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Bible Gemz 1691 - Proclaiming a Way or Proclaiming the Way (Acts 16:16-22)

February 9, 2018

One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a demon-possessed slave girl. She was a fortune-teller who earned a lot of money for her masters.

She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved."

This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And instantly it left her.

Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace.

"The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted to the city officials.

"They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice."

A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. (Acts 16:16-22)

  

 

I was going to leave the matter of the demon influenced slave girl at this point but then my mate Ross sent me the following email. 

 

There are three translations ( ISV, LITV, and YLT ) that have the demon possessed girl saying “they have come to tell you  ‘a’ way to be saved” rather than “ they have come to tell you ‘how’ to be saved”. There is a difference with “a” meaning there is more than one way to be saved and maybe that is why Paul reacted as he did. She was not telling the truth there is only one way to be saved. Something to consider here with the original translation?

 

I sent an email back to Ross acknowledging he had found something significant. There are those who debate this point. As Ross wrote there is a difference between the translations as to how they translate: 

οἵτινες καταγγέλλουσιν ὑμῖν     ὁδὸν      σωτηρίας

who     proclaiming       to you  (a) way  salvation

 

She having followed closely after  Paul G*  and  us,  cried out  saying,  These  men  servants  of God  the  highest,    who  shall announce  to us  the way  of deliverance.  [APB]

The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation. [ASV]

She came after Paul and us, crying out and saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who are giving you news of the way of salvation. [BBE]

The girl followed Paul and the rest of us and kept yelling, "These men are servants of the Most High God! They are telling you how to be saved." [CEV]

This girl followed behind Sha'ul and the rest of us and kept screaming, "These men are servants of God Ha`Elyon! They're telling you how to be saved!" [CJB]

She started following Paul and the rest of us around. She kept shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God! They are telling you how you can be saved!" [ERV]

She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” [ESV]

She used to follow Paul and shout, "These men are servants of the Most High God. They're telling you how you can be saved." [GW]

She would follow Paul and us and shout, "These men are servants of the Most High God and are proclaiming to you a way of salvation!" [ISV]

she followed Paul and us and cried out, saying, These men are the slaves of the most high God, who announce unto us the way of deliverance. [JUB]

The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. [KJV]

Following after Paul and us, she cried out, saying, These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are announcing to us a way of salvation! [LITV + YLT]]

The same followed Paul and us and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, who are announcing to us the way of salvation. [MKJV]

She started following Paul around, calling everyone's attention to us by yelling out, "These men are working for the Most High God. They're laying out the road of salvation for you!" [MSG]

She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved." [NLT}

Following Paul and Silas10 this girl kept calling out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to us the way of salvation!” [Pickering]

The same following after Paul and us cried out, saying, These men are servants of the Most High God, which proclaim unto you the way of salvation. [RV]

Following after Paul and us, she kept shouting, saying, “These men are servants of El Elyon, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” [TLV]

Having followed Sha’ul and us, she cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High Elohim, who proclaim to us the way of deliverance.” [TS2009]

 

Did you notice something about the translations I have listed for you above? As Ross indicated there is a variation made between the translations with “the way of salvation” and “a way of salvation”. But did you notice another change between the translations? I will draw your attention to the difference further down in this Gemz. That will give those of you who want to find it for yourself time to look. 

 

The word [odos] is without the definite article in the original Greek [ὁδὸν σωτηρίας] which can be translated “a way” rather than “the way”. There are some translations with pick on that and choose a way. As Ross has done,

You could rightly conclude that the slave girl said “these men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you a way of salvation”. This could suggest that she was saying this is one way but there are other ways to salvation. The two literal versions pick up on the fact along with the ISV. But it is not as simple as that. There is a grammatical feature of Greek whereby the Greek language has no indefinite article “a” or “an”. When a noun occurs without the definite article we might normally translate it as though it needed an “a” or “an”. Perhaps the writer is telling us something by omitting the definite article. So the question is did Luke mean for us to get the idea that there were a number of ways to salvation? The answer is most definitely not. It is for sure that he meant for us to read this as “the way of salvation”. An anarthrous noun (the grammatically technical word for a noun without a definite article in Greek can be read as “a way” but it can also be read as “the way” where emphasis is being put on THE. 

 

Have a look at Hebrews 1:2. Here the word son is anarthrous. The Jehovah’s Witness visitors will try to tell you the word should be “a son”. They will say look here in the Greek, there is no definite article and then will explain why Jesus is only one possible way to salvation, not The Way. But notice what the LITV does with this verse: (LITV)  in these last days He spoke to us in the Son, whom He appointed heir of all; through whom He indeed made the ages. The LITV version here makes it very clear that the word should be considered as being definite. The writer to the Hebrews is highlighting the nature of God speaking to us by His Only and Only Kind of Son – not one of many! 

 

What Luke meant here was most definitely The Way of Salvation. There is some variation between the manuscripts between “a way” and “the way” but by far the majority correctly opt for “the way”. I don't think the form of way without the article (anarthrous) in this case is as strong as the son without the article in Heb 1:2 but it should be read “the way of salvation”. That is what Luke most certainly meant us to read.  

 

Now for the other thing to notice. Did you see it? There is variance among the translations between “proclaiming salvation to you” or “proclaiming salvation to us”.  Wilbur Pickering as a footnote to his translation which reads: I find it to be curious that what the demon said was precisely true! So why did that truth not result in many conversions? Presumably because the Holy Spirit did not apply it, coming from a demon. Instead of “to us”, perhaps 20% of the Greek manuscripts have ‘to you’ (as in NIV, NASB, LB, TEV, etc.). Did the demon have the girl include herself, or not? Indeed it would a curious thing if the girl should have said “proclaiming salvation to you” and not “proclaiming salvation to us”. 

 

Some commentators think this points to the disturbed spirit of this demon possessed girl, i.e. that she has a troubled spirit and a divided conscience, at one moment overcome by the demon(s) within her and at another time long for deliverance from her demons. The demon(s) within her would certainly have known there is only one way to salvation. As Pickering writes in his note “I find it to be curious that what the demon said was precisely true!”   By this statement Wilbur Pickering is saying, “The demon actually said, these men are proclaiming the way of salvation.” There is a small degree of doubt from the weight of manuscript evidence regarding “a way” versus “the way of salvation” but we have to conclude that Luke’s intention was for us to believe there is only one definite way to salvation. 

 

On the other matter of “proclaiming to you” (20% of Greek MSS) or “proclaiming to us” (80% of Greek MSS)you can see that the Majority Text follows “proclaiming to us” which of course includes the girl. I will leave you to reach your own conclusion. I think you can see why I thought I would bypass the deeper issues behind Acts 16:17 Ross. But since you brought it up . . .   

 

We are left now with these questions:

 

Why was there no trial for Paul and Silas?

Why didn't Paul and Silas claim their Roman citizenship at the beginning and not after they were beaten? I am sure I would have to get out of a beating.

Where were the rest of the team while this is happening? 

Where were the team when Paul and Silas were in prison?

What sort of prison was it?  

I can’t work out why this case should be about religion when it seems to be about the loss of earnings. It should just have gone to the small claims court Ian. 

What does “dragged them before the authorities at the market place” mean? 

Shouldn’t they be at the courthouse and not in the market place?

The one verse later the reference is to city officials. Why is that?  

Man when you really look at the details it gets confusing. Perhaps it is wise not to look after all. 

What customs were they teaching that were illegal? 

 

 

Realize that if you have time to whine and complain about something then you have time to do something about it. Anthony D'Angelo

 

Get away from people who always highlight your broken places and try to keep you where you used to be. John Gray

 

The best church for you to attend is one that doesn't cater to you, but calls you to serve others! It's all about OTHERS!

 

When you are no longer able to be taught, you immediately become irrelevant. Be teachable!

 

 

 

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