2 Cor 6:1

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Jan 7 11:17:37 EST 2003

> I would like to pursue this a little, and focus just on the linguistic
> issues, leaving aside, for the moment, the question of context for the
> moment. The NT does have examples of PARAKALEW with infinitive of indirect
> discourse; ATR points out the particularly interesting example of Acts
> 14:22, which has the infinitive and hOTI side by side:
> Let me try once more. Leaving aside questions of context, could we
>  translate 2 Cor 6:1,
> 'As fellow workers we also speak words of consolation saying,
> 'You have not received the grace of God in vain'
> I am still wondering if DECASQAI can be understood as an infinitive of
> indirect discourse. Is that really a non-starter?

We are dealing with two different issues here. One is the meaning of
PARAKALEW, the other is the grammatical construction.
PARAKALEW basically means "encourage". I accept that it can best be
translated by "console/comfort" in several places in the LXX and three
places in the NT which probably go back to a Hebrew text, that is: Matt 2:8,
Matt 5:4 and Luke 16:25. Comfort has to do with encouraging people who has
suffered in some serious way. All other places in the NT, PARAKALEW is
better translated by encourage than comfort/console, although the two senses
are close.

In 2 Cor 6:1 the context of the chapter suggests that he is encouraging the
believers to hold on to their belief even if it means suffering, and to live
a life that is worthy of a person who has received such great grace from

It is correct that "urge/encourage" imply some kind of speech or message.
And it is also true that it is not very easy to translate this verse
meaningfully which can be seen from some of the attempts made by English

RSV: we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.
NRSV: we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.
NIV: we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain.
NET: we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.

NLT: we beg you not to reject this marvelous message of God's great

GNB: we beg you who have received God's grace not to let it be wasted.
CEV: so we beg you: Do not let the grace that you received from God be for
REB: we make this appeal: you have received the grace of God; do not let it
come to nothing.

The first four have missed the intended meaning. It is not a matter of
accepting the grace of God in the future. It is clear that these people
already have received the grace of God. Paul urges them that it shall not be
in vain that they have received the grace. It would be in vain, if they gave
up their faith or lived a life that was not worthy of their calling. There
is then a parallel in thought to Acts 14:22 which you mention, where Paul
also urged them to stay in the faith even though they have to go through
much persecution.

The NLT is supposed to be an idiomatic, meaning-based translation, but
occasionally it misses the point as it has done here, IMO.

The last three are the better translations for the intended sense of this
verse. One might render the sense in everyday English as: "We urge you to
hang on to the grace of God that you have received." Or maybe: "We urge you
to live in such a way that it will not be in vain that you have received the
grace of God."

If you have a good search program, PARAKALEW SU to search for a combination
of KENOS and PARAKALEW in the same verse, as in 1 Cor 15:10, or just search
for KENOS.

Iver Larsen

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