1 CORINTHIANS 12:13

AN EXEGESIS OF 1 CORINTHIANS 12:13.

The Greek says, GAR EN ENI PNEUMATI HEMEIS PANTES EIS EN SOMA EBAPTISTHEMEN, “For by one Spirit we all were baptized into one body.”

Daniel B. Wallace says this is an example, or “an illustration,” of preposition EN used for means (Greek Grammar Beyond Basics, 374). By means, it is the instrument used. Thus EN ENI PNEUMATI, “by one Spirit,” is dative instrumental. Thus say Strong and Robertson also.

This means that the Holy Spirit is the instrument Christ uses. The passage is parallel to Mark 1:8. PNEUMATI HAGIO in Mark 1:8 clearly indicates the Spirit as the means; and so 1 Corinthians 12:13 may not differ from it. The use of preposition BY is reasonable. “For BY one Spirit.”

Those who promote present-day Holy Spirit baptism say that EN + Dative’s only use is locative and not instrumental. They are making an exclusive rule where there is none!.

They say that in this way, in the construction EN + PNEUMATI, the Holy Spirit becomes the sphere, or the location. And yet this interpretation is not consistent with their interpretation of Eph. 5:18, where the same construction is found. EN PNEUMATI here speaks of the Spirit as the means. The idea of Paul is that the believers are to be filled by means of the Spirit.

If EN PNEUMATI in Eph. 5:18 is dative of means, and therefore instrumental, why can’t EN PNEUMATI in 1 Corinthians 12:13 be dative instrumental also?

I suspect that their insistence of interpreting 1 Corinthians 12;13 as locative is for reasons dubious and self-serving. I am just consistent. I look at both passages with the same construction as similar in meaning and therefore must be similarly interpreted.

Lastly, the verb employed in 1 Corinthians 12:13 is aorist. Aorist is referring to a past event, unrepeatable. It is not referring to a continuous progressive act..

Here is the death knell of present-day Holy Spirit baptism doctrine. 1 Corinthians 12:13 can never be used by them to prove that they must have Holy Spirit baptism today simply because 1 Corinthians 12:13 does not say so!

They will not need an aorist to prove their doctrine! They will need a present continuous verb to help them promote their doctrine!

Now, you HSB people, find me a verse in the Bible that says, “For in one Spirit we today are being baptized into one body!”

1 Corinthians 12:13 cannot help you. It has already been fulfilled!

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An Exposition of John 17:1-3

Verse 1 of this chapter tells us that the Lord prays that the Father may glorify Him, in return for which He may glorify the Father. “May glorify” here is literal translation and you will find it rendered so in ASV, KJV, RSV and Confraternity Version.

The Greek word kathos, translated as “as” (KJV), “even as” (ASV), “since” (RSV), may also be rendered “just as”“inasmuch as” (Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionaries). The RSV sounds much better in English: “Since thou has given Him power over all flesh.” The reference of “thou” is the Father, and “Him” is Jesus. In direct address, Jesus could also have said, “Glorify me, Father, that I may glorify you too, inasmuch as, since, just as (kathos) you have given me power over all flesh.”

Perfect tense is how the translators render the Greek verb edokas, and so RSV has “has given” while both Confraternity and KJV have “hast given” as translations. edokas however sounds like aorist to me, and so it is rendered in the ASV as “thou gavest.” In modern English, “you gave.” But past action is not the only sense of the aorist; it may also refer to an action seen as a whole, albeit finished and done, and so RSV, KJV, and Confraternity all have the perfect tense. The aorist has been around us for thousands of years and Greek grammarians are still trying to make sense of it. It is a tense that is rich with meanings, and personally I am thankful that this is so. Language, to be enjoyable, must be rich with sense!

And so I translate verse 2 literally as, “Inasmuch as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that [to] all which [or whom] thou has given him he may give to them life eternal.”

 

Verse 3 explains what that eternal life is. It is knowing God the Father as the only true God; it is also knowing Jesus as the One whom the Father sent. Both phrases, “the only true God” and “he whom thou didst send Jesus Christ” are objects of the verb “know.” Both phrases are joined by the Greek conjunction kai,and.”

To argue that, since both direct objects are joined by conjunction “and,” and since “and” does not separate but joins thoughts, objects, or ideas of similar categories, therefore “the true God” is the same as “Jesus Christ whom you have sent,” is really ungrammatical, illogical and far-fetched. These preachers, in their effort to save their theology, threw their net into the Pond of Despondency and this was one of those rules they caught! Where is the logic there? “And” simply joins two objects, ideas, thoughts, and those thoughts, objects and ideas are not necessarily the same. And I say far-fetched because it is unlikely that that is what Jesus has in mind when He said it.

What then? Admire those people for their fervency and zeal—they just want to guard the ramparts of the faith in the hope of securing it for the generations to come. But their method is madness, their grammar is idiocy and their logic is foolishness! Therefore shun them as you do a plague!

(6) The Fullness of the Godhead Dwells in Jesus

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” reads Colossians 2:9 (NKJV). The Greek text says: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως (Wescott-Hort). Giving their equivalents in the Roman texts, the Wescott-Hort Greek texts read: hoti en auto katoikei pan to ple’roma tes theo’tetos somatikos. Alfred Marshall translates: “Because in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament).

GODHEAD DEFINED. M. R. Vincent (Word Studies in the NT, 906) thinks “the essential and personal deity” that makes God “God” (the θεοτητος, theotetos) belongs to Jesus. This is the necessary conclusion based on the meaning of the phrase “all the fullness of the Godhead.” Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker define the word θεοτητος as “deity, divinity,” adding that the word is “used as abstract noun” for θεος, theos, “God.” (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker,  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 358). BAGD cites Colossians 2:9 for this usage. θεος is “God,” while θεοτητος and its co-derivative θεοτης, theotes, means “Godhead.”

GODHEAD OR DIVINITY? The word θεοτητος in Colossians 2:9 is translated “Godhead” but a related word in Romans 1:20, θειοτης, theiotes (note the iota letter!), is rendered variously by different translators: as “divinity” (ASV, Centenary Translation, Darby’s), “existence” (BBE), “divine nature” (God’s Word, Weymouth’s), “Godhead” (KJV, Wesley’s, Young’s), and “deity” (RSV).  Do θεοτητος and θειοτητος, or θεοτης and θειοτης, mean the same?

Vine says no. His argument is that θειοτης, “divinity,” is derived from θειος, “divine” (Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words With Their Precise Meanings for English Readers, item: “Divinity,” 328); θεοτητος, “Godhead,” on the other hand, is rooted from θεος, “God.”

Vine says: (1) θειοτης, “divinity” (cf. Romans 1:20), indicates the divine essence of Godhood, the Personality of God; and that (2) θεοτητος, or θεοτης (cf. Colossians 2:9), indicates His divine attributes, nature and properties (Ibid., 328-329). It would be best to do more research on this.

MEANING OF “KATOIKEI,” “DWELLS.” The Greek text reads: ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει, hoti en auto katoikei, literally, “For in Him dwells.” κατοικει in its intransitive usage means “live, dwell, reside, settle (down)” (BAGD, 424). When intransitive, the verb stands without a direct object. For example, this sentence: “He dwells.” The subject is “He,” the verb is “dwells,” and while it has no object we know that the sense and meaning of the sentence is complete.

κατοικει in its transitive usage means “to inhabit something.” This means the verb cannot stand without a direct object. Matthew 23:21 illustrates this usage: “And the one swearing by the temple swears by it, and by the one inhabiting (katoikounti) it.” The present active participial verb “inhabiting” has for its object the pronoun “it.”

A derivative of κατοικει is the noun κατοικησις, katoikesis, meaning living, or dwelling quarters (cf. Mark 5:3, “who had his dwelling among the tombs”) (BAGD, 424).  Another derivative, κατοικιa, katoiki’a, is a noun and is translated “dwelling place,”  or “habitation” (cf. Acts 17:26, literally, “the boundaries of their dwelling”) (BAGD, 424).

κατοικει, katoikei, in Colossians 2:9 is present active indicative. Why active? The phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” is the one doing the action!

“For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily” can also be arranged like this: “For the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him bodily.” “The fullness of the Godhead” is the subject, the verb is “dwells,” “bodily” is an adverb that modifies the verb “dwells,” and “in Him” is a prepositional phrase that tells us the where of the indwelling. In more ways than one, prepositional phrases function like adverbs, modifying verbs.

In Colossians 2:9, the action, “dwells,” is not done by Jesus; he is in fact the one being dwelt in.

It can neither be said that Jesus is the direct object of the verb “dwells,” because “in Him” is a prepositional phrase, and “Him” is the object of the preposition “in.” κατοικει is present tense, active voice; furthermore, it is intransitive, since it has no direct object.

Katoikei is a continuous or ongoing action. When we say that κατοικει, “dwells,” is in the present tense, we also mean that the action of  that verb  is continuous. Therefore what Paul says in Colossians 2:9 about Christ is a fact that stands true, that in Him “continually dwells the fullness of the Godhead.” And for that reason the indicative mood of the verb is used, it simply declares something to be a fact; and it is a fact that the Godhead keeps dwelling in Jesus, wherever He may be. “The present tense,” says Rogers and Rogers, “indicates the continual state [of Jesus] and points to the present reality [of him in heaven]” (Rogers & Rogers, 464). I once argued this fact with an INC minister, but he objected to my use of the Greek New Testament. He wanted to remain as an ignoramus, so I let him!

To the question: “Was the divine essence of Christ personally present on earth during Christ’s earthly ministry?” the answer should be “yes.”

IN HIM DWELLS ALL THE PLEROMA. The παν το πληρωμα, pan to ple’roma, “all the fullness,” is what dwells in Jesus. For a related passage see Colossians 1:19“For in him all the fullness [of the Godhead] was pleased to dwell” (Darby’s Translation).

πληρωμα, pleroma, is rooted from πληροω, pleroo, “to make full, to fill” (BAGD, 670). It can be used in the sense in which objects or persons  are filled with intangible things or qualities (as in, “the ship’s sail filled out by the wind”; “a sound filled the house”; “the house was filled with fragrance”; “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching,” Acts 5:28; “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full,” Dan 8:23; “fill someone’s heart,” that is, take possession of it, Eccl. 9:3) (Ibid., 670-671).

BAGD defines πληρωμα as (a) “that which fills up”; (b) “that which makes something full or complete, that which supplements or complements”; (c) “that which is full of something”; (d) “that which is brought to fullness or completion”; and (d) “that which is the sum total, the fullness, the superabundance” of something (BAGD, 672). Relative to the definition (d) above, BAGD cites Colossians 2:9, and says the phrase “the fullness of the Godhead” means “the full measure of deity” (Ibid.). What makes God “God” dwells in its fullness in Jesus.

The πληρωμα is something that is intangible and therefore to engage in measurements and physical dimension when talking about the “Godhead” (as the INC-1914 would often do) is to lose sight of the meaning of  it. The “fullness of the Godhead” is not a tangible something. So forget about the metric dimensions, the encasing and the body size. I am sure Jesus’ body size was tangible, but what dwelt in him was not. Let us look at the figure with the eye of faith.

WHAT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit in Christ during his earthly ministry, you would ask. What do you mean by “in Christ”? In two places in the Book of Matthew the Holy Spirit is mentioned in relation to Him and His work: (1) It was prophesied that the Spirit of God would be “upon him” (Matthew 12:17-19), and such was true during His ministry. (2) It is said that the Holy Spirit was “upon Him” during his baptism to identify Him as the chosen one of God (Matthew 3:16). This not only identifies Jesus but also reconfirms the Spirit’s presence and His separate identity from the Son and the Father.

If you insist that the Spirit was “in Christ” during His ministry, be informed that your evidence here is wanting. It would be best to examine the meaning of this Greek prepositional phrase translated as “upon Him” (επ αυτον, ep auton), cf. Matthew 3:16; 12:18. “Upon Him” does not mean “in Him.”

Furthermore, don’t be confused by thinking that if the Holy Spirit resided “in Him” (such a phrase of course I have yet to encounter in the New Testament, but I may be wrong), that is the same thing as saying that “fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him.”  The phrase “fullness of the Godhead” has never been equated with, is not identified with, and does not refer to the Holy Spirit.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit among Christians did not come until the event of Acts 2.

DWELLS BODILY. The πληρωμα of the θεοτητος, “the fullness of the Godhead,” dwells in Jesus “bodily.” The word here is σωματικως, somatikos, rooted from the Greek σωμα, soma, “body.” It is an adverb and means “bodily,’ “corporeally” (Vine’s, “Bodily,” 137; BAGD, 800).

In its adjective form, it means (a) “being or consisting of a body,” cf. Luke 3:22; and (b) “pertaining or referring to the body” (BAGD, 800).

The term “Godhead” is the translation of the word θεοτητος. Rogers and Rogers defines it as “divine nature, deity,” and that it “differs from the expression ‘Godhead’ in Romans 1:20 in that it emphasizes not so much divine attributes but divine nature or essence.” In describing the deity that is in Jesus, Rogers & Rogers says, “Divine glory did not merely gild Him, lighting up His person for a season with a splendor not His own; He was and is absolute and perfect God” (Rogers & Rogers, 464).

BAGD renders the phrase ‘οτι εν αυτω κατοικει παν το πληρωμα της θεοτητος σωματικως, “in Him the whole fullness of Deity dwells bodily” which is to be understood as “in reality, not symbolically” (BAGD, 800). As the body of Jesus is real, the full deity that dwells in Him is also real. It is an actual, personal, and direct indwelling of the deity. I am inclined to believe that it is His own deity that dwells in His own body, and that deity is described by Paul as nothing less than what the Godhead  is and should be. Note for example that passage in Hebrews that says: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me; 6 In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hadst no pleasure” (Hebrews 10:5-6, ASV). The body that came out of Mary’s womb was the body that became the habitation of the deity that came into the world. Jesus is God become man.

Colossians 2:9 thus means that the divine nature including the divine attributes that was Jesus, the Logos, became incarnate and indwelt in the body of the Redeemer of men. God needed to come down to be man’s Saviour (for only a Deity could save man) and become human to complete that salvation by the shedding of His blood (“without the shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22). If He left His deity in heaven, He could not save, being man alone.

There is no need to speculate that it was the Holy Spirit who dwelt in Him, nor was it the Father. It was He himself as an individual Person in the Godhead! And that “Godhead” that inhabited the body of the man Jesus was nothing less than the full Godhead that was the Father and the Holy Spirit.

But, you may object, there is a passage too that plainly says the Father dwells in Jesus (John 14:10). My question: Do you believe that to be the literal indwelling of the Father in the body in Jesus?  The verb in that passage is menon, which not only means “dwelling” but also means “remaining,” or “abiding.” Even the translators have a problem on how to translate it, whether to render it  “to dwell,” “to abide,” or “to stay.” In one instance in John, the word meneis, a derivative of menon, was translated “dwell(John 1:38, “where dwellest thou?”). In another, it was translated “abide” as in John 1:39, “They abode (emeinan) with Him that day.”

Be informed also that Christ says the Father is “in” Him, and He is “in” the Father, and prays that His disciples may be one “in” them (John 17:21).

John in another epistle writes that anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, “God dwells in him, and he dwells likewise in God” (1 John 4:15). The verb for “dwells” here is menei. If one insists on God’s literal dwelling in him, why not too insist on his literal dwelling in God?

I believe that the Deity that was the Logos dwells in the man Jesus. That deity was no less in quality and essence than the Father and the Spirit, for which reason Paul calls it the “fullness of the Godhead” and it dwells bodily, in reality, in truth, in the body of the Redeemer of the world. But when it comes to the “indwelling” of the Father in Him, I believe that to be non-literal. By non-literal, I don’t mean it is not true; neither do I mean it is not real. I mean it is spiritual. The Father spiritually dwells in Jesus.

You may have your concept of the personal indwelling of the Godhead, or of the Spirit in you. I believe that to be  spiritual. Note too what John says: “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). We cannot literally dwell in God in much the same way as we cannot literally dwell in love.  Dwelling in God and dwelling in love, while they are truthful, real, and factual, they are not literal. They are spiritual.

The inhabiting of the Godhead in Jesus is rather unique and cannot be compared to your concept of the personal individual bodily indwelling of the Spirit.  What dwells in the body of Jesus is the “fullness of the Godhead” (that which makes Him,  the Father and the Spirit truly God, and I mean here the essence, attributes and nature of Godhood); what dwells in you, singularly, personally, individually, bodily,  is your own spirit.

Any reaction to this post will surely be appreciated. I can always rectify my position with the help of elucidation, explanation, or argumentation from you brethren.

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Having a Closer Walk with the Spirit

When life threatens to overwhelm you, when misfortunes bring you down to the pit, when doubts and life’s baffling questions threaten to snuff out that little fire of faith that remains in the heart, try praying. Try getting the help of the Spirit. You need not despair, because the God you do not see works behind the scenes, and causes all things to fall into place. These work for your good to make you a better child of God and prepare you for the life in heaven. Life may not be easy. But knowing that the Father above brushes away the clouds that He may have a good gaze of you, that the Son who is on his throne keeps on believing in your ability to carry on, and that the Holy Spirit who lives among us is there ready to share our burdens, then life begins to be configured according to the perspective that you could understand. Be still, be calm, be at peace. You have a help that is more than what a million angels can offer. Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.

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(5) “Being Filled With the Spirit” (The Case of the Twelve Apostles)

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Acts 2 tells us about many firsts. It was the first time the Holy Spirit was outpoured from heaven and filled a group of 12 men (Acts 2:4, 14) in fulfillment of the divine promises (cf. Joel 2:28-29; Matthew 3:11; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). These men were disciples of the Man from Nazareth, a strange Man from a strange place. Strange not so much because of the absence of rabbinic references about Him as a God-sent figure beginning a grass roots ministry in such a place called “Ha Galil,” literally “The Circle,” or Galilee, in the northernmost tier of Jewish land, which was geographically, politically and spiritually far from the scene of action which was Jerusalem. Strange because the small band who followed the Man of peace too were adept in the ways of the revolution, Galilee being the nest of revolutionary movements in all Palestine. Strange because the band of twelve, in obedience to their Leader, was to proclaim a revolution that was to change the face of the soul and consequently the face of the world.

INITIATING THE NEW WAY OF GOD IN THE WORLD. The Twelve were unlearned in the ways of scholars and theologians (Acts 4:13). They had never been to a Mishna and Torah school. Their manners were rough. Their dialect had regional defects. They quarreled for the topmost position in the kingdom that was yet to come. They called for thunder and lightning to consume their fellow Jews who did not believe like they did. They cringed in the face of death when their Master was arrested, tried and hung outside the city walls. Yes, they were human, as human as anyone of us are.

Nevertheless all those— those minus points and flaws in their character—did not matter, for these were to change because of their continued association with the Great Personage who got out of His tomb one early Sunday morning.  The fact that He rose again, and made a promise that he would come and see them again, made them brave and courageous. To top it all, they were to experience one of the most wonderful phenomena the world has ever known—the Holy Spirit’s outpouring— which was to help them initiate the New Way of God in the world.

IN THE INITIAL SPURTS OF THE SPIRIT’S OUTPOURING, they came to be filled with it. Notice the language of Acts 2:4a. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” The verb EPLESTHESAN, “they were filled,” is the aorist indicative passive 3rd person plural form of PIMPLEMI, “to fill” (Rogers & Rogers, The New Linguistic & Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, page 231).

In a reading from Julius Pollux, an Egyptian Greek lexicographer who compiled a Greek lexicon for Emperor Commodus, the man who is said to be PLERES THEOU, “filled with God,” is also inspired of God (Colin Brown, Ibid.). PLERES, “filled,” is also rooted from PIMPLEMI.

PLERES THEOU, “filled with God,” was a very common idiom among writers both heathen and Christian. In fact in his apology written against a heathen writer, Origen the Christian faith defender said the heathens could not deny that the Holy Spirit indeed inspired the writers of the Christian Oracles because even they themselves believe their Pythian priestess is said to be filled by the spirit of a god when she utters an oracle! (Origen, Contra Celsus, 7, 3; cited from Colin Brown, ibid.).  This is a technique in debates called “turning the table on your opponent.”

Now if “filled with God” means “inspired of God,” then its related idiom, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” EPLESTHESAN PANTES PNEUMATOS HAGIOU (Acts 2:4a), teaches that the apostles were indeed inspired of the Holy Spirit! The text where this is found also says they spoke “as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4b).

The phrase says they were all filled with one Spirit; the verb however does NOT say they were EACH filled with the Spirit, as if the Spirit was distributed in the body of each apostle personally as the Pentecostals want us to believe. It was one Spirit filling them ALL; not one Spirit distributed to EACH one of them, Their being filled with the Spirit resulted in their speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

THE ANTICS OF THE PENTECOSTALS. The passive form of the verb also indicates the apostles were not the doers of the action but were recipients of it; “they were filled with the Holy Spirit” (passive voice), not “they filled themselves with the Holy Spirit” (active voice). The action of “filling” is understood to be done by God himself, in a case that scholars generally consider as “divine passive.” In my debate with a Pentecostal, I challenged him to fill himself with God’s Spirit, complete with winds (Acts 2:2) and utterances (Acts 2:4) and cloven tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). He could not provide the winds, but uttered words I could not understand. And the cloven tongues of fire? He got it in a sardines can filled with hot coals which he placed on his head!

WHAT THE AORIST TENSE TEACHES. The aorist tense EPLESTHESAN in Acts 2:4 shows the act of filling as a finished action viewed as a whole. Aorist is always viewed as that— a point action, a finished action encapsulized. There is a sense in which a Greek verb describes an action as ongoing or continuing, and that is the job of the present active indicative. One passage (e.g. Col. 2:9) describes indwelling as a permanent thing, with its use of the present active indicative, but the aorist active/passive indicative is not the verb for that purpose.

Am I saying that apostolic inspiration ceased after Acts 2:4? No. I am just saying that EPLESTHESAN in the context of Pentecost event was a done thing.  I am in agreement with every Christian theologian that apostolic inspiration only ceased after AD 96, when John the apostle composed the Book of Revelation. But for goodness’ sakes, do not make an aorist verb in Acts 2:4 teach what it does not!

PIMPLEMI, when it appears in the passive, simply means “to be satiated, to have one’s fill of” something to the point of being complete (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich & Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 658). Their being “satiated with the Spirit” made them an ideal mouthpiece for God. The Spirit gave them utterance; in fact it can be said that they spoke as the Spirit moved them. Acts 2:4 really works in harmony with 2 Peter 1:21.

So “being filled with the Spirit” (in Acts 2:4) simply teaches apostolic inspiration. It is just the fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 14:26 (“the Holy Ghost will teach you of all things which I told you”), John 15:26 (“the Spirit will witness concerning me”), and John 16:13 (“the Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth; he will not speak from himself but will speak what he hears; and he will announce to you the coming things”).

EPLESTHESAN PANTES PNEUMATOS HAGIOU, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” thus does not mean “they were all indwelt by the Spirit.” The Greek words for indwelling are OIKEO, KATOIKEO, KATOIKIZO, ENOIKEO, and MENO. Let us not force the inspired Word to teach what it does not teach. If we are strict with the meaning of BAPTIZO, why can’t we be strict in the meaning of EPLESTHESAN?

We are thousands of years away from the events mentioned in Acts 2. Koine Greek, in which the Greek New Testament was written, is now a dead language. I am thankful it is now dead. Being dead, it did not grow. The words and their meanings, with their accompanying idioms and nuances did not change but remained static. English and other languages on the other hand evolve and grow, and keep evolving and growing, and meanings change. God has stored His living Word in a Book written in a language that is now dead–in order to preserve not only the Book but everything in it—words, idioms, nuances, tenses, moods, and cases. Our job basically is to understand what the ancient writers mean, not to impose our own meaning on what they wrote.

The Greek New Testament fares better in the hands of those who respect and love it and endeavor to preserve its teachings.

The idea of “personal indwelling” might be taught in other passages, and it’s our job to look for it. But definitely indwelling of the Spirit is not taught in Acts 2:4.

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The Present Active Indicative Indicates What?

(This article is written per request of two Christian ladies, now based abroad, and of the five who like others have been reading this blog. Thanks for not being discouraged by the mind-boggling intricacies of the New Testament Greek).

The Greek verbs are somewhat like and somewhat unlike the English verbs—they have tense, voice, mood, person and number. Five very important traits a Greek verb cannot do without. English verbs have four: tense, voice, mood, and number.

Tense here does not mean the Greek verb is capable of having nervous tension (See the meaning at Answers.com). We are talking here about grammatical tense. It is the way language expresses time, and you will know by just looking at the verb if the action or event happened yesterday (as in English verb saw), is happening today (see, is seeing, are seeing), or will happen tomorrow (will see, shall see). This property of a verb, shown in the endings of a Greek verb, which may also be found in the endings of an English verb, shows information relating to time. See Wikipedia, in Answers.com.

In the present active indicative, the verb is in the present tense and speaks of the action happening today.

Tense is the quality of the verb which has to do with action. There are two outstanding things as to the matter of action, i.e., the time of action and the kind of action. As to time of action, there are three possibilities: past, present and future. As to kind of action, there are (for present consideration) two possibilities: linear or punctiliar. Linear action is an action regarded as a line ( ______ ). It is also called progressive or continuous action. Punctiliar action is action regarded as a point (.), i.e., action contemplated as a single perspective” (Ray Summers, Essentials of New Testament Greek, 11. Broadman Press, 1950). On the other hand, Hewett says, “The basic kinds of actions are linear, unitary, and completed with continuing resulting” (James Allen Hewett, New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar, 13. Hendrickson Publishers, 1992).

Voice. Every verb has a voice. It does not mean that verb can speak, or that it has a sound. The voice of the verb indicates how the subject performs, whether it is doing the action, or it is being acted upon. In the sentence, “The Lord heals Peter’s mother-in-law,” the Lord is doing the action of healing. The verb of this sentence is in the active voice. The subject of the sentence is “the Lord,” the verb is “heals” (present tense, singular), and the direct object is “Peter’s mother-in-law.”

The voice, in grammar, is “the form of a verb indicating the relation between the participants (subject, object) in a narrated event and the event itself. English grammar distinguishes between the active voice (“The hunter killed the bear”) and the passive voice (“The bear was killed by the hunter”). In the active voice, the emphasis is on the subject of the active verb (the agent performing the action named), whereas the passive voice indicates that the subject receives the action” (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, in Answers.com).

Want to hear more? Here’s one from Machen: “The active voice represents the subject as acting” or doing the action; in the passive voice, the subject is represented as being acted upon (Machen, 17).

And from Summers: “Voice is the quality of verbs, which indicates the relationship of the subject to the action. The active voice means the subject is acting… The passive voice means that the subject is being acted upon…” (Summers, 12). There is in the Greek also the middle voice, which speaks of the subject as acting in its own interest.

Mood. In grammar, this refers toa category that reflects the speaker’s view of an event’s reality, likelihood, or urgency. Often marked by special verb forms (inflections), moods include the indicative, for factual or neutral situations (e.g., “You did your work”); the imperative, to convey commands or requests (“Do your work”); and the subjunctive. The subjunctive’s functions vary widely. It may express doubt, possibility, necessity, desire, or future time. In English it often indicates a condition contrary to fact (e.g., “If he were to work here, he would have to learn to be punctual”) (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, in Answers.com).

Machen says, “the indicative mood makes an assertion, in distinction, for example, from a command or a wish” (Machen, 17). Summers, on the other hand, says, “Mood is the quality of the verb which indicates the relation of the action to reality” (Summers, 12). The indicative mood indicates that the action is really taking place: “He is loosing the dog” (Ibid.). The imperative mood (the mood of request or command) indicates potential action, such as in, “Loose the dog,” without telling us if the action has really taken place. Such is the use of moods in the Greek.

Person and Number. In Greek grammar this refers to the category of whether the action is done by the speaker or writer (by the first person, “I,” singular; “We,” plural), or by the second person (“you” plural, “you” singular), or by the third person (“They,” plural; “he,” “she, “it,” singular).

Machen shows how the verb luo, “I loose,” is conjugated: luo, lueis, luei; luomen, luete, luousi (Machen, 18).

First person singular, luo, “I loose,” “I am loosing.” Second person singular, lueis, “He looses,” “He is loosing.” Third person singular, luei, “He is loosing.” First person plural, luomen, “We loose,” “We are loosing.” Second person plural, luete, “You loose,” “You are loosing.” Third person plural, luousi, “They loose,” “They are loosing.” “He looses,”

In English, the distinction between the singular-plural first person (“I,” “we”), singular-plural second person (“you” singular; “you” plural), and the singular-plural third person (“he, she, it,” singular; “they,” plural) “are indicated for the most part by the subject-pronouns” (Machen, 19). In the Greek, they are indicated by the endings: luo, lueis, luei, which are singular; luomen, luete, luousi, which are plural. “The part of the verb that remains constant throughout the conjugation” is called the stem (Machen, 19). The endings added to the stem are: -o, -eis, ei; -omen, -ete, -ousi. The pronouns, and the number, whether plural or singular, are indicated by these endings. When translating into the English, these endings must be taken into consideration.

“I loose,” “I go,” “I run,” represent actions as taking place in the present time. “I am loosing,” “I am going,” “I am running,” refer to actions that are continuing at the time of speaking.

In the Greek, the verb luo, present tense, active voice, indicative mood, may be translated “I loose,” signifying an action taking place in the present. But it may also be translated “I am loosing,” signifying a continuing action (Machen, 21).

There you are. Hope this “loosens” whatever hang-ups you may have about Greek.

Why Study the Language of Homer?

Indeed, why? Homer was Greek, so Greek was his language. Why should I be interested in the language of this man? Homer spoke and wrote in classical Greek, and I heard that the New Testament Greek was koine, the dialect of the unrefined, the language of the common man. I even had a hard time with English. And Greek is a difficult language, in fact much more difficult than English. Why make things so hard on myself?

“Do I have to know Greek to go to heaven?” The answer is, No, you don’t have to.

“Do I have to know New Testament Greek to read my New Testament?” Again, the answer is, No, but someone, maybe not you, has to have a working knowledge of New Testament Greek.

If you trust your theologians, you don’t have to know Greek. But listen…

Renaissance dealt a great blow to the Middle Ages, when some scholars revived the art of learning ancient languages, one of them Greek. When the Greek New Testament was made available in costly copies, that also made available the knowledge that had been withheld from the world for centuries. These readers of the Greek New Testament began to distrust Catholic theologians. Luther, a Catholic theologian, even distrusted his fellow Catholic theologians.

If you have enough trust on your translations and your translators, you don’t have to know Greek. But…

Personally, I distrust some translators as well as theologians and debaters. What motivated me to study Greek was my debates with the “Iglesia ni Cristo-1914” and with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. If I just swallowed their doctrines, like some did, I would have no problem with them, but I would have a problem facing God in eternity. Ignorance does not excuse anyone.

Someone has to study New Testament Greek because someone needs to keep these theologians, translators and debaters honest. These men’s minds have been configured by their own translation philosophies. Strict translation. Loose translation. Paraphrasing instead of translating. If no one among us knows Greek, then no one will know whether these theologians and translators and debaters and teachers have done a great job in giving us the true word of God. No one should just take anyone’s word for it. I think 1 John 4:1 does not just apply to false teachers, it applies too to translators, theologians and debaters, in fact to anyone including Pat Boone, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, Billy Graham, etc.

By knowing what the Greek text says, many of our theological misunderstandings can be clarified. For example, studying the preposition eis you will know if you should be baptized to have your sins remitted, or because your sins have already been remitted.

New Testament Greek is a very picturesque language, and knowing it can be very rewarding. In it, thoughts and sentiments are clothed in figures, actions are viewed as finished and done or future, going on in the present or going on in the past, going on in the future or simply a point action that is not going on. You don’t find these distinctions and nuances of meanings in English!

Yeah, studying Greek may be difficult but with patience, skills and a lot of imagination, one will reach the mountain top and see the picture.

God made the best decision in making this common man’s tongue the carrier of His Word. The men inspired to write the New Testament did not have any doctorate degrees. But God desired a medium that the ordinary man at that time wouldn’t have any problem comprehending, so He used Koine Greek. God used an ordinary man’s dialect because salvation and going to heaven is just a matter of every man knowing the wishes and wills of God without having to go through university education.

Make every man comprehend the wills and wishes of the great God in heaven. That should be the purpose of preaching and teaching and knowing ancient languages as well. It should motivate us to go to the next level of understanding, where we may be able to comprehend what may be revealed about our God and do what pleases Him.

God came down to earth. He spoke our language, and using the figures we were familiar with, he raised our comprehension to what should constitute true living. He wanted us to be like Him, and to be with Him. You don’t have to study Greek, but someone has, that he could help you to desire to be like Jesus, and and grow in order to be with Jesus.

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