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Translation of Texts in Matthew,
I Corinthians, Ephesians and Isaiah
Includes in order:
Items: 31,41,43, 33, 35, 52, 21, 32
Now we come to a case where both the AV and the NKJV, indeed nearly all versions, are of one kind; whereas the vast majority of the Greek text is to the contrary. This seems to come about because those stuck with the Westcott and Hort love of the defective and careless manuscripts, Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, follow what they have; and those who follow the Textus Receptus have just the same. However in this relatively rare instance, the Textus Receptus does not follow the mass of its family. Remarkably well chosen for its time, it is yet in this instance not in accord with the very basics of its selection criteria, as to the family.
Thus in Matthew 10:8, "raise the dead" does not appear in the large majority (M, as recorded in The Greek New Testament according to the Majority Text) and it likewise fails to appear in the parallel passages in Mark (3:15) and Luke, the latter in 9:6 even specifying the thrust in retrospect, without including it. Luke 10, where the 70 are sent on a similar mission, has no reference to it either, though the specifics of coverage are long. In other texts, re Matthew 10:8, it is omitted by many of the "fathers" or early writers, cited among others being Athanasius and Jerome, and versions - translations from early times; and there are erasures and even a re-writing here, in Sinaiticus.
The reference of Christ to raising the dead is found in His OWN account of His fulfilment of prophecy, in order to re-assure John the Baptist, who sent enquiring (Matthew 11:5, cf. Mark 5:41, Luke 7:11, John 11), in a list of far greater magnitude. At that, however, no doctrine is involved, since Peter raised Tabitha (Dorcas) , as shown in Acts 9:37-41.
It is true that in an early place, the disciples are seen baulked indeed, when Christ triumphed, even in a case of demon possession, though it seems this one was very special! (Matthew 17:14-21).
Christ's work was beyond measure (Mark , ).
It is therefore apparent that there was scribal involvement of some kind in this text, but that the united testimony of many kinds weighs too heavily to be ignored, in the providential pluralities and objectivities of the textual situation as it stands revealed. It appears then that "raise the dead" should in this instance be omitted in terms of general criteria. Although as noted this does not affect any doctrine, it is nevertheless a reminder that 'rules of thumb' such as we may construct for pastoral convenience are no more than that. On the other hand, as to doctrine, no difficulty appears ever, and the thoughts of the Lord, His directions and divulgements, are maintained with splendid precision, fulfilling His undertaking.
I Corinthians 15:33.
This having been said, it is fascinating in terms of variety, to notice that there is in I Corinthians 15:33 a case where the AV is far surpassed by the NKJV (both apparently erring in the preceding case), in terms of clarity. This is no fault of the AV, but it is a LARGE fault in the approach which would slavishly keep to it. Thus it has,
"Evil communications corrupt good manners", whereas the NKJV with admirable clarity, puts it thus: "Evil company corrupts good habits." The New Scofield rendering is "Evil company corrupts good morals" which has the advantage of being highly idiomatic in our tongue.
How necessary today is such a reminder! How searing is the company of the lost whose addictions of mind, body and spirit are so great that ears, bodily resistance, aims, ideals, objectives are one great bundle of contagion in many cases, which can obstruct health in every dimension, tempt and tamper with rapidity born of great cultural acceptance, TV addiction mechanisms to reinforce, in the interest of money, power or popularity, for example and parental absence in the pursuit of more income, more something or other, while the family tissue is often allowed to rot, a worse than AIDS depression of resistance soon being found in mind, heart and spirit in the young.
Of course it is not only this group which is reminded in our text; but it is a poignant reality that whole lives may be turned, like a just launched ship to the rocks, by an early tug from community, commune or conquest of peer pressure.
It may be well here to note a vast difficulty in traditionalism, whether of translation approach or theological convention, the forbidden man+ism of I Corinthians 3, expounded further in The Biblical Workman, Ch.8. (with special reference also to *2) and in Repent or Perish 1 (and in particular in *1 of that Chapter). On the side of translation, first then, the case is clear. The Latin of the RC dominion of ignorance in pre-Reformation (and some Reformation) times was appalling. It is true that this was compulsory (sundry people could be burnt if they dared to read and understand) in many cases, per the diligent opposition to the word of God on the part of the Church of Rome at that time.
It is true that now the option of consulting other texts is free in most places. However, diligence is not everywhere the same, and the deadening weight of tradition does not always build only on physical compulsion, since cultural constraints readily apply for many. Hence it is dangerous to make traditional preferences for text have any constricting force. In the case of the AV, the tradition is a good one, but as with all tradition, its elevation to (practical) parity with the word of God is evil, because presumptuous, and not always accurate as shown.
The ACTUAL MEANING in CLEAR TERMS of what is written is a first priority. But let us diverge for a moment in a further aspect of traditionalism, as a topic, in a parallel area.
On the side of theological occlusion, obfuscation, through the man+ism device, that is expressed elsewhere as noted, so that for the present it is sufficient to note that not only is it expressly forbidden by Paul, but the simple fact is that the elevation of (admittedly) heroic Christian figures of the past to -ism status for those of the present tends to reduce awareness of weaknesses whether at some point of teaching or approach in the same - and who is perfect among all of us, sinners - so constricting the word of God. This may occur in two obvious ways:
a) areas left untouched, or relatively superficial in the past hero's work, may now require because of the times and their individual pressures, much exposure now.
b) areas of error can be duplicated like someone using an uncorrected master for the making of thousands of copies - all the same in fault. The further this goes, the worse the case, since one may then confirm the other in the error.
The same type of thing is seen in the 1991 action of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, in which it was required that one show FROM THE WESTMINSTER CONFESSION any place which would allow one to depart from any of it, in order to gain that ... liberty. This was despite the fact that in the Basis of Union of 1901, by which the people were willing to gather as one,
WAS EXPRESSLY GRANTED. Here it is denied in terms of a Confession which itself has the excellent grace to note that since all assemblies in the past are capable of error and many have erred, that therefore it is wrong to make any of them a criterion for faith. And what was the body of those who drew up the Confession except an assembly! Hence the genius, one of the excellent poverties of spirit which adorn this excellent Westminster Confession, is turned on its head, while at the same time, a liberty already granted as a condition of unity is REMOVED, and reduced to NULLITY except the CONFESSION (of all things, in view of what it expressly demands in terms of liberty) may be shown (as of course it in fact may be shown) to deny such stringency. LIBERTY
The net result is both undue and improper stringency, afflicting the union original basis, and undue laxity, since the word of God is bound VIA the Confession, which in this sense cannot be bound. It is of course true that, as the Procurator showed in an official publication of the PCA (Basic Documents on Presbyterian Polity, 1961, p. 92), decades ago, that the definition of "word of God" must be such as to conform to the use of that term in other official documents, such as the Confession, which makes it clear it is "infallible". Since the Word of God contained in the Bible is the UNCHANGEABLE doctrinal basis of the PCA, it is thereby bound, though this fact was disregarded for about 40 years in extreme measure, and is still difficult if not indeed quite impossible to reconcile with some of the practices of the body.
This illustrates aptly the danger of using tradition and giving it undue place; since the word of God alone is adequate, pure enough and sure enough to do the job. Subordinate standards (as the Confession is deemed to be expressly in the PCA, in good Presbyterian practice in INTENTION) have great use; but when the subordinate becomes inordinate it is insubordination! Tradition always has this peril. It is to be used like radioactive material, by one equipped with gloves and protective apparel, however useful it can be when rendered ... safe.
To revert to our I Cor. example and its rendering in the AV. The use of this version now for such things runs a great risk. The word of God can be suppressed without inquisitorial torture procedures.
It provides this:
§"Evil company corrupts good morals" -
and to have this put in some ancient version of our native tongue, that actively misleads by suppressing the meaning in our current speech, this is to use what is good to do what is bad. Such is always the vulnerability of elevating to parity with the word of God, the traditions of men (Mark 7:7). It can be direct, dire or indirect, tendential, but it is now desirable. Indeed to require the AV is presumption, the more when it is spuriously presented as tantamount to inspiration, thereby bypassing the evidential reality concerning the Greek and Hebrew text, and adding to the word of God itself, both in favour of rampant subjectivism. Proverbs 30:6, Mark 7:7 with Psalm 19:13 show the way to avoid. Unwise is the man, the church taking any such step.
The word of God is to be presented to every generation with entire and sublime accuracy in the symbols - words - that express to that people what it says. By policy or confusion to do anything less is unfaithful, suppressive, a covering over a light that must shine.
We are indeed fortunate that in most (but by no means in all) countries, we have or can have the implements needed, without overt suppression. With the exception noted ('scourging' and one minor case), the AV does not err in translation AS TO DOCTRINE, that one has found; while the NKJV, with one major exception noted, does not actively mislead, though it has less refinement or sensitivity at times in rendering with a view to all the context*1, despite its very commendable clarity. With both in hand, the lay reader is really well placed, though at that, a prepared pastor can lead further safely from the vast array of translations, using the original languages as attested.
God has made for us teams, not so that we are utterly reliant on them, but so that in their co-functionality there may be enrichment and strength. Thus the helps which can be given pastorally in this way, or through the student work of the lay scholar, the extensions and the nuances, the touches and the exposures, though not substantial and not affecting doctrine, are yet of great stimulus and blessing. The church is a divine invention, and though it does not MAKE doctrine, for this, the Bible, is in the written word of God from the infinite mind of God; yet it has both opportunity, office and blessing to present it faithfully. This is not less so in the field of translation than in that of exposition.
Another translation of particular interest in its field, is this in Ephesians. Neither the AV nor the NKJV are impressive here. The phrase of our interest, "throughout all ages, world without end" is NOT what it says, but it is what the AV has. It is an attempt which is more fluent in feeling than accurate in depiction in this case. It can readily given an impression that not merely can cater to this-world worldliness, holding on to it as to an eternal regime, which it assuredly is not (Isaiah 51:6, II Peter 3:10-13), but it does quietly introduce a word which is not there.
§'All phases of history here and hereafter'
is the meaning and anything, for the sake of common speech, putting it more concretely in terms of the world, changes the text and makes a person without he original vulnerable to misunderstanding.
It is a poor effort as translation, this time, on the part BOTH of the AV and NKJV: it is not so much false as inept. While a person reading II Peter 3 is in little danger, not all read it at once, and this is thus a weakness in translation. A query to a pastor, arising from this, could solve it, of course, or the educated reader might divine the point. But some might not and this translation leaves much to be desired accordingly.
Even the possibility of scholarly extensions of meaning of the term for "age", in no way reduces the direct meaning, its flavour and phrasing; and this rendering exposes those not versed in Greek to a real danger of mistaking the point. THAT is not the work of a good translation.
Idolatry of the AV or KJV is to be avoided : just as they do almost always supply sound DOCTRINE (and an exception in each case has been noted, and another in an area of fine precision is about to be in 14) below. Yet they are not to be made shibboleths. The word of God needs no shibboleths, just as theology needs no name+isms; and it is to be taken as it is. Testing all things and holding fast by faith, that is our aim. It is not aided by substituting subordinates for it, or subordinating it to any kind of convenience, traditional or other. Taking accurately what God gives, we shall not be disappointed. God has indeed kept His word in exactly the sense He specified; and it is available fully for testing, for taking, for doctrine and for truth.
HERE THEN IS A FURTHER VERIFICATION OF ITS TRUTH, THAT IT IS TRUE IN THIS PREDICTION ALSO.
33) It is all but amusing in a grave sort of way, to see heretics and those 'concerned' who may also at times not 'see' how some part fits, and who change some manuscript in antiquity, so creating some minor tradition of their own; and then to see how the vat mass of the text remains, both clear and challenging, at first, and penetrating and enlightening at last.
Thus in Matthew 28:9, the Westcott- Hort tradition omits "when they were going", but not so the vast majority of texts.
In fact, the verb for 'going' is in the imperfect tense, signifying a continuing or repetitious act or series of actions. Quite possibly, the sequence is this:
a) the women concerned all told the disciples in Luke 24:10-11, of the message that Christ was risen from the very dead (without any mention of the transcendentally important personal meeting with Christ being recorded there, because quite simply, they had not at that time seen Him in this way, but received report from the angels only).
b) Then, like Mary in fact (John 20), they went back, drifting perhaps and drawn irresistibly, pondering, wandering, attracted like moths to light, seeking more in the face of the disbelief of the disciples.
c) Christ then met Mary who perhaps because of her profound need, and sense of it, went back more quickly following the race of Peter and John (cf. John 20:11ff., Mark 16:9). She, truly concerned and deeply moved, addressed the One she thought to be the gardener, through her tears, the mist of eye compounded with the fog of heart, saying, "If you have carried Him from here, tell me where you have laid Him" - John 20:15.
d) Later, in the same vicinity, He meets the women, meandering back unsated with anything new to provide the disciples, and gives to them also, this direct confrontation and confirmation. They also held His feet, in worship (John , Matthew 28:9). Rising from the dead without even a prophet as intermediary was no small divulgement, like the transfiguration (Matthew 17, where the divine voice punctuated the divine light), unique in all recorded history; but in this case, it was also unique in fulfilling the unique prediction.
However, let us revert to the text itself. To depart from the overwhelming and vast attestation of the text as INCLUDING the words "as they were going" or "engaged in going" , is neither necessary, safe nor wise. Except there be overwhelmingly clear objective evidence of a transmission error, nothing can be done. It is the word of another. In this instance, the opposite is the case. This objective reality is always paramount, lest people become authors of what is then not the word of God, but the surmise of man. Subjective surmise has here no proper place, lest the word of man thrust itself into the mouth of God, who in His infinite wisdom, speaks what He will.
Incidentally, John 20:17 more literally has "cease clinging to me", a more informative translation, since this particular (present) imperative holds the concept of continuity. Hence its negation is a CESSATION of that which was continuing: i.e. a ceasing of clinging.
The case of Acts is of much interest. Here both the AV and the NKJV have an excess beyond what is written. Thus the latter has - "So all who dwelt at Lydda and 35) saw him and turned to the Lord" , while in the former we find, "And all that dwelt at Lydda, and in Sharon saw him, and turned to the Lord." Sharon
Oddly enough the Pulpit Commentary prefers the Revised Version (English) here, saying that the addition of "they" to make it, "they turned to the Lord" is better; but it proceeds to exegete it as if the REASON they turned was this healing. This may have been a significant feature; but the text does not say this either. These then are two sorts of translations, one too broad in extent, concerning the populations, and the other too restricted, in requiring the cause of turning to the Lord to reside in the healing.
does a fine job in precision, translating it, Berkeley
"And all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon, those who turned to the Lord, saw him."
This is almost a literal translation. The Greek has this, forgetting for the moment the Englishness of the translation (or otherwise!): "and all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him, those who turned to the Lord." It is a way of speaking that they have, that Luke in particular has, and it is found in a very similar way, and case, in Acts 13:48: "And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed."
This is an accurate translation, but if we take, again, the way it appears in Greek, for parallel purposes with 9:35, it has, in terms of word order AT THE POINT of our interest: "And hearing it, the Gentiles rejoiced, and glorified the word of the Lord, and believed as many as were appointed to life eternal life."
Thus first you get the ACTION: "they REJOICED", and "GLORIFIED" and "BELIEVED" - and then with a similar relative pronoun, we get the qualification as to precisely which category did these things, "AS MANY AS WERE ORDAINED". Thus Luke not only uses this limit, grammatically, but he does it again nearby in a similar limiting, adding the limit or qualification, AFTER noting what it was that happened.
This is not trivial, though of course it is not doctrine as such. It means that there were people in the two cities mentioned in Acts 9 who SAW the healing, and there were people were TURNED TO THE LORD, and the two categories were the same. Whether SOME HAD ALREADY believed (presumably, as Peter went to the Christians already there) who saw the healing in the Christian midst, and what proportion of the population of the 2 towns believed, we are not told.
A good translation is found as noted in
, but if we tried to make it sound more natural in English idiom, we might render it: Berkeley
§"And all those inhabiting Lydda and Sharon saw him -
those who turned to the Lord."
We often do this, and it simply means this - that no Christian did not see him as healed, in that place, and there is an emphasis on action "turned", which suggests it had a strong bearing on the faith of many, possibly leading to it in a number of cases. These are the inferences, the sentence in quotation marks, however, is what we are TOLD. It is wise to separate text from inference! Let it say what IT wills, while we think what we may, but separate our thoughts of appearances and possibilities from what is stated. Is this not what we like others to do to us; how much more do we do this when it is the Lord who provides the data!
52) Revelation 20:4 is an interesting case. BOTH the NKJV AND the AV do an inadequate work in translation here; though in this case, the NASV, The American Revised Version and the English Revised Versions do well. The NIV is all but unbelievable in its change of the text in this case, being even less accurate to the original than the AV and the NKJV. This therefore represents a case where NEITHER the AV nor the NKJV have an accurate readout; but two famous revisions do have it right; and this is most exceptional indeed. If it were not important, one could ignore it, but it has repercussions which make it worth while attending to it.
The case is this. The NASV rightly puts:
§"I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years."
However, the AV has "that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped"; while the NKJV has this: "who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands." In the English 'translation', this allows for a double condition for those present: that is, they BOTH had been beheaded and had not worshipped... They are a selection of the saints.
The Greek, however, has a participial phrase for the first set, "souls of those who had been beheaded" and then in the second reference, that is to the group "who had not worshipped", instead of a parallel participial phrase, it uses a finite verb and notes "and those who had not worshipped". It is not only a grammatical change, one which designates this group clearly and pointedly; it is a clear and simple assertion. These people were present.
Indeed, the verb for "saw" has three objects:
1) the thrones, near to it;
2) the souls as quoted above; and
3) those who did not do homage.
These are what he saw, ending in the "and" for the last one. The "souls" are further defined in terms of a genitive participial phrase "of the having been beheaded people". The third category is further detailed by a further clause, with a finite verb, indicating what they had not done. The selected grammatical architecture preserves clarity.
The term used relative to "had not worshipped", oitines, thus is "all those who". The plural of ostis, it represents a bald recital of a group in question, exhaustively. ALL THOSE WHO HAD NOT WORSHIPPED have something predicated of them. They were present entirely, as a group, at this time. That is? In other words, this is the first resurrection, that of those beheaded, just as also of those not worshipping the beast. They are ALL there. The bridesmaids who were asleep, certainly, are not there (Matthew 25); but those who were awake with hearts burning, they were ALL there. To the wedding they have gone (Revelation 19:8), to be clothed with the robes sparkling white with the washing of the blood of the Lamb (as defined in Revelation 1:5, 7:14), and their righteousnesses (as stated - see End-Note *2 in Section 1, pp. 161ff.) are both a donation and enveloping (cf. Appendix 4, The Biblical Workman).
puts this well re Matthew 22, where the parable of the wedding guest WITHOUT his proper clothes is told, and he is REMOVED to a dire fate. He indicates that the rejected guest had failed to use the grace provided, and had depended on his own presentability! Quite contrary is the covering and glory of the saints as declared in Isaiah 61:10, I will rejoice - nay! Berkeley
- "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels."
The imputed righteousness and all its glories, as perfected in and by Christ, untouched by the hand of man, cleaned with the holiness of eternity, covers the bride. It is a righteousness wanted, washed and worn, without trace of unacceptability because with no trace of human production. The savour of Christ, the satisfaction of Christ, His thrust and working in us both to will and to do: it is all there in its grand beauty, with no derivative of the flesh at all.
With Christ come ALL the saints (Zechariah 14:5) while He comes to be admired in all those who believe (II Thessalonians ), with Him as His own bride.
These then are they, who are noted in Revelation 20:4: there is no limitation. The categories are comprehensive. The entire course of the beast is before us; those dying in Rome’s first manifestation like those in later days. Now let us examine the category of those who had NOT done this homage to the beast, more thoroughly.
Who then has not so worshipped ? The beast as we see in Daniel, has multiple representatives, indeed beasts of a type are so homogeneous spiritually, that they are composed into one body in the symbolism of Daniel 2, while put in separate carnal convulsions and convolutions, in the beast parade of Daniel 7. The last beast, the fourth of Daniel 7 is as noted in SMR, the partly strong and partly broken Roman body that stretched from imperial Rome to Holy Roman Empire to later assortments, and it has its supportive dragon with lamb's clothing, and its 'female' adornment (Revelation 17:6). But where is the beginning of the thing ?
Moving back in Daniel's imagery, we find in Daniel 7, that the pictogram given him was an historical device to relay and relate to a series of imperial world dominions, and as also shown in SMR, and explicit in Daniel, these are shown from
on. We move then back to Babylon , the head of gold in Daniel 2. Babylon
however did not spring from nowhere. In its denunciation at great length and with that same magnificent sweep of historical power which we find from the lips of the Lord in the Bible, we find partly in Jeremiah 50-51 and partly in Isaiah 13, its own place in the scheme of things. Its lofty self-assurance, its failure to have any compunction in being used as a broom of the Lord to sweep out the dirt of Jerusalem and Judah, is linked to its partial namesake Babel, where this same disregard of divine things was no less apparent. Thus we read in Jeremiah 51:53-54: Babylon
were to ascend up to heaven, Babylon
And though she were to fortify the height of her strength,
Yet from Me plunderers would come to her," says the Lord.
The sound of a cry comes from
And great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans,
Because the Lord is plundering
And silencing her loud voice..."
Just as Babel was indeed to "ascend up to heaven" in its heedless and reckless haste to divine honours or power or survey or situation (Genesis 11), and the Lord engineered its destruction because of its vapid and rapid grasping for a greatness which did not and could not so belong to it, so its namesake covered many religions, basked in grandeur and did not bother about the transgression of revelation involved in its empire-building spiritual enterprises, as rash and brash as the current internationalising of religion which goes on apace in the UN, in the "international community" and in the hearts of many who, though they may inhabit churches, make so fast and loose with the Bible that they seem but a convenient way-station for building into the heavens themselves, from which pathetically some look in the mere created universe, for celestial messages!
The spirit of Babel and of Babylon is alive and as sick as ever, but strong in its throes for the time as predicted; and many have been those who have worshipped there throughout all history from the first; but those who have NOT so worshipped and have not taken such a mark, the whole company of the elect throughout history, "all the saints" (I Thessalonians 3:13, cf. Zechariah 14:5, Deuteronomy 33:2-3*2), they will be there, fresh from the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19), where as "his wife" (19:8) they have been regaled by His regality. The cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), which sums up the vast review of history in Hebrews 11, where the FAITH has been seen with arms and legs, at work, will indeed witness. (Cf. SMR p. 1031C, and SMR Index, '
the Great'.) Babylon
But let us ask this further question. What of those who at ANY time worshipped the beast? Would that be fatal, unrepentable? Whether or not a worship of the beast is deemed to be (and therefore is) fatal, that is to say, an element in the unforgivable sin, or whether the concept is the normal one that sins repented of are dismissed (and that this could be repented of) is not stated.
However in the absence of anything to the point here, it would seem invasive to assume there is a special case here when it is not mentioned. Presumably therefore, it is as in Ezekiel 18:21. If someone heeds the warning of the watchmen, though he were appointed to very death, if he repents and turns, he is forgiven, and this sin will not be remembered. As both Old and New Testaments put it, "I will remember their sins no more", or as Micah says, "You will cast their sins into the depths of the sea".
In fact, of course, this is a universal statement for this world, it is a principle plenipotentiary. However, WOULD any such person repent? We do not know. There is no assurance that this is an exceptional, once-gone-never-repent case.
What is quite certain is this: those not so engaged are present. This is quite simply the assemblage of the
present in the millenium. It is not some special paratroop corps only. The book of Revelation is not a development of difference here, but provides expression in most salient and solemn terms sufficient to arouse the due circumspection of dabblers in the depths of the follies of this earth as its rigor mortis sets in, at the last days, now coming upon us like a mist from the sea. churchof Jesus Christ
On Rev. 20:4 see also Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ Ch. 10,*2, which deals further with the topic.
21) Isaiah 64:4 is of great interest, the more since 64:5 is stated to have occasioned immense difficulty in interpretation. Obviously, how 64:4 is rendered will greatly affect the flow and sense of sequence to 64:5. What meets this need, if solving any puzzle, hence would be commendable for rigorous care.
In this case, there has been a considerable addition in the material given, to that first appearing in The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 9.
a) THE THEMATIC ASPECT
The AV renders Isaiah 64:4 like this: "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him." Certainly, 16th century English does not help. Why should it! Using former usages does not aid modern problems.
However, let us pass on from this. The beauty, dignity, perception often involved in the AV are genuine arguments for its high place in the arena of translations; its facility in our speech at the contemporary level, quite naturally and indeed necessarily, is not. But there is more here, much more. In this instance, it appears to be giving a quite indefensible translation. Before we consider this, let us note some other renderings of this verse. Thus the NASB has (to take the main area of divergence only): "neither has eye seen a God besides Thee, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him." Delitzsch in his magnificent and famed commentary set, has this here: " a God beside Thee," and proceeds to the point of His action "on behalf of him that waiteth for Him."
version: "seen a God besides Thee who works for him who waits for Him." Berkeley
E.J. Young in his immense Isaiah commentary: "a God beside thee, he doeth to the one waiting for him." This gives, he states, in v.4 a reason for what was stated earlier in verse 3: thus God is in v.3 stated to have DONE wonderful, astonishing things for Israel in past times, and the principle is now enunciated: He DOES (acts) for the one who waits for Him. He is not an illusory, philosophical, clairvoyant's muse type of God. He acts. He has power. He used it before. He still does. THESE, the 'waiting' for HIM, are conditions (cf. Hebrews 11:6).
While the sense in all these is much the same, it is fascinating in the context to consider the very literal translation: "seen GOD, besides Thee. He acts for the one who waits for Him." The last clause is from a participle, "the one who waits for Him", and the thrust preceding, 'GOD', is dropped into the scene like a vast, awesome wonder. Here is the ONLY ONE WHO as GOD is there; the rest are NOT GOD (Deuteronomy 32:17,18,21). The last has this: "They moved Me to anger with that which is NOT GOD" (last caps. added). Besides HIM, nothing intelligible, real at all. It is this God who IS, the I AM, who ACTS (being able) for those who wait.
Attention has been drawn to Deuteronomy 29:2 and Joshua 23:3 where quite the same emphasis is being made. Moses recapitulating, says to the people,
"You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the
to Pharaoh, and to all his servants and to all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen..." landof Egypt
Here, it could readily have been part of this very address in Isaiah, so close is the wording, the concept, the emphasis! It is a case of what the Lord DID, and indeed did BEFORE YOUR EYES, and further, the things which YOUR EYES HAVE SEEN. This moreover fits with the recurring emphasis in Isaiah 41-48, that God is the One who DOES IT, fulfils it, makes it happen, whether in general, as in Ch.48, or in particular, as for Cyrus the coming deliverer for the Jews, who would send them home from Babylon. (We shall emphasise the point below.)
In the latter case, that of Joshua, we find:
"And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you: for the Lord your God is he who has fought for you."
Again there is the relevant action, the rescuing action, the notable action.
This is a frequent theme.
In Psalm 78 it is the same; and there too, you see the additional challenge. THEY despite all this have sinned and provoked the Lord, in the very face of such repeated and marvellous ACTIONS, wonders, things DONE!
In Joshua 23:14, we read a further strand in this theme:
"... not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all have come to pass to you, and not one thing has failed..."
GOD reveals Himself as He will! The NOT-GOD crew are wholly deficient in evidence; God abounds in it.
b) THE GRAMMATICAL ASPECT
The AV adds here. It provides what the text does not state. The word 'what' is added. Hence and hence only, they get the ... rendering, 'WHAT HE HAS PREPARED'. It is however the translators who have prepared that word 'what'.
To add a word, however, when the sense is both clear and straightforward, the sequence cogent, is indefensible. That way, anything can be made ambiguous, and things can be manufactured, rather than translated.
Poetry may require understanding that perceives words which are omitted from a necessary intended sense, for stylistic reasons; or dropped out because of the constraints of metre, etc., so that the alert reader, seeing there is no way of AVOIDING addition, is willing to see the implicit point and put it in.
However this is a part of the words of God which are 'all clear to him who understands', as Proverbs 8 expressly states. It is not a matter of strange oracles for powerful prophets to make sense of some way or other, to their own personal and highly individual satisfaction. It is intrinsically clear, not crabbed, contrived.
That is the point: the word at times be difficult, challenging, profound indeed, and what more natural when it is God who speaks: but clear? THAT is another question. The word before us is eminently clear, and unless some reader fashions on the mistaken idea that you can treat a clear statement as having optional extras which would profoundly change an already clear meaning, clear it stays.
The additional mode here would be to interpret the word of God contrary to its own claims and constraints, and for anyone, would be playing somewhat fast and loose with the words actually given. In other words, when what is present is both exceedingly clear and impressively direct, and flowing like one stream with other scripture and context, to add to this is to put the words of God into the hands of men - never a wise procedure, and NOT a divinely PERMITTED PROCEDURE.
Verse 5 in this passage of Isaiah 64, at once keeps to the exact sequence given. God acts (verse 4), and God meets (v.5 - one form of ACTING, not being mere dream or thought or ideal or inclination, but personal, powerful and active in our affairs - in certain specified WAYS, as is the case in all the other contexts noted!). Whom does He meet ? The text tells us of 64:5:
"He has met the one who rejoices and works righteousness" - indeed, "those who remember Him in His ways".
What could be more straightforward, cogent, elicitive, impactive!
"You have met the one who rejoices and works righteousness,
those who remember You in Your ways"
GOD HAS ACTED in spectacular fashion in the days of Moses and Pharaoh, for the people. More generally, GOD ACTS for those who wait for Him. So far, that is the thrust or movement in verses 3 and 4, respectively. Indeed, GOD acts in a
SPECIAL WAYfor those who wait for Him, at the now individual level. After all (verses 5b-7), there is a massive movement AWAY from God before us in the context, so that God is acting differentially towards those who in fact WAIT for Him.
What is this special way noted so boldly in verse 5: "Thou meetest him who rejoices and works righteousness" - not merely some homogenised 'righteousness' but the sort which arises in those who remember Him in His ways, His words, His witness, His past dealings. Why however this: 'rejoices'? That is indeed a question for our own generation set so firmly in so many sad ways of degeneration (see "Generation of the Dispossessed" - Appendix 1, Barbs, Arrows and Balms). Literally, here, it is "hast met" or "You have met" and despite idiomatic considerations, it seems best to retain this; but to do so with some thought.
Thus, what precedes is this , "He acts for the one who waits for Him," and we then have "You have met him who rejoices ..." and then literally proceeds, "In Your ways they (will) remember You" or "remember You" (either tense is here possible). It appears always best to be as sensitive as the bounds of comprehensible language in the language into which one translates, to the original. It can, and here it seems, does make a difference to the depth of understanding. Thus here, we could render much as Young does, with a little less literalness but a little more flexibility to the style of our language, together with some effort to be even closer to the text. In the last statement, effort is however made to relate more intimately in rendering the context :
§ "And from eternity, they have not heard, they have not given ear,
nor has eye seen a God beside You, who works for the one who waits for Him.
"You have met with the one rejoicing and executing righteousness.
In Your ways they remember You.
"Look, You have been wrathful, and we have sinned: in those ways is eternity, and we shall be saved."
Thus then we have for Isaiah 64:4-5.
It is needful also to note that there is no "who" or "those who" in the text, between the waiting and the rejoicing. Hence the new sentence as in Young's rendering: "In their ways, they remember You". This then becomes not an added feature of those who He has met, but a characteristic to be found in them. It is not so much causative as consequential in concept: like a shimmer of perfume found in flowers given recognition in some show, which is to be found them, although this was not a criterion.
It would be very difficult to be lithely comprehensible, it seems, in our language, and yet faithful to the original, than this translation above given; and when you do act in this way, there is gain. Thus now we see that there is a CHARACTERISTIC in God's relationship to man. He WORKS for the one who waits for Him. This is not now or then, but BOTH! It is what happens, it is - How He acts! This being so, there is reference to the KNOWN, that is, to times past when it is all clear from what was said by the Lord and by what He did, and their correlation giving magnificent scope for a correct understanding.
Thus "You HAVE met" is most meaningful and intimate to the context, and ... what is there! Next, we revert to the present, because although the past has been summoned in order that we might reflect, as so often in the Psalms (e.g. 78, 106) on what actually happened, it is IN ORDER to relate to the initial statement of the way God acts to man in GENERAL. Hence we quickly revert to the present ... "they REMEMBER you" in their ways. These are the ones to whom He is acting, acting for them as they wait for Him. It is the generic, the way things are, now OR then!
Next, the prophet is moved to summon reflection on their own particular status quo - "we have sinned", and this, in all humility, all races and people at all times since Adam, can adhere to: it is the case. It is useless, as I John 1 points out, to deceive yourself: ALL have sinned, as Paul too notes in Romans 6:23. There is therefore here room for empathy which increases the sense of universality which pervades these verses, even though this universality is APPLIED to Israel at that time.
We now look at the basic contrast in the verses. There are those who WAIT and REJOICE IN HIS WAYS, and these of course as we see in Habakkuk 3:6, "His ways are everlasting", are of His own unique kind. Thus we read concerning those who have so rejoiced and so remembered Him in HIS ways: "In them is eternity" and then "and we shall be saved." Lest any forget in the intense inter-relationships here, what "them" here means, it seems best to repeat the point which is eternal, from the above context, namely "His ways", in correlation with other scripture, and so we come to the translation above given.
As may be seen simply from the above, the "You met" is seen in the total movement of the words in 64:4-5, by no means to evacuate the present, but to reinforce it FROM the past, in terms of the general characteristics provided, for the Lord. Indeed, in those ways is ETERNITY! There is nothing limited in time when this is the way!From first to last, it is the continuity which is question, the disruption being the special prerogative of sin, which interferes like static, like sand in machinery, with the normative, and has its own reward. Thus God acts, now or then.
It is not indeed a real question for the practising Christian, who not only sees this eternity of kind, in the ways of the Lord, but sees the manifest Saviour in the definitive declarations.
Christ told us in John 16 we find, that our joy should be full, that we should ask and obtain, and Peter in I Peter 1 tells of joy unspeakable and full of glory, while I Peter 4:13-14 tells of a transcendent joy as the spirit of God and glory rests on the persecuted servant of the Lord, and one has experienced just this. It is so. It is all the case, in life, just as it is prescribed in the word of God. As He says, so HE DOES! And there, that is the continual emphasis here. THIS too is something that HE DOES. It is HIS JOY - "that My joy may remain in you", Christ declared (John -24; ).
However, it is here literally, "You met him who rejoices and works". This is the norm of the past, the principle which is contrasted with the contemporary, sad scene as depicted by the prophet.
Of vast interest is this point: it is the
GOD WHO ACTS ON BEHALF OF THOSE WHO WAIT,
and who in particular, has
with those who ACT, or WORK RIGHTEOUSNESS.
This is where E.J. Young's rather awkward sounding rendering has real merit. He says 'DOES': God DOES and the one who DOES righteousness, with the whole will of God and word in his heart -
here consider John 15:7,
"If My words abide in you, and you abide in Me,
you shall ask what you will, and it will be done to you" -
is seen in a refreshing rejoicing. Compare John 14:21-23!
Hear again from the text just given: "DONE" to you. GOD is the GOD WHO ACTS, and those who expect and wait and abide will find it so, not in some mere principled fashion (though God does not change and is faithful to the uttermost part), but in a way which IN ADDITION, has the personal splendour of His joy-creating presence. If a great painting has produced delight in the artistic, what does THE GREAT GOD produce in the one WHOM HE MEETS, did meet, does meet, and will meet when the faith and abiding is present!
NONE is present, there is none "BESIDES THEE" who is GOD! That is one of the basic thrusts throughout Isaiah, as for example in Isaiah 40:21-26, 41:21-24-42:6, 42:8, 43:11-13, 44:6-8, 44:24, 45:5, cf. 46:10. Indeed a very close parallel to what is in Isaiah 64:4 is 45:5: “I am the LORD and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded you, though you have not known me.” That is to Cyrus, whereas in Isaiah 64:4 we move to the domain of those who remember Him in His ways, by contrast, and rejoice! Yet the designation of who God is, this is quite parallel.
A God beside Him ? Such is not to be met, it has never been found, from eternity to eternity (as in Psalm 90:1-2): HE ALONE is God. It is HIS WAYS which are everlasting and HENCE NONE has ever found, ear has not heard, nor eye seen, any besides Him, no, no deity, for they lack, eternity does not know them, nor does temporality find them. From eternity this is the empirical fact; it is in eternity that the reason lies, for HIS ways are everlasting. This is their unique nature, their sovereign disposition: on earth they resound, in heaven abound.
There is none else, and over eternity other 'gods' are vainly sought, or their base equivalents, which have not the benefit of existence! It is precisely there that 'nothing' lies: for there is NO OTHER GOD, for all else vaunted here is in the realm of NOT-GOD (as in Deuteronomy 32:17) where the name alone, like a distant scene painted, but having no reality, with only the inscription without so much as the colour or item, is viewed in some fusty gallery.
There, in the NOT-GOD realm, is the domain of imaginative corruption, intellectual corrosion, ideational dispersion, ontological vacancy and human asininity. This makes ruin to the lungs from smoking cigarettes, like sheer wisdom by comparison: for that is NOT AIR which corrodes the lung tissue, but this is NOT GOD which by its sheer vacancy, kills the lungs of the spirit, gives exit to life and entry to damnation, that final disposition of the dynamics of inherent folly.
Such is the glorious impact of the inspired text, and grievous is failure to reproduce it. Unhappily, it is not clear in the AV that this is so. NOWHERE EVER is there found but HERE in Him who is the Lord, the God who acts for those who wait for Him, the event creating God, the God of power and compassion, accessibility and reality. Sin separates from this bountiful and blessing God, but His ways are eternal, the text goes on to say: in HIM we shall be saved, says the voice of faith to the certainties of the only God, a God who is God indeed, with name, fame and power alike, joined with concern and reliability.
A God besides Him ? eternity has not heard, time is mute to the point, action is denied. There is none such: but the One who is heard, is seen to work, HE it is who is the GOD WHO ACTS. Like GOD WHO PROVIDES, in Genesis 22:13, Jehovah-jireh, this is GOD WHO ACTS, a revelation of His nature, that He not only has a sole place as God, but such a place as this! He acts of course AT HIS WILL (I John 5:14-15), and withholds at His discretion (as in Isaiah 32:14ff., Hosea 5:14-15); but not arbitrarily. If indeed we abide in Him and His words in us, Christ explains (John 15:7), "you shall ask what you will, and it will be done to you."
Such is the wonder of this classic, impactive and precious text.
The rendering of the AV may have been intended consciously or more probably unconsciously, to reflect the wording of the reference in I Corinthians 2, where Paul touches on this passage in Isaiah; but Paul is not limited to one passage, any more than we are, when he refers to the scriptures: they are ALL WRITTEN! Psalm 31:19 has much of the other element, with Psalm and especially ; with Isaiah 65:16-17. Penetrating to much, and distilling in his inspiration, the apostle brings out the relevant feature with all its multi-faceted wonder.
It is unfortunate that the AV is in this case inferior to the accurate rendering procedures; but this unusual lapse in that version helps people not to idolize it! It is so often very dependable, and in general is almost a monument to integrity; but we cannot rest on others, or idolatrise what is outstanding: for it is ONLY ON THE LORD that one must rest. It is always to HIS word as it is, not as some have in their labours, marvellous or otherwise in general, presented it. Constant vigilance is part of the glory of being free in Christ, testing all things by HIS word, which is as HE gave it, not as some have rendered it. Traditions of men can come in doctrine, in dogmas about this or that, invented from the air. It is the word and will of God Himself which is without comparison, and it is this fact which must motivate all translation, neither novel for personal glory, nor hoary with tradition, because of the fear of man, or laziness.
We must collect all we can from every source and be glad of all that the Lord over time has done for His people, without idolizing theologian or translator or any other thing (cf. I Cor. 3:3ff., and 3:21-22, and the camp mentality - see Repent or Perish, Ch.1, Endnote1). Let us be thankful for the CARE of the AV and the scope of the whole, and yet acknowledge that, not only from our barracked-for team, we must be prepared to learn, but from other translation sites, where the word of the Lord is actually honoured. At times, too, some phase of a translation is marred; but not all.
A Double Addendum
32) Next, Matthew 11:27 is of much interest. Here the AV has of the Son, concerning those to whom He will reveal Himself, this: "he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Himself". This is inaccurate, quite simply. It is in fact:
§"he to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Himself" - as in the NKJV.
The Greek verb added (there are two in action here) signifies this action of Christ's will, His disposition to determine or decide or resolve, and it is much more than a simple expression of the future tense, which is all that appears expressly in the AV in this case!
This is another case showing the folly of idolatry, or even obsessive disregard or neglect of what the Lord has done outside the admittedly excellent KJV. It is quite wrong to neglect these workings of His body (cf. Ephesians 2:20ff., ). This, His body, is MADE with a view to interaction, and scholarship is simply one way of assisting this over time, including the past in review of translations, and proceeding onwards. It is no part of purity to adopt a translation in a blindfolded fashion, though it is true there has been much and even gross provocation in the form of the use of indefensible theories concerning manuscripts, to limit the word of God, divorcing it from its own eloquent and elegant preservation testimony.
Let us however return to dwell for a further moment on Matthew 11:27 and what the actual text, now exposed, has for us to learn when the "wills" is added, as found in the Greek.
It brings to light that the Son is not some sort of quasi-mechanical device with no personality, who simply implements like a CEO. His relationship to the Father is far more profound than that. It is quite true that as the word, He is the One sent, from the speaker, if you will, the One who speaks. It is equally accurate that He spoke as His Father commanded (John -50). It is however also true that He is in delighted (Psalm 40:1ff.) correlation with His Father, is heard by His Father (John -42), has upon Him "the Spirit of counsel and might" (Isaiah 11:2), and that in Him is "all the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form" (Col. 2:9).
The concerted collaboration of Son and Father, especially in the glory before this world was (John 17:1ff.) was such then that there was no smallest question of Christ's character and love being at all shortcircuited, cramped, crimped or pinched. What HE was on earth, He was before it, in heart and mind, only the FORM (Philippians 2) having become lowly, and subject to explicit direction in a vulnerable setting.
Hence as shown in Predestination and Freewill, it is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of deity, to imagine that the Christ who as on earth, was absent in the predestinative activities of the deity, or that His principles and perceptions, His values or His character were mutative: for as to God, in Him there is no shadow of turning or variation (James 1:17), and He, Christ is God (John 20:28, 8:58, Philippians 2:6). It is no question of sovereignty dictating away, and the sovereign putting a stamp on it. HE IS THE SOVEREIGN: GOD is not under sovereignty, but sovereignty is under God: it is HIS, and expresses HIMSELF. The FATHER is precisely mirrored in His Son, and the SON precisely mirrors His Father and it is from both that the SPIRIT comes (John 15:26), who shows forth the Son, and through whom is given the word of God (II Peter 1:19-21, Acts 4:25, Isaiah 34:16), which we have preserved for us, as is preserved likewise the soul of each, by His grace, when we know Him!
Fully inscribed in predestination is the reality of the Christ who showed the Father in His own Person (John 14): fear of it is as foolish as is fear of Christ not receiving one who in faith comes to Him. These things we know from the Bible as shown in Predestination and Freewill; but Matthew 11:27 helps us to recognise them perhaps even more clearly.
The close inter-relation of the text of the Bible, each part with each, is one of its most arresting phenomena. It is by no means exaggerating to assert that it is like the integration of arms and legs. They, while very different to be sure, are of such a close integral inter-relationship, that it is PART OF THEIR FUNCTION to act together in the midst of their specific specialisations, as one whole, or part of one whole, each other member contributing, all individual, all correlated in a triumph of motion.
Thus, a more sensitive document in this respect, than the Bible, it would be difficult to imagine. Its themes, predictions, chaste turn of exact language and enormous directness that never fears to shock or affront mere formalism, or to the godly, to comfort and caress the spirit and challenge the heart, are so deep and comprehensive yet they ring true to each other over the 15 centuries or so chosen for the release of all these compositions from the Almighty; and this is so, from whatever "culture" the inspired writers came (Moses from Egypt, imbued with its learning, Daniel in Babylon, living deep in the heart of its administrations).
Here the text is filling in, there widening detail like some computer pictures, as they growingly appear on the screen, faithful to the original, but gaining in its coverage as we wait, appear with intriguing wholeness before the eyes. In all this, the Bible reminds one precisely of that paragon and perfection of all expression on earth, from heaven, Jesus Christ the righteous in His diction, fearless, frank, tender, triumphant, sharp, insuppressible, indefeasible, direct and able both to do surgery through speech and provide solace to the uttermost depths.
Awareness of this
composure and of all the details of the revelatory procedure is necessary in any
translator, just as memory is necessary in reading love letters - or legal
documents for that matter. Good translations have this as one of their criteria,
that the translator with a whole different array of words and connotations to
choose from, and in the case of English, an enormously expanded one (some
million or so, it is reported), chooses with erudite skill and deft reach.
Deuteronomy 33:2-3 gives a vitally interesting background to "all His saints", with whom Christ comes as shown in I Thessalonians 3:13, for what this phrase signifies in translation, in concept. The references in Revelation 19, where the saints are first shown arrayed as the bride in the costume which is precisely that of those who, after the marriage feast in heaven, accompany Christ, as He returns in triumph to the earth, have the significance of symbolic consistency: His raptured and received people are those who are His company.
In Zechariah 14:5 similarly we see Him come to earth with all His saints, while in Deuteronomy 33:2-3 we see a reference to His coming with ten thousands of saints, and immediately afterwards, a designation of "all His saints", which are so much the redeemed, as to be seen in this context:
"Yes, He loves
All His saints are in Your hand:
They sit down at Your feet:
Everyone receives Your words.
Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation..."
This is in precise accord and indeed striking accord with John 17 where the unity of the brethren is so INTENSELY and IMMENSELY desired, that the world might believe, and see that Christ was indeed sent from heaven, and that God has loved them as He loved His own eternal Word, incarnate as Christ (John 17:21-23,1-3, 1:1-4, 5:19-23). This impactive parallel is the more obvious in this, that those concerned, in John 17, are a limited selection compared with the large number of nominal Christians, being in fact those of whom this may be said: "I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me" - John 17:8, and this: "the glory which You gave Me I have given them", with this great resultant desired, "that they may be one just as we are" - John 17:22.
Comparing this with Deuteronomy 33 above, we see Christ as the greater than Moses, the One of "more glory than Moses" since "He who built the house has more glory than the house" and He who built the house is God, while Christ has the place of "a Son over His own house, whose house we are", who are His. In this Christ is fulfilling His decisive role as acme and ruler, as designated in Deuteronomy 18, being He for whom the Jewish people looked, wondering if Christ were "that prophet": though indeed many did not receive Him when He came. Indeed, they are those of whom this may be said:
Hence those who accompany Christ as He comes in judgment to the earth, "all His saints", are converted, regenerated people having a spirit of oneness on the basis of a written word which is wholly endorsed, received, a Lord who is truly acknowledged as deity and indwells them, whose word rules (Matthew 28:20, 5:17-19) so that they not only believe it, but in obedience to Him, teach ALL that He has commanded, or forward the work of those who do. It is not just believing the book 'cover to cover', but what is in it: accepting its teaching.
While we must therefore seek unity with "all His saints", we must never make THEIR words a criterion, but HIS; and when, through deficiency of understanding, one is less aware than another of the meaning of His word, provided it is not gross and clear rebellion against what is written, a unity of heart can and should still be manifest beyond the imperfections of comprehension. Sometimes in this way, both learn! Nevertheless, where there is rebellion against the teachings of the Lord, there can in this case be no organic unity (see The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch.7).
'ALL HIS SAINTS' then both literally as to the people in view, in their integrity, and the primary background in Deuteronomy, include those who are called in Christ, who sit as His feet, receive His words, to whom He has imparted His Spirit (cf. Romans 8:6-9).