Bible Notes

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ" (I Cor. 15:19)—This translation would seem to suggest that "only" definitely modifies "in this life." Many scholars, however, contend that the order of the words in the original is "decisive against the rendering 'in this life only'" (Edwards: Commentary on First Corinthians, p. 407; cf. Robertson and Plummer: First Corinthians, p. 350). In the Greek, "only" most naturally refers to "we have hope"; consequently a literal rendering would be: "If in this life we have only hope [i.e., hope without faith or understanding] in Christ." Moffatt has: "If in this life we have nothing but a mere hope in Christ;" and Weymouth: "If in this present life we have a hope resting on Christ and nothing more." Goodspeed, however, prefers: "If we have centered our hopes on Christ in this life, and that is all."

"Feed my lambs. . . Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17)—"Feed my lambs" is a literal translation of the original, and Dr. Wescott has well described it as "the simplest and humblest" part of the shepherd's work (Commentary on St. John's Gospel, Vol. II, p. 368). In the phrase commonly rendered, "Feed my sheep" (verse 16), a different verb is used, meaning literally "to tend, guide, or act as shepherd to"—a more responsible and skilled task; while in verse 17 ("Feed my sheep") Jesus returns to the verb used in verse 15 with regard to the lambs, and, according to the Alexandrian and Vatican Manuscripts, he uses on this third occasion a word meaning literally "little sheep"; so we might render, "Feed my little sheep." Wescott contends that this third command suggests "the most difficult part" of the shepherd's work in handling his sheep, since "provision must be made for their support as well as for their guidance" (op. cit., p. 396). Moffatt and Goodspeed translate the three commands as follows: "Feed my lambs. . . . Be a shepherd to my sheep. . . . Feed my sheep;" while the Revised Version has: "Feed my lambs. . . . Tend my sheep. . . . Feed my sheep."

"Evil communications corrupt good manners" (I Cor. 15:33)—The Greek "homiliai," here rendered "communications," means also "companionships" or "conversations" (Souter: Greek Lexicon, p. 175); and while the term "ethe" was regularly employed in the singular in the sense of "manner, custom, usage, habit," when in the plural, as here, it had come to be used idiomatically in the sense of "morals or character" (Thayer: Greek Lexicon, p. 276). Moffatt has: "Bad company is the ruin of good character;" Fenton suggests: "Vile teachings corrupt good morals;" and Goodspeed: "Bad company ruins character;" while Weymouth renders: "Evil companionships corrupt good morals." Scholars contend that this maxim was quoted by Paul from the Athenian dramatist Menander, who lived about 300 B. C. (Encyclopædia Britannica: 14th Ed., Vol. xv, p. 238; Thayer: op. cit., p. 276; cf. Robertson and Plummer: op. cit., p. 363).

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The Lectures
April 28, 1934

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