbal form alone, but the Lamb appears to be the implied actor of the verb.

ἐγένετο σιγὴ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ὡς ἡμιώριον-Scholars have essayed many suggestions about why silence in heaven occurs for about half an hour, yet it's hard to be too definitive about the reason for silence in heaven. Leon Morris offers these thoughts (Tyndale Commentary on Revelation):

The sixth seal was opened as far back as 6:12, so there has been quite an interval. At the opening of the seventh there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Clearly it was a solemn and impressive moment. It is possible that the silence is connected with the offering of the prayers of the saints (vv. 3–4, so Beasley-Murray) just as in 7:3 certain plagues were held back until the servants of God were sealed. The saints appear insignificant to men at large. But in the sight of God they matter. Even great cataclysms are held back while they pray. And the praises of angels give way to silence so that the saints may be heard. It is also possible that we should think of the silence as resulting from a sense of awe at the presence of God (cf. Hab. 2:20). He is about to launch severe judgments on people. All heaven remains silent.
καὶ εἶδον τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀγγέλους οἳ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἑστήκασιν-Morris proffers that John has specific angels in mind since he employs τοὺς, and then Morris recalls the seven angels mentioned in pseudepigraphal literature: Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Saraqael, Gabriel and Remiel. However, does Revelation truly have these specific angels in mind when it speaks of "the seven angels"?

Robert H. Mounce suggests (The Book of Revelation):
"Whatever the connection may be between the seven trumpet-angels of John’s vision and the seven archangels of Jewish apocalyptic, their role in the book of Revelation is to announce a series of plagues that is to fall upon the earth and its inhabitants. It is possible that they are also the seven angels who later pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God (15:1, 6-8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9)."

These seven angels stand before God:
ἑστήκασιν is perfect active indicative third person plural of ἵστημι, but Grant R. Osborne insists (Revelation, BECNT): "As noted before (3:20; 5:6; 7:1, 9), the perfect of ἵστημι has present force, and so connotes the idea of being continually attendant to the enthroned God."

For more on the perfect morphology of
ἵστημι and its ostensibly present force, see David L. Mathewson, Verbal Aspect in the Book of Revelation, pages 92, 101-103. Regarding the expression, ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ, compare Revelation 3:5; 4:5-6, 10; 5:8; 7:9, 11, 15; 8:3-4; 9:13; 11:4, et al.

ἐδόθησαν is aorist passive indicative third person plural of δίδωμι.

Friday, April 07, 2023

Come On, Trinitarians! Really? The Trinity Is Like Particle Physics?

This is meant to be a light blog post, but it might spark a little discussion. The Trinitarian statements I have in mind can be found here:

I hope the author is somewhat joking, but I have seen philosophers and theologians appeal to QM/QP to support their belief in the Trinity and Incarnation of Christ. For example, they reason that light is both a wave and a particle, so Christ could be God and man simultaneously and fully God, fully man.

But see

Revelation (Apocalypse): A Book of Love?

This post was inspired by the recent shooting in Germany and it extracts ideas from a book written by C. Spicq entitled Agape in the New Testament (3 Volumes).

The book of Revelation admittedly has a lot to say about war (πόλεμος). See Revelation 2:12-16, 20-23; 6:1-4; 9:7, 9; 11:7; 12:7-12, 17; 13:7; 16:14-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-3, 7-10. I believe that out of eighteen occurrences in the GNT, 1/2 of the occurences for
πόλεμος can be found in Revelation. See

Nevertheless, war is not the only theme of this "apocalyptic" work, but the book deals with love too:

Revelation 1:5-6; 2:4, 19; 3:9; 12:11; 20:9.

How heartwarming that John refers to Christ as the one who loved "us" (Revelation 1:5). While Christ loves those whom God has called to be kings and priests (1:6; 5:9-10; 20:4-6), Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Almighty God equally loves those who look forward to life in the new earth: the love of Jesus and his Father for humankind is unfathomable. No creature will ever fully understand such love (Ephesians 2:4-6).

Christ Jesus lovingly acknowledged the righteous deeds of the Ephesian congregation (Revelation 2:1-3). Nevertheless, he sternly corrected them since they had lost their first love. The first love (the love they had at first) possibly refers to their initial ardent love for Jehovah God and his Son, a love which they allowed to wane over time. Hence, Jesus did another loving thing by supplying correction to the Ephesians for as he later exclaims, "
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19 ESV). Compare Hebrews 12:3-11.

Jesus lovingly commended the congregation at Thyatira although he had strong counsel for them:
"I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first" (Revelation 2:19).

Does Jesus ever forget our righteous deeds or the love that we show for Jehovah's name? Our Lord assured the congregation in Philadelphia:
"Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you" (Revelation 3:9 ESV).

Jesus never forgets the love that we show for Jehovah's name; he knows our deeds and appreciates our work.

Revelation 12:7-12 reports a conflict that took place in heaven between Michael and his angels against Satan and his angels. Satan the Devil was ousted from heaven, then an unidentified loud voice was heard from heaven that revealed the love which Christian martyrs have for their God, and their Savior Christ Jesus:

"They conquered him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not love their lives
in the face of death" (HCSB).

Those who give their lives (souls) in service to Jehovah God and his Christ--Christian martyrs anointed by God's spirit--conquer the Devil (the figurative dragon) because they exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus while they boldly give the "word of their testimony" via the preaching and teaching work (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20). In this manner, they show that the present life is not more important than faithful service to God: their love for God exceeds love for life itself.

Finally, in Revelation 20:9, we read about the "beloved city" (
τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἠγαπημένην): this figurative city is the Lamb's wife (the bride of Christ) composed of 144,000 kings-priests. When Satan's hordes attack people in the new earthly society, it will also be an attack on those in heaven. Rev. 20:9 unfolds the outcome of Satan's attack. Ultimately, Jehovah will show love for New Jerusalem by consuming all who oppose Kingdom rule. One might say that the motifs of war and love are combined in this verse as John writes: καὶ κατέβη πῦρ [b]ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ κατέφαγεν αὐτούς·

SBLGNT supplies the variants:
ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ WH NIV ] ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ Treg; ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ RP

In my estimation, Revelation has a lot to tell us about love.

Monday, April 03, 2023

Hebrews 2:4 (Morphosyntax)

Greek (WH): συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν καὶ ποικίλαις δυνάμεσιν καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν

"At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will."

James Moffatt NT:
"while God corroborated their testimony with signs and wonders and a variety of miraculous powers, distributing the holy Spirit as it pleased him."

This verse begins with a word that morphologically is present active participle genitive singular masculine (συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος). William L. Lane (Hebrews 1-8, WB Commentary) states that συνεπιμαρτυρέω is used regularly in nonbiblical Greek, but the LXX does not employ the word and its only GNT occurrence is Heb. 2:4. Lane proffers the meaning, “to bear witness at the same time." Bill Mounce supplies these definitions: "
to join in according testimony; to support by testimony, to confirm, sanction." One other point about the present participle is that Lane thinks it connotes ongoing action that continued to be shown in the early Christian community's daily life.

συνεπιμαρτυροῦντος τοῦ θεοῦ is a genitive absolute (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament). ESV translates: "while God also bore witness"; NWT 2013: "while God joined in bearing witness." Dana Harris (Hebrews) relates that
συνεπιμαρτυρέω is legal nomenclature and the participle may logically correlate with ἐβεβαιώθη in Hebrews 2:3 even if the correlation is not strictly grammatical: moreover, the participle in the genitive absolute construction logically depends on ἐβεβαιώθη.

The language,
σημείοις τε καὶ τέρασιν καὶ ποικίλαις δυνάμεσιν emphasizes divine wonders, the exhibited power of God, and "the rich variety of divine activity." See Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews, page 142. Additionally, Harris observes that one finds a string of instrumental datives here with
ποικίλαις modifying δυνάμεσιν.

The writer of Hebrews has a propensity for
the correlative τε καὶ (see Hebrews 4:12; 5:1,7,14; 8:3); καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν-The Greek μερισμός occurs twice in the GNT (Hebrews 2:4; 4:12); the word is best understood in terms of distribution for Heb. 2:4, contra Henry Alford.

Both Paul Ellingworth and Harold Attridge consider
πνεύματος ἁγίου to be an objective genitive, and Attridge adds (Hebrews, 67-68) that the "spirit" in this verse:

refers not to a divine hypostasis, but to an eschatological gift of God's power and life.68 Hebrews will describe the "holy spirit" as speaking through the scriptures.69 That personification involves a traditional paraphrase for referring to the divine origin of scripture.

The Greek text reads, καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου μερισμοῖς ("and distributions of holy spirit"), but commentators normally interpret the "distributions" (μερισμοῖς) to be gifts imparted through/by the holy spirit--it is not the holy spirit itself that is being distributed. Luke T. Johnson explains (Hebrews, page 89):

The expression “distributions of the Holy Spirit according to his will,” in turn, most clearly echoes Paul’s language in 1 Cor 12:11. Speaking of the “variety of gifts” (diaireseis charismaton), Paul says, “all these are activated by the one and same Spirit who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.”
On the other hand, see James Moffatt, The Epistle to the Hebrews, page 20. Note his translation supra.

Amplified Bible:
  "[and besides this evidence] God also testifying with them [confirming the message of salvation], both by signs and wonders and by various miracles [carried out by Jesus and the apostles] and by [granting to believers the] gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will."

κατὰ τὴν αὐτοῦ θέλησιν is likely a reference to God per the context (i.e., God's will); θέλησιν is accusative singular feminine and the object of κατὰ. See Harris, Hebrews. The suffix -σιν that occurs three times in Heb. 2:4 is probably for rhetorical effect, according to Harris.

While I do not agree with Daniel Wallace's Trinitarian theology, his article here is useful in some ways:

Saturday, April 01, 2023

Words of the Month (April 2023)

1. Lexicology (etymology is late Greek and French)-"Lexicology is the study of the meaningful information conveyed by words" (James Price, An Exegetical and Expository Syntax of Biblical Hebrew, page 1).

Merriam-Webster offers this definition: "a branch of linguistics concerned with the signification and application of words."

2. Syntax-"Syntax is the study of the meaningful information conveyed by the sequential order in which the words of a text are arranged" (James Price, An Exegetical and Expository Syntax, page 1).

For extended definitions of "syntax," see

Collins Dictionary: "Syntax is the ways that words can be put together, or are put together, in order to make sentences."

3. νοῦς (Greek)-"mind, reason, intellect." See 1 Corinthians 2:16; 14:14-15, 19; Philippians 4:7; Colossians 2:18; Revelation 13:18; 17:9.

Marvin Vincent has this note in his Philippians and Philemon Commentary (ICC):

Νος is the reflective intelligence; in Paul, mostly as related to ethical and spiritual matters. It is the organ of the natural moral consciousness and knowledge of God (Rom 1:20, Rom 1:28, Rom 1:7:23). It is related to πνεμα as the faculty to the efficient power. Until renewed by the divine πνεμα, it cannot exercise right moral judgment (Rom 12:2); and although it may theoretically approve what is good, it cannot conform the practice of the life to its theory (Rom 7:25). It is this which is incapable of dealing with the painful and menacing facts of life in such a way as to afford rest.