2 Cor. 5:20

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2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 31st, 2014, 8:44 am


    Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν
    ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος διʼ ἡμῶν·
    δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ,
    καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ.
NIV84
    We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,
    as though God were making his appeal through us.
    We implore you on Christ’s behalf:
    Be reconciled to God.
My understanding:
    We [all] are therefore ambassadors of Christ,
    as God urges through us.
    We [you and I together] plead on behalf of Christ [to the world],
    "Be reconciled to God."

I'm not trying to champion a new understanding of 2 Cor 5:20. The way I have translated it above is simply the way I understood it as I read the Greek. But I see that every translation* supplies "you" as an object of "We plead." That understanding jars a bit, doesn't it? The sudden command doesn't seem to fit the flow of thought. But, I guess St. Paul does that.

So, what am I missing in the Greek that requires the NET NIV GW NASB and about 30 other translations to supply "we beg YOU" ?


* I found one (out of about 30) exception: "On Christ's behalf therefore we come as ambassadors, God, as it were, making entreaty through our lips: we, on Christ's behalf, beseech men to be reconciled to God." Weymouth New Testament (?)
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby cwconrad » January 31st, 2014, 8:56 am

Paul-Nitz wrote:
    Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ οὖν πρεσβεύομεν
    ὡς τοῦ θεοῦ παρακαλοῦντος διʼ ἡμῶν·
    δεόμεθα ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ,
    καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ.
NIV84
    We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors,
    as though God were making his appeal through us.
    We implore you on Christ’s behalf:
    Be reconciled to God.
My understanding:
    We [all] are therefore ambassadors of Christ,
    as God urges through us.
    We [you and I together] plead on behalf of Christ [to the world],
    "Be reconciled to God."

I'm not trying to champion a new understanding of 2 Cor 5:20. The way I have translated it above is simply the way I understood it as I read the Greek. But I see that every translation* supplies "you" as an object of "We plead." That understanding jars a bit, doesn't it? The sudden command doesn't seem to fit the flow of thought. But, I guess St. Paul does that.

So, what am I missing in the Greek that requires the NET NIV GW NASB and about 30 other translations to supply "we beg YOU" ?


* I found one (out of about 30) exception: "On Christ's behalf therefore we come as ambassadors, God, as it were, making entreaty through our lips: we, on Christ's behalf, beseech men to be reconciled to God." Weymouth New Testament (?)

Seems to me that the "you" is implied by the imperative's addressee. Sure, you can phrase the addressees of the envoy's appeal in a generic noun ("men" or "people"), but when the envoy words his appeal, καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ, his addresses will be a "you." Or am I missing something that you see?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Dmitriy Reznik » January 31st, 2014, 10:14 am

cwconrad wrote:Seems to me that the "you" is implied by the imperative's addressee. Sure, you can phrase the addressees of the envoy's appeal in a generic noun ("men" or "people"), but when the envoy words his appeal, καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ, his addresses will be a "you." Or am I missing something that you see?

We [you and I together] plead on behalf of Christ [to the world],
"Be reconciled to God."
I think that only "Be reconciled to G-d" is direct speech, thus implying "you". But "We plead" is not a part of the direct speech, thus may imply "them" or "the world", or any other complement.

Sincerely,
Dmitriy Reznik
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Paul-Nitz » January 31st, 2014, 10:31 am

Thanks. Yes, "you" is understood within the imperative. I guess it's as simple as that.
I was thinking of it in this sense:

    "We are lawyers. We appeal on our clients behalf "Free this man."

I suppose, my misunderstanding started with verse 18.
    "He reconciled us to himself (ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῷ)..."
      This would seem to refer to everyone. It carries on
    "and gave US the ministry of reconciliation (καὶ δόντος ἡμῖν)."
      If ἡμῖν here switches to referring only to Paul and his ilk, then in verse 20
    "We are ambassadors" (πρεσβεύομεν) would also mean Paul.
      All this leads to a sudden outburst statement of that message in v 20,
    "You listeners, be reconciled!"
It seems complicated. It's easier for me to understand it this way:
    "He reconciled himself to us all,
    and he gave us all the ministry of reconciliation,
    and we all are ambassadors
    who are fond of saying "Be reconciled!"

But maybe I'm importing things into the text to make it easier for me to understand.

Is there anything to the fact that we would normally expect an object? δεόμεθα ὑμῶν...


For reference:
    17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
    NIV84

Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 31st, 2014, 10:49 am

It would seem - correct me if I've skipped one - that this supplied "you " of verse 20 is the only exclusive "we" in a chapter of inclusive "we"'s.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Stephen Carlson » January 31st, 2014, 11:04 am

Maybe v.11, ἀνθρώπους πείθομεν, supports your interpretation, Paul?
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke, New Testament)
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Tony Pope » January 31st, 2014, 11:10 am

Andreas Köstenberger in an article in the Bible Translator follows a number of commentators (Alford, Bruce, Hughes, Plummer, Thrall [in her comments]) in arguing that Paul is in 5.20 still describing his general task rather than making an appeal to the Corinthians in particular.
"We Plead on Christ's Behalf: 'Be Reconciled to God'" Bible Translator 48.3 1997 328-31.
http://www.ubs-translations.org/tbt/1997/03/TBT199703.html?num=328&x=0&y=0&num1=

Also, and more comprehensively, Richard K. Moore, '2 Corinthians 5.20b in the English Bible in the light of Paul’s doctrine of reconciliation' Bible Translator 54.1 2003 146-55
http://tbt.sagepub.com/content/54/1/146.full.pdf+html if you have access.

There are several other English translations to add to Weymouth that omit "you" but they retain the direct speech at the end of the verse. I take it that the direct speech in the Greek καταλλάγητε τῷ θεῷ is not necessarily addressed to the Corinthians, but rather to whoever is perceived to be the object of δεόμεθα. If that is all and sundry (urbi et orbi - Plummer), then that is who the direct speech is addressed to. (Unfortunately this is not really clear in English, unless re-expressed as indirect speech, as Weymouth did.)
Jewish New Testament (1989): Therefore we are ambassadors of the Messiah; in effect, God is making his appeal through us. What we do is appeal on behalf of the Messiah, "Be reconciled to God.
New Living 2nd edition (2004): So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
Holman Christian Standard Bible: Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby Iver Larsen » January 31st, 2014, 11:14 am

Paul, I completely agree with your understanding. To me, it is the only one that makes sense in the context. Paul and his audience are ambassadors for Christ who plead (to people/the world) that they be reconciled to God. The previous verse introduced that reconciliation between God and the world. The Corinthians have already been reconciled, and therefore can hardly be addressed by the imperative.

While I was writing this, I can see that Tony has also responded, so I will shorten mine.

It looks like the addition of the pronoun goes all the way back to the Wycliffe Bible: "Therefore we use message for Christ [Therefore we be set in legacy, or message, for Christ], as if God admonisheth by us; we beseech you for Christ, be ye reconciled to God. " (From Biblegateway).
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ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 31st, 2014, 12:00 pm

1) The phrase ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ seems to mean "we" are doing what Christ himself, if he were here would be doing what "we" are doing now. Like in
Romans 9:3 wrote:ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀδελφῶν μου
"instead of my brother"
Which is contrary to the expectation that ὑπέρ c. gen. denotes who is being prayed for, and is the same use of ὑπέρ c. gen.in both useages in the verse.

I also think that those in the church at Corinth - where they lived - would also be acting ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ as much as Paul and Timothy would have been - where they were.

2) How about this possibility....
Did Christ ever pray that people would be reconciled to God? Or did he say it to them directly. He prayed, so I think that the beseeching / asking, is asking God.

We are asking [God] / praying [to the Father] as Chirst does / did.

3) I don't think that taking καταλλάγητε as subjunctive could make much sense.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
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Re: 2 Cor. 5:20

Postby cwconrad » January 31st, 2014, 2:51 pm

Makes one wonder how readers made out in those "dim, olden' days before editors and punctuators showed us how we ought to anatomize the text in order to make it read the way we think we'd like to read it. ;)
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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