THE RIGHT HAND IN ACTS 3:7

B. Ward Powers bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
Mon Aug 6 12:38:13 EDT 2001


B-greekers all:

Just sent this email to the list, and it went out with a meaningless page 
heading instead of the correct subject. Sorry about that. (Carelessness!!) 
Here it is again, with the correct subject heading this time round:

Interesting question arose tonight in my Bible Study Group on the Greek text.

We are reading Acts, and in 3:7 we find: KAI PIASAS AUTON THS DEXIAS CEIROS 
HGEIREN AUTON.

Peter is healing the man lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate of the 
Temple. And he takes him by the right hand and raises him up. Now here is 
the question: whose right hand was involved? Peter's? Or 
the-hitherto-lame-man's?

This is a safe question to ask on b-greek, because (as far as I am aware) 
no significant doctrinal issue hangs in the balance here. But we are all 
rather curious about it in my group. Before tonight, I rather assumed that 
it was the healed man's right hand which was referred to. After our 
classroom discussion I am inclined the other way now. I.e., that the 
reference is to Peter's right hand.

When I got home, I checked it out in various versions. The translations I 
have looked at all either indicate or imply that it was the man's hand. E.g.:
NIV  Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up.
JB    Peter then took him by the hand and helped him to stand up.
NEB  Then he grasped him by the right hand and pulled him up.
NRSV And he took him by the right hand and raised him up.

Can't seem to find a translation that takes it to be Peter's hand.

Now the thing is, it wouldn't much matter, in the total cosmic order of 
things, whether Peter took the man's left hand or right hand, would it? So 
why mention it at all? (And I notice that several versions omit the word 
"right" e.g., the JB, above.) But if it was PETER'S right hand ... Why 

then, the right hand is the action hand, the sword hand, the powerful hand. 
Allusions to all sorts of passages which mention the significance of the 
right hand fall into place as background here.

So I am now inclined to go with:
"So taking hold of him with his right hand, he [Peter] lifted him up."

A couple of points which MAY be relevant:
(a) The presence of the article: THS DEXIAS CEIROS
(b) The fact that this is Genitive (and not, for example, Dative).

Do these have any bearing on whose hand it was?
Can the issue as to whose right hand it was be decided from the Greek?
To what extent can other issues, other background factors, other passages, 
throw any light on our verse?

Be interested to know what you think.

Regards,

Ward

                                http://www.netspace.net.au/~bwpowers
Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
PETERSHAM  NSW  2049      email: bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
AUSTRALIA.                         Director, Tyndale College

                                http://www.netspace.net.au/~bwpowers
Rev Dr B. Ward Powers        Phone (International): 61-2-8714-7255
259A Trafalgar Street          Phone (Australia): (02) 8714-7255
PETERSHAM  NSW  2049      email: bwpowers at optusnet.com.au
AUSTRALIA.                         Director, Tyndale College




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