Greek Translations

1 Thess. 1:9-10

αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ⸀ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ* 10 καὶ ⸀ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ °[τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ⸁ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης.

My Translation

For they themselves concerning us report the sort of welcome we had toward you, and how you turned to the [one and only] God from [false] idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who saves us from the coming wrath.

ESV

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

NIV

for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

My Commentary

The biggest difference in my translation with the ESV and the NIV comes from this portion of the text: “τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ.” 

Both the ESV and NIV chose to drop the article in front of God and the article in front of idols.  I chose to keep both of these articles in my translation. I chose to keep the sense of having the article in front of God by adding “one and only” as modifiers.  I think this is fitting.  This is what putting an article in front of God would mean in English.  We just customarily never say “the God.”  We always had more descriptors if we are to put an article in front of God. I wanted to say, “the one true God,” but since Paul later clarifies who “the God” is by saying he is “living and true God,” I chose to not be redundant and repeat the word “true”, opting for “one and only.”  Taking this route, I also added the word “false” in front of idols which also had an article with no other modifying word, and sense Paul is contrasting these idols to the living and true God, I chose to add the modifying word, “false,” to keep the article with a proper description of what Paul is pointing out is the difference between the idols and the one, true God.


1 Cor. 1:18-19

Ὁ λόγος γὰρ °ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν,* τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις °2ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. 19 γέγραπται γάρ·

ἀπολῶ τὴν σοφίαν τῶν σοφῶν*

καὶ τὴν σύνεσιν τῶν συνετῶν ἀθετήσω.*

 

My Translation  

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the understanding of the intelligent I will reject.”

ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

NIV

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

My Commentary

My translation matches almost identically with the ESV and the NIV translations.

The biggest distinction of difference came in the word choices made in the very last line.

I chose “the understanding of the intelligent I will reject.”
The ESV chose “the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

The NIV chose “the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

At first, I chose to use the word choice of the NIV, but I think “understanding” is a better choice than “intelligence” in the context of this passage.  BDAG gives the definition of “the content of understanding or comprehension, insight, understandingas a possible meaning for σύνεσις, and I think in this context the word of the cross is much more against the “understanding of the intelligent” instead of the “intelligence [the faculty of comprehension] of the intelligent.

I stuck with translating λόγος as “word” instead of translating it to “message” as the NIV did, though I think “message” is a better rendering in English for our modern day use of English to express what Paul is stating.


Gal. 2:16

εἰδότες °[δὲ] ὅτι οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξ ἔργων νόμου ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως ⸉Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ⸊, καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς ⸉1Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν⸊ ἐπιστεύσαμεν, ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, ⸀ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου οὐ δικαιωθήσεται πᾶσα σάρξ.

My Translation

And yet because we having known that a person is not declared righteous by works of the law except by faith in Jesus Christ, and we ourselves believed in Christ, in order that we might be declared righteous by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law all flesh will not be declared righteous (or no flesh will be declared righteous).

ESV

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

NIV

know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

My Commentary

Both the ESV and NIV translations translate εἰδότες, a perfect active participle, as “to know” instead of “having known.”  I like to say, “having known” instead of “to know” because it demonstrates an on-going knowledge of experience. It emphasizes the personal knowledge of knowing that my works don’t cut it for justification.  I know this, and having known this, I’m not going to submit myself to a yoke of slavery again.

I notice that in Logos, the options of translate δικαιόω as “to justify” or “to declare righteous” are available.  In BDAG, the definition of “justify” is never even given as an option.  Instead there is an emphasis on a verdict being a cast that sets one free or vindicates someone.  I don’t even see the word “justify” or “justification” anywhere in the BDAG article.  Though justification is the central doctrine in Lutheran theology, I think it’s best to focus on the declaration of our righteousness in the translation.  It emphasizes the immediacy of our righteousness and focuses on our justification coming from the imputation of righteousness to us in the verdict by God in Christ, which strips away the thought of our works being involved in justification.

The ESV doesn’t show the subjunctive mood of δικαιωθῶμεν in its translation.  I think the subjunctive is helpful here, because as Lutherans we do confess the possibility of “losing one’s faith” or “falling away.”  As long as a person believes in Christ, they might be saved… turning to works of the law would be a turn from believing in Christ.  It’s possible for someone to make this turn, and many have, and the subjunctive translation I and the NIV provided allow for this teaching to be present in this verse. 


Romans 1:16-17

Οὐ γὰρ ἐπαισχύνομαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον⸆, δύναμις γὰρ θεοῦ ἐστιν ⸋εἰς σωτηρίαν⸌ παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι, Ἰουδαίῳ τε °πρῶτον καὶ Ἕλληνι*. 17 δικαιοσύνη γὰρ θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται·* ὁ δὲ δίκαιοςἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται*.

My Translation

For I am not ashamed of the good news, because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.  For the righteousness of God in it is revealed from faith for faith, just as it is written, “But the righteous one by faith will live for his own benefit.”

ESV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

NIV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

My Commentary

My translation doesn’t vary much from the ESV.  The NIV translation seems to have taken a lot of liberties on translating these two verses, as many words are present in that translation that I simply do not see in the Greek language.  For instance, the NIV states that the Gospel “brings salvation to everyone who believes.”  I believe the Gospel as a means of grace brings salvation to everyone who hears it… though it’s power to save is only beneficial when received in faith.  The NIV translation with their additional wording muddies this doctrine up.

The NIV also takes liberty in translating “from faith for faith” into “by faith from first to last.”  Why add these additional words that are not in the Greek?  The ESV, KJV, NAS, and NSRV translations do not do this?

The ESV and NIV do not translate the middle voice of ζήσεταιDr. Gibbs taught that it was best to add “for your own benefit” to the verb translation of middle voice verbs to express the middle voice meaning.  Here I think it is helpful to do this.  It’s to my benefit as a righteous person to live by the faith that makes me righteous not by works of the law do not.  There’d be no benefit for me to live under the law instead of by faith in Christ.


Colossians 1:21-22

21 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ποτε ὄντας ἀπηλλοτριωμένους καὶ ἐχθροὺς τῇ διανοίᾳ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις τοῖς πονηροῖς,* 22 νυνὶ δὲ ⸀ἀποκατήλλαξεν ἐν τῷ σώματι τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου ⸆ παραστῆσαι ὑμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους καὶ ἀνεγκλήτους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ,*

My Translation

And you (plural) who were once having been alienated and enemies in the mind because of evil works, but now he reconciled in the body of his flesh through his death to present you (plural) holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

ESV

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him

NIV

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

My Commentary

Again the NIV adds much language that is not present in the Greek text.  The Greek says that Jesus through his death present us “before him” as holy, but in the NIV the language of being presented “in his sight” is added.  Nothing in the Greek indicates how Jesus sees us.  It seems as if an interpretation or explanation is being added to the NIV translation.  It is very much the case that we are not literally holy before Jesus, but we are seen (or declared) holy before Jesus though we are in fact still sinners.

There are no possessive pronouns in the Greek to modify mind or evil works, but the NIV takes the liberty to add them.  Also in the Greek mind is singular, but the NIV matching makes it plural to match the possessive pronoun the translators chose to insert into the text.

The ESV adds the verb of doing to the evil deeds.  Paul however is painting a picture of a state of being that is alienated from God as evidenced by the evil deeds that come from that hostile mindset to God.  I think my translation demonstrates this more though it might sound awkward in English.

Also, neither the ESV or the NIV attempted to translate the perfect passive participle verb ἀπηλλοτριωμένους.


1 Timothy 3:16

καὶ ⸀ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον·*

⸁ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί,*

ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι,*

ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις,

ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν,*

ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ,

ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ.*


My Translation

Beyond question, the mystery of godliness is great: he who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was proclaimed among the nations, was believed in in the world, [and] was taken up in glory.

ESV

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

NIV

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

My Commentary

Both the ESV and NIV add words that are not in the opening statement of this verse.  The ESV adds the words, “we confess,” and the NIV adds, “from which true godliness springs.”  I’m not sure why either translation adds these words.  I don’t know why they are necessary.

Neither translation included the relative who, ὃς, in their translation.  I think it’s important to include this pronoun in the translation.  Including ὃς in the translation emphasizes what Paul is doing in this verse; he is describing Jesus who is the great mystery of godliness.

The NIV chose to interpret ἐφανερώθη with an active voice, instead of its passive voice.  The NIV then translates the other verbs in this descriptive sequence with their passive voice.  The ESV does translate ἐφανερώθη with the passive voice and then chooses to not write “was” in all of the other verbs.

It is interesting to me that his assumption of a human nature is spoken with the passive voice.  I would assume that this is something that he actively did as the NIV translates it, but I think it is best to keep the verb in the passive voice – this is after all a great mystery.

Published by

Andy Wrasman

I live in St. Louis with my wife and two young kids. I am a seminary student at Concordia Seminary. I've written a book called, Contradict - They Can't All Be True. Be sure to visit my other website: https://www.contradictmovement.org.

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