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The KJV of 1 Timothy 4:1-3, as I read it, seems to indicate that some people will depart from the faith because they are the ones consulting evil spirits, believing doctrines of devils, and that they are the ones who "speak lies in hypocrisy", and etc.

KJV 1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

However, I was reading the same passage in the NRSV, and the indication there seems to suggest that the reason some would depart from the faith through seductive evil spirits and demonic doctrine is because other, hypocritical liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron, would mislead them.

NRSV 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron. 3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Robertson appears to agree with the second position above, as noted here:

"Through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies (en hupokrisei pseudologōn)."

Is there, then, a correct position to take on the matter, and if so, apart from Robertson, are there other sources (online if possible???) that explains why one reading over the other is preferred?

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... the reason some would depart from the faith through seductive evil spirits and demonic doctrine is because other, hypocritical liars ... would mislead them.

I don't believe this is the case, but feel free to judge my conclusions below.

The Greek text underlying the NRSV (Nestle-Aland 27th ed.) and the KJV (Textus Receptus) is identical, so any differences in interpretation are not due to variants in the manuscripts. The phrase translated by the NRSV as

... paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared

is:

προσέχοντες / πνεύμασιν πλάνοις / καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων,/ ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, / κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν

The literal Greek comes close, I think, to:

προσέχοντες - giving heed [to], or paying attention [to]

πνεύμασιν πλάνοις - (in reverse word order) deceitful spirits

καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων - and teachings/instructions of demons/evil spirits/devils

ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων - (in reverse word order) lying/speaking lies in hypocrisy

κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν - being seared (or branded) [as to] one's own conscience

The literal text indicates that the lies being spoken in hypocrisy are the lies spoken by demons (NRSV) or devils (KJV). ψευδολόγων ("lying") agrees in case (genitive), number (plural) and gender (neuter) with δαιμονίων ("demons") and πνεύμασιν ("spirits"). The phrase hypocrisy of liars (NRSV) does not appear in the literal Greek text.

The NRSV seems to give the impression that the "demons" and "spirits" are one group, and the liars are another, but this is not the case. They are one in the same group.*


* Perhaps not completely relevant, but I noted that the final phrase, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν (whose consciences are seared with a hot iron, RSV) has some idiosyncrasies that may or may not be relevant. The participle κεκαυστηριασμένων (being seared) is masculine, not neuter plural - so it doesn't seem to agree with "spirits" and "demons". τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν - translated as with a hot iron - is in the accusative case, but it doesn't seem to be the direct object of anything. Greek commentators seem to have understood the phrase to be modifying the deceitful spirits and demons, though, and not the some that will renounce the faith (e.g. Chrysostom, Homily XII on 1 Timothy). Possibly reflecting the use of a "descriptive genitive" and "substantive accusative", respectively.

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