questions on elders: why “supervisor?”

 

The clear majority of English translations render the word episkopos in 1 Tim. 3.1-2 and Titus 1.7 by means of one of two words: “bishop” (ASV, KJV, KNT, NAB, NRSV, Phillips, REB) or “overseer” (ESV, HCS, NASB, NCV, NIV 2011, TNIV).

Other renderings exist, but nowhere near in number to the use of the word “bishop” or “overseer.” For example: “church leader” (Good News), “church official” (CEV), “elder” (NLT), “leader” (The Message), and “presiding elder” (NJB).

But, we need not ask “With what rendering am I most familiar?,” but, “What does the word episkopos actually mean?” Surely the Spirit of God, working with the apostle Paul’s spirit, had good reason for this word choice, and if so, what might it have been?

To answer that question, lend your ear to Dr. Everett Ferguson, a long-time professor from years past at Abilene Christian University. Dr. Ferguson is a highly respected and internationally recognized scholar whose special expertise is in early church history. He is easily one of the finest scholars who has ever lived to stand within the heritage of Churches of Christ in modern times, having few true peers in his field within our heritage. In commenting on the way the word episkopos was commonly used outside of Scripture in New Testament times, Dr. Ferguson says it was:

“… used … for various kinds of managers, foremen, supervisors, and inspectors. It could refer to state officials with various civic functions, to supervisors at sanctuaries … to construction foremen, and in an educational context to tutors. … In a religious sense it could be used of the gods, who exercised providence and watched over compacts. … Whereas ‘elder’ emphasized more the age, experience, and judiciousness of the leaders of Christian communities, ‘bishop’ [episkopos] emphasized the more active side of their work in managing affairs, guarding the group, and directing activities.” (The Church of Christ, pp.322-323)

And so, when Paul spoke of church leadership and selected by the Spirit’s guidance the word episkopos to describe their place and purpose, he was simply choosing to use the word commonly understood by all in his time for someone who watched over others, guided their efforts, and generally supervised what all a group of people did.

In light of this fact, and if the conveyance of the original meaning of a foreign word in terms commonly utilized and understood today is the objective of translation, then it could easily and well be argued that the Common English Bible‘s choice of rendering the word episkopos with the word “supervisor” is, refreshingly so, the most accurate and truly communicative rendering of all the choices available to most English readers in the United States today.

No doubt, all too many people in the everyday, workday world have had the troubling experience of working under an unqualified or destructive supervisor. At the same time, a great many have been blessed with the joy of working under well-qualified and constructive supervision. If our experience has been primarily with the former, we ought not allow such experience to rob a very helpful word of its true meaning. Surely, the author of Timothy 3 and Titus 1, Paul, would be the first to agree.

* For more on the use of the word episkopos, as well as other words used directly in regard to the function and role of church elders, note an earlier post of mine on Feb. 2 of this year.

more on The Kingdom New Testament (KNT)

 

In yesterday’s post I shared some excerpts from N.T. Wright’s The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (HarperOne, 2011). Today I’d like to share a few random observations regarding this fine work.

* The binding is a quality hardback which lies flat at any opening except for the first few pages. No softcover or electronic version is available yet.

* The text appears in a very readable single-column format.

* The only notes, footnotes, or comments are headings for the Biblical text. All of the headings appear in the side margins rather than within the text, a practice reminiscent of times gone by, and one, frankly, I find very helpful.

* Obvious OT quotes appear in italics.

* As to textual variants, know that both long and short endings to Mark’s Gospel are included and John 7:53-8:11 is included in the text without note, comment, or formatting in regard to its authenticity.

* The inclusion of 39 simple, black and white maps is a real plus. As you might guess, 35 of the 39 relate to Acts. The maps do not appear together in one place, but are scattered throughout the Biblical text, wherever they might be of most practical use. There is an index to these maps near the front of the volume. All of the maps, save one, include a scale of miles in both miles and kilometers.

* The preface is six-and-one-half pages of “classic Wright” (i.e. – crystal clarity laced with insight and wit). Lovers of Wright will not be disappointed. For example, take the opening sentence: “The first thing that happened in the life of the church was translation.”

* This work is a translation. In Wright’s words: “It’s a translation, not a paraphrase. I have tried to stick closely to the original. But, as with all translations, even within closely related modern English languages, there are always going to be places where you simply can’t do it word for word. To do so would be ‘correct’ at one level and deeply incorrect at another. There is no ‘safe’ option: all translation is risky, bit it’s a risk we have to take.”

* As to why yet another English translation of the New Testament, Wright says: “… translating the New Testament is something that, in fact, each generation ought to be doing. This is a special, peculiar, and exciting point about the very nature of Christian faith. Just as Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, our bread for each day, we can never simply live on yesterday’s bread, on the interpretations and translations of previous generations. … Inherited spiritual capital may help you get started, but you need to do fresh work for yourself, to think things through, to struggle and pray and ponder and try things out … a new translation … is a key tool for that larger task.”

The bottom line: the Kingdom New Testament has certainly found a permanent place in my Biblical studies library.

the CEB and the KNT

 

The past couple of weeks I’ve been reading N.T. Wright’s rendering of the New Testament entitled The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation (KNT). As I read I’ve been comparing it with the Common English Bible (CEB), my go-to Bible. In short, I like what I see in both and encourage you to pick up copies of both. Following are some snippets from each for your comparison.

  • It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a divorce certificate.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32 CEB)
  • It was also said, ‘If someone divorces his wife, he should give her a legal document to prove it.’ But I say to you: everyone who divorces his wife, unless it’s in connection with immorality, makes her commit adultery; and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matt. 5:31-32 KNT)
  • This is why the Human One* is Lord even over the Sabbath. (Mark 2:28 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘Son of Man'”]
  • … so the son of man is master even of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:28 KNT)
  • Don’t you see? God’s kingdom is already among you. (Luke 17:21b CEB)
  • No: God’s kingdom is within your grasp.” (Luke 17:21b KNT)
  • When the centurion saw what happened, he praised God, saying, “It’s really true: this man was righteous.” (Luke 23:47 CEB)
  • The centurion saw what happened, and praised God. “This fellow,” he said, “really was in the right.” (Luke 23:47 KNT)
  • I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion,* who will be with you forever. (John 14:16 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘Advocate'”]
  • And I will ask the father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever. (John 14:16 KNT)
  • Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 CEB)
  • “Turn back!” replied Peter. “Be baptized – every single one of you – in the name of Jesus the Messiah, so that your sins can be forgiven and you will receive the gift of the holy spirit.” (Acts 2:38 KNT)
  • On the first day of the week, as we gathered together for a meal, Paul was holding a discussion with them. (Acts 20:7 CEB)
  • On the first day of the week we gathered to break bread. Paul was intending to leave the following morning. He was engaged in discussion with them, and he went on talking up to midnight. (Acts 20:7 KNT)
  • God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness* for faith,* as it is written, “The righteous person will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17 CEB) [first footnote reads “Or ‘faith’; second footnote reads “Or ‘faithfulness'”]
  • This is because God’s covenant justice is unveiled in it, from faithfulness to faithfulness. As it says in the Bible, “the just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17 KNT)
  • Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. (Rom. 3:25a CEB)
  • God put Jesus forth as the place of mercy, through faithfulness, by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his covenant justice, because of the passing over (in divine forbearance) of sins committed beforehand. (Rom. 3:25 KNT)

  • So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (Rom. 12:1-2 CEB)
  • So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Worship like this brings your mind into line with God’s. What’s more, don’t let yourselves be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God’s will is – what is good, acceptable, and complete. (Rom. 12:1-2 KNT)
  • I’m introducing our sister Phoebe to you, who is a deacon* of the church in Cenchreae. (Rom. 16:1 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘servant'”]
  • Let me introduce to you our sister Phoebe. She is a deacon in the church at Cenchrae. (Rom. 16:1 KNT)
  • Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 7:1-2 CEB)
  • Let me now turn to the matters you wrote about. “It is good for a man to have no sexual contact with a woman.” Well, yes; but the temptation to immorality means that every man should maintain sexual relations with his own wife, and every woman with her own husband. (1 Cor. 7:1-2 KNT)
  • … but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. (1 Cor. 13:10 CEB)
  • … but, with perfection, The partial is abolished. (1 Cor. 13:10 KNT)
  • God isn’t a God of disorder but of peace. Like in all the churches of God’s people, the women should be quiet during the meeting. They are not allowed to talk. Instead, they need to get under control, just as the Law says. If they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is disgraceful for a woman to talk during the meeting. (1 Cor. 14:33-35 CEB)
  • … since God is the God, not of chaos, but of peace. [new paragraph begins] As in all the assemblies of God’s people, the women should keep silence in the assemblies. They are not permitted to speak; they should remain in submission, just as the law declares. If they want to understand something more, they should ask their own husbands when they get home. It’s shameful, you see, for a woman to speak in the assembly. (1 Cor. 14:33-35 KNT)
  • I wish that the ones who are upsetting you would castrate themselves. (Gal. 5:12 CEB)
  • If only those who are making trouble for you would cut the whole lot off! (Gal. 5:12 KNT)

  • The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy,drunkenness, partying, and other things like that. (Gal. 5:19-21a CEB)
  • Now the works of the flesh are obvious. They are such things as fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, bursts of rage, selfish ambition, factiousness, divisions, moods of envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. (Gal. 5:19-21a KNT)
  • Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph. 2:10 CEB)
  • This is the explanation: God has made us what we are. God has created us in King Jesus for the good works he prepared, ahead of time, as the road we must travel. (Eph. 2:10 KNT)
  • Don’t get drunk on wine, which produces depravity. Instead be filled with the Spirit in the following ways: speak to each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; sing and make music to the Lord in your hearts; always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. (Eph. 5:18-21 CEB)
  • And don’t get drunk with wine; that way lies dissipation. Rather, be filled with the spirit! Speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah. [new paragraph] Be subject to one another out of reverence for the Messiah. (Eph. 5:18-21 KNT)
  • He destroyed the record of the debt we owed, with its requirements that worked against us. He canceled it by nailing it to the cross. When he disarmed the rulers and authorities, he exposed them to public disgrace by leading them in a triumphal parade. (Col. 2:14-15 CEB)
  • He blotted out the handwriting that was against us, opposing us with its legal demands. He took it right out of the way, by nailing it to the cross. He stripped the rulers and authorities of their armor, and displayed them contemptuously to public view, celebrating his triumph over them in him. (Col. 2:14-15 KNT)
  • … we could have thrown our weight around as Christ’s apostles. Instead, we were gentle with you like a nursing mother caring for her own children. (1 Thes. 2:7 CEB)
  • … though we could have imposed on you, as the Messiah’s emissaries. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her own children. (1 Thes. 2:7 KNT)
  • A wife* should learn quietly with complete submission. I don’t allow a wife* to teach or control her husband.* Instead, she should be a quiet listener. (1 Tim. 2:11-12 CEB) [first and second footnotes read “Or ‘a woman'”; third footnote reads “Or ‘a man'”]
  • They must study undisturbed, in full submission to God. I’m not saying that women should teach men, or try to dictate to them; rather, that they should be left undisturbed. (1 Tim. 2:11-12 KNT)
  • This saying is reliable: if anyone has a goal to be a supervisor* in the church, they want a good thing. So the church’s supervisor* must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. They shouldn’t be addicted to alcohol or a bully. Instead they should be gentle, peaceable, and not greedy. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘bishop,’ ‘overseer'”]
  • Here is a trustworthy saying: if someone is eager for the work of overseeing God’s people, the task they seek is a fine one. The bishop must be beyond reproach. He must not have more than one wife. He must be temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, a good teacher. He must not be a heavy drinker, or violent, but must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not in love with money. (1 Tim. 3:1-3 KNT)
  • In the same way, servants* in the church should be dignified, not two-faced, heavy drinkers, or greedy for money. (1 Tim. 3:8 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘deacons'”]
  • In the same way, deacons must be serious-minded, not the sort of people who say one thing today and another tomorrow, not heavy drinkers, not eager for shameful gain. (1 Tim. 3:8 KNT)
  • In the same way, women who are servants* in the church should be dignified and not gossip. They should be sober and faithful in everything they do. (1 Tim. 3:11 CEB) [footnote reads “Or ‘wives,’ omit ‘who are servants'”]
  • The womenfolk, too, should be serious-minded, not slanderers, but temperate, and faithful in all things. (1 Tim. 3:11 KNT)
  • Or do you suppose that scripture is meaningless? Doesn’t God long for our faithfulness in* the life he has given to us?* (James 4:5 CEB) [first footnote reads “Or ‘jealously longs for'”; second footnote reads “Or ‘Doesn’t the Spirit that God placed in us have jealous desires?'”]
  • Or do you suppose that when the Bible says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit he has made to dwell in us,” it doesn’t mean what it says? (James 4:5 KNT)
  • Baptism is like that. It saves you now – not because it removes dirt from your body but because it is the mark of a good conscience toward God. Your salvation comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ … (1 Pet. 3:21 CEB)
  • That functions as a signpost for you, pointing to baptism, which now rescues you – not by washing away fleshly pollution, but by the appeal to God of a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. (1 Pet. 3:21 KNT)
  • My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 CEB)
  • My children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone does sin, we have one who pleads our cause before the father – namely, the Righteous One, Jesus the Messiah! He is the sacrifice which atones for our sins – and not ours only, either, but those of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 KNT)
  • Favored is the one who reads the words of this prophecy out loud, and favored are those who listen to it being read, and keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev. 1:3 CEB)
  • God’s blessing on the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and on those who hear them and keep what is written in it. The time, you see, is near! (Rev. 1:3 KNT)

Incidentally, Scot McKnight has a fine post today on the KNT that you’ll want to be sure to read. His comments speak to the task of translation as a whole and include some renderings of note from the Sermon on the Mount in the KNT.

this went thru my mind

 

Aging: Aging Well with Dr. Dan Blazer, Part 2: Successful Aging by Christine Scheller

“The perception of old age as a depressing season of life, however, is not confirmed in scientific studies of the elderly, Blazer concluded. Instead studies consistently show that only about 15 percent of older adults exhibit depressive symptoms.”

Application: How to Apply Scripture When It Does Not Speak Directly and Personally to You by Justin Taylor

“… we believe that ‘all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.’ But sometimes it is hard to see how.”

Apps: * Our New App, Evernote Hello, Will Help You Remember People; * Evernote Hello: The iPhone App All Youth Pastors Need

“Evernote Hello is based around the three fundamental ways that our brains actually remember people: (1) Faces – What do you look like?, (2) Time – When did we meet?, and (3) Context – Why did we meet and who else was there?”

Attitude: * How a Shift in Your Vocabulary Can Instantly Change Your Attitude by Michael Hyatt; * It’s Not That I Have To; It’s That I Get To by Chaplain Mike

“The first expression (i.e., I have to do it) is the language of duty. Nothing wrong with that. I am all for responsibility. But too often, we say it with a sigh, like it’s a sentence—or we are a victim. The second expression (i.e., I get to do it) is the language of privilege. It is as if we have been given a gift, and we are relishing the opportunity. This subtle shift may seem small, but it has had a big impact on my attitude. I am choosing the language of privilege every chance I get.”

Bible interpretation & study: * Why Studying the Bible Won’t (Necessarily) Change Your Life by Trevin Wax; * Paul’s Example on How to Deal with Silence in Scriptures by Matt Dabbs

“Bible study alone is not what transforms your life. Jesus transforms your life.”

Bible translation: An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version by Rodney J. Decker

“There is no one translation that is best in every situation.”

Church: Why Do People Stay? by Joe McKeever

“We have two kinds of people in our churches today: those who flit from church to church, never putting down roots or establishing relationships and finding their ministries, and those who will stay in a church regardless. It’s the second group that puzzles me.”

Christmas: * For Those Who are Hurting This Christmas Season by Thom Rainer; * Frankincense Comes From a Tree by Ferrell Jenkins; * Some Things You May Not Hear About Myrrh in a Sermon by Ferrell Jenkins

“In the midst of our own pain, we have the hope and promise of the gospel. May we ever be messengers of that gospel to those who are hurting and need to see that hope.”

Death: 10 Signs Death is Approaching by Paula Spencer Scott

“Not all dying symptoms show up in every person, but most people experience some combination of the following in the final days or hours …”

Heroes: Five Ways You Can Become An Everyday Hero by Michael Hyatt

“It’s easy to underestimate the power of one person’s influence. We think, What can I do? I am only one person. The truth is that each of us wields far more power than we could possibly imagine. However, most of us have never discovered this—or we have forgotten it.”

Iraq war: Iraq Ledger: War by the Numbers

“Coalition deaths totaled 4,803, of which 4,484 (93 percent) were American. The number of Americans wounded was 32,200. At least 463 non-Iraqi contractors were killed. Iraqi civilian deaths are estimated to total between 103,674 and 113,265. … the war resulted in 1.24 million internally displaced persons and more than 1.6 million refugees.”

Islam: How to Respond to Our All-American Muslim Neighbors by Margot Starbuck

“… pursue an authentic relationship with a person in your community who practices Islam. Now that would be radical.”

Loving one’s enemies: Hating Pixels: A Modern Day Reflection on the Sermon on the Mount by Richard Beck

“Might the souls of my liberal friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Sarah Palin? Might the souls of my conservative friends be hanging in the balance depending upon how they love (or fail to love) Barack Obama?”

Marriage: Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low (Pew Research)

“In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married; today just 51% are.”

Moving forward: New Year: 4 Ways to Move Ahead Instead of Remaining Stuck by Jim Martin

“Maybe some of us do not grow, develop, or mature because we rarely address the reality of our lives. Maybe we have allowed ‘but’ to excuse our behavior. The following are 4 ways to move ahead into this New Year instead of remaining stuck.”

Politics: 48% – The Generations and Politics: Who Was Our Best President? (Pew Research)

“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetime, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most popular choices. Sizeable numbers in each of the four generational groups — including majorities of Millennials and Gen Xers — cite Clinton as either their first or second choice on the ‘best president’ question.”

Productivity: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less by Tony Schwartz

“… increased rest and renewal serve performance.”

Silence & solitude: Just Sit There by Peter Enns

“Why is it so hard to be alone?”

Women: Women and the Public Reading of Scripture by Scot McKnight

“Anyone who says reading Scripture is a teaching ministry is just making stuff up. Reading is reading and teaching is teaching, and preaching is preaching, and prophesying is prophesying, but reading is not teaching, preaching or prophesying. Women were prophets, women were apostles, women were teachers – this is all in the New Testament. That more than qualifies them for the public reading of Scripture.”

power to the people! (aka: 7 reasons why I switched to the Common English Bible)

 

1. For years I’ve longed for a translation of the Bible that speaks with an English vocabulary somewhere between the Contemporary English Version (CEV) and the Today’s New International Version (TNIV). The Common English Bible (CEB) does just that. Clarity for the people!

2. For quite awhile now I’ve wanted to see a rendering of the word make frequent and consistent use of some of the Biblical scholarship that I’ve greatly benefited from and have been blessed by. The CEB has done that. Scholarship for the people!

3. For years now I’ve wanted to see a fresh translation of Scripture from the ground up, not merely a reworking of an existing translation or version. The CEB is precisely that. Freshness for the people!

4. For sometime now I’ve been growing increasingly unhappy with Zondervan’s handling of the whole TNIV/NIV business. I finally got disgusted enough that I decided to jump ship (understand, the NIV and TNIV have been my default Bibles in years past). The CEB appears to have a more open and authentic base to it. Authenticity to the people!

5. For quite a spell I’ve wished to see a committee-based translation have the nerve (and backing from the publisher) to make some truly bold, original renderings of the Biblical text as has been the case in recent years among some single-translator renderings of the Bible. The CEB does that. Courage for the people!

6. For years I’ve wished for a solid Bible translation to appear that the publisher was confident about to truly support that they would share with all a general timeline of the anticipated publication dates of various editions (i.e. – supporting reference works, pew Bibles, study Bibles, audio Bibles, etc.). The publishers of the CEB have done just that. Planning for the people!

7. For a very long time I’ve yearned for all of the preceding to funnel into a translation that also includes in its work the Apocrypha. The Common English Bible (CEB) offers editions that include the Apocrypha. Knowledge for the people!