Monday, December 29, 2008

John 1:1-18

This is perhaps on the richest passages in all of Greek. I am not sure where to go with it. Rather than a line by line commentary, I would offer three things (which I pretty much got from Pr. Paul Berge):

1.14 The word for dwelt here is "skehno-oo" which literally means tent. The next line is that we see the glory of God in Christ. The last time we saw a tent that held the glory of God was the tabernacle in Exodus.

1.17 Their is no punctuation or words between the first half and the second half of the sentence. I find this profound because theologians, especially Lutheran theologians, our life will be spent wrestling over what punctation to put here -- what is the relationship between the law and the Gospel!

1.18 The word for make known here is literally "exegete!" Jesus exegetes the Father's heart!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Romans 16:25-27

16.25 [Grammar note: the word for "the one who is able" is a substantive participle.]

16.26 This sentence is very complex grammatically, in that there really is not indicative verb in these three sentences!

16.27 One thing worth mentioning here is that the English hides the fact that the word "eternal" or "ages" is used three times, once in each verse here. Things have been hidden for ages; God has given an eternal command; and now God is in glory forever.

An ironic twist of the Bible that Romans ends with the wisdom and glory of God...which Paul will take up in the first page of 1st Corinthians in a very different way!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

John 1:6-8, 19-28

1:7 The word witness and testify both are the same word in the Greek (one in noun form; one in verb form). This distinction in translation of the root "martyria" has no basis in the Greek but reveals the English language's disdain for the same word in a sentence twice!

1:19 The NIV botches the translation of this sentence by making the question, "Who are you?" into an indirect question. It is a direct question in the Greek.

1:20 The word confess is "homologe-oo." Literally "same speak." A unilateral confession is unintelligible!

1:22 Almost all of the speaking verbs in this section are in the aorist; yet here John must say repeatedly (present tense): "I am not." Perhaps a suggestion that we have to confess Christ over and over again.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

5:19 The word for quench is "sbennu-mi." This has a rather unclear English cognate: asbestos. (asbestos is something that is unquenchable!)

5:23 Two of the words here have the root "holo" (as in 'whole'). In English the breadth of Paul's statement about spirit, soul and body is clear; the Greek words just accent this a bit. The NRSV drops the second "holo" word which modifies "spirit."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2 Peter 3:9-15

3.9 Grammatically, the sentence could read "Lord of the promise is not slow." (technically, the word "promise" is in the genitive; this verb can take a genitive object, but it could also be a genitive not connected with the verb but instead with the noun that precedes it.)

The word used in the phrase "all to come to repentence" is "choore-oo." This verb comes from the word for space/region/place (As in the whole Judean Countryside came out to visit him). More literally, thus, this reads "God has room for all to come to repentence."

3.10 A Greek note -- the idea of the cosmos being consumed in a fire is a strong idea in Greek mythology and even stocism.

3.11 The word here for piety is "eusebeia." This word is not used in the Gospels or the Pauline core. Interestingly, Peter does use this word in Acts when he says to the people -- you think we did this of our own piety?? (3:12) (And the ansewr is no!)

3.12 The word translated hastening is "speud-oo," which can also mean "strive for."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mark 13:24-37

13.25 The word for fall here (from pimp-oo) is a present tense participle used with the the future tense of the "to be" verb. This construction (instead of a future participle) is a good lesson of why you should not waste any time learning future participles. They are so rare and even Greek speakers avoided them with other constructions.

13.31 The promise of Jesus that his Words will never pass away is a ou meh construction, ie, a STRONG future denial. Also interesting is that this word (parercho-mai) appears in 2 Cor 5:17, Behold, Everything has passed away.

13.34 The word here for "puts his slaves in charge, each with his work," is actually "gives his slaves each power/authority, that is to each his work." The word here for power/authority (charge) is "exousia." We are given power while Jesus is not here to do our work.

1 Cor 1:3-9

1.3 Paul uses the word grace more often than any other author. Interestingly, Mark's entire Gospel never has this word (charis)...a remind that things can be gracious even without the explicit word. Furthermore, each time Paul uses the word "grace" in 1 Cor, it is used in conjunction with God. Grace is not from us, but from God.

1.4 The word here for "give thanks" is "eucharist-oo."

1.5 The word here for rich is a verb, "ploutiz-oo," which Paul alone uses in the NT and in fact, only in the Corinthians letter. A reminder, perhaps to the rich people in Corinth, that real wealth comes from God in Jesus Christ.

1.6 The word for "made fast" is an aorist verb "bebaio-oo." I wonder what Paul is refering to as the singular event that made the witness looks like he might be setting up his argument later in this chapter.

The word for witness here is "martyrion," from which our English word "martyr comes from." It is interesting the way in which Paul sets up his argument here about what an effective witness will be (consider chapters 8-11). Paul seems to ground it thoroughly in Christ, not in our earthly status...which those in Corinth seemed to dwell on.

1.7 The word for "revelation" here is "apokalypsis." Interestingly, the word "gift" here (charisma) will be the focus of chapter 12. Especially fitting here that Paul points out to a divided congregation on wealth and status that the wealth, the knowledge and even the charisma is common grace we received in Jesus Christ.

The word for "lacking" here is "hystere-oo," which Paul uses in Romans to point out that we all lack the glory of God (3:23)

1.9 Paul now uses the word "koinoonia" (fellowship); again, an interesting contrast to what he will describe as happening in Corinth.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Matthew 25:31-46

25.31 The word glory (doxa) is used twice in this verse.

25.32 The word nation here is "ethneh," which in the plural (as it is here) means "gentiles."

25.32 The object of the word divide is interesting. The word nations is a neuter; here the object of the word divide is a masculine, suggesting the nations are not what are divided, but the individuals in the nations (masculine plural pronouns can refer to a group that has both men and women).

25.34 This verse echoes much of Ephesians chapter 1, in terms of glory, inheritance, the idea of the foundation of the world

25.35 The phrase, I was a stranger and you welcomed me actually has the word: "xenos" and the verb is "synagagete." To translate a different way: "I was an outsider and you gathered me to worship." "Synag-oo" as a verb does not mean invite to church, but the word underneath means gather...hospitality might seem like a weak translation.

Ephesians 1:18-23

1:18 The verb "enlighten" is a perfert verb from "photiz-oo." This tense points toward the fact that at some point we were enlightened. Looking over the first chapter of Ephesians, this seems to be baptism (1.15).

What is interesting though is that Paul then is confessing that they have Christ, but is still praying for them. In this case he is praying for knowledge. Perhaps another way to look at it is that he is praying that they would come to realize the power of their baptism.

1.18 The word "heart" (kardia) comes up here; it is used 6 times in Ephesians to describe the spiritual locus in our body.

[1.18 Grammar note: The infinitive of to know "eidenai" is in used in an articular infinitive phrase with "eis" which denotes purpose. Also the "umas," in the accusative here, is the subject of the infinitive clause]

1.19 The langauge in Greek is "immeasurable" here -- a brutal stacking of nouns that compliment the content (nouns in 18 and 19 have been translated as adjectives just to have the sentence be readible). (The word immeasurable/exceeding is used 3 times in Ephesians; 2x in 2 Cor and that is it in the NT)

1:20 Paul talks here about "God 'energizing' by raising Christ from the dead." In 3.20 we will hear of God's energy for us.

1.22 The NRSV and NIV suggest that Christ is given "head over all things/everything for the church." The NET translates the dative case of the church as "to the church." Both are grammatically possible. However, I find it odd to think that God would give the head to the body instead of for the body.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Matthew 25:14-30

25.14 The word for possessions here is "hyparxhonta (participle)" comes from the verb for "to be" an does not simply mean goods, but really the entirity of one's resources and means. Also, the word for "give here" is the same as the word for "betray" or "hand over" (paradidoo-mi).

25.15 The word for ability here "dynamis," means "power" more than ability.

25.18 The word for bury here "krypt-oo" means conceal, like "encrypted." As a noun it means secret. Who gifts are secrets!

25.24 The word for hard here is "scholaros"

25.25 The master rejects what is his, refusing to take it, giving it to the other servant.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

5.3 There is a word here for destruction, "olethros," is very rare in the NT (4x; only in Paul). This word only occurs, it seems, in connection with the destruction that God brings in judgment when it appears in either testament.

5.3-5.6 have four different types of subjunctive clauses
a) An "hotan" clause = whenever
b) A "ou mh" clause with the verb ex-feug-oo (the last word in 5.3), which suggests that they will NEVER flee. (fugue=flee)
c) A "hena" clause which suggests result or purpose (in order that the day might be a surprise).
d) An "horatory subjunctive" in 5.6 "Let us not sleep."

5.6 Like last week, the word Paul uses here for sleep (katheud-oo) can also mean "die."

5.7 The word for drink (methusko-mai) is the word used at the Wedding at Cana; it is also used in 1 Cor 11 as Paul condemns those who abuse the Lord's supper.

5.8 Many translations read "to put on the breastplate." Grammatically, the breastplate is already there (it is in the aorist; the actions of aorist participles preceed the other verbs in the sentence). Oddly enough, this breastplate seems to protect us from God more than the world!

5.11 The Greek here reads, build each other up "one on one." :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Matthew 25:1-13

Summary:  This is a tough passage to preach on!  I am still wrestling with this passage so I offer you some Greek insights that hopefully allow you to build a message!

Note:  Because this parable involves a group of women (a bit unusual), the endings on words might be a bit unfamiliar!

παρθενοις (plural of parthenos, "virgin" or "young (unmarried)" woman; 25.1)  In our culture we hear the word virgin with all sorts of other connotations, related to sexual purity, as opposed to unmarried state.  Furthermore, I wonder if translating this as bridesmaids (see NRSV) makes the most sense.   First, there is no ceremony that includes the bridegroom marrying these women.  Second, Jesus doesn't advocate/project/encourage for polygamy anywhere else.  Third, the new testament presents the whole church as the bride collectively, not individually.  Finally, there is an alternate reading, "Bridegroom and bride."  The textual evidence is much stronger for "bridegroom" alone, but significant (western) manuscripts have both included.  In this case, I do not think one should add back in the words; they don't seem in the original.  But I think this textual problem, along with the other problems, suggests this word should be translated at least as maidens, if not bridesmaids, instead of the loaded term virgin. 

μωραι ("mooria" meaning "fool"; 25.2) The word for fool is "mooria" moron, or like "foolishness to Greeks."

φρονιμοι ("phronimoi" meaning "wise"; 25.2)  Again, a huge connection here with Paul's letters to the Corinthians.  Furthermore, this word will be turned upside down by Paul in many ways, as he fights against the notion that wisdom/wise thinking was being unmoved (ie, stoic), but instead argues that wisdom is about taking on the Christian character of being moved to suffer for others (Philippians 2).

ηγερθησαν (from εγειρω meaning "arise"; 25.2)  This is from the word stand/raise up that also means resurrected.

εκοσμησαν (from κοσμεω, like cosmos, meaning "trim"; 25:7)  The word for "trimmed" lamps here is actually "adorned" perhaps recalling for you the hymn: Soul adorn yourself in gladness.  To trim the lamp is to adorn the lamp, the light of Christ!; to adorn the soul!

εκλεισθη (from κλειω, meaning "close"; 25.10)  I don't like this image.  It suggests people that want to get into the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven cannot.  A silver lining?  Jesus is the one who opens up the doors (the word for the tomb's entrance is also "door" in Matthew 27:60).  The only one with the power to open the door is Christ, not us with our lamps.

γρηγορειτε (from γρηγορε, like the name gregory!, meaning "watch out"; 25:13)  This verb is in the present tense, suggesting this is to be an on-going activity.  My sense is that we have lost this sense of watching out for the coming of Christ in our churches today.  If we are to regain this though, we must offer people what the Bible offers them about Christ's return:  both fear and hope.

For those reading this with the Thessalonians text:
25:1 The word 'meet' in Matthew is similiar to the word meet that is found in the Thess. text for this week (απαντησις vs. υπαντησις). What a contrast of the meetings -- one of a king in power and the other of bridegroom.

25:5 The words here for 'sleep' are different from those in 1 Thess. (This does not mean one can/should not make a comparision; just pointing it out)

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

4.13: The word translated "died" here (NRSV) is literally "falling asleep" (koimao-mai) in the present tense. This is the same langauge Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15 or Jesus in John 11 (Lazarus).

4:14: The clause "We believe that Jesus died" (NIV) or "For since we believe..." (NRSV) is a classic case of Greek using an "ei" clause with an indicative to indicate "Since A, then B."

The word for "bring" is "ag-oo" which also means "lead" (as in demagogue).

4:15 The word coming (parousia) just meant coming, but could also have connotations of a royal leader, a general say, returing to celebrate victory.

4:16 The word for command (keleusma) has military connotations (it can also refer though to the one who leads the rowers!). See for more on the military implications here.

4:17 The word here for sieze (harpaz-oo) is the same as in Philippians (He did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped; or He did not regard grasping as worthy of God.) Again, this is a word that has aggressive, if not military connotations.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Matthew 5:1-12

5:1 In both this week's readings from Revelation and Matthew, a crowd (ochlos) is beheld.

5.3 and 5.10 The tense of the second part of the beatitude, unlike the other beatitudes, is in the present tense.

5.4 The word for comfort here is "parakale-oo" the same root as "paraklehtos," or Advocate, ie, Holy Spirit (John 14:26) or from Isaiah 40:1, Comfort, Comfort me people.

5.5 Jesus will refer to himself as meek in Matthew 11:29

5.8&9 The word "seeing" and the phrase "children of God" link nicely to the book of Revelation.

5.11 Jesus himself will be reviled (Mat 27.44)

1 John 3:1-3

3:1 The word here for "we are" is actually not fully connected with "we shall be called." The word for "we shall be called" (klethomen) is part of the "hina" clause; however, the "we are" (esmen) is in the indicative. In other words, the "we are" is emphasized quite strongly here.

3:2 The word revealed has no clear subject. It could either be "he" or "it" (ie, what we shall be).

Revelation 7:9-17

7:9 (Grammar note: the participle for "robed" is in the perfect. It happened in the past but still effects the present states, namely, that they are robed. Here it is used as a circumstantial participle; in 7.13 it will be used as a substantive)

7:9 The word for count here is "arithme-oo..." God's math just didn't add up ;-)

7:9 The word for Palm branch here is "phoienix" or phoenix! In John 12:13, the people wave these before Jesus.

7:10 Loud voice is literally "mega phone."

7.15 The word for "shelter/spread tent" is "skeno-oo" which is from the Greek for tent. In the beginning of John's Gospel (1.14), Jesus is said to have "dwelt" or "tented" among us, drawing on the OT idea of God's tabernacle presence. Now however, the dwelling is not among them, but upon them.

7.17 The word "wipe away" or "destory" (exaleiph-oo) is also found in Acts 3:19 and Col 2:14, where Jesus wipes away our sins.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Romans 3:19-28

3.19 The word "kosmos" (world here) links back to 3.6, where Paul lays out the rhetorical question, is God unrighteous to judge the whole world.

3.21 The word "pephanerootai" is the past tense of "phanero-oo" or to appear. Jesus has appeared (past event) but there is still a present implication (here that we are justified through faith). Also the word "testify" (martyre-oo) is in the present suggesting that the "law and prophets" still speak (L and P is used throughout the NT to describe all of the OT (Luke 24:44 is the only place that mentions the Psalms)).

3.24 The word "apolytroosis" (redemption) can mean ransom...which brings up the obvious question -- from whom to we need to be ransomed!

3.25 The word for "previously committed" is "proginomai" in the perfect tense, suggesting previous sins still had a consequence. Also, the key word here "hilasterios" is only used twice in the NT (also in Heb 9:5). It is the LXX translation of the mercy seat on the Ark where sacrifice would be made on the day of atonement. Paul seems a bit vague here in how Jesus actually functions as a sacrifice, but somehow, Jesus takes care of the demands of the law and God now offers us righteousness through faith in Jesus and his sacrifice for us.

3.27 Paul later will talk about boasting in Christ -- Romans 15.17

Monday, October 13, 2008

Matthew 22:15-22

22.15 The word for ensnare comes from the root for trap (even anchor!), "pageh"
22.16 The literal phrase here is that his enemies "apostled their disciples," a reminder that Jesus is not the only one with apostles or disciples...
22.18 The word for hypocrite (a Greek word) means actor, or one who plays a part.
22.20 The word here for "head" or "portrait" here is literally "eikon," which means image. So the word is whose image. If it is a human head, the answer could just as easily have been "God."

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

1.2 The word here for give thanks is "eucharist-oo"
1.3 All of the phrases: "work of faith" "fruit of love" "endurance of hope" are all in the genitive case in Greek, leaving the reader to decide. It seems most clear that this is a source genitive, in that the faith is the source of the work.
1.4 The verb "elect" (exlogeh) here is actually a noun. It simply reads, "knowing, under the circumstance that you are loved by God, your election." The election here could be our election of God!
1.5 The word "power" here is "dynamis." This word can mean miracles when used in the plural, but in the singular it means power. Power for Paul, especially in 2 Corinthians and Philippians relates to the power of the resurrection and faith working in us to endure difficult times. The power is displayed in the basic miracle that we believe! (1 Cor 2:5)
1.7 The word here for model is "typos," as in Adam is the typos of all us in sin.
1.8 The word for sound forth is "ex-echeo-mai" Their faith is echoing all over the "Great Sea", aka, the Medit.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Philippians 4:1-9

4:2 The phrase -- "Have the same mind" is essentially the same as in 2:2, when Paul encourages them all to be like minded (to auto phronein), literally, to have the same thinking.

- Paul uses the word "suzuge" coming from the Greek for "with-yoked." Perhaps an interesting way of thinking about having the same mind in Christ -- we bear the same burdens?

- Like in 1:27, Paul uses the word here for "strive" based on the underlying Greek word "athlete." "With-athleted" literally; finally Paul discusses the reality of being "with worked/co-worker" So in 4:3 Paul uses three different images to describe the our life together.

4:7 The word for "understanding" here is "mind" (nous) which has been played on throughout the entire book, again linking back to chapter 2 and having the same mind that is in Christ.

4:8 The last words of this verse (logizo-mai) can be sentimentalized to read "dwell on these things" but it means more like "reckon" or "take into account."

4:9 The word here for "received" (paralamban-oo)is the word that Paul will use in 1 Cor 11 to talk about what he received concerning communion.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Matthew 21:33-46

21:33 The word for "landowner" here is "oikodespotehs" or despot of the house.

21:34 The word for "harvest" here is "kairos." The fruit belongs to the owner of the vineyard.

21:37 The word here for "last" (hysteros) is used 4 times in Matthew 21 and 22; and also in Matt 25 and 26, but rarely ever appears elsewhere in the NT...Matthew is starting to emphasize the final nature of things and of his Gospel.

21:37 The word for "respect" (entrap-oo) means more like short, they will be embarassed enough to show respect.

21:41 The word for "wretched end" here is simply apollu-mi, or destroy (lose/perhish).

21:42 The word here for builder (oikodome-oo) is the same as in vs. 33. God is at work revising the mistakes of our bad construction!

21:43 The word for "people" here is "Gentiles." (Ethnos).

Philippians 3:4a-13

3:4 Grammar note: The "ei" clauses here is accompanied by an indicative verb here, suggesting that it should be translated "Since..." not "if anyone is convinced."

3:6 Paul's bragging here has a double rheotical effect -- he will return to the words "persue" (dioo-koo) and "righteousness" (dikaiosunehn) later in this section (3.9, 3.14, 3.16).

3:7 Paul here echoes back to 2:5 and 2:6 in the Christ hymn; Christ did not regard (hegeo-mai) equality with God as something to be exploited. Here Paul is saying he regards all of his beneifts as loss through Christ.

3:8 He considers them: Skubala -- dung (Grammer note: the hina clause here is more of a "lest" than a "so that" clause) (Second grammer note: The subject of the infinitive clauses here in Greek are all in the accusative)

3:9 Side comment: Faith-righteousness appears outside of Romans and is not simply an misreading of Paul by Luther or Augustine.

3:10 Paul's use of an infinitive here suggests that justification's purpose is to know God, the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of suffering. In otherwords, 9 and 10 are linguistically linked by Paul and a strong possible reading is purpose...vs 9 (justification) is for the purpose of vs 10 (resurrection)

3:10 Cont'd. Paul know begins to come full circle on the Christ hymn. Jesus was in the "morph" or shape of a God; Paul know says that we are syn-morphed into Jesus' death. Our life with Christ is a process of becoming more Christ-like, indeed, but this does not circumvent suffering, even as Paul talks about resurrection.

3:11 Here Paul uses "ei" with a subjunctive verb, leaving some uncertainty about the possibility of resurrection.

3:12 The confusing part of this verse is not the final theology -- Paul definitely wants to claim that Jesus has already claimed him -- but rather what Paul is referring to in the sentence. The second-half literally reads "I an pursuing (indicative present) and if even I obtain (subjunctive aorist), upon it (epi hoo) even I have been obtained by Christ." The question is how to translate the epi hoo. It cannot refer to the resurrection (because of the gender of the article). The last word that makes sense is actually Christ's death (vs 10). "I am pursuing resurrection -- and if I even obtain it, in Christ's death I have already been obtained by Christ." (Side note: this phrase "epi hoo" is the phrase in Romans 5:12 that is so debated)

3:13 Paul here again uses the word obtain/overcome (katalamban-oo; See also John 1!). The problem is that Paul said he was, in the aorist, obtained...but now in the perfect tense he says he has not been obtained. Here is Paul at his grammatical worst and perhaps theological best: The event on the Christ obtained Paul for Christ, but this process is not finished!

Also, in this verse, Paul has both verbs in the second half (forgetting and looking ahead) in the present tense, suggesting this is an on-going process of doing this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Matthew 21:23-32

Although this passage is interesting, I am not sure how much the Greek illumines it. The word for authority is "exousia," which relates to being but often just means power or ability to do something.

Perhaps one small connection is that the word for "will" (vs 31) is the noun form of the verb in Philippians where God is the one at work so that we might will/want to do things for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:1-13

Note, Paul uses just about every key Christian term in this section: encouragment (paraklysis), love (agape), sharing (koinoonia) and compassion (splangchna) are all in the first verse!

2:1 These "if" clauses are ambiguous to their bases in fact. They could be translated "Since there is X, Y and Z."

2:3 One interesting word here (among the many) is "conceit," which is literally "kenodoxia." Christ will "keno" himself before his "glory." But this is a different type of empty glory!

2:5 The key verb/idea here is "phrone-oom" which means have a mind/regard/think. This verb is found twice in 2:2

- This sentence "did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited" could also read "did not regard exploitation/grasping as worthy of God."
- The idea of form is important -- Greek gods, as any museum will show you, had beautiful forms, not those of slaves! Click here for more

2:7 Ken-oo is the key verb here (emptied)

2:12 The verb here for work out is "katergazo-mai" from kata (intensifier) and erg-oo (to work). One possible meaning for this verb is simply "achieve" but another one is "to work up," ie, to make use of; fields, for example, are worked on to make them ready for harvest. Make use of your salvation!

A personal note -- Coming from a strongly Lutheran tradition, I struggle with this verse. However, I wonder if the fear and trembling is because what it means to achieve salvation is to undergo our own road to the cross.

2:13 The agent in this verse is clearly God! The word for enable here is literally "energe-oo."

Philippians 1:21-30

1:21 The NIV more literally translates this verse "to live is Christ" but the NRSV "living is Christ" perhaps better gets at the active, on-going tense of the infinitive verb here.

1:23 Paul uses the word "epithymia" for "desire" here, which he will elsewhere caution Christians against (make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires...Romans 13:14)

1:25 The word for progress (prokopeh) here is precisely this, progress. Paul boasts in Galatians that he had progressed in his Judaism (1:14)

1:26 The word for Paul's visit is "parousia" is the word in the NT used for Jesus' second coming. The word can also mean presence (2 Cor 10:10)...or triumphal entry.

1:27 This verse has a KEY word: "politeuo-mai," which they translate as live. It literally means though, be a citizen. In Philippians Paul will describe a heavenly citizenship (3:20). This is foreshadowing of this.

1:27 Paul also commends people "in one spirit to fight/work together." (synathle-oo) In 4:3 he thanks God for the women who have done precisely this. More importantly, the root word here "athlew" is our word for athelete. Which today has connotations of merely sport, but here, it seems, Paul is emphasizing the public nature of Christian faith together. This links up well with 1:28 which talks about the public display of our faith.

1:30 Paul not only uses the word suffer (pasch-oo) in vs. 29 but also now uses the word "agon" (agony!) for struggle in vs. 30.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Matthew 18:21-35

18.21 The verb for sin (amartan-oo) forgive (aphie-mi) here are in the future, not the subjunctive (there is no "if" clause). In short, Peter expects sin and forgiveness. The sentence literally reads: "How often will my brother against me and I forgive him? Until seven times?"

18.24 The word debtor here (opheiletes) is the same word Paul uses in Gal 5:3 -- The one who is circumcised is obligated to obey the entire law.

18.25 Matthew includes a word here: apodidoo-mi (to give back). Matthew uses the word more than any other NT author; neither Mark nor John even use it. It appears numerous times in this parable. We heard it two weeks ago when Jesus said the son of Man will return to "repay" everyone for what they had done (16.27)

18.27 The word for "debt" (daneion) here is unique to the NT; there is a suggestion of interest, even usury with this debt.

18.28 The exact construction of the phrase "Pay what you owe me" is rather interesting. It actually includes an "ei ti" phrase. This phrase is normally translated "if anything," as if to say, the man was not even really sure what the debt was, if in fact, it was anything.

18.29 The verb for beg/plead here is parakale-oo and it is in the present tense -- continued to ask!

18.31 The next time people in the Gospel of Matthew will be distressed (lype-oo) is when the rich young man is told to sell his possessions (19.22). The next time after this is during the last supper when Jesus lets them know that one of them will betray him (26.22).

18.32 The master indicates this servant did the same action (parakale-oo) as the other servant did to him in vs. 29

18.33 The word "fellow slave" is two words in English, but it has been "syndoulos" throughout this text.

18.34 The word for "anger" here is actually a verb (orgiz-oo/mai) used in participle form. This word is not common in the NT (8 times), but appears 3 times in Matthew's Gospel. One little note-this is the word that Luke uses to talk about the older brother in the Lost Son parable.

Romans 14:1-12

14.1 It is striking that Paul would encourage people to NOT quarrel/judge over matters only three verses after he encouraged people to put on the armor of Christ. Also, the NRSV does a better job than the NIV with this verse of capturing the fact that Paul is concerned with the intent, which the NRSV helps point to by translating "but not for the purpose of..."

14.3 The NIV translates "exouthene-oo" as "must not look down on him," but the verb is even stronger, indicating more like to treat as nothing (how Herod treated Jesus during the trial); the NRSV seems closer with "dispise."

14.6 The word here for "give thanks" is literally "eucharist-oo."

14.11 The word for bend-knee (kampt-oo gony) and confess (exomologe-oo) are the same as in Phillipians 2.10

14.12 The word for account here is "logos," which is the same word in the Matthew text for the Master wanted to settle accounts.

[Note: The grammer in this section is good practice without being cruel; lots of substantive participles, good uses of the dative and some subjunctive clauses]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Matthew 18:15-20

18:15 Both "ifs" here, as in "if a brother sins," and "if he listens to you" are completely hypothetical, meaning this may or may not happen.

The word gain here (kerdain-oo) is the same as in last week's reading -- what will it benefit him if he gains the world...

-The NRSV imports the word "member" into this verse here; there is no such word in the Greek text.
-The word for Gentile is literally "ethnic"

18:18 Both verbs relating to sins -- binding and loosing -- are in the perfect, meaning the deed in complete.

18:19 The word here that the NRSV uses for "agree" is acutally "symphone-oo" So, literally, if there is a symphony, it will be done.

18:20 Every other verse in this section has an "if" clause; here Jesus simply declares -- Where two or three are gathered, I am in the midst of you. Also, the word for gathered (synago) is in the perfect passive, hinting that it is not we who gather, but God who has already gathered us. Thus, we move from human action to God's promise. Also worth noting that Jesus promises his presence in the midst of the office of the keys and congregational conflict.

Romans 13:8-14

13:8 Here Paul uses the word fulfilled (plero-oo) and the law (nomos)...Paul also uses the words together in 8:4 in conjunction with the Spirit's work in us. In fact, Paul uses these words together in Galatians 5:14; the translations there say the law is "summed up" in this one command. One more note -- the word fulfilled here is in the perfect tense, which means that there is nothing more that has to be done, that is completely finished and remains finished.

13:9 The big word here is "anakephalaio-oo"; literally again-headed or recapitulate. It means bring or sum together. It is the word that Paul uses in Ephesians to talk about how things were summed up and brought together in Christ. Here is Romans Paul does not say all things are summed together in Christ. Instead he uses indicates that all the commandments are summed up in this Word (logos; it is not commandment). (Technical grammatical note; look at the gender of possible antecedents to see why it is Word and not commandment). It is curious why Paul switches back to logos language here, perhaps again connecting the word, the law and the work of Christ. Also interesting is that Paul in Galatians 5:14 uses this same language of the fulfillment coming in this one Word (logos), instead of saying the law is fulfilled in one commandment. This is too easy of a Lutheran out, but I find it fascinating the neither the law nor the commandments are fulfilled or summed up in a law, but rather the word.

13:12 Paul encourages people to put on the "armor" of light. The word here for armor is "hoplov," which is what Paul discusses in chapter 6 of Romans. Hoplites, in fact, are the name of the common soliders in ancient Greece (

13:13 This verse is the verse that sent St. Augustine to God! Interestingly, the word here for "live honorably," is euschemonoos. The word in here -- schema -- is the word we heard in Romans 12:2, not to be conformed to the scheme of this world.

13:14 Now we find out who the armor of light is -- Jesus Christ. It is the same verb that is used in 13:12 for put on the armor of the light.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Matthew 16:21-28

16:21 The word (deiknumi) for show/explain here has a more sensory instead of verbal connotation.

16:22 Peter here literally says "mercy to you, Lord, no not this be to you." As the NET commentary puts it, this is a shorthand for "May God be merciful to you in sparing you from this." (Internse grammar note: ou meh is an emphatic future negative)

- The ordering of the clauses in Greek implies that Jesus turned -- turned away -- from Peter before talking.
-Jesus uses the same words "behind me" (opisoo mou) in Matt 4:19 when he invited Peter to become a disciple.
-The word for stumbling block here is literally "skandalon"
-The word for thinking here "phroneoo" is what Paul uses in Romans 12:16

-Again Jesus uses the word "behind me" in his invitation to discipleship
-deny and take are both aorist verbs (one time events), whereas "follow" is a present tense verb.
-The construction "let him" is normally how 3rd person imperatives are translated in Greek, however, there is nothing passive about the command "deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me..."
-The "if" clause here is more like a condition of fact: Since someone does want to follow me, he must...

-The word for life here is psyche, not simply bios. There is something deeply spiritual (and still physical) about what will be lost.
-The verse here is conditional -- it could go either way.
-Lose is a weak translation used because it mirrors finding. The real word here is apollumi, which means destroy or ruin.

16:27 Jesus here says he will repay people; this echoes Paul's admonishion that God will be the one who repays people.

Romans 12:9-21

12:9 Paul uses the word "agape" for "love" in this verse, but also includes the definite article, which he tends to do for this word; so, it is really "Let THE love be genuine." The word for genuine is "anhypocracy," which means without hypocrisy or even more literally "without play-acting." Also, the verb here for "cling" is in the passive, literally "be clung." Although BDAG suggests this is a passive verb that can be translated in the active, perhaps we once again have a case where Paul threads the needle of agency between us and God.

12:10 The verb (proehgeomai) in the expression "Out do one another in showing honor" has a strong connotation of leadership and thus could also have the sense of "take leadership in showing honor."

12.11 The word (zeoo) Paul uses for "zeal" or "fervor" literally means to boil over. (Same verb as in Job says his heart is like new-wine skins, ready to burst)

12.12 The word (hypomenoo) Paul uses for "endure" or "patience" literally means abide, stay with, if not endure. This seems a bit stronger than simply endure, but it means to really stick with the suffer(s)

12.13 The word (piloxenia) for "hospitality" mirrors the word that Paul uses in vs. 10 (pilodelphia). The one is love of foreigners, the other is love of strangers...perhaps even a bit stronger than hospitality!

12.16 The key word in this verse is "phroneoo" which means "think" or "consider." This is the verb that Jesus will use in Matt 16:23 with Peter; it also the key verb in Phil. 2.

12.18 Because Paul leaves out the verb in the phrase "if it is possible" and instead writes "if possible," how hypothetical this admonishion is remains unclear.

12.19 The word God never appears in this verse, so it should be left simply as "wrath."

12.21 The present tense imperative implies here that the people perhaps had been trying to overcome evil with evil. Also, the verb here is "vikaoo" which is the word for victory, as in, Nike brand shoes...or Jesus victory over death!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Matthew 16:13-20

16:13 The verb tense of "asked" here (erootaoo) is actually not aorist, in fact it is imperfect, suggesting that Jesus continually was asking them.

(More detailed grammar note on 16:14 -- this sentence has the subject "I" in the accusative because it is in an infinitive phrase)

16:15 The verb tense of ask is again not in aorist, but in the present, again suggesting that Jesus is asking more than once, intensifying the dialogue.

16:16 In both Paul's words this week and here we have the verb "zaoo" as a participle...we are to be living sacrifices; Jesus is the son of the living God.

16:17 The word reveal here is "apokalptoo" as in the book of Revelation

16:18 Interestingly, the word church here (ekklesia) literally means "a regularly summoned legistlative body." See for more info on this word and its origin.

16:19 The verb tenses in the verse are interesting. First, Jesus says he will give the keys (suggesting the keys are not yet ready for Peter; perhaps he must first be forgiven?) Second, the verb for both bind and loose are aorist subjunctives (as in, "whatever you loose or whatever you bind). This means that they are one time events, but the clause suggests they may or may not happen. The second time Jesus uses word for bind and loose though, they are in the perfect, suggesting the action is complete with a resulting force. Ie, if you bind it, they have been and still are bound; if you loose it, they have been (and are still) loosed.

Romans 12:1-8

12:1 The first word Paul uses here is "parakaleoo." This word means a range of things from exhort to encourage to comfort. The noun of it is the word for the Holy Spirit in John's Gospel, the paraclete.

12:1 The word for mercies here is oiktirmos, however, this is found in the plural. As BDAG points out, is used to suggest the activities/signs/deeds of God's mercy rather than the general characteristic. I.e., we can always praise God in general for his mercy, but this day we praise God for his mercies, namely, the things God has done for us.

12:1 The word for acceptable is "euarestos" which really comes from the word for pleasing, as in the fruit in the garden was pleasing to Adam and Eve. This word can mean both flattering or truly pleasing, but in the God direction it always has a positive connotation. Paul will also use word in Romans 14:18 to say that "the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God." [So perhaps works righteousness is still out, but works pleasingness is not.]

12:1 Paul rarely ever uses the word sacrifice (thysia); only here once in Romans, once in Phil 4:18 and then also in Eph 5:2. Also, the word for "alive" here is a present participle, not an adjective; living is more appropriate.

12:1 The word here for spiritual is "logikos" almost literally logical. Enlightment distinctions make this one difficult to translate because if they used "logical" or even "reasonable" it would seem to deny any heart or passion, but that is not Paul's aim here. No easy translation, but not fair to Paul to make this simply a cognitive activity, but it definitely is cognitive!

12:2 The imperative form of the verb here (present indicative) suggests that the people actually have been conforming to the world...The verb itself is "syschematizoo" or in English, "schema."

12:2 The verb for transform is "metamorphoo." This (like conform) is also in the passive, suggesting we are not the agent of change. This is the word that Paul uses in 2 Cor 3:18 to talk about being transformed from one glory into another; it is also the word that Matthew and Mark use to talk about the transfiguration in their Gospel's.

12:2 The word for renewal here is "anakainwsis"; renewal is the literal translation, which fits; interesting note -- the word is not found outside of Xian literature.

(More intense grammer note on 12:2. The word for renreal here is in the dative; by means renewal makes the most sense.)

12:2 The word for "testing" is in an "eis+infinitive" clause suggesting purpose. That is, the testing is the result or purpose of the renewal.

12:2 Paul's word for "perfect" here is teleios, just like in Matthew 5:48, that we are to be perfect as our heavenly father.

12:3 The word for think highly is "hyper-phroneoo," rahter Paul encourages us to think "sus-phroneoo," which means to have a sound or sane manner.
(More intense grammer note: 12:3 A bunch of the participles in the verse are adjectival or substantive, a good verse to review how these work)

12:4/5 In verse one, Paul told the people to present their bodies; now he tells them that one body has many members...which is a helpful reminder that all of the verb tenses in this passage have been you plural. This does not mean Paul did not intend these exhortations for individuals (technically: distributive plural), but this entire passage is aimed at the community.

12:6 Paul uses the same grammatical construction (adjectival participle) to talk about "the grace given..." as he did in verse 3.

12:6 The word here for different is "diaphoros," which can also mean excellent.

12:7 The word here for ministry is "diakonia"

12:8 BDAG suggests that the word here the NRSV translates as "generously" which is "aplotehs" means more "with simplicity" or "without guile."

12:8 The word here for "diligence" is "spoudaeh," which can mean haste or speed. However, BDAG points out that this means, "oft. in Gr-Rom. lit. and inscriptions of extraordinary commitment to civic and religious responsibilities, which were freq. intertwined, and also of concern for personal moral excellence or optimum devotion to the interests of others."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Matthew 15:(10-20);21-28

15:10 The verb tenses here for the commands are in the present -- keep hearing and keep understanding...perhaps a light suggestion that getting it takes more than a moment.

15:11 The word here for "common" is "koine" as in "koine" Greek, the "common" Greek. What was common also implied unclean, ritually.

15:12 The word for "offended" here is literally "skandalized."

15:15 Peter here uses the word "phrazoo" for "explain." Almost as if he is saying "rephrase please..."

15:16 The word here for still is in acme...which means point (high point) "At this point you are still without understanding!"

These next verses have lots of substantive participles "The things that go in..." They are translated "things" because the "the" and the participles' endings are all neuter.

15:18 The verb here "koinow" has a really odd form in the 3rd person singular present: koinoi!

15:22 The woman's prayer is literally "kyrie elesion"

15:23 The word "send away" has appearted in the last three lectionary readings -- the disciples want the crowd away (two weeks ago) and last week Jesus sends them away (after feeding them). She is literally "krazoo" i.e., crazed as she cries out.

15:24 A nice and easy adjectival participle here: "the sheep who have lost themselves." Lost is a weak translation of this verb, which in the middle voice means perish or destroyed.

15:25 The verb knelt here literally means "before kiss", as in to kiss the ground before the person to signify they are royal or divine.

15:26 Jesus does not use the word "fitting," but rather the adjective "kalon" which means good or beautiful.

15:27 Another great adjectival participle: "The bread which has fallen..."

Romans 11:1-2, 29-31

11.1 The mey question of Paul indicates he expects a "No" answer. (Mey expects no; ou expects is in alphabetical order M-N-O-Y). Also, the very here, "apootheoo," translated "reject" has an active connotation, meaning "push away." Paul also uses the construction "of the seed" in chapter 1 to refer to Jesus -- who is of the seed of David.

11.29 The word translated "irrevocable" here is "ametameleyta" which more means "without regret." Paul uses the non "a-" form of this word in 2 Cor 7:8, when he says that he "regretted" sending a letter. In short, God never regrets giving gifts, which is a more emotional and even intimate way of saying that God's gifts are irrevocable.

11.31 The word "now" is not in P46, the earliest manuscript of this text...the D manuscript goes back and forth on this one.

11.32 Galatians 3:22 uses the same verb here -- imprisoned or literally encircled. (sunkleioo)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Matthew 14:22-33

14:22 Jesus here "releases" the crowd (apoluoo); this is exactly the same verb that the disciples wanted Jesus to do before the miracles.

14:22 The verb for "cross" the sea here is "proagoo" which means to go ahead or lead. Interesting that he compels them to lead him!

14:23 The verb to "pray" is a middle verb, perhaps suggesting that prayer is us doing something to ourselves (ie, lying prostrate)

14:24 The word describing the winds as oppossed literally is "in anti." (enantios); The word for "torment" here is basanizoo, which can mean even torture (as in the the beast is basanized at the end of Revelation)

14:27 Jesus says, "It is I," literally "ego eimi," perhaps a play on the name of God.

14:28 Peter's words are in the indicative tense, which means that Peter believes it is a true condition: Since it is you, command me.

14:29 The word boat (ploion) continues to appear in the text here.

14:31 The word doubt here is in the aorist, suggesting that Peter's doubt is over. The word "oligopiste" or little faith, is almost exclusively Matthew (4/5 uses)

14:33 Back in the boat!

Romans 10:5-15

10:5 The tense of the verb "graphei" is in the present, so Moses "is writing" the righteousness. Perhaps a slight hint by Paul that the reality of works-righteousness continues...and is a present reality.

10:6 and 10:7 The Greek is fairly straight forward here. The problem is figuring out what Paul is doing with these OT quotes, which he is cutting and editing...

One thing perhaps worth remembering is that the negative, aorist subjunctive prohibition "meh eipehs" means "Don't even thinking about starting to say..." (Ie, the action had not yet begun)

10:9 The word "confess" in Greek is: "homologeoo," which means same+word. Our confession is never our own, but is made with others. This is also in the subjunctive mode after ean, which means it is a conditional. It is not a guarantee whether we make this confession or not.

10:9 Paul discusses the heart here -- heart in the Greek world does not simply mean the center of emotions but also includes the the entirity of the "inner" person. (Luke 16:15 -- "God knows your hearts." does not simply mean God knows if you are in love or feeling sad...or both!)

10:11 Here we have the word (in the future passive) of the word for "ashamed." It is worth looking at where else Paul uses this word in his ministry...God will make the wise ashamed (1 Cor 1:27)

10:12 The word for "distinction", "diastoleh" is the same from Romans 3:22. The word for generous here literally means to make wealthy.

10:13 In both verse 9 and 13, the verb save is in the future tense (passive).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Matthew 14:13-21

14:13: Jesus went "kata idion." This is the first time Jesus has done anything by himself in the Gospel of Matthew. Also, this sentence has a typical grammatical contruction with a circumstantial participle to begin with followed by the meat (Lit: Heard this, Jesus...) Yet when the crowd heard Jesus (same word: akouoo, also in a participle form), he began to follow him (imperfect).

14:14: Here Jesus has compassion -- which in Greek literally means "intestined" (splanchnizomai) someone...and he healed their diseases. The word for heal here is literally "therapeoo." Today we learn about therapy, Jesus style...

14:15: Fourth sentence in a row that begins with a circumstantial participle that has little else around it followed by the main verb. In 14:15, the word "evening" comes before the verb, but it is still the same idea: Under the circumstances of it having become night, or "When night fell..." Also interesting is that the word that the disciples use in their question is "release" or apoluoo, literally like pardon or free from bondage. The disciples want to unhook people from Jesus! The last sentence in the verse is a bit tricky. Literally, "In order that, going into the city, they may buy food." The hina goes with the verb after the participle that immediately follows it.

14:16: The verb here for give is in the aorist. This is the same tense of the verb in the Lord's prayer, "Give us this day." Perhaps this suggests that the disciples, in their worry about future provision are forgetting their only task is in the present.

14:17: The response of the disciples begins with the word "not" Literally "Not we have."

14:19: take, bless, broke and gave...Appear again in Matthew 26:26.

14:20: The disciples now give the food to the crowd; however, the verb give is missing. It literally reads "The disciples (to) the crowds." Maybe the disciples also took the bread and broke it and give it...and not just gave it!

14:20: The word here for "fill" is related to the word for grass -- the crowd sat on the grass "chortos" and later was "chortazo"-ed. Perhaps a subtle reminder that God's abundance is always there -- even in the midst of a "herma" (wilderness, vs 13; and 15) and when the "oora" (hour) has past (vs 15).

Romans 9:1-5

In verse 9:1, Paul uses the verb "confirm." However, the root word here is syn-martyreoo. Paul uses this word three times in Romans. First in 2:16 when he says that the law works to "confirm" in people's conscience the lack of righteousness in their activities. Then he uses it in 8:16 to say that the spirit "confirms" we are children of God. Paul is the only author in the NT to use this word. In 9:1 it is found in a genitive absolute that agrees with "conscience." Furthermore, there is a an odd "to me" in 9:1, perhaps suggesting that this confirmation takes place in Paul...

In 9:2, Paul uses the word "Adialeiptos" (from lack) to talk about how his grief is without hesitation. This same word appears in 2 Tim, where Paul gives endless thanksgiving. The use of the dative with the word "me" in this sentence is also helpful to remember. Paul says, literally, "that a grief me is great." To translate this into English needs a bit of manuvering. "That it is a great grief to me." Also, the hoti here in the beginning of the sentence can be "because" or "that." (Because it is a great grief or that it is a great grief; with sensory verbs like think, hoti is normally transalted "that").

In 9:3, the first verb is in the imperfect -- Paul continually prays/wishes. Also interesting is that in this sentence, the infinitive clause is all in the nominative, whereas, normally, it is in the accusative. Paul wishes he were, literally, an "anathema."

9:4: Paul uses the word "adoption" here (huiothesia) -- interesting because earlier he talks about how we are adopted by the Holy Spirit. Paul also uses the word promises; the manuscripts are divided on whether this should read promise or promises.

In 9:5, Paul uses both wn with a rough breathing mark: hoon; and without "oon." The later is found in the second half of the sentence, which here is a substantive participles "The one who is." Interesting, these three letters, "o w n" (which make up this participle) are found around Jesus' head in icons.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

There isn't that much in the Greek here -- if you read it, you will get practice in comparative adjectives and relative pronoun sentences. However, the word for shrub/herb (lachanon) is kind of interesting in that its intended as a food.

The word here for buried/hidden (krutpoo) in vs. 44 is in the perfect -- it was done in the past but its present condition still remains. The word for sell here is "agorize," as in the agora is where he went to sell the goods. The word for pearl is "margarita" and the word for merchant is "emporos." (vs. 46). Also, the verb in vs. 48 for collect is the same as last week (for gather), sullegoo. (When you have a sun/syn-prefix meaning together the n morphs into the next letter). Matthew uses this word 4 other times in various parables...
In Matthew 13:52, the word for "bring up" as in the master "brought out" or something his treasure, new and old -- the word here is exballw, which is means expel, normally used in conjunction with demons...