[B-Greek] Jam 1:13 APEIRASTOS 'unable to' or 'unable to
john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com
Fri Jul 6 07:02:06 EDT 2007
I think I need some help here. To me the Greek appears to be rather
straight forward, no passive voice at all. It begins with a clause
connector (GAR, as second word in the clause), introducing HO QEOS as the
subject, with APEIRASTOS ESTIN as the predicate followed by KAKWN, a rather
common pattern. So we have, God is a 'something' of evil. That 'something'
is a non-test, a non-temptation, a non-trial, something in that line.
To me the problem is not the Greek; it is the English that you are
confronting. The Greek pattern does not have a corresponding English
pattern that is normally used. We need to use a different English pattern
to convey the same idea that is present in the Greek, which I would think is
up to each individual translator.
> MHDEIS PEIRAZOMENOS LEGETW hOTI
> <APO QEOU PEIRAZOMAI>:
> hO GAR QEOS APEIRASTOS ESTIN KAKWN,
> PEIRAZEI DE AUTOS OUDENA
> APEIRASTOS occurs in N.T only once here. Why it should be understood
> as God 'being unable to be tempted/tested' (a passive voice)? With
> this rendering (strange concept to me) as in all the translations I
> know of, this makes the whole verse difficult to understand.
> Commentaries do not help for clear exegesis on this verse.
One problem is how to understand the genitive KAKWN. If APEIRASTOS is used
passive sense, which I agree is demanded by the context, is KAKWN then the
implied agent for such temptation? It would be easy to come to such a
from the many English versions that translate the genitive by the word "by"
if the text had said hUPO KAKWN. NCV says: "Evil cannot tempt God." BAGD and
BDAG take the genitive as the complement and translates "to do evil". This
clearly and correctly translated by NLT which says: "God is never tempted to
The other problem is the various senses of PEIRAZW. Apart from the sense
"attempt to do (unsuccesfully)" it can mean "test, examine" in a positive
or "tempt to do bad things" in a negative sense. Which sense is intended can
only be determined in context. The two important determiners are (1) the
and (2) the result.
Testing has a positive motive by the tester, because the hope is that
or whoever is being tested will be stregthened after having undergone the
testing/trials. This positive motive expects a positive result. It or they
have been tested and then receive a stamp of approval. That is why James 1:2
says that it is a joy to be tested. It produces endurance, which is a
character trait. That is also why God can test people or at least allow
On the other hand, temptation has a negative motive, because the hope is
the one being tempted will fall for the temptation and do somethng bad. In
sense the Devil is the "Tempter". And in that sense God can never tempt
as the last part of v. 13 says.
Therefore, I think is it quite correct to translate all three occurrences of
passive PEIRAZW/PEIRASTOS in v. 13 by "tempt": No one who is being tempted
do evil] should say: 'God is tempting me.' Remember (GAR) that God is never
tempted to do evil, nor does he ever tempt anybody [to do evil].
The first part of the explanation introduced by the GAR indicates that God
never fall for the temptation to do evil, so neither should you as a
since you are a "child of God". It relates to the first part of the verse
who is being tempted to do evil). The second part of the explanation relates
the saying 'God is tempting me" and indicates that this would be a false
statement, since God never tempts anybody.
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