Category Archives: Commentary

Matthew chapter 20 verse 15 variant

What is going on here in Matthew 20:15? The Majority text reads:

Ἢ οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ποιῆσαι ὃ θέλω ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; Εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;

Here are the two significant variants in the verse, showing only witnesses 8th century and earlier:

η ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος lat Chrysostom TR RP η ουκ…η ο οφθαλμος ℵ C E N W Σ Φ 085 syr-p,h cop-sa TH [NA28] ουκ…η ο οφθαλμος B* D L Z SBL ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος B² ‖ lac A P 0233 0281. 

All the witnesses above except B D L Z SBL begin the sentence with the Greek word Ἢ, “or.” Then the TR and Majority text for the second variant read ει, a marker for a direct question. What I am pointing out is that none of the English translations based on the Majority reading translate the word Ἢ as “or.”

BUT, neither do the English translations based on the second reading, which has the Greek word η for both variants, neither do they appear to render their text as it is found.

Practically none of the English translations translate the first η as “or.” 

The translations supposedly based on the TR / Majority text, at first seem to read as the Vaticanus corrector. (ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος B²). The English translations from the Syriac, the Etheridge and Murdock translations, also seem to read as B².

The EMTV, “English Majority Text Version, reads as the SBL text.

We have seen that none of the English translations translate the first η as “or.”  But they are probably not following the reading of B* D L Z Θ SBL. The BDF grammar in Sec. 440 (3) says a simple interrogative ἦ does not exist in the NT.  In Sec. 440 (1) DeBrunner gives four examples in the NT of “simple interrogative ἤ,” Matt. 20:15, 26:53; 1 Cor. 9:8; 2 Cor. 11:7.  This must be how the first η is being interpreted.

Definite Article Variant

In Matthew 13 verse 2, there is a Greek textual variant involving the Greek definite article, in this case the neuter singular accusative, with the word for boat, so το πλοιον.

The pre-9th century witnesses are as follows:

πλοιον ℵ B C L W Z Σ SBL TH NA28 {\} το πλοιον D E Φ 𝔐 TR RP lac A N P 0233 0281

Note that the Textus Receptus contains the definite article with “boat,” but the English translations based on the TR do not say “the boat” but rather “a boat / a ship.”  See the Geneva Bible, Tyndale, Bishops’ Bible, the KJV, and the NKJV, which all say “a” not “the.”  This is because the definite article in Greek does not necessarily mean “the” in English.  The article here is not anaphoric, as it cannot be referring back to a known boat, since there is no boat mentioned previously in the context.  The article cannot be referring to “the only” boat, because there were several boats owned by the disciples, besides the fact that other people could have had boats on hand.

To download my translation of Matthew containing this footnote, click here.

What is the “firmament” in Genesis 1:6?

Hebrew: רקיע

râqı̂ya‛

Brown-Driver-Briggs Definition:

1) extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament

1a) (flat) expanse (as if of ice, compare הַקֶּרַח כְּעֵין), as base, support (WklAltor. Forsch. iv. 347) Eze_1:22-23, Eze_1:25(gloss ? compare Co Toy), Eze_1:26 (supporting ׳י’s throne). Hence (CoEze_1:22)

1b) the vault of heaven, or ‘firmament,’ regarded by Hebrews as solid, and supporting ‘waters’ above it, Gen_1:6-7, (3 t. in verse); Gen_1:8 (called שָׁמַיַם; all P), Psa_19:2 (|| הַשָּׁמַיַם), הָר ׳זֹהַר Dan_12:3; also הַשָּׁמִיִם ׳ר Gen_1:14-15, Gen_1:17, ר ׳עַלמְּֿנֵי ׳הַשּׁ Gen_1:20 (all P). **עֻזּוֺ רְקִיעַ Psa_150:1 (suffix reference to ׳י).

1b1) considered by Hebrews as solid and supporting ‘waters’ above

Part of Speech: noun masculine

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H7554

Greek: στερέωμα   A “calque” from Hebrew; not a loan word, but a loan translation.

In linguistics, a calque (/kælk/) or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, “to calque” means to borrow a word or phrase from another language while translating its components, so as to create a new lexeme in the target language. For instance, the English word “skyscraper” led to calques in dozens of other languages.

AMGL:

[in LXX: Gen_1:6 ff., Psa_19:1; Psa_150:1, Eze_1:22-26; Eze_10:1; Eze_13:5, Da LXX, TH Da 3:56, Dan_12:3 (H7549), Deu_33:26 (H7834), Psa_18:2; Psa_71:3 (H5553), Es 9:29, 1Es_8:78 (82), Sir_43:1; Sir_43:8, 1Ma_9:14 *;]

a solid body;

(a) a support, foundation (Arist., al.); metaph., strength (Psa_17:1-15; Psa_70:1-5, 1Mac, ll. c.); steadfastness, firmness: τ. πίστεως, Col_2:5;

(b) the dome of heaven (believed to be a solid canopy), the firmament (LXX).†

LSJ:

solid body, Hp. Flat. 8, Anaxag. ap. Placit. 2.25.9. ἄϋλα ς . immaterial solids, Dam. Pr. 425, cf. 205 .

2. foundation or framework, e.g. the skeleton, on which the body is, as it were, built, Arist. PA 655a22; στερεώματος ἕνεκα τοῦ περιτρήτου to strengthen it, Hero Bel. 95.8: metaph., solid part, strength of an army, LXX 1Ma_9:14; also, ratification, ἐπιστολῆς ib. Esa_9:29; steadfastness, τῆς πίστεως Ep.Col_2:5 .

3. = στεῖρα (of a ship), Thphr. HP 5.7.3 .

4. firmament, i.e. the sky, the heaven above, LXX Gen_1:6, Eze_1:22, al.; τὸν τῶν οὐρανίων ς. δεσπότην Tab.Defix.Aud. 242.8 (Carthage, iii A.D. ).

The NET Bible footnote:

An expanse. In the poetic texts the writers envision, among other things, something rather strong and shiny, no doubt influencing the traditional translation “firmament” (cf. NRSV “dome”). Job 37:18 refers to the skies poured out like a molten mirror. Dan 12:3 and Ezek 1:22 portray it as shiny. The sky or atmosphere may have seemed like a glass dome. For a detailed study of the Hebrew conception of the heavens and sky, see L. I. J. Stadelmann, The Hebrew Conception of the World, 37-60.

Acts 21 verse 40

Acts 21:40, 22:2
⁴⁰And after he gave him permission, Paul stood on the steps, and motioned to the people downward with his hand.  And when it was largely quiet, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, and said…
²And when they heard him addressing them in the Hebrew language, they offered greater silence.

Here I am focusing on the progression from “when it was largely quiet” in 21:40 to “they offered greater silence” in 22:2.

πολλῆς δὲ σιγῆς γενομένης προσεφώνησεν τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ λέγων
largely and quiet became, he addresed in the Hebrew language, saying

Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ὅτι τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ προσεφώνει αὐτοῖς μᾶλλον παρέσχον ἡσυχίαν.
when they heard and that in the Hebrew language he addressed them greater they offered a silence.

Starting with Wycliffe and Tyndale, they interpreted πολλῆς as an adjective rather than the adverb it is in this context.  And most all of the translations tells us that the mob became very silent merely because Paul motioned with his hand. Really, the mob that was just trying to kill him?

Wycliffe
Poul stood in the grees, and bikenede with the hoond to the puple. And whanne a greet silence was maad, he spak in Ebrew tunge, and seide,
And whanne sum herden that in Ebrew tunge he spak to hem, thei yauen the more silence.

Tyndale
Paul stode on ye steppes and beckned with the honde vuto the people and ther was made a greate silence.
Whe they hearde that he spake in ye Ebrue tonge to them they kept the moore silence.

Some translations do not even translate the word πολλῆς:

God’s Word
So Paul stood on the stairs of the barracks and motioned with his hand for the people to be quiet. When the mob was silent, Paul spoke to them in the Hebrew language.
When the mob heard him speak to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet.

Good News Bible
so Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand for the people to be silent. When they were quiet, Paul spoke to them in Hebrew:
When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew, they became even quieter;

CEV
so Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people. When they were quiet, he spoke to them in Aramaic:
When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter.

Many translations that do translate πολλῆς end up contradicting themselves, such as the NLT.  Verse 31 says there was “a deep silence” but then in v. 2 it says “the silence was even greater.”
How can you have a silence greater than “a deep silence”?  And there is no word for “even” in the Greek.

New Living Translation

so Paul stood on the stairs and motioned to the people to be quiet. Soon a deep silence enveloped the crowd, and he addressed them in their own language, Aramaic.
When they heard him speaking in their own language, the silence was even greater.

Now I will focus on the word παρέσχον in 22:2, which is 3rd person plural, they, they were offering.  The NLT does not correctly render that “they” part, see above.  But most translations do not correctly render the verb as “offered, afforded, gave” to someone.  Instead, they say something like “became” or “were”:

KJV
Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence:

NKJV
Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,
And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent.

TNIV
Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the crowd. When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.

CSB

Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people. When there was a great hush, he addressed them in Aramaic:
When they heard that he was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even quieter

ESV
Paul, standing on the steps, motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet.

NABRE
Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people; and when all was quiet he addressed them in Hebrew.
When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew they became all the more quiet.

NASB
Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying,
And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew dialect, they became even more quiet; and he *said,

NET
Paul stood on the steps and gestured to the people with his hand. When they had become silent, he addressed them in Aramaic,
(When they heard that he was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even quieter.)

NRSV
Paul stood on the steps and motioned to the people for silence; and when there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, saying:
When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet.

Here is how it should be translated:

DRP
Paul stood on the steps, and he motioned to the people downward with his hand.  And when it was largely quiet, he addressed them in the Hebrew language, and said,
And when they heard him addressing them in the Hebrew language, they offered greater silence. You can download the DRP translation here .

Luke Ch 2 verse 22

There is a textual variant in Luke 2:22, where the Textus Receptus Greek text reads “her purification,” but all other Greek editions read “their purification. The TR reading is found only in the Catenae, but in no Greek manuscript, or other language version, or in any Church Father writings. The Bishops’ Bible, the Douay Rheims Bible, the Geneva Bible and the King James bibles read “her purification,” but Tyndale reads “their purification,” so they departed not only from the Greek and Latin manuscripts, but also from their predecessor English translation. Wycliffe reads “the daies of the purgacioun of Marie.”

Here is the footnote from my translation of Luke:

txt αυτων 76 rell. Gk. it-q syr-p,h cop-sa,bo-pt AT RP NA28 αυτου D 118 205 209 it-a,aur,b,c,d,e,f,ff²,g¹,l,r¹ vg syr-s cop-sa-ms arm Ir-lat (Adv. Haer 3.10.5.157-9) αυτον Θ* ‖ omit cop-bo-pt Chrys Diatess-Pers. αυτης TR ‖ lac 𝔓⁴⁵ 𝔓⁷⁵ C F N P Q T.

You can download my translation of Luke here.

Effectual Prayer James 5:16

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  KJV

Is all prayer “effectual”?

πολὺ-ἰσχύει-δέησις –δικαίου-ἐνεργουμένη.

much-is able to do-the prayer-of the righteous-actuated, fully operating

Wycl:     For the contynuel preyer of a iust man is myche worth.

Tynd:     The prayer of a ryghteous man avayleth moche yf it be fervet.

Gen:      for the prayer of a righteous man auaileth much, if it be feruent.

KJV:       The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

ASV:      The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working.

ESV: The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

DRP: The fully operating prayer of a righteous person is able to accomplish much.

We can see that the effectiveness of the prayer of the righteous person is conditional on something.  It only works if it is “actuated, fully working.”

Tyndale introduced the idea of fervency, “if it be fervent.” I don’t know where he got that from, since that is not in the Greek.  The ASV and ESV say “as it is working,” etc.  This implies, correctly, that there is a possibility that one’s prayer does not work.  What makes prayer effectual, or “working”?

There are quite a few scriptures which tell us some things that cause our prayer not to work.

The Psalmist of Psalm 66 was a righteous man, but he knew that his prayers did not always work.  In Psalm 66:18 he says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

If the person praying is “doubting at all,” the prayer is not effective, James 1:6

If the one praying has unconfessed sin, he is not in fellowship with God, and is in darkness, as it says in many scripture passages such as Psalm 66:18; and in the First Epistle of John.

A married man’s prayers may be hindered if he is not treating his wife like it is layed out in 1 Peter 3:7. 

Matthew 5:23,24 says “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, and first go be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”  This does not mention prayer specifically, but I think it applies, as God is not interested in what you are bringing to him if you are not resolving what you brother has against you.

This is not a complete list, but are some examples of what might cause prayer to not be “fully operating.”

You can download the DRP translation of James here, with footnotes.

Rebuke the Government

John the Baptist and the Apostle Paul did not let their governments get away with breaking the law. They spoke up about it. In John’s case when he rebuked the king for having his brother’s wife, it cost him his life. In Paul’s case, it saved his hide, and got the authorities to treat him with more respect.
Acts 16:35-39
³⁵And when it was daytime, the magistrates sent the sheriffs, saying, “Release those men.” ³⁶So the prison warden declared these words to Paul, as follows: “The magistrates have sent orders that you be released. Now therefore, you may go in peace.”
³⁷But Paul said to them, “They gave us a beating in public without due process of law, though we men are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now they are pushing us away quietly? Certainly not! On the contrary they shall come personally and escort us out.”
³⁸So the sheriffs reported these statements to the magistrates. And when they heard that they were Roman citizens, they were afraid. ³⁹And they came and apologized to them. And they escorted them out, and asked them to go away from the city.
Acts 22:22-29
²²Now the crowd had been listening— until those words. Then they lifted up their voice, saying, “Remove such a man from the earth, for it is not fitting for him to live!” ²³And as they kept up their shouting, and were tossing off their cloaks, and throwing dust up in the air, ²⁴the commander ordered him brought inside the barracks, and said to give him a flogging until he talked, so that he could find out the reason for all this clamor over him.
²⁵But as they stretched him out in the straps, Paul said toward the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen without a trial?”
²⁶And when the centurion heard this, he approached the commander and informed him, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.”
²⁷So the commander came up to Paul, and he said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
And he said, “Yes.” ²⁸And the commander responded, “It took me a large sum of money to get that citizenship.”
And Paul said, “But I was actually born one.” ²⁹Then those about to interrogate him immediately withdrew from him. And even the commander was afraid, finding out that Paul was a Roman citizen and he had been strapping him up.
(Taken from my translation of Acts, which you can read here: https://bibletranslation.ws/trans/DRPbiblesofar.pdf )