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οτι εν αυτω ευδοκησεν παν το πληρωμα κατοικησαικαι δι αυτου αποκαταλλαξαι τα παντα εις αυτον

(Colossians 1:19 and 20a - TR - Stephens, Beza, Elzevir and Scrivener all identical.)

The literal EGNT (Englishman's Greek New Testament 1877) interlinear gives, for this :

because in him was pleased all the fulness to dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to itself

Young's Literal gives :

because in him did it please all the fulness to tabernacle and through him to reconcile the all things to himself

This is one of the places where the KJV tries too hard to produce correct English grammar and here the KJV translators have added 'the Father' and also changed the word order considerably, inserting a whole clause (which I have bracketed) from later on in the verse :

For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself;

  • Robert Young does not add or insert, but treats εις αυτον as 'to himself' without an antecedent to say who 'him' is.

  • The EGNT treats the 'fulness' as a thing and translates εις αυτον as 'to itself'.

Is this EGNT wording a legitimate translation ?

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in Col 1:20, "auton" could (theoretically) be any of the following:

  • An adverb accusative masculine singular. However the context prevents this.
  • Pronoun, accusative masculine 3rd person singular (= 'him") with the antecedent in v13, "the Son". It is used as such in Matt 3:15, 16, 4:5, 8, 11, 6:8, etc.
  • The same pronoun is used of neuter things as well (= "it") in places like Matt 5:15, 29, etc.

We note several things:

  • The Greek uses pronouns with quite long-range antecedents - sometime back several sentences as here.
  • The pronoun cannot be "it" (ie neuter) because there is no antecedent at all. The closest is "all things" but this is plural and cannot be the antecedent for a singular pronoun. Another is "pleroma" (fulness) but is an abstract noun and it is not possible to reconcile all things to an abstract noun - a almost unknown construction.

Therefore, the context strongly suggests that εις αυτον here means "to him[self]" meaning to "the Son" (v13).

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  • Thank you. Appreciated. – Nigel J Jul 9 '19 at 11:53

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