LOGIKOS in Rom. 12:1 and 1.Pet. 2:2

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat May 11 08:06:38 EDT 2002

Yes, Troels, you have written something useful. Keep it up!

My first comment is that I agree that one would expect the two occurrences
of LOGIKOS in the NT to have the same sense, unless the context clearly
indicates otherwise. The context of Romans 12 points clearly to "spiritual"
whereas the context in 1 Peter may point to the "Word". But whether the
difference in context is sufficient to warrant a different translation is a
matter of debate.

We need to have strong arguments to suggest that a dictionary like BAGD is
incorrect. Bauer gives the sense "rational, spiritual" (German edition:
vernünftig, wahr, geistig"). Some of us in the Western world have been
strongly influenced by the philosophy of "rationalism" in the last two
centuries. Because of that we tend to see rational and spiritual as two
irreconcilable opposites. But we should not bring such a modern notion into
the text of the NT. Bauer suggests that a human being by the Greeks was seen
as "LOGIKOS", that is, a being endowed with reason (vernuftbegabten Wesens).
To me, that indicates the capacity to think and having a spiritual component
as well as having a desire to search for God and "life-meaning", a capacity
that no animals have.
For Rom 12:1 BAGD suggests "spiritual service" (Bauer: geistiger, wahrer
About 1 Pet 2:2 BAGD says: "Most likely TO LOGIKON ADOLON GALA in 1 Pt 2:2
is to be taken in the same way [as Rom 12:1]: pure spiritual milk; it is to
be borne in mind that LOGIKOS means spiritual not only in the sense of
PNEUMATIKON, but also in contrast to ‘literal’, w. the mng. ‘metaphorical’.
(Bauer: geistige unverfälschte Milch).

Louw and Nida suggest: "pertaining to being genuine, in the sense of being
true to the real and essential nature of something - ‘rational, genuine,
Since they give no reasons, I find it hard to accept this option.

A few comments below:

> I have a problem with the 'reasonable services' mentioned in the KJV
> rendering of Rom. 12:1. The Greek word 'LOGIKOS' is here given as
> 'reasonable', whereas in the only other occurrence of the word in the
> NT, 1.Pet 2:2, 'LOGIKOS' is rendered by the KJV as 'of the word'.
> 'Reasonable' or 'sensible' seem to be the preferred English renderings
> of the word 'LOGIKOS'

That depends on which translations you prefer to look at. RSV, NRSV, CEV,
NIV all say "spiritual worship" in Rom 21:2. For 1 Pet 2:2 RSV, NRSV, NIV,
TEV, NLT all say "pure spiritual milk".

 as 'vernünftig' or 'wahr und angemessen' are
> the preferred German. 'Wahr und angemessen' is the option of the
> German 'Einheitsübersetzung' of 1980 and I want to show that this
> rendering - although not exactly pinpointing the meaning of
> 'LOGIKOS' - is to be preferred to the rest.

"Wahr" means "true", "vernünftig" means "sensible, rational, reasonable,
thoughtful" and "angemessen" means "reasonable", right? Not far from the
> The reason why the same Greek adjective could be rendered partly as
> two very different English adjectives, partly as the genitive of a
> substantive - the problem is the same in Danish - is an enigma to me
> and I want to present to you what I believe to be a solution. I would
> of course appreciate it if you would let me know of any fallacies you
> might find in the following argument.

Well, neither Danish or English have a word like "wordical". When a language
does not have the needed adjective, one may need to use genitives of nouns
or other means. The key question is whether LOGIKOS in 1 Pet 2 is more
closely related to LOGOS (word, reason) than to "spiritual". It is tradition
in Danish versions, like the KJV, to relate it to LOGOS in 1 Peter, and I
think you are right in questioning that tradition, although I think that the
difference in meaning between the two is not that great in the final
analysis. The context of 1 Peter allows both, and I think both aspects are
> Starting with 1.Pet 2:2, we have four ingredients: The elected ones,
> to whom Peter or whoever the author was, is writing, the newborn
> babies, the 'sincere' milk and the 'LOGIKOS' 'sincere' milk.

It is not clear to me what you mean by ingredients and why you chose these
four elements. It is clear that the readers are likened to newborn babies,
literal milk is likened to a metaphorical "LOGIKOS pure milk". Babies get
milk from an implicit mother, and the text does not explicate where the
readers are to get their metaphorical milk from.

 Also, we
> have an incomplete exhortation, that the elected ones should desire
> this 'sincere milk of the word' like newborn babies. Now, what do
> newborn babies desire? Milk, of course. This way the exhortation
> becomes almost a parable: As newborn babies desire milk, so should the
> elected ones desire their 'LOGIKOS' milk, which is the living stone,
> i.e. Christ.

Why do you suggest that the metaphorical milk is the living stone, Christ?
You cannot drink a stone. Would Christ not be the source of the metaphorical
milk, the LOGOS as John calls him, and therefore likened to the implied
mother who provides the milk? The OT forefathers did get something to drink
from a stone that was likened to Christ, so it seems logical to suggest that
the stone=Christ is the source of the "milk" rather than the milk itself.
Christ likened himself to a drinking source several times, so this is a
fairly common Scriptural metaphor. How do we get that "milk" from Christ? I
suspect by listening to his words, just as in Matt 4 we are told that human
beings are to live from what God speaks. In order to receive and digest that
word from God and Christ, we need the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in the final
analysis, I think both "Word" and "spiritual" are involved in drinking
"milk" from Christ. We are to drink/take in the words that come from Christ
in a spiritual way.
> Turning now to Rom. 12:1, the issue is a little more complicated. We
> have the Romans and we have a 'LOGIKOS' service, but to whom and to
> what are they compared? The only other place in the Rom. where Paul
> mentions the word 'LATREIA' is Rom. 9:4, and that gives us the missing
> pieces: As the Israelites had their service - and at the time of the
> Rom. the Temple with the sacrifices there was still in action - so the
> Romans as their 'LOGIKOS' service should present their bodies to God.
> How that might be done is clear from Rom. 8:13.

To me, Rom 12:1 is the easier of the two because the context makes the
meaning more clear than in 1 Peter. I think you are right that LATREIA is a
key word as is QUSIA in the same verse. Paul does contrast the old Jewish
LATREIA, which involved dead and literal, physical sacrifices, to the new
kind of sacrificial service/worship, where the sacrifice is not dead, but
living, it is not a sheep, goat or a bull, but oneself. In the Old Covenant,
God was pleased with a pure and cleansed physical sacrifice, but in the New
Covenant he wants a pure, spiritual sacrifice. 1 Peter 2:5 also talks about
spiritual sacrifices, so both passages indicate the contrast between the
old, literal, physical system and the new, metaphorical, spiritual system.
There is a clear paradigm shift in the NT from the Old Covenant to the New
> In this way, 'LOGIKOS' becomes an adjective - or maybe even an
> adverb - of a special kind. If a car is red, it is simply red but if
> the car is red as a sunrise is red, one might in this way say that the
> car is 'LOGIKOS´ red as a sunrise. In the language of formal logic,
> 'LOGIKOS' becomes not simply a one place predicate as in red(car) but
> a three-place predicate, a predicate with three arguments as in
> 'LOGIKOS'(car, sunrise, red) or 'LOGIKOS'(the elected, newborn babies,
> milk) or 'LOGIKOS'(Romans, Israelites, service).

Unless you attach a sense to the "predicate" LOGIKOS it is hard for me to
see what you are trying to say. While you started with the sense of "true,
sensible, reasonable", now you seem to move towards Bauer's sense of
"metaphorical". Are you saying that LOGIKOS means "metaphorically speaking"?
If so, I would explicate the propositions to "the car is metaphorically
speaking red as a sunrise", "the elected ones (believers/readers) are
metaphorically speaking to crave (spiritual) milk like newborn babies crave
literal milk" and "the Roman believers are metaphorically speaking to make
(spiritual) sacrifices like the Israelites made literal sacrifices". Your
three examples are not similar, in that the car is literally red as the sun
appears red, whereas the new sacrificial, religious service and believers'
milk are both spiritual and contrasted to literal, religious, sacrificial
service and literal babies' milk.
In both passages LOGIKOS is an adjective that qualifies a noun, either
LATREIA in Rom or GALA in 1 Peter (unlike the car example where it seems to
be the predicate "be red" that is LOGIKOS). In both passages the word
"spiritual" as suggested by Bauer and most modern English versions seems to
fit quite nicely.
The translator is in a dilemma as happens so often. If I say "spiritual" I
miss the fact that Paul and Peter did not here use PNEUMATIKOS. If I say
"rational, reasonable" I communicate to a modern Western audience something
unspiritual which appear different from the intended meaning.  If I say
"true" I miss the spiritual aspect and indirectly say that the old LATREIA
was false or that the real milk is in some way not true. But the meaning is
rather that the old LATREIA was good and true in its time, but a physical,
prophetic pointer to the new spiritual LATREIA. Likewise, the mother's milk
is pure and good and "true", but there is a different kind of milk which is
needed for believers to drink.
At the moment, my choice as a translator is to use "spiritual", following
BAGD and the majority of modern English versions.

Do you follow me, Troels?

Iver Larsen
pt. Kolding, Denmark

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