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"Insights" from the New Testament Greek

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7. Insights Derived from the Greek Verbs "is" or "was"

By Bob Jones, Northside Bible Church, Jacksonville Florida


When two nouns are connected by a verb "to be", the English sounds as though the two nouns are equal, but the absence of the article ("anarthrous noun") and presence of the article ("articular noun") indicates whether the two nouns are equal, or whether the second noun is a further discription of the first. Examples:

John 1:1, the statement "In the beginning was THE Word, and THE Word was with THE God, and THE Word was God" requires attention to the articles to determine if there are two equal gods here, or if it indicates that "the Word was divine", or "had the nature of God". Of course, the presence of the article with "Word" and absence of the article with "God" means the Word possesses Deity. When Theos (God) HAS the article, (articular), it refers to the person of Almighty God. When Theos DOES NOT have the article, (anarthrous), it refers to the divine character or essence of God. John 1:1, in it's context, is a statement of the Deity of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Jn 4:8, "Ho Theos agape estin" is translated in the KJV as "God is love". "Ho Theos" here is ARTICULAR, indicating that the noun "theos" is the one God of the Bible, but, the ABSENCE of the article immediately preceding "agape" makes "agape" an ANARTHROUS noun, indicating that agape is a "quality" of God. If agape HAD the article and matching case, the statement would mean that God EQUALS love, but love is here stated to be one of the QUALITIES of Godís character.

The EQUAL STATEMENT: When two ARTICULAR NOUNS are connected by "estin" (is) and they agree in case, number and gender, the two nouns are being said to be EQUAL. Example:

In 1 Jn 3:4, "hay hamartia estin hay anomia" is translated in the KJV as "sin is the transgression of the law". Here, in the Greek, the two agreeing articular nouns and the present tense indicative mood of the verb, mean that John is defining what he means by "hamartia" in his epistles as "continual lawlessness". For Johnís purpose, every time he says "hamartia" (normally means "to miss the mark"), in his epistles, it EQUALS "continual lawlessness" (not just simply disobeying the Old Testament Law).

1 Jn 3:9, John's use of the two equal articular nouns in 1 John 3:4 above becomes even more important, when in verse 9, it appears that the child of God is incapable of sinning! 1 Jn 3:9 in the KJV says "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God". BUT, 1 Jn 3:9 in the Greek says "Everyone that has been permanently born out from the source of the God is not continually practicing lawlessness, because His seed (God's seed, or "spiritual DNA") abides in him and he is incapable of continually practicing lawlessness, because he has been permanently born out from the source of the God." (God will either straighten him out, or take him home early.)

Bob Jones