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II Tim 3:17 says,

"ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος".(TR Stephanus-1550)

"That complete might be the of God man towards every work good, having been fully equpped."(Interlinear)

The word "ἄρτιος"(artios) seems to have a variety of translations; the KJV uses "perfect". whereas the NIV uses "thoroughly equipped". "Artios" is translated "complete", yet the KJV version says,(II Tim. 3:17)

That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

If "complete" were substituted for "perfect", we would have "complete, thoroughly furnished" which essentially be using the same adjective twice. "Perfection" however, holds another meaning.

What is the meaning of "ἄρτιος" in context with this verse and why does the KJV translate it "perfect"?

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    Interesting question! I'm not sure where your "interlinear" is coming from (as usual, it's helpful if you can specify -- not all interlinears are equivalent!), but what is transcribed here appears to be missing a word from the end to translate ἐξηρτισμένος ("equipped" or some such).
    – Susan
    Feb 4 '16 at 8:20
  • @Susan It come from the "I missed one important word" translation :P.. Thank you for reminding me, I edited it to correct this error...;>)
    – Tau
    Feb 4 '16 at 13:59
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    It does use the same adjective twice: "in order that the person of God might be fit, having been outfitted to every good work." The difference is in the tense and binding of clauses.
    – fumanchu
    Feb 4 '16 at 16:30
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The word ἄρτιος (artios) is not found elsewhere in the New Testament or the Septuagint, but it is reasonably well-attested in Classical Greek literature; LSJ provides many examples. BDAG gives:

pertaining to being well fitted for some function, complete, capable, proficient = able to meet all demands

Although the word is a hapax within the Greek Bible, there is a related set of words, also derived from ἀρτίζω (artizō), with attestation here. These add the prefixes εκ- or κατα-, but the usage pattern indicates a closely related (if somewhat amorphous) meaning. NIDNTTE helpfully gives "concepts" that characterize the word group:

Arrange; Goal; Good; Make; Prepare1

One such term is used in this very same verse: ἐξαρτίζω (exartizō; "to finish, complete, equip"):

ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος, πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος
so that the the man of God might be artios, exērtismenos toward every good work

Thus, although the verse does not repeat precisely the same word, it does use a closely related word, this with the nuance indicating "directionality", i.e. specific to an object: "every good work". Exartizō is also used also at Acts 21:5, lit. "our days were completed"

More common is καταρτίζω (katartizō), occurring 13 times in the New Testament. Most often it refers to attainment of or restoration unto spiritual maturity (e.g. 1 Cor 1:10, Gal 6:1, 1 Thess 3:10, Heb 13:21, 1 Pet 5:10). Also from NIDNTTE:

It is clear that the words in this group were appropriated by the NT writers, especially Paul, as ideally suited to express concepts related to Christian growth, whether in the context of problems that needed to be remedied, or in connection with training for service, or more generally to encourage spiritual maturity.

2 Tim 3:17 fits nicely in this framework. Scripture has been given to the "man of God" in order to fully prepare him with the principles necessary to approach every "good deed".

OP additionally asks:

[W]hy does the KJV translate it "perfect"?

I think this is most likely an example of archaic (?) English usage that may be unfamiliar to us. Several of the available meanings from Merriam Webster seem to me consistent with the above discussion:

Perfect:
3b. lacking in no essential detail: complete
4. obsolete: mature

You may have noticed that LSJ didn't have a problem glossing ἄρτιος (artios) using "perfect". The emphasis on faultlessness that may be felt in modern parlance was likely not the intention of either KJV or LSJ.

Although I think it's a less likely explanation for the KJV rendering, it's worth mentioning that there is one manuscript – Codex Claromontanus – that reads not ἄρτιος (artios) in 2 Tim 3:17 but τέλειος (teleios).2 The manuscript can be viewed on the Bibliothèque Nationale site. See line 7: ΙΝΑ ΤΕΛΙΟϹ Η, followed inline by the correction in a different pen: ΑΡΤΙΟϹ Η. This manuscript is a Greek-Latin diglot, and the reading was possibly influenced by the Vulgate: perfectus sit homo Dei....


1. "ἄρτιος" in New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDTTE). Ed. Moises Silva (Zondervan, 2014), 1:408-410.

2. An adjective well-known from Matt 5:48, 1 Cor 13:10, Jas 1:17, 1 Joh 4:18, etc., consistently translated using "perfect" in the KJV. It seems to be misspelled in the manuscript (telios rather than teleios, possibly influenced by the correct word, artios?).

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  • Thank you for your response! I believe you've resolved the confusion regarding the translation of ἄρτιος. The 'perfect' usage is consistent throughout the KJV, although "artios" in this instance seemed strange. But your answer reconciles this, thanks.
    – Tau
    Feb 5 '16 at 3:55
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και εαν εις την πολιν επιστρεψης και ερεις τω αβεσσαλωμ διεληλυθασιν οι αδελφοι σου και ο βασιλευς κατοπισθεν μου διεληλυθεν ο πατηρ σου και νυν παις σου ειμι βασιλευ εασον με ζησαι παις του πατρος σου ημην τοτε και αρτιως και νυν εγω δουλος σος και διασκεδασεις μοι την βουλην αχιτοφελ (2Sm 15:34 The Old Testament Septuagint)

וְ·אִם־ הָ·עִ֣יר תָּשׁ֗וּב וְ·אָמַרְתָּ֤ לְ·אַבְשָׁלוֹם֙ עַבְדְּ·ךָ֨ אֲנִ֤י הַ·מֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֶֽהְיֶ֔ה עֶ֣בֶד אָבִ֤י·ךָ וַֽ·אֲנִי֙ מֵ·אָ֔ז וְ·עַתָּ֖ה וַ·אֲנִ֣י עַבְדֶּ֑·ךָ וְ·הֵפַרְתָּ֣ה לִ֔·י אֵ֖ת עֲצַ֥ת אֲחִיתֹֽפֶל׃ (2Sm 15:34 TH)

מֵ·אָ֔ז > τοτε και αρτιως

Hebrew:

Strong's Number H0227 אז ’az Short Definition: at that time or place; also as a conjunction, therefore Detailed Definition: then, at that time; temporal expressions; then (past); then, if...then (future); earlier; logical expressions; in that case; that (being so)

Greek:

Strong's Number G05119 τοτε tote Short Definition: the when, i.e., at the time that (of the past or future, also in consecution) Detailed Definition: then; at that time

In 2 Sm 15:34 αρτιως is an adverb and it means completely fit through of practice, practically.

In 2 Tm 3:17 αρτιος is an adjective with the translation calloused, experienced, trained.

In Lexicon A Greek ≈ Hebrew/Aramaic Two-way Index to the Septuagint, T. Muraoka ἀρτίως is equal to עתה H6258: now. In Gn 39:5 מֵאָ֔ז means "since that" and in Ruth 2: 7 is not good translation "now", the understanding is “since then”, as in 2 Samuel 15:34, the servitude does not start with Absalom. This is the idea contained in the phrase τοτε και αρτιως (at that time and since then)

άρτιος, επίθ. παράγ. < άρτι < άραρίσκω ( προσαρμόζω)—» άρτ-ιος (= πλήρης). Koulaki Megalo Etymologiko. ἀραρίσκω • ‎(ararískō) (transitive) 1 join, fasten 2 fit together, construct: prepare, contrive 3 fit, equip, furnish: please, gratify 4 make fit, make pleasing (intransitive) 1 to be joined closely together: to be fixed 2 to fit or suit 3 to be fitted with, furnished with 4 to be fitted, suiting, agreeable, pleasing. πλήρης • ‎(plḗrēs) m, πλήρης f, πλῆρες n; third declension, full, complete.

ἄρτι.DER ἄρτιος; (11.) 'right, fitting', also 'even' (of numbers).

Etymological Dictionary of Greek By Robert Beekes With the assistance of Lucien van Beek. Brill. * Even numbers, which divide by two and does not return a value different from the integrals. The root of the word ἄρτι is άρ, in ἄρα (adapt, merge, link), this idea is present in מֵאָ֔ז, Gn 39:5, Ruth 2:7, 2 Sm 15:34, etc..

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The following is what I remember about what I learned decades ago on the subject as taught by a trusted research teaching and fellowship ministry. Time and time again this ministry earned my trust by never asking me to take anything "on faith" and always encouraged me to do my own research in oder to make the subject matter my own.

Artios, as used here, is a nautical term used to describe a ship that is fully fitted out, prepared, supplied, rigged (as in rigging), etc. for its journey, lacking nothing and ready for any eventuality. Hence the english rendering "throughly furnished". The KJV translation deliberately uses the word "throughly" often incorrectly replaced with the more common, and therefore comfortable word "thoroughly".

To replace "throughly" with "thoroughly" is a mistake. They are not the same thing and they are not interchangeable. "Throughly" is all the way through, including the inside. "Thoroughly" is outside only. Don't believe me? What difference does it make? You can thoroughly wash your hands, but you cannot throughly wash your hands.

The "all scripture" of the previous verse, II Tim. 3:16, is profitable to throughly prepare, or furnish (artios) the man of God for any eventuality (unto all good works). With God, its an inside job.

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    Please add some reference for your claims about the nautical meaning of artios -- see the "LSJ" link in the accepted answer, above. It's hard to spot such a meaning there. This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. | Also, note that "throughly" = "thoroughly", so that bit of your discussion should be expunged.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jul 31 '16 at 19:34
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Dados Nam quid plura loquar? ficus se floribus ipsa induet. Cubante C. Alexandre Sibylline Oracle 1:291

Why more can I say? The fig tree that in itself adopts the flowers.

Similar construction in Septuagint Job 22:25.

“…And pure it will return you, like refined silver.”

ἄρτια δ᾽ αἰνήσω• ἔσται πολυποίκιλον ἄνθος Sibylline Oracle in Greek 1:291

ἄρτια G739: A-APN δ᾽ G1161: CONJ αἰνήσω• G*: V-FAI-1S

And experienced it will praise, you will be a multidiversified flower.”

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    You need to add a bit of discussion to clarify how this addresses the question. As it stands, it's a bit cryptic.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jul 31 '16 at 19:21

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