Here we will discuss some interesting questions, asked by readers of this Blog.
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1.) Is speaking in tongues (glossolalia) the needed proof that someone has received, or had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
2.) Does the Bible refer to understandable languages or incomprehensible “gibberish” type of language?
Only three authors of the New Testament refer to, or mention glossolalia.
Paul mentions speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 12 – 14. This is part of an answer he gave on the problems that this phenomenon had caused in the church of Corinth. Here it is almost certainly the “gibberish” type of glossolalia.
In 1 Cor.12:10 the speaking of “divers kinds of tongues”, as well as the “interpretation of tongues” is mentioned. Had Paul referred to a known language, “interpretation of tongues” would not have been needed.
Verse 28 mentions “diversities of tongues”. And verse 30:”Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
1 Cor. 13:1 mentions: “Though I speak with tongues of men and of angels …” Here the reference to tongues of angels certainly do not refer to understandable languages! Where verse 8 says that “whether there be tongues, they shall cease”. This could refer to both known and unknown “gibberish – type” of tongues.
In 1Cor.14:2 Paul speaks directly of the incomprehensible form of glossolalia. “For he that speaks in an unknown tongue, speaks not to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” Verse 4 also mentions that he that speaks in an unknown tongue “edifies himself”. This clearly does not refer to any known language, for then he would edify the listener!
Paul also refers to the futility of unknown tongues during gatherings of the congregation in verses 9 – 11: “So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a stranger, and he that speaks shall be a stranger to me.” 13 – 14: “Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue, pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.”
In this way Paul handles the use of incomprehensible “gibberish – type” glossolalia up to the end of verse 28.
Not in a single instance does Paul refer to an understandable language, but in all cases his references can be understood as referring to incomprehensible glossolalia.
Subsequently Luke handles speaking in tongues directly after the Holy Spirit came upon all, in Acts 2 as the speak of known languages (Zenoglossia). Then also in Acts 10:46, in the house of Cornelius: ”For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” And in 47 we read: “… which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we.” This is very similar to the incident in Acts 2, and could be understood as known languages. Luke also mentions the speak in tongues in Acts 19:6, where it could be understood as either unknown “gibberish – type” or known languages.
In the onset of his gospel, Luke mentions that he made a thorough examination before he wrote the gospel. I believe that this is evenly applicable to Acts. Since Acts had been written quite a few years after Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians, it is even possible that Luke intended to give another interpretation to that of Paul. This could be the reason why he pays so much attention to the speaking in tongues at three occasions where the Holy Spirit came upon different gatherings of people.
The third author in the New Testament is the unknown writer of the last chapter of Mark. This part (Mark 16:17 – 20) depicts mainly the signs described in Acts. Verse 17 mentions speaking with new tongues as a sign of them that do believe: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak in new tongues …” Chronologically this is the last mention of the speaking in tongues, but it does not bring us nearer to understand whether existing languages, or incomprehensible “gibberish – type” of glossolalia is meant.
From the above it is clear that Luke brings the gift of tongues directly in connection with the proclaiming and spreading of the gospel. It is also clear that not only single persons, but groups of people spontaneously, without any effort on their side, received the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues, even those from the heathen nations.
On the other hand Paul sees speaking in tongues as a gift on the one hand to enhance one’s personal relationship with God, but also as a sign to build faith, and on the other hand to give prophecy to the congregation provided it is interpreted.
Neither Paul nor Luke or Mark handles the speaking in tongues as a necessary verification of receiving the Holy Spirit.
John who chronologically wrote last, after both the epistle to the Corinthians and Acts, clarifies this point when he writes in John 20:22 – 23: “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them: ‘receive the Holy Spirit; whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained.“ With John, who certainly experienced the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, it is clear that he does not see speaking in tongues as a prerequisite or as any evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. When the outpouring of the Spirit occurred at Pentecost, John had been filled with the Spirit for quite some time. John sees the empowering with the Holy Spirit directly in connection with the spreading of the gospel leading to the remittance of sin, and therefore the salvation of people.
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#6 Textus Receptus versus the United Bible Societies – Texts as source Text for Bible Translations:
Textus Receptus versus UBS.
In short the choice between the Textus Receptus and the Unite Bible Societies – texts as source text for translating the New Testament, boils down to the following:
The Textus Receptus: I am Desiderius Erasmus a businessman but a devout Roman Catholic and expert in Latin. Yet I have enough knowledge of Greek to assist you. I compiled a Greek text using two manuscripts on the gospels, two on the epistles and one on Revelation, which unfortunately lacked the last page. But don’t worry, I translated the missing end to Revelation into Greek, using our beloved Latin Vulgate, and even created a new Greek word!
I noticed that Luke slipped up in Acts 9 where he didn’t give all the information concerning Paul’s conversion, so I added some detail from chapters 22 and 26. In quite a few other places I also corrected the manuscripts by altering the text for the better, according to my insights. I promised to add the elaboration on 1 John 5:6-7 if I could find a Greek manuscript containing those words, to ensure that it corresponds with our beloved Vulgate. When such a manuscript was handed to me, though the ink was still wet, and I was convinced that that manuscript had been prepared especially for that purpose, I added those words. Do not seek to find these words in of the more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts. They are all incomplete except for one manuscript dated about 1350 A.D. You need not worry about the different variations found in manuscripts over the centuries; I sorted it all out for you.
The UBS: We are a commission of four to eight permanent members from different denominations, in order that the doctrine of one may not take precedence over the choice we make. We are all experts in Biblical Greek, as well as the culture and customs not only of Christianity but also the other religions of that time in order that we may identify any possible deceptions or other influences. We are open to the advice of specialists in other denominations and other fields that might be of importance to the understanding and correct interpretation of the Scriptures like archaeology, and even ancient astrology. We compiled a recommended text taking into account more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts, 18,000 manuscripts of ancient translations as well as the quotations or references of more than 200 church fathers. We visit monasteries and old libraries all over the world in search of manuscripts still not known to the Christian world. We then evaluate our proposed text by an assessment of how certain we are that our proposed text would render the original autograph, from A where we are absolutely sure to E where another version in our text critical apparatus has an equal chance to present the correct text. To assist you as translator of the Word of God to make the best choice between the variations, all variations available are printed at the bottom of each page, giving the manuscript with its date of origin. That enables you to make an informed decision based on the real facts between the variations that do exist in the manuscripts. We present the information, you as translator make the choice under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of which variation you decide to put in your Bible.
Which one of the two approaches would you choose?
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#5 Concerning the Rapture: Luke 21:36
I received the following question concerning the translation of Luke 21:36 on the Afrikaans Blog. Since there are Versions of the Bible that exhibit similar differences I decided to translate his letter and post it here.
I forword a quote that reveals the false translation in modern Bibles like the Bible in Basic English (BBE), the Message and the Good News (GNB).
I’d like your comment on that.
Quote: (My translation –Herman)
“Concerning the situations that will come on earth, the rapture will be an escape to Christians from the impending judgment. …If they however stay true to the Lord, the Lord Jesus will rapture them with the other true believers enabling them to escape the vengeance to come on earth.
” Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. “ Luke 21:36 (KJV)
The Greek word ekfeugo surely means to be outside the turmoil, and according to Luke 21:36 to be in the presence of the Son of Man. The preposition ek always has the meaning in Greek to be outside, therefore versions that that state that we have to make it through (Message) the turmoil, are completely false! The King James translation renders it correct as escape. We will not be here.
Due to the controversy concerning the term “to escape” it is wise to consult a highly authoritive lexicon like A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, by W.F. Arndt and F.W. Gingrich. The basic meaning of the wordekfeugo is mentioned supported by several examples. The word ekfeugo can be translated as:
* to flee to safety,
* escape, and
* to avoid or evade.
The meaning of Luke 21:36 is mentioned in this lexicon as ‘escape tribulations’.
Bibles like the BBE, GNB and the Message deliberately translate according to their theological dogmas where there is no place for the Rapture, to try and remove it from the Bible. In Luke 21:36 they distorted the source text to force the Church to go through the tribulation. No other conclusion can be made than that this verse had been translated on a calculated basis by anti-chiliastic principles.”
Thus far the quote. I would like to hear your comments.
Paul, you refer to an important matter and verse.
We have to move carefully here so that we don’t lose the important message of this clause.
Die question is how we should understand “to escape”, (second aorist active infinitive ofekfeugo).
There is a huge difference between “…to escape all these things that shall come to pass …“ Here you are the person acting.
And: “…to be raptured from all these things that shall come to pass…”! Here the action is being done for you.
The author you quote, interprets the infinitive “to escape” as a passive. He sees it as something that happens to someone. He understands it as “to be raptured” (passive). But in reality “to escape” is something that one should do yourself.
Many modern translations do not use the direct translation method, but rather the Dynamic Equivalence where thought for thought instead of word for word is translated. This assists in understanding the true meaning of a piece of Scripture. That is why the Bible in Basic English translates: “But keep watch at all times with prayer, that you may be strong enough to come through all these things and take your place before the Son of man..” (BBE)
Let us consider this verse in context with Luke 21:20-36:
In Luke 21:20-24 Jesus advises his followers on what to do when the great tribulation is at hand: “… flee to the mountains… those in the city get out; …do not enter the city … woe unto pregnant women and nursing mothers …!” There will be bloodshed!
In vs. 25-33 Jesus says that when the turmoil is at its worse, believers should not loose heart, for Jesus their redeemer is coming on the clouds. The Kingdom is near when these things happen!
In vs. 34 Jesus warns his followers not to be so involved with every day living that they be caught by surprise. Why? They might forget to do what He advised in vs. 20-24.
In vs. 35 Jesus warns that like a snare “it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.“ All! His followers are not excluded!
That is why Jesus gives his final advice to His followers to “watch and pray” in order to be “counted worthy to escape these things.”
Here we have the crux of the matter. You are to be counted worthy not “to be escaped from” (passive) these things, but “to escape” (active) these things. This is not something that happens to you, but something that you have to do yourself. The things we have to escape, are not the tribulations, (otherwise Jesus is lying in vs. 35!) What we have to escape is mentioned in vs.34 (“…your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life…”) This comes forth from the whole part as from verse 20: Do not loose heart during the tribulations and go under. For then you wil not experience vs. 27: “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
I refuse to believe that Jesus gave all these warnings and advice on what His followers should do if He planned to rapture them from the tribulation! This is a wrong interpretation of this Scripture. Jesus gives no indication that we will escape the tribulation, but that we will have to go through it. He gives advice on how to keep standing during such times in order to be accounted worthy!
Paul, in my humble opinion the writer you quote is manipulating the understanding of the Greek to favor his interpretation. His interpretation clashes directly with the content of the clause as well as the advice Jesus gives.
Do read the whole chapter in any translation and you will see yourself that the interpretation of your writer clashes with the context.
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#4. Hein posed a question on the Afrikaans Blog concerning the essence of the commandment not to commit adultery.
His question boils down to: “Did God prohibit adultery, or fornication?”
Thank you for the question, Hein. But before you read my ideas on the subject, I would like to ask you the following:
1. What do you consider the essence of the difference between the two words.
2. Ask a few people nearby or at least your wife, without leading or commenting on the answers what is considered the difference between the two words.
So often we tend not to think for ourselves, but just evaluate someone else’s answer!
Only if you have made up your mind read further and consider the possibilities I lay before you.
I asked my wife her opinion, and here is what she had to say: “Fornication refers to a sexual relationship (physical, fantasy or behavior prompting it) between two people that are both not married. You abuse your rights and privileges of friendship with someone you are not married to. (With fornication no marriage is threatened.) It can be between two people, or even a host of partners. But it is not adultery because no marriage is involved or threatened – both involved are unmarried. Sometimes elderly people justify themselves with the following reasoning: they do not commit adultery or fornication for none of them are married at present, so no marriage is involved and they do ton step on someone’s “holy ground”. But to me that is fornication.
Adultery on the other hand is directly linked to one or both marriages. But it entails more than sexual intercourse. When a married person flirts with someone else, it is the beginning of adultery for it damages the relationship in the marriage and embarrasses the spouse. It reaches its final breaking point in the sexual deed. According to her, adultery can happen within the marriage, i.e. when they do not keep their marriage vows. That is also adultery for it damages the delicate relationship. Adultery can also include depriving the other to frustrate, manipulate or even “punish”, boiling down to adultery even though no one else is physically involved. That is why Paul so urgently warns against it in 1 Corinthians 7.
To her explanation I would like to add the following:
Concerning fornication: Flirting, amorous advances and even amorous wooing could be part of normal courtship, but when they get involved sexually, they fornicate. What else could fornication be? Sexual relationship with anyone but your spouse, is fornication, even between couples engaged to be married!
Concerning adultery I would add when the husband is rough with his wife, hurting her or even raping her, even though they are married. Also when he demands ways for his sexual pleasure that hurts her or she dislikes like oral or anal sex. That is also adultery for it damages the delicate involvement that should be to the pleasure of both parties in the marriage.
After talking to my wife about these two words, I am convinces that God prohibits adultery in its full meaning, and not only fornication, though that is also implied.
How do you see this commandment?
Do let us know.
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#3. The Dean Burgon Society
Are you aware of the work done by the Burgon Society? What is your opinion?
Gert, You would like to know whether I am aware of the work by the Dean Burgon Society.
Yes, I am aware of their work.
Do have a look again. They take the King James Version as point of reference and any and every deviation from it is handled with disrespect and most often with sometimes absurd conspiracy theories. No scientific basis is given for any of their allegations. This is not acceptable to me. I prefer to look at the reasons for the deviations and give readers the facts in order to enable them to make their own INFORMED decision.
The King James Version is based on the first printed Greek New Testament by Desiderius Erasmus in 1516. It later became known as “the Textus Receptus”. Google or have a look at the way Desiderius Erasmus compiled his text for the first printed edition of the New Testament on my blog.
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Why do the NIV make the sin of sodomy “light”? I refer to Deut.23:17 where both “whore” and “sodomite” are simply left out of the NIV! The NIV talks about a “Shrine Prostitute” which does not exist anymore!
Some differences between the KJV and the NIV are caused by plain mistranslation leading to misinterpretation. Consider this example:
KJV: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”
NIV:” No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.”
The RSV has a better translation since there is a distinct sentence in Hebrew for each gender: “There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel.”
A “whore” according to the Oxford English dictionary, is: “A promiscuous woman; a man’s mistress; an adulteress; engaged in immoral or promiscuous sexual relations; committing adultery.”
“Sodomy” according to the same dictionary is: “Any form of sexual intercourse with a person of the same or opposite sex, except copulation; spec. anal intercourse. Also, bestiality.”
But look at the Hebrew word (qadesh), according to Strongs: “From H6942; a (quasi) sacred person, that is, (technically) a (male) devotee (by prostitution) to licentious idolatry:- sodomite, unclean.”
(The same word is used in connection with the female part of the sentence.)
Though the word “qadesh” could be translated as “whore” or “sodomite”, the meaning or understanding of the word to the modern reader would most probably not bring him to temple prostitution, but rather to promiscuous adultery for females and to homosexuality for males.
This is clearly not the scope of this particular Scripture.
Though it is a fact that we do not know a “Shrine prostitute” in our modern world as an occupation, the interpretation and application of the Word should not be done by the translator, but by the reader, the preacher or pastor of the local congregation!
Sometimes the meaning of words change over time. I said something about this on the blog. Do have a look.
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#1 Direct translation versus meaningful translation.
Someone asked why the NIV translates with “capstone” where the KJV uses the words “head of the corner”?
Mat. 21:42: (Compare Mark 12:10, Lk.20:17, Acts 4:11 with Eph.2:20 and 1Peter 2:6)
Should we translate with “capstone” or “cornerstone”?
KJV: “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner;… “
In Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts the Greek word ‘kefaly’ (κεφαλη), “head” in conjunction with ‘gonias’ (γονιας), “corner” is used. In the KJV these words are directly translated. What would the “head of the corner” be in a building?
In Ephesians 2:20 and 1Peter 2:6 the word “acrogonaios” (άκρογωναιος) is used. This word literally means the “chief of the corner”, as it is translated in the KJV.
Again we ask to what stones these would refer to? Where would one find these stones and what would be their purpose?
The words used in the KJV are confusing. What would be the difference between the “head of the corner” and the “chief of the corner”? To most people it would mean the same. But surely they would refer to different stones in a building!
There are only two possibilities. Cornerstone, from where all measures were made in the construction of the building. The other possibility is a “capstone”, the final stone, tapered to fit exactly and combine the two parts of an arch.
Looking at the “head of the corner” the word refers to the position of the stone in the building, meaning high up. That supposedly refers to a capstone and not a cornerstone which was part of the foundation of the building. It also corresponds with Mat.21:44:” he on whom it falls will be crushed “. A capstone can fall on someone, but surely not a cornerstone.
The NIV use the proper English translations for these terms: “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;…“
In Eph.2:20 and 2Peter2:6 the NIV uses cornerstone.
May you be blessed.
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On my Afrikaans Blog I received a question that I thought might also interest my English readers.
Erik asked: “Herman, why do some churches have a weather cock on the steeple?
I answered with an adaptation from a book by Prof. Hennie Stander on the subject of symbols, safe or dangerous.
Though weather cocks are not so common in modern church buildings, they are very common on older buildings, especially in the country. (Actually the name “weather cock” is not appropriate, since it says nothing about the weather, but only indicates the direction of the wind. “Wind cock” would have been a better choice.)
When you ask about the meaning and symbolic meaning of the cock on the church steeple, most people relate it to the cock that crowed when Peter denied Jesus. (Matthews 26:34, 75) But that is not the real origin.
Looking back one notices that Christians often used the cock to indicate deep sorrow. (It was the crowing of the cock that let Peter realize how far he fell.)
The first time we read of a cock on a church steeple is when Ramperto, bishop of Brescia ordered a cock to be cast for his church in 820 A.D. But long before that the cock had been a known Christian symbol – also in the Old Testament. In Job 38:36 some versions translate: “Who gave insight to the cock to announce the break of day?” The Greek Old Testament, known as the Septuagint translates with: “Who gave wisdom to women to weave and do embroidery?”
Looking at the old version of Job 38:36, on grounds of it’s rendering people believed that God gave the cock special wisdom to discern when the day would break. Therefore the cock became the symbol of Godly wisdom. Early Christians also saw the cock as the symbol of the preacher. He was seen the one who in the darkness of the present order with his crowing (the spreading of the Gospel) had to announce that the light (the new era in Christ) has arrived.
They also laid the words of Romans 13:11 – 13 in the beak of the cock (the mouth of the preacher): “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day…”
The old theologians also pointed out that the cock first shakes his feathers before crowing. Even so the preacher should get his own life in order before he started to crow to call sinners to wake up to a new life.
The repeated crowing of the cock was also seen as a symbol of alertness and a further call to the true life. We have to bear in mind that the night had much fear to the antique people. Their nights were pitch dark and evil reigned. The night also became the symbol of death itself. When the cock started crowing, the demons fled and darkness drew back. Likewise death would draw back at the coming of Christ. So the cock also became the symbol of Christ’s victory over darkness and the hope of the resurrection from death.
The cock was also a symbol of goodness and generosity on the grounds of his care for the hens, calling them together when he found something to eat. In the fifth century, Eucherius wrote that the preacher of God’s Word should do the same when he found Godly wisdom in the Word of God and should share it with the hens – the other believers.
Other writers – both Christian and non-Christian, sometimes referred to the quarrelsome character of the cock. Some theologians brought that into reference to the war Paul described the life of the Christian (1Cor. 9:24 – 25)
The procreation urge of the cock also caught the attention, therefore he was also seen as symbol of fertility. On the negative side he was sometimes seen as symbol of unchastity.
In conclusion the cock was also seen as symbol of Christ himself, He who calls us to life!
Taken from “Symbols – safe or dangerous?” Prof. Hennie Stander.
I trust that this will be of value to you.
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Soli Deo Gloria