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Acts 10:36

Iver Larsen » September 7th, 2013, 12:29 am

In another forum we have been discussing the awkward grammar of Acts 10:36 and its likely Aramaic background. I have a couple of questions about the text from verses 34-36:34 Ἀνοίξας δὲ Πέτρος τὸ στόμα εἶπεν, Ἐπ᾽ ἀληθείας καταλαμβάνομαι ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης ὁ θεός, 35 ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ ἔθνει ὁ φοβούμενος αὐτὸν καὶ ἐργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστιν. 36 τὸν λόγον [ὃν] ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ εὐαγγελιζόμενος εἰρήνην διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος.

1. Why is τὸν λόγον accusative?
2. What does τὸν λόγον refer to? Does it point backwards or forward?
3. What does οὗτός refer to? Would it be Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ in the previous sentence or the subject of ἀπέστειλεν which is carried over from ὁ θεός in v. 34?
4. Someone suggested that οὗτός refers back to τὸν λόγον and therefore τὸν λόγον should be personified as in John 1:1. Is that a reasonable idea?

RandallButh » September 7th, 2013, 1:50 am

36 τὸν λόγον [ὃν] ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ εὐαγγελιζόμενος εἰρήνην διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος.

Well, for starters, I need to ask why NT scholarship still starts from an assumption that Semitic influence is Aramaic? Perhaps because if it was Hebrew, then Luke would have mentioned it (Acts 22:2)? Or is NT scholarship still that far out of touch with first century MIchnaic Hebrew studies and sociolinguistics?

But on to substance, I don’t really see why a Hebrew or Aramaic model is necessary for 10:36.

More problematic is the textual question on the [ὃν]. If that relative is deleted, then verse 36 is an independent sentence without a conjunction (which can be considered a non-Greek proclivity). As such then οὗτός might be considered an explanation of ‘the word’, despite its distance, though the simple reference would be Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and ‘lord of all’ is a fitting hint for the argument to include gentiles in the Jesus movement.

However, with the text as it stands, including the relative ὃν, then verse 36 is a run-on pre-posed object to verse 37, where τὸ ῥῆμα becomes an appositive, switching from the content of the message to the event of Jesus’ ministry. I’m going to go out on a limb here are stay with the Byz text, where verse 36 is a long run-on object/(almost a casus-pendens, which it would have been in Hebrew or a Semitic langue) to verse 37.

Stephen Carlson » September 7th, 2013, 3:30 am

RandallButh wrote:However, with the text as it stands, including the relative ὃν, then verse 36 is a run-on pre-posed object to verse 37, where τὸ ῥῆμα becomes an appositive, switching from the content of the message to the event of Jesus’ ministry. I’m going to go out on a limb here are stay with the Byz text, where verse 36 is a long run-on object/(almost a casus-pendens, which it would have been in Hebrew or a Semitic langue) to verse 37.

Yes, I would keep the relative ὅν, which is not just Byzantine but also has early support, and analyze the text as Randy does.

Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
the guy doing the εὐαγγελιζόμενος (subject – Nominative) is the subject, who ἀπέστειλεν τὸν λόγον (object – Accusative) τοῖς υἱοῖς (indirect object – Dative) Ἰσραὴλ (indeclinable, probably Gentivie)
and looking at the whole thing in context, the guy doing the εὐαγγελιζόμενος probably refers to ὁ θεός
So there might be overtones of John 1:1 here for τὸν λόγον
I would link οὗτός with Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, stating that he is πάντων κύριος

Stirling Bartholomew » September 7th, 2013, 7:31 pm

H. Alford suggests, after considering eight different exegetical treatments, several of which are quoted in Latin, that τὸν λόγον ὃν ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ should be joined with καταλαμβάνομαι and that it further explains (exegetic: Alford) ὅτι … δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστιν.

I don’t see that τὸν λόγον ὃν ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ itself is difficult. It is the surrounding text that makes it difficult.

Thanks Stirling. These verses are difficult and have been discussed for centuries by commentators. I agree that the individual words are not the problem but how they are to be connected.

The text was:
34 Ἀνοίξας δὲ Πέτρος τὸ στόμα εἶπεν, Ἐπ᾽ ἀληθείας καταλαμβάνομαι ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης ὁ θεός, 35 ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ ἔθνει ὁ φοβούμενος αὐτὸν καὶ ἐργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστιν. 36 τὸν λόγον [ὃν] ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ εὐαγγελιζόμενος εἰρήνην διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος.

Alford’s is one view, where the verb of perception καταλαμβάνω is considered to have two objects, first a clause and then a general noun. This means deleting the full stop after v. 35. Sometimes τὸν λόγον is said to be in “apposition” to the ὅτι clause, but how large is that clause? Does it really stretch all the way to δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστιν? It seems to me that the distance is too far. What Peter has grasped is ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης ὁ θεός that God is not a respecter of persons. This understanding is then expressed in more detail with other words which constitute v. 35.

Another view is to take τὸν λόγον as object for the verb in v. 37, so I need to add this verse:
ὑμεῖς οἴδατε τὸ γενόμενον ῥῆμα καθ᾽ ὅλης τῆς Ἰουδαίας, ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας μετὰ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐκήρυξεν Ἰωάννης,….

This option was introduced by RSV, but has serious problems, because the thing that happened can hardly be the message God sent to the sons of Israel. It also forces one to view οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος as a kind of parenthesis, when these words are actually the key point in 34-36. These Gentiles had undoubtedly heard about the miracles performed by Jesus, but they did not know what message was sent to the sons of Israel. This message was a message to Peter which he is now sharing with them as new information.

Most translations translate οὗτός as if it had been a relative pronoun: Who (Jesus) is Lord of ALL. (notice the fronted πάντων). But is it reasonable to ignore the demonstrative?
What if the reference for οὗτός is the key thematic subject in the preceding sentences? First ὁ θεός in v. 34, then αὐτῷ in v. 35 and the understood subject for ἀπέστειλεν? In Jewish tradition it was KURIOS/God who was lord of all people in the sense that he was more powerful than other gods and would defeat them all. But now the sense seems to be that he will be the God/Shepherd/Lord of not just the Jews but all the peoples. In other words, God takes the Gentiles under his wings and they are added to the people of God. The new understanding that Peter got and which was sent to the sons of Israel (not the Gentiles) appears to be that God was no longer just the God of the sons of Israel, but the God of All ethnic groups.

Another option is to take τὸν λόγον as an accusative of reference – concerning the message/word which he/God sent to the sons of Israel as he brought good news of peace through Jesus Christ: (This is like the KJV). In that case the part of the message of peace which was directed to the Israelites was the statement that HE/God is Lord of ALL.

It seems to me that v. 34-36 is Peter’s introduction that explains why he bothers with these Gentiles at all and now see them as a worthy audience for the good news of peace, something he had not considered before when he only preached to Jews. Even when he arrived at the house, he asked: Why did you send for me? (v. 29). The next verses then give details of the gospel as it relates to the Gentiles.

David Lim » September 10th, 2013, 9:06 pm

Iver Larsen wrote:Thanks Stirling. These verses are difficult and have been discussed for centuries by commentators. I agree that the individual words are not the problem but how they are to be connected.

I haven’t looked at any commentaries, but is it possible to take “τὸν λόγον ὃν ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ” in apposition to “εἰρήνην διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ”, as follows?

[Acts 10:34-36] Ἀνοίξας δὲ Πέτρος τὸ στόμα εἶπεν, Ἐπ᾽ ἀληθείας καταλαμβάνομαι ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν προσωπολήμπτης ὁ θεός, ἀλλ᾽ ἐν παντὶ ἔθνει ὁ φοβούμενος αὐτὸν καὶ ἐργαζόμενος δικαιοσύνην δεκτὸς αὐτῷ ἐστιν. τὸν λόγον ὃν ἀπέστειλεν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ἰσραὴλ εὐαγγελιζόμενος εἰρήνην διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, οὗτός ἐστιν πάντων κύριος.
“opening his mouth, Peter said, upon truth I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons, but in every nation the one who fears him and who works righteousness is acceptable to him. he announcing the good tidings of the word which he sent forth to the sons of Israel, peace through Jesus Christ, this one is lord of all.”
/ “Peter opened his mouth and said, Truly I perceive that God does not accept people in partiality, but anyone in every nation who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. He, who announces the good tidings of the word which he sent forth to the sons of Israel, which is peace through Jesus Christ, is lord of all.”

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