Vol.V No.X Pg.2
December 1968

Does It Really Say That?

Robert F. Turner

There are lots or tall tales about ignorant and absurd use of scriptures and their sometimes humorous outcome. Like the fellow that thought Job was a very smart baby, because he could talk — he cursed — the day he was born. Its a good joke; but have you thought about the problem one would have explaining the real meaning of the passage to a man who was ignorant enough to make the mistake in the first place? Well, it aint easy.

Grammatically, curse is transitive in the scripture, having an object. He cursed the day — not cursed, on the day he was born. But I can imagine the glassy stare I would get from the man in the first paragraph, as I explained the difference in a transitive and intransitive verb.

Then there are more serious abuses of words. For years I have heard the atonement explained as at-one-ment It sounds good, and we are made at-one with God in the process. But the word translated atonement means reconciliation (See R.V.) and at-one-ment is, as Vine puts it, entirely fanciful.

In similar vein, godliness is often explained as God-like-ness. It is an easy natural sort of comment; but godliness is, in reality, an attitude toward God. Translated from a combine of terms meaning well plus devout, it denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him. (Vine)

Then, there is the innocent but incorrect use of a word according to English idiom, but not in keeping with the more formal English of the text. I frequently hear Jn. 3:l6 explained, whosoever believeth in him should (ought) not perish — but will unless he is baptized, etc. Nice try, and the conclusion is correct, but it doesnt come from this passage.

In Jn. 3:16 should is part of the translation of the tense of the verb, apollumi, to destroy, kill, bring to nought. It does not refer to moral obligation, a meaning it may have in English, especially when stressed. We have words in the Greek meaning, it needs, or should be — dei: Matt. 18:33; Acts 27:21. In 1 Cor. 9:10 opheilo means to owe and is rendered ought to (RV) or should (KJ). but no such words are found in Jn. 3:l6, and we are forcing the passage to so use it. Better to emphasize all that is embraced in believeth.

Of course this sort of study could just ruin that favorite passage whar dey loafs and fishes.