Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Questions About Jesus

     Q#1: Was Jesus denying that He was “good” in Mark 10:18? Jesus was responding to a wealthy young Jewish ruler who had just addressed Him as “Good Teacher.” Before answering his question, the Lord gave him something to think about: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Jesus was not denying that He was good. He merely asked a thought-provoking question followed by a statement of fact. The implication is: “You call me good, and since only God is good, you are therefore (unwittingly) acknowledging that I am God.” A similar situation is found a few chapters earlier. In Mark 2:5-7, when Jesus had forgiven the sins of a paralytic, some scribes asked: “Why does this man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus went on to claim the power to forgive sins anyway (v. 10), the implication is clear. Jesus is God (in essence) and is therefore good.
     Q#2: In the New King James Version John 3:13 reads: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” Why are the last four words omitted in other versions (e.g. the New American Standard Bible)? If this phrase should be in the text, how could Jesus have been in heaven while He was with Nicodemus on earth? 
     The phrase “who is in heaven” is not found in some Greek manuscripts (primarily Egyptian texts), so the NASB translators left it out. However, most other Greek manuscripts include these words. Because this phrase somewhat complicates the verse, there is no sensible reason for it to have been added by later copyists. The phrase may have been removed from the original account (in some manuscripts) in order to alleviate the difficulty. How, then, can the apparent discrepancy of this statement be resolved? 
     Keep in mind that John was writing from the perspective of an inspired historian, and his Gospel was written a number of years after Jesus had ascended to heaven. At the time of John’s writing, Jesus was “in the bosom of the Father” (1:18). Remember also that John’s original text was not a Red Letter Edition. The phrase, “that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” or simply “who is in heaven,” was probably meant to be parenthetical (i.e. an explanatory statement in parentheses), inserted by John to clarify to his readers that Jesus was referring to Himself (cf. 1:38-42; 2:21-22; 4:1-3; 9:7; 12:32-33; 18:8-9; 20:16).

    Q#3: The NASB refers to Christ as “the one” [lower case] in John 1:33, but as “One” [upper case] in Luke 3:16 – why the difference? The primary reason seems to be in the preference of the translators. This difference does not appear in other English versions. In John 1:33 the phrase is houtos estin ho, literally “he it is who.” The phrase in Luke 3:16 is erchetai ho, literally “he comes who.” The word houtos is a demonstrative pronoun meaning “this” or “he” or “this one,” used to draw attention to someone in particular. The article ho, when used as a demonstrative pronoun, means “this” or “the one” or “this one” or even “the one who.” Each of these possibilities essentially communicates the same meaning. Whether or not the word “one” is used in the translation and whether or not capitalization is employed does not alter the intent of the passage. A possible rationale of the NASB translators is that “the one” in John 1:33 is used as a predicate nominative (telling something about the subject), whereas “One” in Luke 3:16 is used as a subject. The 1975 edition of the NASB renders Luke 3:16, “but He … is coming,” whereas the 1977 edition changes it to, “but One is coming…”
–Kevin L. Moore

Originally appearing in The Exhorter (Jan.-March 1999) and republished in The Summit Chronicle 6:1 (Jan. 2008): 12.

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