Acts 11:4

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Friday, 21 October 2022

But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying: Acts 11:4

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Those of the circumcision were in a snit towards Peter about what had occurred in Caesarea. They said to him, “You went into uncircumcised men and ate with them.” With that, it now says, “But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying.”

This translation by the NKJV is hardly reflective of the Greek. Rather, the Greek reads, “Now Peter having begun, set forth to them in order, saying” (BLB). Peter opened his mouth and began his response to them. Once he did, he set forth the events as they occurred. The verb is imperfect, reflecting the ongoing nature of his speaking out the chronology of events. He started explaining and he continued by sequentially relaying how things happened.

By doing this, he would be able to convince them of the appropriateness of his actions more precisely. This is because they will be able to see it in the same manner as God ordered the things to occur. Peter had his own doubts, but they were dispelled by how things transpired. By the time he arrived at Cornelius’ house, he felt reassured that his entry into it was exactly the right thing to do.

By speaking out the matter just as it had been presented to him, they could logically follow along as if they were there, right next to him, watching how God orchestrated everything. As such, even a hardened Jew, if he accepted Peter’s story as true, would be fully convinced that Peter’s actions were wholly acceptable.

Life application: By looking at this verse in parallel with other translations, one can see how carefully some translations follow the original Greek, some paraphrase it, and some practically plagiarize what others have already put forth without ever checking with the original.

For this commentary, forty-six versions were looked at. Of them, thirty-one follow the Greek order exactly or pretty closely. Eleven follow the same pattern as the NKJV (noted above), and the rest are essentially paraphrases that do not reflect the Greek very well at all. One can almost see where the original error in thought came in and who went with it. In this case, the oldest Bible referred to, and which started the divergence in translation, was the Bishop’s Bible of 1568.

First, remember the correct sequence of the Greek from the BLB –

“Now Peter having begun, set forth to them in order, saying”

The translation that less properly follows the Greek (the Bishop’s Bible of 1568) reads –

“But Peter rehearsed the matter from the begynnyng, and expounded it by order vnto them, saying:”

From there, whoever was assigned this portion of Acts on the KJV translation team simply copied that and updated it to more modern English –

“But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,”

From there, the NKJV did this again –

“But Peter explained it to them in order from the beginning, saying:”

This is just a simple exercise in finding out why translations are the way they are, and it can be extremely helpful in better learning the original intent, if desired. Seeing error in something can help in directing the mind to what is correct. If such things don’t matter to you, then enjoy whatever translation you are reading, but be sure to not assume it is the only correct version. Just because you enjoy the style of the translation you are reading, it doesn’t make it right.

Consider this carefully because even though Acts 11:4 doesn’t carry any heavy theological weight, other verses do. A single mistranslated verse, or a single verse taken out of its proper context, can lead people down entirely incorrect paths of doctrine. Never stop studying this precious word. It is a lifetime of joy for those who seek out what God has set forth for us!

Lord God, what a delight it is to read Your word and to contemplate it. Thank You for those who have diligently and faithfully translated it for us over the millennia. We are the recipients of their efforts, and for that, we are grateful. How wonderful it is to have modern, reliable versions to help us understand what You have set for us. Amen.