Here is the verse in full, as it appears in NA/28:

δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας.

NASB reads:

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased

with the marginal reading

Lit. of good pleasure; or of good will

εὐδοκίας is genitive, and this differs from the Textus Receptus reading only in that the word in that text is nominative (εὐδοκία), resulting in the translation "good will toward men." (KJV)

BAG (1957) states that εὐδοκία can refer to (1) "good will of men" or (2) "favor, good pleasure; this would refer to the persons upon whom divine favor rests."

If we accept the textual readings which employ the genitive (εὐδοκίας), why would a translator prefer 'men of God's good pleasure' rather than 'men of good will;' that is, men who are recipient's of God's good will rather than men of good will toward God? The former is what a preponderance of translators prefer. (See NASB, NIV, ESV, RSV, NRSV, etc.)


The majority of Greek manuscripts as well as the Greek text used today by Greek Orthodox favor the nominative reading (εὐδοκία).

Metzger's Textual Commentary justifies the genitive reading (εὐδοκίας) in the Nestle-Aland Greek text by virtue of its appearing in the Alexandrinus Codex (ca 400-440) as well as in corrected versions of the Sinaiticus (ca 330-360) and the Vaticanus (ca 300-325) Codices. (Interestingly the nominative reading appears in different corrected versions of the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus). The Metzger commentary notes that in print the two would appear very similar - with the final ς indicated as a "lunar sigma", something like:


Supposed new evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls is offered as additional justification:

Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls it was sometimes argued that “men of [God’s] good pleasure” is an unusual, if not impossible, expression in Hebrew. Now, however, that equivalent expressions have turned up in Hebrew in several Qumran Hymns (“the sons of his [God’s] good pleasure,” 1 QH iv.32 f.; xi.9; and “the elect of his [God’s] good pleasure,” viii.6), it can be regarded as a genuinely Semitic construction in a section of Luke (chaps. 1 and 2) characterized by Semitizing constructions.1

The editors of the Metzger commentary also note that the same expression has been found in an Aramaic fragment.

1. p.111

  • Textual criticism involves more than majority texts or oldest tests. The tests are grouped by Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine. Then, evaluated based on this. Metzger is well aware of this. Metzger & Bart Ehrman, (2005), The Text of the New Testament, OUP, ISBN 978-0-19-516122-9
    – Perry Webb
    Dec 27 '20 at 16:21

In what you outline above, regarding the two readings and the various translations, there are, it seems to me, three views being taken.

  1. That God is expressing something from within himself towards all men.

[Nominative] "Good will toward men."

  1. That God is responding to something good that is in a certain class of men.

[Genitive A] "men of good will"

  1. That God is actively favouring a certain class of men, irrespective of their own disposition.

[Genitive B] "men of God's good pleasure"

The first situation requires repentance from individuals within mankind, first, before they, then, believe unto justification.

The second are already righteous because of what is within them.

The third already have God's pleasure because he has decided, arbitrarily, to favour them.

With regard to the question 'Why would one of the two genitive preferences be preferred ?' I can only assume it would be as a result of personal religious experience.

Personally, I found it necessary to repent, and then I believed unto justification, so my personal experience falls into the first, nominative, category.

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