Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Death

In discussing Paul, the question of what did Paul mean when he said in Acts 22:4 he had persecuted Christians to "the death". One opinion offered said it meant cutting off heads with swords or similar implements.

While that sounds good(?), not really accurate. According to BDAG, the 2000 3rd edition of "A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament", commonly called BDAG, the Greek word is thanatos, and means "The termination of physical life, death", and then in citing the passage says of the phrase: "persecute even to death" (italics in the original).

So here are some other sources:


Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament
And I (oß). I who, literally. This Way (tauthn thn odon). The very term used for Christianity by Luke concerning Paul's persecution (Acts 9:2), which see. Here it "avoids any irritating name for the Christian body" (Furneaux) by using this Jewish terminology. Unto the death (acri qanatou). Unto death, actual death of many as Acts 26:10 shows. Both men and women (andraß te kai gunaikaß). Paul felt ashamed of this fact and it was undoubtedly in his mind when he pictured his former state as "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious (1 Timothy 1:13), the first of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). But it showed the lengths to which Paul went in his zeal for Judaism.

This is what Acts 26:10 says: "This I actually did in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them."
So he did not actually, physically kill them, but consented to their death.

I checked two other lexicons I have at home, and 3 online commentaries and the Crosswalk.com lexicon as well. Nobody seems to know about the word meaning anything except death. It is common English usage to say for example "they fought to the death".

I hope this clears this up.

1 comment:

Derek Rydall said...

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