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1 Tim 6:13 in the KJV has: I give thee charge in the sight of God

The Amplified (classis) reads: I [solemnly] charge you

I have been studying the Bible for 40 years as a layman with no formal education in Bible languages. I've got a Strongs and Vines (lost my Thayers years ago), and Scoffield, Dake, and Thompson Chain Bibles. But I've been feeling the desire for a better understanding of the Greek (Hebrew, too - but I'll start here). And this verse seems to be a good place to launch.

As far as I can tell, "solemn" is not in the original Greek. Yet something somewhere in either the connotations of "charge" or perhaps the grammar of the sentence suggested adding "solemn" to the Amplified translators (and in other versions as well). And in so doing, the translators added a "flavor" to the verse that is not readily apparent on the surface to the average reader.

So I have a two-fold question, please:

(1) Can someone please guide me through this verse to explain the justification - or lack thereof - for "solemn"? I'm used to that word evoking holy, sacred, fear of God, etc -- but I don't want to read any of that into it if it's not supported.

(2) Where do I begin getting a better handle on the nuances of Greek word and grammar choices? At least as much as a layman using basic tools can have?

Thank you!! Ed

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There are some variants in the Greek text. The majority of manuscripts show παραγγέλλω σοι, while some leave out the pronoun (σοι).

The word παραγγέλλω (parangellō) is usually translated as charge (e.g. NIV, NASB, ESV), but the ISV (and Amplified) insert(s) the adverb "solemnly" before "charge" in this particular verse. παραγγέλλω could also be read as "command", as the Amplified Bible translates it in other instances:

Mark 8:6

And He commanded the multitude to recline upon the ground ...

Acts 5:28

We definitely commanded and strictly charged you not to teach in or about this Name

The Amplified Bible is not a literal translation, so I don't think we should expect the English text to closely match the Greek word for word. As the editors themselves state in the introduction, the version seeks "to go beyond the traditional 'word-for-word' concept of translation."

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary gives "formal and dignified" as one of the definitions for "solemn". Perhaps the Amplified Bible editors here may have wanted to convey the formality of the "charge" to Timothy through the adverb "solemnly" rather than replacing the phrase with a single word, "command".

(Your second question, "Where do I begin getting a better handle on the nuances of Greek word and grammar choices?", is a little outside the scope of this site, since it doesn't deal with a specific text. But I personally would recommend reading the commentaries of Greek Church Fathers, especially John Chrysostom [4th c.]. Chrysostom's commentaries are available in English translation through CCEL. They along with a good interlinear should be able to provide some insight into how Greeks in antiquity understood the Greek text. You might also consider purchasing the set of Theophylact's Gospel commentaries, available from Chrysostom Press in English translation.)

  • Thank you for the insights and pointers (although you also opened up the rabbit trails of comparing manuscripts as well as translations). I knew the AMP was more dynamic than literal. I guess I might have been better asking if or where the grammar supported "solemn", since it didn't appear everywhere. I'll work on asking better questions. :8-) – EdNerd Jan 2 '18 at 19:19
  • Yes, I think you're right. When the AMP translates παραγγέλλω as "charge", there is usually no adverb. Another exception is Luke 5:28 (We ... strictly charged you ...). – user33515 Jan 2 '18 at 22:00
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As you have guessed and the previous answer pointed out, "solemnly" is supplied in this case. The reasons it would be supplied, is the nature of the verb παραγγέλλω. BDAG, one of the standard Greek lexicons, defines the verb in the present tense which this is in this way: "to make an announcement about something that must be done, give orders, command, instruct, direct." It carries more than just the idea of a command, it is a command given by someone who is in authority over another. In secular Greek it was commonly used in a military context, when a superior would give a command to a subordinate. The older lexicon TDNT points out that this verb also emphasizes the relationship between the person giving the command and the person receiving the command. TDNT says the following: "The difference between παραγγέλλειν and κελεύειν is instructive, the former is chosen when the one concerned is to be addressed and committed personally, while the latter has rather the actual command in view."

So when Paul is writing to Timothy he is in authority over Timothy as an apostle and he added the phrase ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ (in the sight of God). This adds to the seriousness of the "charge" being given, so some translators add "solemnly" because of the heightened stress of the command Paul is giving here.

As far as learning Greek here are a few basic helps (I am a PhD candidate with a concentration in Greek New Testament):

  1. The most important skill you can foster that will speed learning Greek is to read Greek. Right from the very beginning start reading a Greek text. Of course you have to learn the basic alphabet and you have to get some basic vocabulary down but you will be amazed how much faster you learn if you start reading a text. Avoid using an interlinear in the beginning, its just too tempting to skip the Greek and just read the English.

    1. An excellent beginning Greek book that only costs about $10 is David Alan Black's -- Learn to Read New Testament Greek. It is excellent as a first Greek book for two reasons: (A) right from the beginning chapters the exercises have you reading basic Greek sentences, these are not Bible verses to start with, but they are Bible terms in simple sentences so you can learn to read faster; (B) the grammar is kept to a minimum in the beginning, because the focus is to get you reading, Grammar can come later after you get the basic reading started.

    2. A website that I found very helpful in my studies was the site -- Mastering New Testament Greek: https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/New_Testament_Greek/MNTG_Interactive/MNTG_TableOfContents.html There are basic videos and tutorials for the beginner all the way to the Doctoral level on his advanced pages. Once you get through Black's book there, Hildebrandt even has a copy of his textbook and workbook for more advanced work -- Master's level Greek.

    When we talk about a literal, grammatical hermeneutic (interpretation), then we are especially talking about the original languages so I highly encourage you to make the effort to learn Greek. I was 43 years old when I went to Bible college and I learned basic Greek on my own, using Black's book. I had tried others for years, but there was just too much grammar and I didn't make any progress. So it can be done later in life. I did go on in my studies to get more formal training but it started with the desire to read my Bible in Greek.

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