I thought the normal translation of 2 Timothy 3:12 was pretty cut and dried. I never really questioned it deeply which is unusual because I do what I can using English language tools (since I am not a Greek scholar). However, a circumstance arose where it became necessary to take a close look and, for me, what a ride. Most English language translations are almost unanimous with something like: "All who desire to live a godly life in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution."

It is the "suffer persecution" for which I was seeking the best English translation. Persecution seems to convey to the modern popular mind only the most severe treatments like physical harm, imprisonment, and death threats.

However, a look at how the greek phrase is employed across the NT seems to indicate, like so many other texts, that the context bequeaths the correct sense.

And, here, since the subject is "ALL" and the list of oppositional manifestations is long including everything from insults, marginalized, mockery, trick questions to death threats, imprisonment, and torture, (In the life of Jesus and Paul) it seems that persecution misses the point by degrees which is instructive, if true, to all audiences.

If I am correct, it seems like reading it "all who desire to pursue a godly life in Jesus Christ will "move forward against continuous opposition/difficulties" "would communicate the sense better.

And, if that translation is allowable, the question does arise regarding the voice and tense of the Greek. Who is performing the action. It seems it could be the believer simply in walking in a godly manner precipitates the oppositional motion. The Greek phrase translated "persecution" apparently is simply "moving towards something" as in "following" or "pursuing" something good OR bad.

Either way, this "all" inclusive subject adds substance and compliments other verses like John 15:20 and 1 Peter 4:12.

My post is to seek confirmation, expansion, correction of the direction in which I am moving.

If my question is inappropriate for this forum or worded incorrectly, please assist me to make it more appropriate in order to deliver the same result which I hope is evident.

Thank you.

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    Aug 27, 2019 at 18:56

1 Answer 1


The verb διώκω (diókó) has, according to BDAG, four basic meanings:

  1. to move rapidly and decisively toward an objective, hasten, run, press on, eg, Phil 3:12, 14
  2. to harass someone, especially because of beliefs, persecute, eg, Matt 5:11, 44, 10:23, Luke 11:49, 21:12, John 5:16, 15:20, Acts 7:52, 9:4, 22:4, 7, 26:11, 14, Rom 12:14, 1 Cor 4:12, 15:9, Gal 1:13, 23, 4:29, Phil 3:6, 2 Tim 3:12, Rev 12:13, etc.
  3. to cause to run or set in motion, drive away, drive out, eg, Matt 23:34.
  4. to follow in haste in order to find something, run after, pursue, eg, Luke 17:23, Rom 9:30, 31, 1 Tim 6:11, 2 Tim 2:22, etc.

I note that the tense of διώκω (diókó) in 2 Tim 3:20 is Future Indicative Passive - 3rd Person Plural. Note especially the passive, which means that the action is not the result of the person but others upon the person. Therefore, the translation of the person "moving towards something" (which is active) is not possible.

In conclusion, I believe that BDAG and most modern versions have the translation correct: "will be persecuted" or similar.

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