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The Greek Exegetical Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:6 on Atonement

Discussion in 'Scriptural Debates' started by ToGodorNottoGod, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. ToGodorNottoGod

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    The Greek Exegetical Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:6 on Atonement


    In just one place in the New Testament is the hapax legomenon singular accusative noun αντιλυτρον combined for an intriguing emphasis joined with the Greek preposition υπερ, at 1 Timothy 2:6 - “Who gave himself a [vicarious] ransom (αντιλυτρον υπερ) for all, to be testified in due time.” The preposition υπερ “Seems to have arisen from the image of one person standing or bending over another in order to shield or protect him, or of a shield lifted over the head that suffers the blow instead of the person (cf. υπερασπιζω “cover with a shield”)”[1] The Greek υπερ “has a substitutionary meaning. “The prefixed αντι- reinforces the idea of substitution already present in the λυτρον concept, and so even if the υπερ were taken with the meaning ‘for the benefit of,” (one of its possibilities within certain contexts), the concept of substitution would be present in the text.”[2]


    As Swete noted the uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice - “The disciple may lose his life, the Master can only give it in the fullest sense. Further, while the disciple parts with his life for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, the Master gives it as a αντιλυτρον υπερ πολλων, His death is to be a supreme act of service to humanity.”[3]


    “The sole significance of the preposition [αντι] in each New Testament context is that of substitution and exchange.”[4] “Paul [at 1 Timothy 2:6] uses a noun which combines the noun and preposition in a single word, which thus appears stronger than the simple λυτρον suggesting a ransom which has been completely paid, an atonement that has been effected… the addition of the preposition αντι - ‘instead of’ - is significant in view of the preposition υπερ, ‘on behalf of,’ and in place of all, on the grounds of which freedom may be granted.”[5] In the previous verse, (1 Tim 2:5) it was noted that there is one God, and one mediator between God and humans, who is Jesus Christ. The syntax places Christ in the middle as the intermediary between God and humans. And it specifies that “he gave a [vicarious] ransom for all” in order to actualize the salvation willed by God. In essence, “he reconciled those whom sin had set at variance. This is not a temporary assignment, but his permanent function: the God-Man was, so to speak, born to be the Peacemaker!”[6]


    “As with λυτρον so with αντι, both imply substitution… the aorist tenses indicate that the allusion is not to a lifelong sacrifice but to one definitive act of self-surrender. God somehow makes the death of Jesus help in the salvation of others. It is in this more special sense that Jesus gives his own life for the sake of many lives.”[7]


    The preposition υπερ in 1 Tim. 2:6, “Who gave himself a [vicarious] ransom (αντιλυτρον υπερ) for all...” also gains a substitutionary sense under the influence of the αντι- in αντιλυτρον and the αντι- of Mark 10:45 - Και γαρ ο υιος του ανθρωοπου ουκ ηλθεν διακονηθηναι αλλα διακονησαι και δουναι την ψυχην αυτου λυτρον αντι πολλων - “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”


    The aorist infinitive verbs here interestingly shows the syntax leads to exegetical insight. The first verb is passive - “not to be ministered to,” and then it becomes the aorist active - “but to minister,” and again another active - “to give his life.” This doesn’t give us the means or answer our question of how? It gives us the what. It’s not the predictive future, but rather the summarized action, no length of time is indicated. It is just a “snapshot” fact, this is what Jesus came to do.[8] It helps us see Paul’s determination when he says “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) “This text illustrates two other points of Greek syntax: (1) The subject has the article (in the first clause, since on of the substantives has the article and the other is a proper noun [in Paul], what determines the subject is the word order; and (2) the tenses of the infinitives are lexically informed. It is no accident that the first infinitive is present (“to continue living”) and the second is aorist (“to die”).”[9]


    Endnotes

    1. Murray J. Harris, “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” Zondervan, 2012: 207.

    2. Daniel B. Wallace, “Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics,” Zondervan, 1996: 388. Hereafter “GGBB.”

    3. Henry Barclay Swete, “Commentary on Mark, The Greek Text with Introduction, Notes and Indexes,” Kregel, 1977: 240. Hereafter cited as “CM”

    4. “GGBB,” p. 365.

    5. Colin Brown, ed., “Dictionary of New Testament Theology," Zondervan, 1986, p. 197. Also “CM,” p. 241 - “αντι belongs to the imagery of the λυτρον.” See also Bauer, Gingrich and Danker, “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,” 2nd ed., University of Chicago Press, 1979: 73, where αντι with the genitive is found in Homer, the papyri, the LXX, Josephus, “in order to indicate that one person or thing is, or is to be replaced by another, instead of, in place of, etc.”

    6. Ceslas Spicq, “Theological Lexicon of the New Testament,” Hendrickson, 2 Print, 1996, 2:468. Cf. Wesley J. Perschbacher, “New Testament Greek Syntax,” Moody Press, 1995: 190 - “αντι with the genitive indicates, among others, substitution, equivalence, reason, exchange, and contrast,” [depending on context]. Cf. “CM,” p. 241 - “The Lord contemplates a λυτρον which is ψυχη αντι ψυχης (Levit. 24:18) His own ψυχη given as a ransom for the ψυχαι of men.”

    7. Leon Morris, “Apostolic Preaching of the Cross,” Eerdmans, reprint, 1976: 37-38. Also "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament,” Kittel, ed., Eerdmans, reprint 1975: 5:710, note 435 for many scriptures.

    8. “GGBB,” p. 558. P. 555 for the idea that the aorist is like a snapshot instead of a motion picture.

    9. “GGBB,” p. 601. Cf. Jerry L. Sumney, “Philippiians, a Greek Student’s Intermediate Reader,” Hendrickson, 2007: 28.
     
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  2. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    I never understood this concept when I was with my church. The fact that Jesus died for me, was always a mystery because I could not comprehend how his death bought my life.

    It was explained to me that if I was standing in front of a firing squad for something I did wrong, and the death penalty was to rightly apply, then Jesus stepped in front of me to take the bullet.
    He offered his life for mine.....and he did it for everyone. But how is that possible?

    How is Jesus' life a ransom?
    Well....what is a ransom? It the price demanded for the release of a captive or a collective of captives. How are the human race captives? Adam sold them into slavery to sin and death by disobeying his God, and the penalty was death.
    It was not uncommon for a man to sell his children into service to pay a debt. Upon final payment by the debtor, the child was released from servitude.
    Or a generous friend or relative could pay the debt and free the child by offering the redemption price.

    But the human race had no way to pay Adam's debt....it was too high. What Adam lost in Eden was more that his own perfect sinless life....he also lost perfect sinless life for his children, passing on his defective genes to all of them. The only way to pay the debt was to provide another sinless life to balance the scales of justice in accordance with God's law....."eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth...life for a life".

    This was Jesus.....the only human other than Adam to be created sinless.

    Coming to understand how the ransom works was a life changing moment for me.
     
    #2 Deeje, Apr 23, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
  3. ToGodorNottoGod

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    Yes, it is for me as well. There is a lot to this idea of atonement, and in fact at least 4 differing interpretations. I shall write more on it as I have time. I tried to post this entire 8 page paper but the boards will only let me post 12,000 character works, so I have to watch how much I type - lol....more to come soon.
     
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  4. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    The very word....”at-one-ment” speaks for itself....one for one....equivalency is featured strongly in God’s laws. A “life for a life” meant that one who took a life, paid with his own. Those who stole or defrauded had to repay with interest.

    Only the life of the “last Adam” could pay for what the first Adam did to his children. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
     
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