Vol. 28 New Series November, 1967 No. 6

Part 1
Next to the Article, of all the Greek parts of speech the Preposition is the worst maltreated by the translators. This is partly due to indifference to exact precision of thought and partly to the circumstance that no pair of prepositions are exactly equivalent in Greek and English, so strict concordance is impossible. Over fifty years ago Dr. Bullinger remarked to a correspondent (Things to Come, Vol. 18, p. 12) that "the great need of the present day is (as you well say) a 'Bible Preposition Investigation Society' in order to save us from the misapprehensions of religious leaders." He added: "The favourite texts of all traditionalists (as you well and truly say) are usually the least correctly translated."

One of the simplest of the Greek prepositions is en, usually rendered in; yet "in" is used in the A.V. to represent no fewer than thirteen different Greek prepositions. In spite of this, it is basically simple enough. Followed by a Singular noun it means in, and should be so rendered unless English idiom forbids. Followed by a Plural, it means among, though where the plural word is one entity, in is generally in best accord with English usage. These uncertainties are rather baffling to some people; and to deal with them adequately the translator needs to have some understanding of the "feel" of both languages. So one cannot say that "A means B" universally; and where in subsequent remarks some such assertion is made, the reader should understand that it is general but not universal. For example, Rom. 1:2 reads, "in holy Scriptures." Strictly, this ought to be "among," for the promises referred to are scattered throughout these Scriptures; but "in" is here permissible according to English idiom. In v. 5, however, we have to read "among all the Gentiles" and similarly in v. 6, "among whom." In V. 7 it is "in Rome," in v. 8 "in the whole world," v. 9 "in my spirit," v. 10 "in the will of God," v. 12 "among you," etc. We find the plural, and so should read among twice in v. 13 and in v. 19; but in vv. 21 and 24 English idiom compels in. Simple enough, provided we keep in mind the point that en followed by a plural has the sense of among.

Confusion has been caused by misunderstanding an allied word entos, inside, occurring in Matt. 23:26; Luke 17:21. The first of these presents no difficulties, provided we do not confuse it with yet another word esOthen, inwardly, an adverb, which occurs in the same context in vv. 25, 27 and 28, where it is contrasted with another adverb exOthen, outwardly. I suggest we read therefore, rather freely (vv. 25-28), "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! seeing that you are cleansing outwardly the (outside) of the cup and the plate, yet inwardly they are brimming with rapacity and incontinence. Blind Pharisee! Cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the plate, that also their outside may be becoming clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! seeing that you are resembling whitewashed sepulchres, which outwardly, indeed, are appearing beautiful yet inwardly they are crammed with bones of dead ones and all uncleanness."

The really controversial passage is Luke 17:21 which, with part of v. 20, reads, "The Kingdom of God is not coming with scrutiny" (Rotherham "narrow-watching"). "Neither shall they be declaring 'Lo! Here!' or 'Lo! There!; for lo! the Kingdom of God is inside you."

The Annotator of the 1930 C.V. remarks "Compare Rom. 14:17"; and though he stops at that, nevertheless he hits the nail square on the head. For Paul writes "For the Kingdom of God is not feeding and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in holy spirit." Rotherham in a Note puts the issue admirably.

False teachers have used this verse to deny that the Kingdom will ever be a visible entity. Most people fail to perceive that the inward character of the Kingdom is not something that came about when Romans was written, or at the close of Acts, but something existing all along from John the Baptist's proclamation till it is set up in glory on earth by Messiah.

R.B.W. Last updated 27.6.2006