- December 15, 2016 at 8:02 pm #635JamesKeymaster
New Testament Greek can only be understood by people who look at it from a child’s perspective. The adult mind has too many reasons to apply interpretations that may make sense in a particular usage yet then cause other areas of text to become nonsensical.
A primary theme of the Bible is the believer’s union with God. Our theme of our union with God in Christ runs through His life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit. The writers of the New Testament used a number of Greek prepositions to explain union. I believe that, as a result of a failure to comprehend the importance of this present union with His human creatures, translators often borrow meanings for prepositions from other prepositions simply to make their translations sensible. Though the linguistic gymnastics this requires may result in interpretations that are true statements, it doesn’t necessarily convey what God is saying. I have gained much from translations which I knew were incorrect yet true statements. But, I want to know what God is really saying. What God actually says is more important to me than having a translation that makes sense to me. Thus, I often must ponder and wait for understanding. Sometimes the wait hasn’t fit into a convenient time frame, but it is the only way to get God’s understanding. If we are in a rush, it may take even longer to understand what God is saying, if we ever do.
For example, let’s start with Ephesians 1:19. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” (KJV) “The Greek word here translated “to us-ward” is εἰς (eis). Many translate it “with,” “in,” “toward,” “for.” Since there are other prepositions that have those meaning, I questioned why the writer didn’t use one of them instead of εἰς, which can also be translated “into.” Remembering what my Greek professor said, I started using “into” in all instances where I encountered this preposition. At first, using this meaning didn’t always make sense, like in Ephesians 1:19. Using my rendering of εἰς sometimes left me stumped. But, as I came to understand the believer’s union with Christ, using “into” began to expand my understanding of what the authors were saying.
So, instead of rendering Ephesians 1:19 as referring to power that God is directing toward the believer, I started translating it as power into the believer. Wow! The whole meaning changed. God wasn’t just doing something for believers but was directing His actions with the purpose of getting His power inside the believer. Suddenly, the concept of “in Christ” began to mean so much more. And, it told me that my relationship with Christ is not just some static condition of being saved but actively participating in the life of Christ. God is doing something for certain believers that is going “into” them, right now.
So now, I wanted to know what His activity “into” us is.
Since the writers of the New Testament did not have a habit of using punctuation, I realized that the comma after the word believe was arbitrary. It was inserted in order to make sense out of the Greek text. But, with my new understanding of “into” power, I realized that the remainder of the passage had never really made sense to me in the first place. Something was missing. It was like the remainder of the passage was seeking to qualify the “exceeding greatness” of God power. For some reason, that bothered me. It seemed unnecessary.
But, as I have pondered Christ in me and how God responds to my faith it struck me the rest of the verse is not explaining “how great” the power of God toward us is. Rather, when you remove the comma the sentence takes on a whole different meaning, immensely more consistent with “Christ in us.” The Apostle Paul is saying that God’s power into believers is directly related to the degree with which a person’s beliefs are consistent with the massive power displayed in the resurrection of Christ and what God accomplished thereby.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power into us who believe in agreement with what God accomplished [when and after He raised Christ from dead].” Everything that followed the resurrection of Christ also included believers, because we are members of His body. He didn’t leave us here to suffer in sin and failure until He returns. God has a wonderful plan and it all centers around the right-now experience of Christ in us.
What God is saying in this passage is that He has immense power directed into us to make real to us everything He accomplish in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Though what Christ has done is a finished fact and is our present reality (According to Paul, we ARE seated with Christ in heavenly places right now – Eph 2:6.), it can only become real to us as we believe it. If we don’t believe it is true, it won’t be real to us. Since many people spend so much time seeking to dumb down or explain away literal interpretations of God’s word, they get what they believe, which is a powerless life today, with little to no experience of “Christ in us.”
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