“Should” or “Will” Perish? – John 3:16 (Monday with Mounce 91)

From Koinonia Blog (biblical-theological conversations for the community of Christ)

Monday with Mounce We teach students in first year Greek that the subjunctive mood carries the idea of “should” or might.” But then they come to a verse like John 3:16 and read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that (ινα) whoever believes in him should (αποληται) not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).

The confusing part is that to some people’s mind, the “should” introduces an element of uncertainty. They “should” perish, but does that mean in fact they “will perish”?

The indicative mood is the mood of “reality.“ It is used to describe “what is.“ Of course, this is a simplistic definition, otherwise we could not lie or ask a question. Daniel Wallace is correct in his frequent assertion that the indicative mood is the mood of the portrayal of reality. It describes what we think “is,“ or what we want people to believe “is.“ Which, of course, is why we lie in the indicative.

The normal definition of the subjunctive is that it is the mood of what may or might be. It is one step removed from reality (as opposed to the optative, which is two steps removed from reality, describing what we wish would be). Wallace defines the subjunctive as representing “the verbal action (or state) as uncertain but probable” (page 461), clarifying that it is not the mood of uncertainty (which is the optative) but of probability.

So is Jesus saying that it is probably that those who believe in him will not perish?

I hope not. I believe there is no uncertainty that his gift of righteousness through our faith secures our future salvation, which of course it does.

This illustrates the problem of first year Greek and why we can’t be too simplistic in language. The older I get, the more complicated I realize language is.

ινα introduces a purpose clause. The clause is not stating what is but rather the purpose of something. There is your one step removed from reality, from what is. God gave his only Son on the cross, and the purpose of that giving is so that (i.e., purpose)  those who believe in him will  most certainly not perish. Because it is a purpose clause, it cannot be in the indicative. It is not stating what is (in the sense of the indicative) but rather is stating the purpose of something.

But that does not mean there is any uncertainly, any idea of probability or possibility. That God gave his son is a fact. That the purpose of giving his Son was so that believers will most certainly have eternal life. Which is why we must be careful in translating purpose clauses as if they were conditional.

Hence the NASB and NIV (“that whoever  believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”) and HCSB (“so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life”).Mouncew

Good job!

William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. Learn more and visit Bill’s blog (co-authored with scholar and his father Bob Mounce) at www.billmounce.com.

1 Corinthians 15:2, William D. (Bill) Mounce

William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek, and is the general editor for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV. Learn more and visit Bill’s blog (co-authored with scholar and his father Bob Mounce) at www.billmounce.com.

This post is from Mondays with Mounce,  Bill Mounce’s weekly blog, hosted by Koinonia. KOINONIA is hosted by Zondervan Academic and Friends.

“Are being saved” – 1 Cor 15:2

(Monday with Mounce 88) Posted: 10 Jan 2011

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved (σωζεσθε), if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain” (ESV).This is one of the main verses used when speaking of the three “times” of salvation — past (on the cross), now (as we walk the path), and the future (Day of the Lord). I was asked the other day whether σωζεσθε should be translated“are saved” (NASB, NIV, HCSB, KJV) or “are being saved” (ESV, NET). In other words, is it an aoristic present or a continuous or even a futuristic present?

There are varied and unrelated translations that go with either, so part of the answer is, yes, you can translate it either way. But why the difference, and which is to be preferred?

Fee and Garland see the progression of the verse as going from the past (“received”), present (“stand”), and the present process with the future reality (“are being saved”), understanding that salvation is in one sense a process that will not reach completion until the Day of the Lord.

That there is a future aspect to salvation is undeniable. Rom 5:9 makes it explicit. “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved (σωθησομεθα) by him from the wrath of God” (see also 1 Thess 5:9-10). More importantly, because of its contextual proximity, is 1 Cor 1:18 where the continuous (or imperfective if you wish) participle σωζομενοις requires a present sense. “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” (ESV). Surprisingly, most translations go with “who  are being saved” here even if they say “are saved” in 15:2, but this is required by the obviously continuous “are perishing.”

So which is to be preferred?

Thiselton says the commentaries are agreed that the  continuous aspect “is to be explicated” as it “denotes what is done for them in the future,” and think this is best in this context. What would it mean if Paul said they “are” saved “if” they persevere? Not sure that makes sense. The necessity of perseverance and the meaning of the passage does not make sense if in fact the person’s salvation is in every way wholly accomplished in the past.

I know this is constantly a hot topic, but I guess part of your decision comes down to your theology. (What doesn’t?) But as I see it, it makes less sense to say they “are saved if” and more sense to say “are being saved if,” and I would point primarily to 1 Cor 1:18.

Ever since I started pastoring, I think this has been the main question that haunts me. What is a Christian? What is a simple, straight forward, easy-to-understand answer that makes use of all biblical data?

For me, it is Jesus’ gate and path analogy. Being a Christian is a being a follower of Jesus. You start following at the gate, continue following as you walk along the path, and at the end of the path of perseverance is life. So for me, it is easy to say that while I celebrate the finished work of Christ on the cross and the underserved, grace-filled, regenerative work of the Holy Spirit at my conversion, there is a very real sense in which my salvation is an ongoing process culminating in glorification, provided of course that I hold fast to the gospel.

Isn’t that what Paul is saying?

IF   YOU   ARE   INTERESTED   IN   READING   FUTURE   WEEKLY   POSTS   FROM   THE   BILL  MOUNCE   BLOG,  YOU  CAN  SUBSCRIBE   HERE TO  RECEIVE  THEM.

Zilele trec…

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari

Click pe harta pt ora actuala World Time Click on map for timezone

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,517 other followers