2

Before I can arrive at a conclusion, or even make comment on a recent question asked in Stack Christianity, I need clarification on the Greek text of two scriptures. The matter relates to both God the Father and the Son of God being called “Saviour” throughout the Bible. The question is whether this means that the Bible advocates two Saviours (if the Father created the Son, therefore ruling out them having the one Being of God) or whether both the Father and the Son are, without contradiction, the one Saviour of mankind that the Bible presents God as being (e.g. Isaiah 43:11 ‘I – I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.’ (New World Translation i.e. N.W.T.)

In some answers already given on the ‘Christianity’ site, it would appear that the explanation given by advocates of the N.W.T. depends (to a critical degree) on whether the N.W.T. has correctly translated the two verses below. I quote the entire paragraph, for the sake of context, in the article entitled ‘How Many Saviors Do You Have?’ which advocates of the N.W.T. cited in support of their answers. [Awake! 22nd October 1976 pp 27-28]

But what about Jesus Christ? He, too, cannot be spoken of as being a Savior besides Jehovah, that is, as a rival of his Father. The Scriptures clearly establish that Jesus’ role as Savior was assigned to him by his Father. The Christian apostle John wrote: “We ourselves have beheld and are bearing witness that the Father has sent forth his Son as Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14) Aged Simeon, on seeing the babe Jesus at the temple, exclaimed: “Now, Sovereign Lord, you are letting your slave go free in peace according to your declaration; because my eyes have seen your means of saving.”—Luke 2:29, 30. [Source https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/101976768#h=8 ]

The concluding paragraph of that article is quoted below, again for clarity and context as to the interpretation applied by advocates of the N.W.T.:

The testimony of the Bible as a whole thus makes it clear that there is but one Savior, Jehovah God. All others who have rightly been called saviors, including Jesus Christ, are not rival saviors. Rather, they were willing to be used by Jehovah God in this capacity. Hence, those desiring to gain divine approval must acknowledge that salvation proceeds from the Father through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. [Source https://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/101976768#h=13 ]

However, when I compared the Interlinear of the N.W.T. with that for the A.V. I notice differences in the literal English. For 1 John 4:14 the N.W.T. (Greek Interlinear, abbreviation is K.I.T.) literally reads in English:

And we have viewed and we are bearing witness that the Father has sent off the Son Savior of the world.

But the A.V. (Interlinear Greek Nestle text, literal English of Dr Alfred Marshall) has:

And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son [as] Saviour of the world.

Note the square brackets around ‘as’, indicating that word has been added. It is not actually in the Greek text. I ask, regarding this verse, does the literal Greek state “the Son saviour of the world”?

The other verse in Luke 2:30 has Simeon saying of the baby Jesus (in the KIT),

because saw the eyes of me the means of saving of you…

However, the A.V. literal English reads,

because saw the eyes of me the salvation of thee…

I ask, regarding this verse, does the literal Greek state “means of”?

As I have no knowledge of biblical Greek or the ability to reproduce the Greek text here, I crave your patience for reading my preamble to my two questions, and that you would answer in a way that would help me form a conclusion about the initial question that got me thinking, namely, https://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/67761/do-jehovahs-witnesses-have-one-saviour-or-two/67833#67833 However, I am NOT seeking comment on THAT question as I only want clarification on my two questions about two verses of scripture, namely, 1 John 4:14 and Luke 2:30.

  • @Anna In short there are 2 saviors, Jehovah & Jesus, but Jehovah is the Ultimate Source of Salvation. – user26950 Dec 31 '18 at 16:25
  • 1
    There's a phrase in your question, apart from the verses you asked about, which is worth addressing: "if the Father created the Son". But the Bible makes clear that the Christ was not a created being (John 1, for example, excludes the very possibility). So you don't even need to look at these verses to discover which of your proposed interpretations is correct. – Ben Voigt Jan 1 at 3:23
  • Then, the question of rival saviors can also be resolved just by considering the Son's name. Not "Jesus", which is merely a transliteration of a transliteration and leaves no hint of the meaning, but the Hebrew name and its meaning that "YHWH saves". How could Yeshua be a competing and independent savior when His own name points to the fact that salvation flows from the Almighty? – Ben Voigt Jan 1 at 3:29
  • 1
    @Ben Voigt I should clarify: I know the Son was not created by God the Father. There is only a problem when reading JW renditions of scripture in their NWT that indicate Christ to be but a creature. I would never have asked this Q had it not been for the previous Q on the Christianity site where JWs tried to get out of the problem of claiming they have but Jehovah as their saviour if Jesus is not their saviour, as the Bible says he is. I agree: Ye'shua is not a mere agency through which another God enacts salvation. The 2 verses I ask about show this, when not tampered with. – Anne Jan 1 at 9:35
  • 1
    @Anne I didn't change the text of the question at all! I only changed the verses to have quote formatting. – curiousdannii Jan 1 at 10:21
7

Here is the Greek text of the two verses you ask about:

1 John 4.14
καὶ ἡμεῖς τεθεάμεθα καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ ἀπέσταλκεν τὸν υἱὸν σωτῆρα τοῦ κόσμου.

Luke 2.29-30
Νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου

So the precise answer to your precise questions is:
(1) Yes. In 1 John 4.14 the literal Greek says "The son saviour of the world" (τὸν υἱὸν σωτῆρα τοῦ κόσμου).
(2) No. In Luke 2.30 there is no Greek directly relating to "means of". The phrase is "ὅτι (because} εἶδον (have seen) οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου (my eyes) τὸ σωτήριόν σου (your salvation)".

For what it's worth, my personal view is that questions about the identity of Jesus can never be fully answered in the narrow grammatical way implied by the OP. For example, consider the two proposed translations of 1 John 4.14:

(1) And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son Saviour of the world.
(2) And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son [as] Saviour of the world.

To my mind those sentences mean the same thing. The word "as" is added in the sense that it is necessary in English to express the meaning of the Greek sentence. We might just as easily say, the Father has sent the son [to be] the Saviour of the world. Whatever we add, the goal is to assist the translation process by moving from the natural Greek statement to a natural English statement. Sentence (1) is a correct word for word translation, but it's bad English. In sentence (2) the word "as" is added not to change the meaning but to express the meaning in a natural way in English. I can't see any difference between the sentences.

When Jehovah's Witnesses say as per the linked question that Jesus is only Saviour in an assigned sense, I actually think they are half right. 1 John 4.14 explicitly says that the Father sent the Son. Agency is involved. The son is a sent one. But the challenge remains for all of us. How can the Son be any kind of Saviour if he is only human? The Jewish leaders understood this. When Jesus claimed to forgive sins they respond, who can forgive sins but God alone? (eg Matthew 9.1-7) However we deal with small (but important) technical questions such as this one, the big question of Jesus' identity remains, and I for one do not see how he can be limited to a human identity. The testimony of the New Testament demands more from us.

  • 2
    Apparently, you could also just add a comma or dash. The effect would be the same: "... the Father has sent the Son – Savior of the World." (See Punctuation in Ancient Greek Texts, Part I) – 習約塔 Jan 1 at 2:54
  • @xiota That is exactly what Robert Young has done in his Literal Version. – Nigel J Jan 2 at 10:09
5

Interlinear text is a helpful thing, but also very limited - it translates each word individually and unfortunately don't help much with understanding a syntax, which is crucial thing.

John 4:14: καὶ ἡμεῖς τεθεάμεθα καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν ὅτι ὁ πατὴρ ἀπέσταλκεν τὸν υἱὸν σωτῆρα τοῦ κόσμου. Bold text is a construction called "double accusative" and can by simply translated as "-verb- something [as] something" - in this case "-has sent forth- his Son as Savior". Word "as" must be added by a translator, because in English language there is no other way to give back a meaning.

Luke 2:30 is a very simple sentence and I think that "For my eyes have seen your salvation" is just an adequate literal translation. I have no idea what intention the first translator had in mind.

Because verses you cited are quite simple sentences, your question regarding translating can by easily answered. Which can't be said unfortunately about the theological discussion in the background, which in my opinion is quite artificial and away from the text itself. I'm afraid that my answer won't be helpfull in this case.

  • @Michael - your answer is helpful, and I appreciate it, be assured. I am not asking about the background theology issue but your answer helps me grasp any significance (or not) with the two verses involved in it. – Anne Dec 31 '18 at 18:02
  • Do you think this double accusative with ἀποστέλλω relates the two objects via the verb action in a particular way, like English "I call him teacher" or "I appoint her as treasurer"; or can we consider it simply an appositive that equates the two nouns without much additional relationship between them coming from the verb? – aschepler Jan 1 at 6:43
  • @aschepler Are you asking me this Q, or Michal P? I have no grasp of Greek grammar so I cannot respond. – Anne Jan 1 at 10:03
  • @Anne I was asking Michał. – aschepler Jan 1 at 14:01
  • @aschepler This particular construction is called "double accusative of object-complement" - one of the accusative-words is an object of the verb and second accusative complements the object in some way. This construction is used only with particular kinds of verbs signifying calling, designating, appointing, sending, considering etc. So your examples fit there of course: "I appoint her (object) as treasurer (complement)". In some cases it is not clear if two accusatives make a object-complement construction or are just appositional, but in my opinion 1J 4:14 is not problematic at all. – Michał Pawikowski Jan 1 at 15:49
4

It’s very hard to explain this when you think from a Greek mindset, G d is ONE which to our ears sounds like singular. The passage comes from the Hebrew and it reads G d is echâd. But echâd is one in the sense that He is UNITED; one in direction, drawing from the same source.

All through the Old Testament the concept of echâd appears in relation to G d. Throughout the New Testament you have the Father and Son switching position for the same role.

Your question is demanding an either the Father or the Son but in fact it’s both the Father and the Son.

“one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Notice how this term gets used by the same author elsewhere

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

One time it’s the Father the other is the Son because G d is echâd.

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

If you read this out of the OT context of the two powers and G d being echâd then yes it would appear in English with a Greek mindset that the Son is not G d. But that is not being true to context, New Testament is nested in Old Testament Scripture. It cannot mean something completely different.

“for my eyes have seen your salvation” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Same thing here, in isolation from the Hebrew OT understanding of the Messiah, it appears that Jesus was a means.

But that’s just a limitation of translating to Greek a Hebrew concept. A man and a woman are also echâd. Two people but united. Or we read two become one.

There are obvious examples of G d being echâd in the OT like, Let US make man in OUR image, or who has believed OUR report, and there are subtle ones like

“"As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.” ‭‭Daniel‬ ‭7:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

More than one throne because it’s plural, thrones, and G d sits on more than one throne at the same time? No, G d is echâd. You also have the Christophanies, in the OT where the Angel of the Lord accepts worship, He is speaking on Mt Sinai and entering into Covenant with Israel, He calls Himself G d like at Isaac’s sacrifice.

It is paramount Jesus be G d otherwise His sacrifice was insufficient. G d has infinite value, a representative lamb does not and neither does a representative ‘angel’. Intrinsically they don’t have enough value to cover all sins, but G d intrinsically does. And only G d would have been sufficient ...fortunately Jesus Intrinsically was G d, echâd with the Father which is how you can have G d the Father in heaven putting His wrath on G d the Son on the cross. Because G d is ONE, echâd, united, drawing from the same, working in the same direction, for the same goals. Hear O Israel G d is echâd. If G d were singular then it would be yachid but that’s never referenced to G d, it’s slways echâd.

  • C; as a new contributor, this is a sterling answer and I hope you continue to share your knowledge on this site. – Anne Dec 31 '18 at 18:09
  • Three times I have tried to start the comment above with @Mr but this is not accepted. Can someone explain why? – Anne Dec 31 '18 at 18:11
  • 2
    @Anne—No need to do so. When you make a comment to the answerer him/herself, there's no need to use the @. They will automatically be notified. Now, if you want to reply in a comment to someone else other than the answerer him/herself, then that would be the time to use @. (For example, if you want to comment to me about my comment to you, then you would use the @.) – Der Übermensch Dec 31 '18 at 19:31
  • It is not the case that "Your question is demanding an either the Father or the Son but in fact it’s both the Father and the Son." I simply want to know what the verses state and I have no problem with the Father and the Son both being the one Saviour of the world, which is supported in your points about echad etc. Your points are fully appreciated by me and I understand why you write "G d", respecting your position on that. – Anne Jan 1 at 10:07
  • 1
    ...”Father set apart son Deliverer(Savior) the world”. This is saying there is only one deliverer, Jesus. “My eyes see your salvation”. He was looking at the savior Jesus. Jesus is the Savior, no one can come to the Father except by Him. And I write G d for my personal reason, not to confuse others but to clarify for myself. – Nihil Sine Deo Jan 1 at 13:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.