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What the Bible says about Grammar Peculiarities
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 1:16-18

Many find verses 16-18 particularly difficult. They appear to say that God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day of creation. The New King James compounds the problem by incorrectly beginning verse 16 with "Then God made," implying continuity of action. The King James, American Standard, the Revised Standard, and Young's Literal translations all start this verse with "And."

Further, the Hebrew asah, translated "made" in verse 16, is in the verb form that denotes completed action. This means that the sun, moon, and stars could have been created that day or any previous time. These heavenly bodies had been created long before the creation week began. Therefore, verses 16 through 18 are parenthetical statements that indicate that the sun, moon, and stars had been made sometime in the past.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Genesis 1: Fact or Fiction?

Deuteronomy 6:4

The word "God" here is Elohim. It says, "The LORD our Elohim is one LORD." This phrase is not normally grammatically correct—a plural noun [Elohim] with a singular verb, "is." Elohim is the plural of both El and Eloah. El and Eloah mean "mighty One," "strong One," or "powerful One" according to Brown, Driver, and Briggs. Elohim, being either of these two words in the plural, therefore means "strong Ones," "mighty Ones," or "powerful Ones."

Just from these definitions, Elohim consists of at least two powerful beings. But, as the New Testament shows, Elohim is not limited to two. It can actually signify an unlimited number, so Elohim is a group or assembly of powerful beings.

It is jarring to the ear to say "Gods is," because there is a plural noun and a singular verb, but it is not incorrect. Consider "United States of America." States is plural, but one does not say, "The United States are going to war." One says, "The United States is going to war." One uses a singular verb with a plural noun. Gramatically, we are speaking of collective nouns.

Elohim is plurality in one, and because the sense is singular, it calls for a singular verb. However, everyone using it knows that it is plural and represents many in unity. Our culture forces us to look for a singular being, but Elohim is not singular.

In the New Testament, it becomes very clear that Elohim is a kingdom, consisting of many! Elohim always acts in a singular way. There is never any divisiveness, only agreement.

We have no problem at all saying or hearing, "The United States is bordered on the north by Canada," or, "The United States is in the northern hemisphere," or "The United States delivered a sharp memo to the Japanese today." We always speak of the United States in the singular. We speak of it as a composite of many rather than a singular entity.

When Moses wrote this verse, it was no more discordant to a Hebrew-speaking person, no more grammatically wrong, than it is for us to say, "The United States is. . . ." Elohim, "the powerful Ones," is a Family of at least two divine beings, and many sons and daughters coming into it. A family, whether human or divine, is a unit of many individuals joined as one.

The Bible reveals that a nation is nothing more than a family grown great. This is why we have the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, which shows the forebears of the nations after the Flood. They began with one man and one woman, and they grew great. So it is that Elohim is one institution—a Family—growing ever larger and more complex until it becomes a nation, the Kingdom of God. We see, then, that this is what Elohim is developing.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Nature of God: Elohim

Luke 17:21

"Within" is translated from entos, used only twice in the New Testament. Its primary meaning is "inside," as it is rendered in Matthew 23:26: "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also." However, when used in conjunction with a plural noun, entos means "among" or "in the midst of." In Luke 17:21, entos is used with "you," and from the context, we can see that Jesus was speaking to a crowd of Pharisees, who had come to question Him about the Kingdom of God (verse 20). "You," then, is plural. "The kingdom of God is among you" is best.

Most modern translations have recognized this grammatical error and translate entos as "among" or "in the midst of." Some texts, like the New King James and the New International versions, persist in using "within," though they note in the margin that "among" is an alternative.

Even without this technical knowledge of Greek, we could have easily understood that "within" is a poor and misleading translation. Christ was answering a question posed by the Pharisees, and He replied directly to them: "He answered them and said, . . . 'For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.'" But how could the Kingdom of God be within His most bitter enemies? How many times did He reveal them to be hypocritical and misleading the people? Theologically, it is quite impossible to think that His Kingdom would be in the Pharisees.

It is only after He had made this remark that He turned to His disciples (verse 22) and explained what He meant. The subject of the entire section (verses 20-37) is stated most explicitly in verse 30: "Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed." All along, He had been explaining His second coming! When He returns, He will set up His Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:9).

If the Kingdom is still future, how could He say that "the kingdom of God is among you"? To answer this, we must return to the four common traits of a kingdom: a king, who rules by law over a number of subjects who live within a certain territory. The primary trait is that a kingdom must be ruled by a king; otherwise, the country has some other form of government. A king of any nation is the chief representative of that nation. And the King of the Kingdom of God is none other than the living Jesus Christ!

Pilate specifically asked Jesus, "'Are You a king then?' Jesus answered, 'You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth'" (John 18:37). So as the King of God's Kingdom, He could truly tell the Pharisees that the Kingdom of God was among them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is the Kingdom of God Within You?

Luke 17:21

This sadly mistranslated verse has led many sincere people astray. Without even knowing the Greek language, we can see that Jesus could not mean that the Kingdom was some ethereal quality in the hearts of the Pharisees! To the contrary, He castigated them often for their unbelief! Entos, translated "within," should be translated "in the midst of" or "among." Jesus, the coming King of the Kingdom of God, was in their midst or among them! The thrust of His teaching in this section is that unbelievers will not recognize the working of God's Kingdom among them, just as the Pharisees had not recognized their Savior among them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The True Gospel

Revelation 10:1

The King James Version correctly translates the conjunction and at the beginning of the verse. It shows it is tying events together.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church

Revelation 20:10

This verse seems to describe the Lake of Fire as a place where God torments people forever. This raises a few questions: 1) If the Beast and False Prophet are mortal men, why are they still alive after the Millennium when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire? 2) If they are mortals, how can they "be tormented day and night forever and ever" in an inferno that would soon consume them? 3) What kind of God would devise such a "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Before we answer these questions, we must briefly consider whether man has an immortal soul. Our understanding of the Scriptures compels us to maintain that he does not for several reasons:

» Job recognized that man has a spirit (Job 32:8), which Paul shows in I Corinthians 2:11 endows humanity with intellect. This spirit in man comes from God (Zechariah 12:1) and returns to Him when we die (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Acts 7:59). It records our experiences, character, and personality, which God stores until the resurrection of the dead. However, the Bible never describes this spirit as immortal or eternal; in fact, I Corinthians 2:6-16 explains that man needs yet another Spirit, God's, to be complete and discern godly things.

» The Bible flatly asserts that all people die: "It is appointed for men to die once" (Hebrews 9:27). Ezekiel says clearly that souls die: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; see Romans 6:23). Jesus warns in Matthew 10:28 that God can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.

» In death, life and consciousness are gone. "The dead know nothing," says Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5, and he later adds, "There is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going" (verse 10). In Psalm 146:4, the psalmist writes about a man's death, "His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish" (see Genesis 3:19).

» Scripture also confutes the idea that people go to heaven or hell after death. Peter says to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. . . . For David did not ascend into the heavens" (Acts 2:29, 34). Our Savior confirms this in John 3:13: "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven." The biblical usage of Sheol and Hades simply means "the grave."

» Men cannot have immortality unless God gives it to them. Paul writes, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). In I Corinthians 15:53 he tells the saints, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." At the first resurrection God will give "eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality" (Romans 2:7). If we already had immortality, why should we put it on or seek it?

» Only God has immortality. He is, Paul writes to Timothy, ". . . the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality" (I Timothy 6:15-16). John says of the Word, "In Him was life" (John 1:4), meaning as Creator of all things (verse 3), He had life inherent. Jesus affirms this in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Men must go through Him to receive eternal life.

With such overwhelming proof, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul proves false. Man is not immortal, nor does he possess any "spark of God" unless God has given it to him through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11). A Christian's hope of life after death rests in the resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12-23). Conversely, the wicked only await eternal death as recompense for their evil lives, not eternal life in torment.

To understand Revelation 20:10 correctly, we must put it into its proper chronological context. Once we know when it occurs, much of the confusion about this verse clears up.

Though only twelve verses separate Revelation 19:20 from 20:10, one thousand years pass between their respective events. The Beast and the False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire when Christ returns (Revelation 19:11-21). Soon thereafter, an angel imprisons Satan in the bottomless pit for the thousand years of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-3). When the thousand years pass, Satan is released, and he gathers Gog and Magog to fight against the saints (verses 7-9). After God defeats this futile attempt, He casts Satan into the Lake of Fire (verse 10).

Obviously, the flames of the Lake of Fire totally consume the Beast and False Prophet. In no way could they survive a thousand years of burning! The laws of nature simply will not allow it.

The translators of the King James and New King James versions render the final clause of the first sentence as "where the beast and the false prophet are." The present-tense verb "are" is not in the Greek; it is an understood verb. In English grammar, such silent verbs take the same tense as the verb in the main clause of the sentence. The translators ignored this rule, however. The primary verb of the sentence, "was cast" (an aorist verb usually translated as simple past tense), demands that the silent verb should be "were cast" (past tense) to agree with the plural subject, "the beast and the false prophet."

Deceived by the false doctrine of the immortal soul, the translators had to deny nature and break the rules to make this verse fit their understanding! On the other hand, we can confidently assert that our teaching agrees with Scripture, nature, and grammar!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Eternal Torment?


 




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