by E.W. Bullinger

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How to Enjoy the Bible
E. W. Bullinger

Part I
III. The One Great Requirement of the Word:-"Rightly Dividing" It.

The one great requirement of the Word is grounded on the fact that it is "the Word of truth." And this fact is so stated as to imply that, unless the Word is thus rightly divided we shall not get "truth"; and that we shall get its truth only in proportion to the measure in which we divide it rightly.

The Requirement is thus stated in 2 Timothy 2:15: "Give diligence to present thyself approved to God, a workman having no cause to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth."

The word in question here is orqotomounta (orthotomounta).*

* From orqoV (orthos), right, and temnw (temno), to cut.

As this word occurs in no Greek writer, or even elsewhere in the New Testament, we can get little or no help from outside, and are confined to Biblical usage.

It is used twice in the Septuagint for the Hebrew r#$ayaf (yashar), to be right, or straight. In Proverbs 3:6, 11:5, the Hebrew is Piel (or causative), to make right (as in 2 Chron 32:30; Prov 15:21; Isa 40:3, 45:2,13).

But it is the Greek word that we have to do with here, in 2 Timothy 2:15; and we cannot get away from the fact that temnw (temno) means to cut; or, from the fact that we cannot cut without dividing. To divide belongs to the very nature of the act of cutting. Even as applied to directing one's way, it implies that we divide off one way from others— because we desire to follow the right way and avoid the wrong.

The only Biblical guide we have to the usage of the word is in Proverbs 3:6:

"In all thy ways acknowledge him
And he shall direct thy paths."

In the margin the RV gives, "make straight or plain" as an alternative rendering for "direct." But our ways can only be made straight or plain by God's causing us to proceed on our way aright—i.e., by avoiding all the ways that are wrong, and going in the one way that is right; in other words, the right way is divided off from all the wrong ways.

What else can the word mean in 2 Timothy 2:15?

It matters little what others have thought or said. We could fill a page with their names and their views, but we should learn but little and only become confused. The duties of Priests, Furriers, and Ploughmen have been referred to as indicating the correct meaning. But we need not leave the Biblical usage, which associates the word with guidance in the right way.

The scope of the verse plainly teaches that:

  1. Our one great study is to seek GOD'S approval, and not man's.
  2. We are to show all diligence in pursuing this study.
  3. As workmen, our aim is to have no cause to be ashamed of our work.
  4. In order to gain God's approval and avert our own shame we must rightly divide the word of truth.
  5. To do this we must direct our studies in the right way.
  6. This great requirement is associated with the Word in its special character as being the Word of truth; i.e., "the TRUE Word."

All this tells us that we shall not get the truth if we do not thus rightly divide it; and that we shall get the truth only in proportion to our "rightly dividing" it.

Other titles of the Word have their own special requirements. As "the engrafted Word" it must be received with meekness (James 1:21). As "the Faithful Word" we must hold it fast (Titus 1:9). As "the Word of life" we must hold it forth (Phil 2:16).

But, because this is "the Word of truth," its paths must be well noted, the sign-posts must be observed, the directions and guides which are in the Word itself must be followed.

We are to "give diligence" to this great Requirement of the Word just because it is "the Word of truth."

It is true that there are many who altogether ignore this precept; and have no thought as to obeying this command in their study of the Word.

There are many who make light of our insistence on obedience to this precept.

On what ground, we ask, are we to treat such an important command as though it had never been given?

Why is not this command as binding on Bible students as any other command in the Word of God?

What motive can such have to blunt the point and dull the edge of this "Sword of the Spirit" in this matter?

Strange to say, those who would be-little our efforts in rendering due obedience to this command, are themselves obliged not only to accept its division into chapters, and verses, and punctuated sentences; but they go further, and adopt the division of its subject-matter which is made by the insertion of chapter-headings and running page-headings according to man's own ideas.

The only question is, Do they divide it rightly, or wrongly?

For example, in the English Bibles which our readers use, over Isaiah 29 we notice the running page-heading "Judgment upon Jerusalem"; and on the opposite page, over chapter 30 we notice the page-heading "God's mercies to His church."

Again, over Isaiah 59 we note the chapter-heading "The sins of the Jews"; in the chapter-heading of chapter 60 we note "The glory of the church." And this in spite of the declared fact that this book contains "the Vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (ch 1:1).*

* If these headings are not found in some of the current editions of our English Bibles, it is only a proof that still greater liberties are taken in changes of these headings.

Surely, this is dividing the Word. But the only question for us to ask is, whether it is divided "rightly" or wrongly.

In the consideration of this great and important requirement there are four principal spheres in which we are to give diligence so that we may follow the right ways which are so clearly cut and marked out for our studies.

We must rightly divide the Word of Truth:

  1. As to its Literary Form.
  2. As to its Subject-matter.
  3. As to its Times and Dispensations.
  4. As to its Dispensational Truth and Teaching.

We will consider these in their order.


i. Rightly Dividing the Word as to its Literary Form.

The "Word" comes to us in our English Translation. But it comes with much that is human in its Literary Divisions; and it is far from being rightly divided.

1. The Two Testaments.

"THE WORD OF GOD" as a whole comes to us in two separate parts: one written, originally, in Hebrew; the other in Greek. Only in the Versions are these two combined, and bound together in one Book.

These division, of course, are not human, though the names are by which they are commonly known.

Up to the second century the term "Old Covenant" was used by the Greeks to describe the Hebrew Bible. This passed into the Latin Vulgate as "Vetus Testamentum," from which our English term "Old Testament" was taken.

By way of distinction, the Greek portion was naturally spoken of as the "New Testament." But neither of these names is Divine in its origin.

2. The Separate Books of the Bible.

When, however, we come to the Separate Books, though their origin is Divine, the human element is at once apparent.

(a) The Books of the Old Testament.—The Books as we have them to-day are not the same as in the Hebrew Canon, either as to their number, names, or order.

The change first came about when the first Translation of the Hebrew Bible was made into Greek in the Version known as the Septuagint.

It was made in the latter part of the third century BC. The exact date is not known, but the consensus of opinion leans to about 286-285 BC.

It is the oldest of all the translations of the Hebrew Text, and its Divisions and arrangement of the Books have been followed in every translation since made.

Man has divided them into four classes: (1) The Law, (2) The Historical Books, (3) The Poetical Books, and (4) The Prophetical Books.

The Lord Jesus divides them into Three classes: (1) The Law, (2) The Prophets, and (3) The Psalms. And who will say that HE did not rightly divide them! But His Division was made according to the Hebrew Bible extant in His day, and not according to man's Greek Translation of it—which was extant also at that time.

In the Hebrew Canon these three Divisions contain twenty-four Books, in the following order:—

(i) "The Law" (Torah)
These five books form the Pentateuch
1. Genesis
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy

(ii) "The Prophets" (Neviim)
"The Former Prophets" (Zech 7)
6. Joshua
7. Judges
8. Samuel
9. Kings

The Latter Prophets
10. Isaiah
11. Jeremiah
12. Ezekiel
13. The Minor Prophets

(iii) "The Psalms" (K'thuvim) or the [other] writings
14. Psalms
15. Proverbs
16. Job

The Five "Megilloth" (or scrolls)
17. Song of Songs
18. Ruth
19. Lamentations
20. Ecclesiastes
21. Esther

22. Daniel
23. Ezra-Nehemiah
24. Chronicles

This is how the Books are rightly divided in the Hebrew Bible. And it is sad to find so many good men exercising their ingenuity in order to find some Divine spiritual teaching in the utterly human and different order of the Books given in the Translations. One actually manufactures "five Pentateuch's," quite dislocating the books of the Bible; and he arbitrarily re-arranges them to suit his theory. Another divides them by re-arranging them in what he conceives to be the chronological order, which results, among other calamities, in the Psalms being dispersed among the Historical Books.

The "Higher" Critics would have us make a Hexateuch instead of a Pentateuch.

We fear it is hopeless ever to look for the books to be rightly divided and arranged in the order of the Hebrew Canon; so we shall have to make the best of man's having wrongly divided the Word of truth from the very outset.

The number of Concordances and Commentaries and general works where reference is made to the present chapters and verses would be sufficient to make such a change impossible, however desirable it might be on other grounds.

Nevertheless, it is well for those who would study the Word of truth to have this information, and to be in possession of the facts of the case, even if the result is only to prevent them from attaching any importance to the present order of the books, and keep them from elaborating some scheme of doctrine or theology based on what is only human in its origin.

(b) The Books of the New Testament.—As to the Books of the New Testament the problem presented is somewhat different. We find them in the Manuscripts generally in five groups: (1) the Gospels, (2) the Acts, (3) the General Epistles, (4) Paul's Epistles, and (5) the Apocalypse.

The order of these groups varies in certain MSS; and the order of the books also in the different groups varies. There is, however, one exception which we have elsewhere pointed out: The Epistles of Paul which are addressed to Churches are always in the same order as we have them in our English Bible to-day. Out of the hundreds of Greek MSS not one has ever yet been seen where the Canonical order of these Epistles is different from that in which they have come down to us.

We can therefore build our teaching on a sure foundation, though we cannot do so on the order of the other New Testament books.


3. The Divisions of the Hebrew Text.

The Hebrew Text is divided (in the MSS) into five different forms:—

(a) Into open and closed Sections, answering somewhat to our paragraphs. These were to promote facility in reading.

(b) Into Sedarim or the Triennial Pericopes;* i.e., Portions marked off: so that the Pentateuch is divided into 167 Pericopes or "Lessons," which are completed in a course of three years' reading. There are 452 of these Seders** in the Hebrew Bible, indicated by p, in the margin.

* Greek, from peri (around) and kopto (cut); a portion or extract Pronounced Pe-ric'-o-pe.

** From rdasaf (sadar), to arrange in order.

(c) Beside these the Pentateuch was divided into 54 Par'shioth* or Annual Pericopes, by which the Law was read through once a year.

* From #$rap@af (parash), to divide.

(d) The division into verses. The verses in the Hebrew Bible are of ancient origin, and were noted by a stroke called Silluk under the last word of each verse.

These words were carefully counted for each book. Hence the Scribes were so called not because of their writing (from the Latin word Scribo), but they were called Sopherim or Counters (from the Hebrew, Sopher, to count). The Massorah gives the number of verses as 23,203.


4. The Divisions of the Greek Text.

In the Greek MSS of the New Testament there is an indication of sections in the margin, dividing the text according to the sense.

There is also a division of the Gospels ascribed to TATIAN (Cent. II.) called Kephalaia, i.e. heads or summaries: these are known also as Titloi or titles. AMMONIUS, in the third century, divided the Text according to sections, known by his name: "The Ammonian Sections." In the fifth century EUTHALIUS, a deacon of Alexandria, divided Paul's Epistles, the Acts, and the General Epistles into Kephalaia; and ANDREAS (Archbishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia) completed the work by dividing the Apocalypse into 24 Logoi or paragraphs, each being again divided into three Kephalaia.

These dividings of the New Testament can be traced back to individual men, and are all essentially human.


5. The Divisions of the Versions.

(a) The Chapters.—There are other more modern divisions into CHAPTERS. These are quite foreign to the Original Texts of the Old and New Testaments. For a long time they were attributed to HUGHES DE ST. CHER (Hugo de Sancto Caro). He was Provincial to the Dominicans in France, and afterwards a Cardinal in Spain: he died AD 1263. But it is now generally believed that they were made by STEPHEN LANGTON, Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1227.

(b) The Verses.—Hugo made use of Langton's chapters and added subdivisions which he indicated by letters. This was in 1248. ROBERT STEPHENS, finding these letters inadequate, introduced numbers in their place in his Greek Testament of 1551. This was the origin of our verse-divisions, which were first introduced into the English Version known as the Geneva Bible (1560), and from that into our Authorized Version in 1611. These verses do not correspond always with those of the Hebrew Bible.

(c) The Chapter Breaks—As to these chapter divisions, they were not of Jewish origin; and were never associated with the Hebrew Bible until AD 1330, when RABBI SALOMON BEN ISMAEL adopted the Christian chapters by placing the numerals in the margin, to facilitate reference for purposes of controversy.*

* This appears from a note appended to MS No. 15, in the Cambridge University Library. See Dr. Ginsburg's Introduction, etc., p. 25.

In many cases they agree with the Massoretic divisions of the Hebrew Bible, though there are glaring instances of divergence.*

* Up to AD 1517 the Editors of the Printed Text of the Hebrew Bible closely adhered to the MSS and ignored the Christian or Gentile chapters.

The first to reverse this practice were the Editors of the Complutensian Polyglot of CARDINAL XIMENES (1514-1517); but still confining the indications to the margin, in Roman Numerals.

FELIX PRATENSIS was the first to substitute Hebrew Letters for the Roman Numerals in his Edition printed by Bomberg, Venice, in AD 1517; though he retained the Massoretic divisions.

JACOB BEN CHAYIM adopted the same practice in his standard Edition (AD 1524-5); and it was continued down to 1751, when

ARIAS MONTANUS actually went so far as to break up the Hebrew Text, and insert the Hebrew Letters (or Numerals) into the body of the Text, in his edition printed at Antwerp in 1571.

From this, the "pernicious practice," as Dr. Ginsburg well calls it, has continued in the Editions of the Hebrew Text since printed, though it is discarded in his own Massoretico-Critical Edition, printed in Vienna in 1894, and published by the Trinitarian Bible Society of 7, Bury Street, Bloomsbury, London.

It will thus be seen how very modern, and human, and how devoid of all authority are the chapter and verse divisions which obtain in the version of the Bible generally, and in our English Bible in particular. Though they are most useful for purposes of reference, we must be careful never to use them for interpretation, or for doctrinal teaching. They seldom accord with the breaks required by the Structure.* Sometimes they break the connection altogether; at other times they materially affect the sense.

* See Part II, Canon II.

As examples, where the chapter-breaks interfere with the Connection and the Sense, we may notice Genesis 1 and 2, where the Introduction (1:1-2:4) is broken up, and the commencement of the first of the Eleven Divisions (or, "Generations") is hidden. This wrong break has led to serious confusion. Instead of seeing in 1:1-2:3 a separate Summary of Creation in the form of an Introduction, many think they see two distinct creations, while others see a discrepancy between two accounts of the same creation.

The break between 2 Kings 6 and 7 should come after chapter 7:2; that is to say, 7:1, 2, should be 6:34, 35.

The break between Isaiah 8 and 9 is, to say the least, most unfortunate, dislocating, as it does, the whole sense of the passage.

Isaiah 53 should commence at chapter 52:13. This agrees with its Structure:

A. 52:13-15. The foretold exaltation of Jehovah's Servant, the Messiah.

B. 53:1-6. His rejection by others.

B. 7-10. His own sufferings.

A. 10-12. The foretold exaltation of Messiah.

Isaiah 52:1-12 should have been the concluding portion of chapter 51.

Jeremiah 3:6 begins a new prophecy which goes down to the end of chapter 6.

Matthew 9:35-38 should belong to chapter 10.

John 3 should commence with 2:23, thus connecting the remarks about "men" with the "man of the Pharisees."

John 8:1 should be the last verse of chapter 7, setting in contrast the destination of the people and that of the Lord.

In Acts 4 the last two verses should have been the first two verses of chapter 5.

We can quite see that Acts 7 is already a long chapter; still, the break between it and chapter 6 is unfortunate, because the connection between "these things" in 7:1 is quite severed from the "things" referred to in chapter 6.

The same is the case in Acts 8:1. Also in 22:1.

Romans 4 ought to have run on to 5:11, as is clear from the argument, as shown by the Structure.

In the same way Romans 6 ought to run on, and end with 7:6, which concludes the subject. The commencement of 7:7, "What shall we say then?" would thus correspond with 6:1.

Romans 15:1-7 really belongs to chapter 14.*

* See Part II, Canon VII.

1 Corinthians 11:1 should be the last verse of chapter 10.

2 Corinthians 6 should end with 7:1; for 7:2 commences a new subject, and leaves the "promises" of 7:1 to be connected with the rehearsal of them in chapter 6.

In the same way Philippians 3 ought to end with 4:1 to complete the sense.

Colossians 3 should end with 4:1. Thus "masters" would follow, and stand in connection with, the exhortation to "servants"; and 4:2 would commence the new subject.

In 1 Peter 2:1 the word "wherefore" points to the fact that this verse is closely connected with chapter 1.

2 Peter 2:1, in the same way, concludes chapter 1, and the "false prophets" are contrasted with the Divinely inspired prophets.

In 2 Timothy 4:1 the force of the word "therefore" is quite lost by being cut off from the conclusion of chapter 3.

Revelation 3, as a break, ought to be ignored, as it quite dislocates the seven letters to the Assemblies.

Revelation 13:1 belongs to, and is the conclusion of, chapter 12. The break is thus actually made in the RV, and the correct reading of the Greek MSS followed shows the close connection of the words "and he [i.e. Satan] stood upon the sand of the sea," with 12:17, and also with chapter 13 as containing the result of Satan's thus standing.

In the same way the break between Revelation 21 and 22 is unfortunate, as the real chapter-break should correspond with the Structure and should come between verses 5 and 6 of chapter 22.

Other examples may easily be found, but these will be sufficient to show the importance of "rightly dividing the Word of Truth," even as to the Chapter Divisions.

(d) The Chapter, and Running Page-Headings.— When these chapter divisions are combined with (1) the chapter headings, and (2) the running page-headings, they become positively mischievous, partaking of the nature of interpretation instead of translation. It is needless to say that we may absolutely disregard them, as always aggravating the chatper-break, and often misleading the reader.

The running page-headings are a fruitful source of mischief. Over Isaiah 29 (as we have said above) in an ordinary Bible we read "God's judgments upon Jerusalem." On the opposite page we read over Isaiah 30 "God's mercies to his church." The same may be seen in the concluding chapters of Isaiah, both in the running page-headings and in the chapter-headings. But there is no break or change in the subject-matter. It consists of all "the vision which Isaiah saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (1:1). Here is a "dividing" of the Word. But, the question is, can it be called "rightly dividing" when God's "mercies" are claimed for the Church, and His "judgments" generously given over to the Jews? Such "dividing" of the Word can hardly be said to be "without partiality."

(e) Punctuation.—One other mode of dividing the Word as to its Literary Form is by Punctuation; which is a still more important manner of dividing the Word, as it seriously affects the Text by dividing its sentences, and thus fixing its sense.

The importance of this will be seen when we note that its effect is to fasten the interpretation of the translator on to the Word of God by making his translation part of that Word. It thus comes to the ordinary reader as part and parcel of the Truth of God, whereas it is absolutely arbitrary, and is wholly destitute of either Divine or human authority.*

* Sometimes a change of punctuation may be made through inadvertence or through ignorance. We have heard of 1 Corinthians 9:24 being read aloud thus: "They that run in a race, run. All but one receiveth the prize." The ignorance that perpetrated this failed to see the bad grammar which resulted in the last clause.

The Greek Manuscripts have, practically, no system of punctuation: the most ancient, none at all; and the later MSS nothing more than an occasional single point even with the middle, or in line with the top of the letters. Where there is anything more than this it is generally agreed that it is the work of a later hand.

So that in the Original Manuscripts we have no guide whatever to any dividing of the Text, whether rightly or wrongly. Indeed, in the most ancient MSS there is not only no division at all, but there is not even any break between the words! So that we can find no help from the MSS.

When they came to be collated, edited, and printed, a system of punctuation was introduced by the respective Editors. Each one followed his own plan, and exercised his own human judgment. No two editors have punctuated the text in the same way; so that we have no help from them.

When we come to the English Authorized Version we are still left without guidance or help.

The Authorized Version of 1611 is destitute of any authority; for the Translators punctuated only according to their best judgment. But even here, few readers are aware of the many departures which have been made from the original Edition of 1611; and how many changes have been made in subsequent Editions.*

* These changes affect not merely punctuation, but the marginal notes and references, the uses of capital letters and italic type, orthography, grammatical peculiarities, etc.

Some of these differences arise doubtless from oversight, but other changes have been made undoubtedly with deliberate intent. Who made them, or when they were introduced, no one can tell. A few, however, can be traced.*

* A full account of these may be seen in the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Queen's Printers' Patent, 1859, a Blue Book full of interesting information; also in DR. SCRIVENER'S Preface to The Cambridge Paragraph Bible of 1873.

The edition of 1616 was the first edition of the AV which shows any considerable revision. The first Cambridge Editions of 1638 and 1639 appear to have been a complete revision, though done without any authority.

The Edition of 1660 added many marginal notes. That of 1701 was the first to introduce the marginal dates, tables of Scripture measures and weights, &c.

The Edition of 1762 contained serious attempts at improvements made by Dr. Paris. He was the first to substitute a full stop for the colon of 1611 in Zechariah 11:7, after "staves." This edition considerably extended the use of Italic type; and incorporated Bishop Lloy'ds chronological notes.

Dr. Blayney's Edition of 1769 introduced many changes and many glaring errors which, unfortunately, have been followed without enquiry and without suspicion. These imperfections led to a great controversy, and a Public Enquiry, which included the policy of the Royal Patent and the working of the University Presses.

A Revision of the American Bible Society (1847-1851) prepared the way for our English Revised Version (1881-1885).

The "Advertisement" to the Universities' Edition, called "The Parallel Bible" (of the RV and AV), fully endorses all we have said:—

"The left hand column contains the text of the Authorized Version as usually printed, with the marginal notes and references of the Edition of 1611, the spelling of these being conformed to modern usage. In the left hand margin are also placed, in square brackets, the more important differences between the edition of 1611 and the text now in use, whether these differences are due to corrections of the edition of 1611 or to errors which have subsequently crept in."

In spite of all these facts many ill-informed readers of the English Bible take the punctuation as "Gospel truth"; and not only build their own theories, and bolster up their traditions upon it, but treat as heretics, and cast out almost as apostates any one who dares to question the authority of this human interference with the Word of truth, if it should run counter to their Traditions, which are generally based on such human foundations.

In view of this indefensible attitude we shall have to show its utter groundlessness.

It is beside our present object to enumerate all the cases where the punctuation has been changed, though all are of interest, and many are of importance.

These changes may be classed under three heads.

  1. Where the Edition of 1611 is to be preferred to the later Editions.
  2. Where the changes in the later Editions are improvements; and
  3. Where there are other proposed changes which we suggest as being most desirable.

We shall proceed to give a few examples under each of these three heads.

(1) Changes in punctuation where the Edition of 1611 is certainly to be preferred to the later Editions.

1 Kings 19:5, "And as he [Elijah] lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold then, an angel touched him." In 1769 this was altered to "behold, then." This comma after "behold" has continued to the present day.

Nehemiah 9:4, "Then stood up upon the stairs of the Levites, Joshua, &c." In the Edition of 1769 this was changed to "Then stood up upon the stairs, of the Levites, Joshua."

Psalm 79:11, "come before thee, according to the greatness of thy power: Preserve thou, etc.": instead of "come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou." This change was made in 1769.

Psalm 89:46, "How long, LORD, wilt thou hide thyself, for ever?" instead of "How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever?" The third comma of 1611 was removed in 1629,* 1638, 1744, 1769, and in the current editions.

* Not 1630. In 1762 this comma was replaced by a semicolon.

In Proverbs 1:27, the final colon of 1611-1630 after "cometh upon you": is preferable to the present full-stop, introduced in 1629, and retained in the current editions.

In Proverbs 19:2, the comma before "sinneth" should be restored, which was discarded in 1762.

In Proverbs 21:28, the comma before "speaketh" should be restored, which was removed in 1769.

Hosea 7:11, "a silly dove, without heart" instead of "silly dove without heart," since 1629; as though the last two words related to the dove, instead of to Ephraim.

John 2:15, "and the sheep and the oxen." In 1630 (not 1638 and 1743), 1762, and current editions, a comma was introduced after "sheep."

John 18:3, "a band of men, and officers." In 1769 the comma after "men" was dropped; hence, the Roman cohort is not distinguished from the Jewish officers.

Acts 11:26, "taught much people, and the disciples were called." This was so from 1611 to 1630, both clauses being dependent on the verb "it came to pass." Two things came to pass, (1) that the people were taught, and (2) that the disciples were first called Christians. But in 1638-1743 the comma was replaced by a semicolon, and in 1762 by a full stop: the latter being quite against the Greek.*

* The RV goes back to the semicolon, but not to the comma of 1611.

2 Corinthians 13:2, "as if I were present the second time." This was so pointed from 1611-1762. But since 1769 a comma is inserted after "present," connecting "the second time" with the foretelling, instead of with the being present.

Colossians 2:11. The comma was removed after "flesh," in 1762, thus making one statement instead of two. The two clauses beginning with en th (en te)—"by the putting off," and "by the circumcision of Christ." That is to say: "In whom [Christ] ye are circumcised with a circumcision not done by hand, by the stripping off of the* body (i.e. the flesh),** by the circumcision of Christ." Thus, this comma after "flesh" makes the last clause explanatory of the one preceding it: and shows that in Christ there is something more than the stripping off the old nature which is sinner ruin; even the flesh itself which is involved in creature ruin.

* All the textual critics with RV omit "of the sins."

** Genitive of Apposition.

2 Thessalonians 1:8, "in flaming fire, taking vengeance." By removing this comma in 1769 the "fire" is wrongly connected with the "vengeance," instead of with the being "revealed" in verse 7.

Hebrews 2:9. The comma was removed in 1769 after the word "angels," compelling us to connect "for the suffering of death" with Christ's humiliation, instead of with His crowning. If we rightly divide these words, the suffering will be practically put in a parenthesis by the two commas, thus: "We see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels, (for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour), that he by the grace of God, should taste death for every* man." This comma is wrongly replaced in the RV.

* I.e., every, without distinction, not without exception.

Jude 7, "the cities about them, in like manner." The comma after "them" was removed in 1638 and 1699 (not 1743); while in 1762 it was placed after "in like manner," thus increasing the error.

(2) Changes in punctuation where the later editions of the AV are improvements.

These hardly need enumeration, seeing that they are not likely to be missed. We may, however, note a few:—

Matthew 19:4, 5. In 1611 the mark of interrogation was placed at the end of verse 4, but for many years it has been removed to the end of verse 5.

John 12:20, "And there were certain Greeks among them, that came up to worship at the Feast." This needless comma after "them" was not removed till 1769.

Titus 2:13, "The appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." This misleading comma, after "God," lingered till 1769; thus hiding the fact that only one Being is spoken of, viz., "God even our Saviour": i.e. our great Saviour-God, Jesus Christ.

Luke 23:32, "And there were also two other malefactors, led with him to be put to death." This of course practically classed the Lord Jesus as being one of three malefactors. But since 1817 a comma has been placed after the word "other," to avoid this implication.*

* This is far better than changing "other" to "others," as is done in the American Bible, 1867. This antiquated plural is continued in the American Edition of the RV of 1898.

Acts 27:27, "as we were driven up and down in Adria about midnight, the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country." Not until after 1638 was the comma removed from after "midnight," and placed after "Adria"—"driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipment deemed," &c.

(3) Changes of punctuation which are now proposed as being most desirable.

These proposed changes we consider to be improvements not only in the punctuation of the Edition of 1611 but of the subsequent editions. These suggestions are made from a better understanding, closer study of, and respect for the Context, as modifying or correcting traditional interpretations.

That we are more than warranted in such an attempt is shown by the Revisers in a note they affix to Romans 9:5. In this passage, in all the editions, the full stop is placed after the word "ever," thus: "Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."

This text, being so weighty in witnessing to the Godhead of the Lord Jesus, was evidently distasteful to the Socinian member of the Company of Revisers: and, judging from the note placed in the margin, one can imagine what line the discussion had taken. All other marginal notes in the RV refer either to alternative renderings which affect the Translation, or to ancient manuscript "Authorities" which affect the Text. There is no example, so far as we have seen, where interpretation has been introduced; or where there is any reference to the interpretations of commentators. But here, there is the following lengthy marginal note, which exhibits the compromise reached by the Revisers and the Unitarian. They evidently declined to touch the Text; and consented to put this note in the margin. Its intention will be at once seen:

"Some modern interpreters place a full stop after flesh, and Translate, He who is over all be (is) blessed for ever:* or He who is over all is God blessed for ever. Others punctuate, flesh, who is over all, God be blessed for ever."

* What is to be done with the "Amen," in this case, is not stated.

The object of this note is too painfully apparent; but it shows how important is the subject of punctuation. Moreover, it justifies us in not only calling attention to faulty punctuation, but in suggesting changes where improvements may be made, which do not touch vital truth, except to strengthen and enforce it. Whereas, sad to say, some of the changes made by the Revisers are, unfortunately, those which interfere either with the Deity of Christ, the Inspiration of the Scriptures, or the freeness of God's grace.

In 2 Samuel 23:5, if we make the last clause a question instead of a statement, we get the clue to a better rendering of the verse.

As it stands in the AV and the RV it is difficult to make any sense of the verse, at all. Not seeing the Structure or the true punctuation, the Translators were obliged to translate the Hebrew word yk@i (ki), for, in four different ways: not that one way is necessary, for its usage is somewhat elastic. It may often connect the hypothesis or condition with the result, either as a reason or conclusion.

If we ask what the word "so" (in verse 5) means in the first line, we have the answer in verse 4, where we have a description of God's King; and David immediately adds that it will be even so with himself as God's King and with his house in virtue of God's covenant (in 2 Samuel 7) with him and of the sure mercies of (or mercies made sure to) David.

In verse 4 we have an alternation, the first and third lines speaking of the shining forth of God's light from heaven; and in the second and fourth lines, its effect on the earth.

2 Samuel 23:4


A. And He shall be as the light of the morning,

B. When the sun ariseth,

A.. Even a morning without clouds;

B.. When, from brightness and from rain,* the tender grass shooteth forth out of the earth.

* So some Codices, with four early-printed editions, and the Sept., Syr., and Vulg. Versions. See Ginsburg's Heb. Text and note.

Then David goes on to say that, as that is a picture of what it will be, when He that ruleth shall rule righteously among men, ruling in the fear of God; even so will it be with his house and kingdom in virtue of the Covenant of God.

In verse 5 the AV renders the word yk@i (ki) in these four ways:—

"Although," "yet," "for" "although."

The RV renders them

"Verily," "yet," "for," "although."

The Structure of the verse shows that the four lines are arranged as an Introversion, in which the first and fourth lines concern David's house; while the second and third lines are about God's covenant.

Now, if we punctuate the first and fourth lines as questions we may have this rendering, which certainly has the merit of consistency and clearness.

2 Samuel 23:5


C. "Verily, is not my house even so with God?

D. For He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure:

D. Now, this Covenant is all my salvation and all my desire,

C. For, Shall He not make it (my house) to prosper?"*

* Heb., to shoot forth, as the tender grass, as in line B. above.

We may take other examples where improvements can be suggested:—

Isaiah 64:5, "Behold thou wast wroth, and we sinned: in them have we been a long time, and, Shall we be saved?" In this case the RV thus revises the punctuation of the AV to its great improvement.

Jeremiah 3:1. The last clause is evidently another question, repeating a similar question earlier in the verse: "And yet shalt thou return unto me saith the LORD?"

Matthew 19:28, "Ye that have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." This was the punctuation of 1611, which was continued till 1629. But in 1630 a comma was introduced after "regeneration," which entirely alters the sense. It has, happily, since been removed from our modern editions. This improvement should be noted, and retained.

Luke 16:9, "And I; say I unto you 'Make to yourselves friends by means of the unrighteous mammon; that, when ye fail,* they may receive YOU into the everlasting habitations?' [No!**] He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust in much also. If therefore YE have not been faithful," etc.

* "When it shall fail," according to Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford.

** Beza's Latin and Grashop's English Version both put a full stop after "you." Beza begins the next sentence "Certe" (surely); Grashop begins it "Wherefore." We begin it "No!"'

The context clearly shows that Christ is contrasting, and not identifying, human and Divine modes of judgment. his context (vv 10-12), and the logical conclusion of the parable, have no meaning whatever unless the commendation of the unjust steward's lord is set in contrast with the condemnation of Christ. These verses (10-12) are no mere independent irrelevant statement, but are the logical conclusion to the whole argument.

The reception into the "everlasting habitations" of verse 9 is set in contrast with the unjust steward's being received "into their houses" (v 4); the principles which govern admission there, are the opposite of those that obtain admission here.

Hence our Lord follows this up by adding the great lesson in verse 10: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much! and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to you the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who will give you that which is our own" (see RV margin).

Luke 16:22, 23. As at present translated and punctuated, the words read: "The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes." But if we substitute Sheol or Hades for "hell," then we have (as in Isaiah 14:9-20) a representation of dead people talking; as we have of the trees talking in Jotham's parable (Judg 9:8-15). If we further observe the Tenses and Moods of the verbs, and repunctuate the passage, we have the result, as follows:

"The rich man also died, and was buried also in Hades. Having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he seeth." There is no "and" before "seeth." It is not an additional statement, "and he seeth"; but it is a second verb, depending on the participle "having lifted up his eyes."

This change in translation is necessitated by the Greek; and the change in punctuation is not suggested as a modern invention to support any particular interpretation: for it is that adopted in the ancient Vulgate translation, which, though not the original text, and of no authority as a text, is yet evidence of a fact. It is punctuated in the same way by Tatian, Diatessaron (AD 170) and Marcion (AD 145); as well as in the ancient Jerusalem Syriac Version. And the fact is that the first three words of verse 23 form, instead, the last three words of verse 22; a full stop being placed after the word Hades: while the word "and" is treated by this as meaning "also." So that the whole sentence would read thus: "But the rich man also died, and was buried also in Hades."

"Buried also," implies what is only inferred as to Lazarus, meaning that the one was buried as well as the other. Whether the punctuation be allowed, or not, it does not affect the matter in the slightest degree. For that is where he was buried in any case. It affects only the place where he is said to lift up his eyes.

This is further shown by the fact that the three verbs "died," "buried," and "he lift up," are not all in the same Tense as they appear to be from the English. The first two are in the past tense, while the third is the present participle, eparaV (eparas), lifting up, thus commencing the 23rd verse with a new thought.

Those who interpret this passage as though Hades were a place of life instead of death, make it "repugnant" to every other place where the word occurs, and to many other scriptures which are perfectly plain, e.g., Psalm 6:5, 31:17, 115:17, 146:4, Eccl 9:6, 10. (See Canon VII, Part II).

Luke 23:43, "Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

This is the common punctuation, but, Is it correct? We have already seen enough to show us that we are dependent only and entirely on the context and on the analogy of truth.

The word "verily" points us to the solemnity of the occasion, and to the importance of what is about to be said. The solemn circumstance under which the words were uttered marked the wonderful faith of the dying malefactor; and the Lord referred to this by connecting the word "to-day" with "I say." "Verily, I say unto thee this day." This day, when all seems lost, and there is no hope; this day, when instead of reigning I am about to die. This day, I say to thee, "Thou shalt be with me in paradise."

"I say unto thee this day" was the common Hebrew idiom for emphasizing the occasion of making a solemn statement (see Deut 4:26,39,40, 5:1, 6:6, 7:11, 8:1,11,19, 9:3, 10:13, 11:2,8,13,26,27,28,32, 13:18, 15:5, 19:9, 26:3,16,18, 27:1,4,10, 28:1,13,14,15, 29:12, 30:2,8,11,15,16,18,19, 32:46).

"Paradise" was the condition of the earth before the entrance of Satan and the pronouncing of the curse; so it will be the condition of the earth again when Satan shall be bound, and the Lord shall come and reign in His kingdom. It is called in Hebrew "Eden" sixteen times, and "The Garden" nineteen times. The Greek for these is Paradisos (which we have Englished "Paradise"). It is never used in any other sense than of a place of beauty and delight on the earth. Never of any place above or under the earth. "The Tree of Life" and "the river of the water of life" are its two earthly characteristics. The traditional idea of any other place is unknown and foreign to Scripture; and is the pure invention of fallen man. It comes down to us from Babylon through Judaism and Romanism.

We see it described in Genesis 2; lost in Genesis 3; its restoration pronounced in Revelation 2:7; and regained and enjoyed in the New Earth (Rev 22:1-5,14,17).

The Lord answered the request of the dying believer, not by promising something for which he did not ask; but by granting him his heart's desire and giving him the request of his lips.

We therefore suggest the following translation and punctuation: "And he said to Jesus, Remember me, O Lord, when thou shalt have come in thy kingdom. And Jesus answered him, Verily I say to thee this day, with me thou shalt be, in Paradise."

But there is more to be noted in the word "to-day" than this. Mrs. A. S. Lewis, of Cambridge, has lately called attention to the reading of the ancient Palimpsest Syriac Gospels at Mount Sinai, in which verse 39 reads, "Art thou not the Saviour? Save thyself alive to-day, and also us."

This was the taunt of the other malefactor who thus seems to have used the word "to-day." The faith of the other showed that he looked for something more than present deliverance: he believed in future glory in the coming of the kingdom.

Hence, in the Lord's reply to him, He takes up this word "to-day" to show that "to-day" was not to be the day of deliverance for either himself or others, but the day of death. But though He spoke on that day of death, He gave the promise of future glory, in which the other malefactor had so blessedly confessed his belief.

In this case there was a special reason for the Lord's use of the word "to-day." It was to correct a mistake; and it was, in spite of present circumstances, to give the assurance of the coming future glory of the kingdom.

John 7:37-39. As it stands in the AV and RV this passage is punctuated as follows:—

"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood, and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. For the Holy Ghost (pneuma hagion) was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified)."

We have to notice first that there is no article with the second pneuma (or Spirit) in verse 39, which shows that what is "given" is the subject of the context, (pneuma hagion) and not the Spirit Himself, the giver.

Then, we further notice, that the word "should" in the same verse (v 39) is not the sign of any tense, but is a separate verb, emellon (emellon), to be about to be. Lit., "were about to receive"; (the latter verb "receive" being in the Infinitive Mood). As to the word "belly" it is put, by the figure of speech called Synecdoche, for the whole person,* which is much stronger than using the mere personal pronoun "him." It is a very emphatic "him."

* See Romans 16:18: "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly" (i.e. their own selves). Philippians 3:19: "Whose god is their belly" (i.e. themselves, and what they can get). Titus 1:12: "Slow-bellies" (i.e. slow persons, who by reason of large eating have grown stout, and therefore move slowly).

In this case the "his" is generally taken as referring to the believer, for with our usual selfishness we take every good thing as applying to ourselves. But we submit that it is to be understood of Christ, who is the great fountain from whom the rivers of pneuma and grace and blessing flow; and not of the believer, who is only the receiver; and from whom a few drops may go forth, but certainly not "rivers." With these preliminary observations we would punctuate it as suggested by Stier {Words of the Lord Jesus), as follows:—

"If any man thirst, let him come unto Me; and let him drink, who believeth in Me! Even as the Scripture [concerning Me] hath said 'Rivers out of HIM shall flow, of living water.'"

It is not the one who drinks of Him who becomes the fountain; he is the receiver and not the giver. The Fountain is the one whom Scripture had already designated as the source of pneuma, and the channel whereby the rivers of spiritual grace and blessing should flow. It is not the individual believer who is the subject of the Old Testament prophecies; he, at the best, could only send forth one tiny stream of what he had himself first received; but it is Christ in whom are all our springs, who alone can say, "I will give unto him that is athrist, of the fountain of water of life, freely" (Rev 21:6). The River proceeds "out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev 22:1). In Christ are the hidden reservoirs of blessing, out of whose abundant flow believers receive their graces and gifts.

Not until Christ had risen from the dead, and ascended into glory, could these gifts be given. Hence, the explanation which is added in verse 39.

The Scriptures are many which speak of Messiah as the giver of these spiritual blessings. (Compare Isa 12:3, 55:1; Eze 47:1; Joel 3:18; Zech 13:1, 14:8.) These "rivers" of blessing flow not from the believer, but from the throne of God, from Zion, and from Him who there will sit as king.

The pneuma, or water, of which Christ is the giver, will be "in HIM" a well of springing water springing up, and flowing out as a supply for others (John 4:14). The individual believer receives only enough for his own needs. He has no reservoirs from which rivers can flow forth for the supply of others.

John 12:27, "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour, but for this cause came I unto this hour."

We would translate and punctuate this as follows: "Now am I* troubled; and why** should I say, 'Father, save me from this hour?' But for this cause came I unto this hour."

* The Perfect Tense: "I have been and am."

** So ti (ti) is rendered 66 times in NT.

John 14:2, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.* I go to prepare a place for you."

* So the current editions. The 1611 edition has a colon after "you."

But why would He have told them about it if it were not so. The whole statement seems so inconsequent. But, if we punctuate it as a question, and take out the full stop after "you," we get a beautiful confirmation of what He had said and a further assurance of its truth: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, Would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you?"

John 17:24. Is it clear as to which was "before the foundation of the world"? Was it the gift, or the love? Punctuated as in the AV it is the latter. But may it not well be rendered? "I will that they also whom Thou hast given me may be with me where I am: That they may behold my glory which thou hast given me, because thou lovedst me, before the foundation of the world." The sentence "because thou lovedst me" thus becomes the basis of the whole petition; and oti (hoti) gets its usual consequential meaning, because.

Acts 15:17, 18, should be punctuated, and translated as follows, according to all the critical Greek texts, with which the RV, J. N. Darby, Rotherham, and other translators agree:

"That the residue of men may seek after the Lord. And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, Saith the Lord who maketh these things known* from the beginning of the world."

* Margin: "or, who doeth these things which were known." The words "unto God are all his works" are omitted by all the critical Greek texts.

From this punctuation we learn that the mystery is not the subject here; for it was not "made known from the beginning of the world"; but was the secret "hid in God," until specially revealed to the Apostle Paul.

Acts 23:8, "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit." The comma after "angel" in the editions from 1611 to 1630, having been removed in editions from 1629 to 1743, was restored in 1762; and should be retained.

Romans 8:32, 33, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Shall God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ Jesus that died?"

Here again the RV thus amends the punctuation of the AV and sets an example which we follow in

1 Corinthians 15:29. Our revised punctuation will enable the translation to be made more literal and more in agreement with the sense. A wrong punctuation often leads to wrong translation and necessitates liberties which have to be taken in order to make sense.

"Else what are they doing who are being baptized? [It is] for dead [bodies, or corpses*], if the dead rise not at all. Why are they then being baptized for dead [bodies]?"

* oi nekroi (hoi nekroi) with the article, as here, denotes dead bodies; without the article it means dead people.

The argument is here continued and taken up from verse 19, after the digression about resurrection, viz., that if there be no resurrection baptism is worse than meaningless. It was merely baptizing dying bodies instead of believers who were going to live again in resurrection: it was only incurring trouble and suffering and persecution and risk of this life for nothing, if there be no resurrection. This illustration, therefore, takes its place with the other illustrations by which the argument is enforced in the following verses:—the "jeopardy" of verse 30 and the "fighting with beasts at Ephesus" of verse 32, connecting these three illustrations of the "misery" of verse 19.

There are other improvements which might be suggested, of less importance perhaps, but still serving to show the wide range which our subject covers.

Ephesians 4:12 has been punctuated in all the editions, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."

This would be quite correct if the word "for" represented the same Greek word in each of the three clauses. But the first is proV (pros), for, making the subjective purpose originating the gifts; the second and third are eiV (eis), for, marking the objective end for which the gifts were designed.

The commas after the words "saints" and "ministry" hide this beautiful distinction, and make three objects instead of one (which is twofold). The punctuation should be as follows: "For the perfecting of the saints, with a view to the work of the ministry, with a [further] view to the building up of the body of Christ."

So that, instead of three separate propositions, we have only one—"The perfecting of the saints." And this one is with a twofold end, viz., the work of the ministry; and this work has, for its ultimate end, the building up of "God's building," which is the spiritual body of Christ. (Compare 2:21,22 with 4:2,3.)

Hebrews 10:12 presents a peculiarly difficult example. In the AV from 1611-1630 it read, "But this man after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God." But in 1638 the comma was removed, and placed after the word "sins," and it read "for ever sat down," thus going back to the punctuation of the Bishops' Bible of 1568. This is the punctuation in the Book of Common Prayer to this day,* though the Cambridge Bible of 1858 restored the punctuation of 1611 ("for ever, sat down").

* The Epistle for Good Friday is so punctuated in the original MS attached to the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and now preserved in the House of Lords.

There is something to be said for the older punctuation: "after he had offered one sacrifice of sins, for ever sat down." This expression, translated "for ever," is not the usual eiV ton aiwna (eis ton aiona), for the age, or for ever, but it is eiV to dihnekeV (eis to dienekes), for a continuance, in distinction from interruptedly.* It is connected not with the offering of "sacrifice," but with "sat down."

* The expression occurs only in Hebrew 7:3, "abideth a priest continually"; 10:1, "offered year by year continually"; 10:12, "for ever sat down" (where it should clearly be continually); and verse 14, "hath perfected for ever" (where it should be continually).

It asserts the fact that Christ's work as a Priest is finished. He has not to stand up again to carry it on and continue it. Earthly priests "stood daily" and all day long, for there were no seats in the Tabernacle or Temple for the priests; but Christ has "sat down" not to rise up again for the purpose of sacrifice, for, having borne the sins of many, He will appear the second time without any reference to sin, but for the complete salvation of His people. Hebrews 10:12 does not contradict Hebrews 9:28. The scope of Hebrews 10:12 is not the coming of Christ, but the sacrifice of Christ; and this leads us to the conclusion that the older punctuation is right, which was, as we have said: "But this man, having offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down for a continuance on the right hand of God" (i.e., "took His seat once for all" in contrast with the standing of v 11).

This agrees with the scope of the passage,* which is the contrast between the ineffectual sacrifices of the Law and the effectual Sacrifice of Christ; between the "daily standing" of the priests with the continual session of Christ. This may be seen from

* See Part II, Canon I.

The Structure of Hebrews 9:25-10:18.


A1. 9:25. Yearly sacrifices ineffectual, because "offered often" (pollakiV, pollakis).

B1. 9:26-28. Christ's sacrifice effectual, because offered "once for all" (apax, hapax).

A2. 10:1-4. Yearly sacrifices ineffectual, because offered "continually" (eiV to oihnekeV, eis to dienekes), for a continuance.

B2. 10:5-10. Christ's sacrifice effectual, because offered "once for all" (efapax, ephapax), v 10.

A3. 10:11. Daily sacrifices ineffectual, because the priest "standeth daily" (kaq hmeran, kath hemeran), "offering oftentimes" (pallakiV, pollakis).

B3. 10:12-18. Christ's sacrifice effectual, because having offered "one" (mian, mian), He sat down "continually" (eiV to dihnekeV, eis to dienekes), for a continuance.

Thus, in the members marked A we have what is ineffectual because temporary, set in contrast with the members marked B, in which we have what is effectual because permanent.

In the A members we have the priests, their sacrifices, and standing


In the B members we have Christ, His sacrifice, and session

"once for all"

Indeed, the offering of sacrifices eis to dienekes (10:1) is put in direct contrast with Christ's having sat down eis to dienekes, in verse 12.

2 Peter 2:22. It makes all the difference whether we put a comma after the word "and." If we omit it we make one proverb; if we insert it we get two proverbs. "It is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and, The sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." The AV and RV and all the editions have no comma after the word "and"; and thus make only one proverb.

In any case, the contrast is between the washed sow at the end of 2 Peter 2 and the stray sheep at the end of 1 Peter 2. Both "return"; but the sheep, however dirty it has become, returns to its shepherd; while the sow, however clean it is washed, returns to her mire.

(f) Parentheses.—The Edition of 1611 abounded in parentheses. In the subsequent editions there has been an increasing tendency to discard them; and to supply their place by commas; or to ignore them altogether.

But parentheses are a means of increasing the emphasis of ordinary punctuation; and, on that account, they require more careful consideration, rather than less; as the meaning can be either destroyed, changed, or made more clear by their use.

We shall class all under one head, without regard to the changes in the various editions; though we will note the changes where we can discover when they were made.

Many are already so marked, so that there is no need for us to notice them. (See Deut 1:2; Matt 9:6; John 2:9, 4:8; Acts 1:15; Rom 3:8, 5:13-17,* 10:6,7; Eph 2:5; Phil 3:18,19; Col 2:21,22.) 

* This was first so marked in the edition of 1769, and is continued in all the subsequent editions, though both the English and American Revised Versions reject it.

The true Parenthesis is an addition by way of explanation, and is complete in itself.

When it is not by way of explanation, but is an independent additional statement, complete in itself, the Greeks called it Parembole or Insertion; because it is more in the nature of a digression.

When it was by way of feeling they called it Interjection (Psa 42:2; Eze 16:23,24).

When it was by way of a wish or prayer, they called it Ejaculation (Hosea 9:14).

When it was by way of apology or excuse they called it Hypotimesis, or under-estimating (Rom 3:5; 2 Cor 11:23).

When it was by way of detraction they called it Anæresis.

When it was by way of sudden exclamation they called it Cataploce (Eze 16:23,24; Rom 9:3).

All these parenthetical additions are complete in themselves.

But when the addition is thrown in, as it were, casually, and is not complete in itself, the Greeks called it Epitrechon, or Running along.

In many instances the Structures of Scripture practically place the member in a parenthesis between the two corresponding members; and this, whether it be a large complex member, or whether it be a single sentence.

For example:—

In Genesis 15:13, the words "(and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them)" should be in a parenthesis, as is clear from the Structure.

a. "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs;

b. and shall serve them;

b. and they shall afflict them;

a. four hundred years."

Here, in the extremes, "a" and "a" we have the sojourn and strangership as a whole, while in "b" and "b" we have the servitude in Egypt. It is this servitude which is thrown in parenthetically ("Epitrechon"; i.e., running along); so that the sense reads on from "a" to "a"; and the time is not affected by the addition of what will happen to them in any part of that time.

Genesis 46:26, "All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt (which came out of his loins) besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six." This Epitrechon is thrown in to explain the difference between this number (66) and the number 75 in Acts 7:14, which included "all his kindred," and was necessarily a larger number than that of Jacob's direct descendants.

Exodus 12:40, "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel (who dwelt in Egypt) was four hundred and thirty years." This is an Epitrechon or remark thrown in as an additional fact to explain exactly who these people were. It thus saves us from making the mistake of thinking that they were in Egypt during all those 430 years.

Joshua 6:1 is a true parenthesis or an independent statement complete in itself, conveying an additional fact; but inserted in order to explain and introduce the words of the Captain of Jehovah's host, which are continued in verse 2.

1 Kings 7:19 is a parenthesis and helps us to connect verses 18 and 20.

In 1 Kings 8:39 and 42 we have two complete and separate parentheses.

In 1 Kings 12:32 the words "so did he in Bethel" should be marked as a parenthesis, as they were down to 1769. It is the Figure Epitrechon.

1 Kings 21:25, 26, is a true Parembole, as is

Job 31:30, which was rightly marked as such from 1611 to 1744. The brackets were removed in 1762.

In Psalm 68:18 we have an Epitrechon—"yea, for the rebellious also"— which marks and magnifies the free grace of God, bestowed not merely on the unworthy, but on those who were rebellious.

In Psalm 109, verses 6 to 19 are to be included in a parenthesis as being the utterances of "the mouth of the wicked," and the words spoken with a lying tongue; and "the words of hatred" (vv 2,3).

Then, verse 20 takes up verse 5 and says of all this:—

"This is the work* of mine adversaries (from the LORD)
And of them that speak evil against me (Heb. my soul)."

* The Hebrew is (p'ullah), work, labour, acts, deeds. Not seeing the parenthesis of verse 6-19, both the AV and RV are driven to render it "reward." The fact that it is rendered "reward" in no other place shows that our contention is correct. (See all the other occurrences of the word:—Lev 19:13; 2 Chron 15:7; Psa 17:4, 28:5; Prov 10:16; 11:18; Isa 40:10, 49:4, 61:8, 62:11, 65:7; Jer 31:16; Eze 29:20.)

In Isaiah 22, verses 21-24 are to be included within a parenthesis; carrying on the thought to Him of whom Eliakim is only a type; and returning to the type and the history in verse 25.

The Structure of Isaiah shows that chapters 36-39 are a parenthetical parenthesis, being the history of HEZEKIAH'S siege and sickness; corresponding with chapters 7-12, which are also a parenthesis, being historic events and prophecies connected with AHAZ.

Matthew 9:20-22 is more an Episode than a Parembole. But it was marked as a parenthesis down to 1762. The Edition of 1762 rejected it.

Luke 1, verses 55 and 70 should each be placed in a parenthesis.

Romans 8:20. The words "not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same" are an Epitrechon.

The Ellipsis must be supplied by the repetition of the verb "waiteth," in verse 20 from verse 19.

This is shown by

The Structure of Romans 8:19-21


a. 19. Expectation.

b. 20-. The reason: Creation made subject.

a. -20. Expectation.

b. 21. Reason: Creation delivered.

This will be seen more clearly if it is set out in full, as follows:—

Romans 8:19-21


a. Expectation: 19. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.

b. Reason: 20-. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same;

a.. Expectation: -20. [waiteth, I say] in hope,

b. Reason: 21. Because the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Romans 9:2, 3. The Epitrechon should be punctuated as follows; noting that hucomen (euchomen) is put, by the Figure Hyperbaton, out of its place, in order to attract and call our attention to the fact that it is in the Imperfect Tense, which is generally well Englished by our word "used," i.e., "used to wish" (Lit., "was wishing"):

"I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart (for I used to wish, even I myself,* to be accursed from Christ) for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." This shows us that Paul's sorrow was on account of his brethren; and the Epitrechon is thrown in to explain why he had this great heaviness and continual sorrow. As much as to say, it was because he knew from his own experience their terrible position; for when he was in their condition he knew what he "used to wish."

* The Pronoun, here, is very emphatic.

In 1 Corinthians 10:3-5 there is a true parenthesis; an explanation of what precedes, and it is complete in itself.

"And all ate the same spiritual meat, and all drank the same spiritual drink. (For they drank of that spiritual rock following [it]; but the rock was Christ.) Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased."

Here, there is nothing about following "them," as in the AV and RV and most translations (some putting it in brackets).

Two miracles are referred to: (1) The giving of the manna (related in Exodus 16:14); and (2) the gift of the water in the FOLLOWING event, or chapter (Exo 17:5,6).

This is clearly the obvious meaning of the Greek, both logically, grammatically, and historically. There is no occasion to go back to the Ancient Jewish but childish tradition; nor to charge the Apostle with so doing, as though he were not inspired.

In a succession of miracles, one is mentioned, and then that which followed it.

The verb akolouqew (akoloutheo) is used of any kind of following; and of every mode of sequence. It is used of logical sequence; Aristotle says "If there are two, it follows (akolouqei, akolouthei) that there must be one."

Longinus, speaking of the Figure Hyperbaton, says, "It is a removal of words or thoughts out of their consecutive (akolouqia) order."

Thus, it is the miracle and drinking of the water, which followed the miracle and eating of the manna; and not the water following the people of Israel throughout their journey. That would be no point in the Apostle's argument which called for the parenthetical explanation which he gives. His point was that both miracles taught spiritual truths, which their fathers did not see, either then, or in the days of John (John 6:47-59).

1 Corinthians 15:20-28 is a true Parembole, almost amounting to a digression. It must be carefully noted in order that we may closely connect verses 19 and 29, further consequences being stated if there be no resurrection. (See above.).

2 Corinthians 3:7-16 is a Parembole or Digression, concerning the Old and New Covenants, in which the subject is broken off from verse 6 and continued in verse 17. This subject was the fact that "as the body without the pneuma (or spirit) is dead" (James 2:26), so the "letter" (or old Covenant) is dead without Christ; for "the Lord (Christ) is its pneuma."

Ephesians 2:1 takes up the words in the middle of 1:19, which does away with the necessity of all the italics in 2:1. If we observe this parenthesis concerning the fact and results of Christ's resurrection (in 1:19-23) we connect 2:1 with 1:19-, and preserve the truth and teaching of the whole passage, thus:— 

1:19-, "That ye may know...what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe (...)," 2:1, "even you who were dead in trespasses and sins."

Ephesians 3. The whole of this chapter is parenthetical; and is a true Parembole, being complete in itself. This should be carefully noted, so that we may connect the "Therefore" of 4:1 with 2:22.

There is a smaller parenthesis within the third chapter, viz. from verses 1-13, verse 14 taking up the subject (which was broken off in verse 1) and repeating the words "For this cause."

Ephesians 4:9, 10 are also two parenthetical verses.

Philippians 1:23 is a true parenthesis, which is an addition by way of explanation to show why the Apostle did not know which to choose, "living" or "dying." The reason was that there was a third alternative, better than either, viz., "the Return" of Christ (to analusai) (to analusai), when he would be with Christ. But, as to the other two (which he returns to in verse 24), he concludes that it would be better for him to remain in the flesh, than to die; but not better than Christ's Return.

We must put verse 23 in a parenthesis, and render it, "For I am being pressed out of (ek, ek) the two, having an earnest desire for the Return (see Luke 12:36*) and to be with Christ, for it is far, far better [than either]," and read on from verse 22 to 24.

* These are the only two occurrences of the verb analiw (analuo), to return. The noun analusiV (analusis) occurs in 2 Timothy 4:6, and is rendered departure: but the sense is the same, return, viz., the return of the body to dust and of the spirit to God; as in Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7.

Philippians 2 should commence with verse 27 of chapter 1; 1:27-29 being a parenthesis.

Philippians 3:2-14 is also a parenthesis, the fifteenth verse taking up the subject of the first verse.

Philippians 3:8-10 is a Parembole within the parenthesis, and commences with the words "for whom I have suffered the loss of all things," etc., down to the end of verse 10. All this is a digression to show what he had gained in Christ Jesus his Lord as compared with what he had lost in giving up the Jews' Religion. Verse 11 would then read on from the middle of verse 8, thus:

8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: (...) 11. If by any means I might become partaker* of the out-resurrection from among the dead.

* See note on Phil 1:21, Canon IV, Div. 2.

From what we have said under Division 4, Section 6, the Apostle may be referring to a fresh revelation of truth, which he received while in prison in Rome, concerning the prize of our "calling on high," and our removal thither; and this may be either explanatory of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or an additional and subsequent revelation pointing to a prior removal (as implied in the word ex-anastasis).

In any case, it shows that Paul was not desiring to obtain this, or any other advantage, by holiness of life, but by believing God concerning this calling on high (not "upward calling").

Colossians 2:21 and part of 22 are already rightly printed within a parenthesis, which should be carefully noted.

1 Timothy 3 parts of verse 14 and 15 should be read, "These things write I unto thee (...) that thou mayest know," etc.

Hebrews 1, 2, presents us with a beautiful example of the manner in which the Structure of a passage puts its various members into their respective parentheses, showing the true connections and logical continuations.

a. 1:1,2-. God speaking.

b. 1:-2-14. The Son: God. "better than angels"

a. 2:1-4. God speaking.

b. 2:5-18. The Son: Man. "lower than angels"

It will be seen from this that the member "b" (vv 2-14) is practically a digression, concerning the Son of whom God had spoken in verse 1.

Similarly, the member "a" (2:1-4) is a parenthesis standing between 1:14 and 2:5. So that 2:1 (the word "therefore") reads on from the word "Son" in 1:2. And 2:5 (the word "for") reads on from the word "salvation" in 1:14.* 

* See Part II, Canon II.

The study of the Structure of God's Word is therefore necessary, if we would discover its logical divisions, as well as the perfection of its literary divisions.

Hebrews 2:9, "But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels (for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour) that he by the grace of God should taste death for every* man."

* Without distinction, not without exception: this epistle being written to Hebrew believers.

This parenthesis teaches us that the Lord Jesus was crowned with glory and honour for the suffering of death. At His Transfiguration we see Him so crowned (2 Peter 1:17).

We have already included this passage under the former division on Punctuation (see above).

1 Peter 1:3-5. These verses are parenthetical, verse 6 being the continuation of verse 2.

In 2 Peter 1:19 the Epitrechon should be thus carefully marked: "Whereunto (i.e., to the prophetic Word) ye do well that ye take heed (as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the Day dawn and the Day-star arise) in your hearts."

The words "in your hearts" must be connected with the words "ye do well to take heed," and not with the dawning of the coming Day or with the rising of the Morning Star. That rising will not be in our hearts, but it will be Christ's glorious manifestation to Israel and to the world (Luke 1:78; Rev 22:16).

This world is a dark place, and the prophetic word is the only light in it to which we do well to "take heed in our hearts."

Tradition says that Prophecy is a dark place, and that we do well to avoid it. But this only proves the truth of the Scripture in which Jehovah declares, "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD" (Isa 55:8).

These examples will be sufficient to show the importance of this branch of "rightly dividing the Word of truth," as to its Literary Form.

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