Is there any improper nuance to the word "exists" vs "is" in translating the present tense of "to be" in Hebrews 11:6?

Berean Literal Bible: And without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For it behooves the one drawing near to God to believe that He exists and that He becomes a rewarder to those earnestly seeking Him out.

New American Standard Bible: And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants]: χωρὶς δὲ πίστεως ἀδύνατον εὐαρεστῆσαι, πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον τῷ θεῷ ὅτι ἔστιν καὶ τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν μισθαποδότης γίνεται.

I've heard of some deeming it inappropriate to speak of God "existing" rather than "being".

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    'To be' and 'to exist' may function as synonyms in modern English, particularly when 'to be' is left unmodified. For example, 'I am' can simply be a statement of existence when nothing further is implied by context, such as, 'Are you at work? I am.' In that, 'to be' (I am) has an implied meaning because of the previous question (I am [at work]). That, as opposed to the maxim, 'I think, therefore I am', where 'I am' means 'I exist'. – user2910 Sep 6 '17 at 19:00
  • @MarkEdward: And wherever you are, that's where you'll be! – rhetorician Sep 6 '17 at 21:52
  • @rhetorician I guess you could call this my "to be or not to be" question! – Ruminator Sep 6 '17 at 21:55
  • @MarkEdward If you copy your comment into an Answer I'd be happy to mark it as an Answer. I think the objection I've heard is that "is" sounds more "active and ongoing" whereas "exists" sounds more sterile and lifeless. It is enough perhaps for a person with those associations to make a word choice but probably not a meaningful objection to "exists". – Ruminator Sep 8 '17 at 4:40

As far as I can determine as to etymology, "exist" comes from Latin and "be" comes from Old English, presumably from ancient Saxon or Scandinavian. I can presently see no difference in usage in the English and I personally conclude they are absolute synonyms.


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    "Be" can be a copula or absolutive; "Exist" is never a copula. – fdb Sep 24 '17 at 21:17
  • I would invite your comment on the following : "I am." "I exist." They both have no object and are thus intransitive. Thus they are absolutive. So - in the context of existence and being, they are equivalent.Only when English uses the verb "to be" in an additional way - I am going - do we see it to be a copular situation. Nigel. – Nigel J Sep 25 '17 at 22:40
  • May I suggest you look up the word "copula" in an English dictionary. "Be" and "exist" are not synonyms. You can say "I am a child". You cannot say "I exist a child". – fdb Sep 25 '17 at 22:51
  • "I exist, as a child" would be correct, would it not ? – Nigel J Sep 25 '17 at 23:23

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