Servants' News

May/June 2001

Rightly Distributing
Word of Truth

by Rabon Vincent

 Why does the HSV (Holy Scriptures Version) use the word “distributing” where the KJV uses the word “dividing” in 2Tim 2:15?

Many translations translate the Greek word orthotomeo (Strong’s Concordance # 3718) to the English phrase “rightly dividing”. While appropriate and technically accurate, it does not give a sense of the use of this Greek phrase. Occurring only once in the Bible, it comes from the root words tomoteros (Strong’s # 5114) and
orthos (Strong’s # 3717). The word tomoteros means to cut sharply and cleanly with a single stroke as opposed to hacking off uneven bits here and there. The word orthos means upright, straight, level or even. The phrase orthotomeo would then be literally translated as “evenly cutting”. However, the use of this phrase here seems to imply an apportionment of “the word of truth” because the following verse, which is a continuance of the same thought, says to “shun profane and vain babblings”. This verse and verse 14, which precedes the phrase, clearly show that what the author is referring to is what has been coming out of the mouths of those who teach.

To use the phrase as it would more likely occur in everyday speech, one needs only picture a guest at a dinner table who might be hoping that the pot roast be “evenly divided” to see that what he really intends by the phrase is “evenly distributed”. Furthermore, by looking at the only Biblical use of the word tomoteros, which is found in Heb. 4:12, it can be seen that this word is also used to show a “separating for distribution” like the body from the spirit (cf. Eccl 12:7).


Why does the HSV sometimes translate the Greek word daimonion as “devils” (i.e. Matt. 10:8) and other times as “demons” (i.e. Matt. 12:24)?

This was an oversight of the first edition. The original intent was to translate the Greek words daimonion (Strong’s # 1140) and diabolos (Strong’s # 1228) demon(s) and devil, respectively. The English word demon is derived from the Greek word daimon (Strong’s # 1142) and, since the modern word conveys an identical meaning, it is appropriate to use the modern derivative. The next edition of the HSV should have these Greek words translated more appropriately.


In the end of the Sabbath?

Letter: Matthew 28:1, KJV, states: “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”

The Church of God (Seventh Day) literature teaches that “dawn” really means sunset on the Sabbath. I never really liked that explanation. Ralph Woodrow, who no longer believes in three days and three nights (4th day sundown to Sabbath sundown), has written that to solve the problem of “in the end of the Sabbath” and “dawn”, “in the end of the Sabbath” should be placed at the end of Matt 27:66. Thus, setting the watch would occur in the end of the High Day Sabbath (Thursday), and the tomb visit would be Sunday morning. This seems to be correct to me, in that it also solves the number of tomb visits question, but unlike Woodrow, I believe it does no harm to the “3 days and 3 nights position”.

Paul Adams

Response: The first edition of the HSV followed the KJV with the reading: “In the end of the Sabbath”. Nevertheless, after more thorough research (and just days before receiving your letter) the HSV has been revised to read: “And after the Sabbath”. Future printings of the HSV will reflect this revision. The Greek words that the KJV renders as “In the end of” are de (Strong’s # 1161) and opse (Strong’s # 3796). Matthew 28:1 is the only verse in which they occur together. The Greek word de is a primary participle meaning “but”, “and” or “also”, while opse is from the similar (and more common) opiso, which is translated in the KJV as “after” (22 times), “back” (seven times), “behind” (six times) and “follow” (once). These words and their compounds seem to always be referring to “following” or “coming after”. Therefore, it is appropriate (and fitting with Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1 and John 20:1) to translate these Greek words as “and after”.

As to your reference to Ralph Woodrow, I am not acquainted with him. However, this is not the first time that I have heard of people who believe that Christ’s references to “three days and three nights” somehow do not mean he was in the grave for 72 hours.

One argument suggests that what Jesus meant by “in the heart of the earth” was Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus meant that He would be in Jerusalem three days and three nights from the time of His riding the burro (Luke 19:35–37) until His resurrection. What this argument fails to take into account is that our Savior said: “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the great fish’s belly…” This is a very important reference because one needs only to look at Jonah 2:2 to see that Jonah considered the belly of the fish to be a grave (“hell” comes from the Greek sheol meaning “grave”). It most certainly would have been his grave if he hadn’t repented! I doubt that anyone would try to say that Christ was unaware of, or had forgotten this verse.

I hope this answers your concerns regarding this verse. Thank you for your important observations.


Romans 3:27 Correction

Letter: I thank you greatly for the HSV, which I received a couple of days ago. I have had a chance now to flick through it. I like the layout (i.e. six columns facing you at once) and I think this will facilitate easier referencing, should this be similar to any new revisions. Flicking through Romans, I noticed 3:27 where the reader must be confused that “glorification is excluded by belief in the law”.

Anyway, I thank you and if I can help further, please write.

— Paul Pells

Response: You have made an excellent point regarding Romans 3:27 and after further review of this passage it has been corrected to read: “by the law of faith”.

While the Greek word nomos does occur in the passage, the first edition of the HSV mistakenly rearranged the word order to a reading that was questionable. I thank you very much for your careful observation. Future editions of the HSV will reflect this correction. — R.V.


Hebrews 10:34, “Synagogue” in James 2:2

Letter: Hebrews 10:34 appears to have a manuscript issue because the KJV and related versions say “my chains”. The ASV, RSV, Darby and Latin Vulgate have “those in chains”. The Byzantine text has an extra Greek word for “my” here and others do not. It makes more sense that the people had their goods confiscated for having compassion on a variety of those in prison, not just the writer of Hebrews. If you do not want to change the HSV reading, you should at least note this as an alternate reading.

Also, I think I mentioned this before, but the KJV & HSV have “assembly” in James 2:2 where the Greek reads sunagoge, which is everywhere else rendered “synagogue”.

— Norm Edwards

Response: Excellent points. After further review, I have noted the alternate reading for Heb 10:34 in the Notes and Commentary and corrected the HSV to read “synagogue” in James 2:2.


Acts 8:37 Is Probably a Later Addition

Letter: Based on the preponderance of evidence, I would have to agree with Philip Comfort that Acts 8:37 was not in the original [text]. It is not in the majority text and it is not in Scholz or Aland/Black.

— Wily Elder

Response: Aye, there’s the rub! This is probably the most difficult area to deal with in translating/version work. When some texts have a large block of text that others don’t, what do you do? I try to look at whether it was more probable that it was intentionally left out of some of the texts or intentionally inserted into some of texts. Is there a stronger motive for inserting or deleting this verse?

It appears to me that the doctrine of baptizing infants (who can neither believe nor repent) is brought into serious question by this and other verses (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 8:13, Acts 18:8, Acts 19:4–5). Where there are other verses that concur and there are other ancient texts that have the same reading and there is no conflict with other scriptures, I tend to accept the RT.

Finally, the verse is logical because it answers the question set forth in verse 36, which otherwise would be answered only by the actions of verse 38.

For all of these reasons, I have left the verse in the HSV but will note the alternate reading in the Notes and Commentary. — R.V.

Ask Your Help

Please send concise descriptions of potential translation improvements that you have studied to Rabon Vincent Jr, 324 E Albion St, Avilla, Indiana 46710-9434; e-mail: Please understand that whatever you send may be edited and printed in this column and/or the Holy Scriptures Commentary. We cannot be responsible for returning manuscripts.

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