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Regarding Romans 8:23 another question on this site asks, "Who are said to have the firstfruits?" Here I mention and ask about the reasons for translation differences:

CSB, Holman CSB and Good News are similar to Weymouth N.T.

"And more than that, we ourselves, though we possess the Spirit as a foretaste and pledge of the glorious future, yet we ourselves inwardly sigh, as we wait and long for open recognition as sons through the deliverance of our bodies." Romans 8:23 Weymouth N.T.

A. Here we read "have the Spirit as the firstfruits" CSB, or "the Spirit as a foretaste" W.N.T.

B. ESV, NIV and KJB put "have the firstfruits of the Spirit".

"And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,...". ESV.

C. Berean Literal Bible, Literal S.V. and Young's L.T. all "fruit" [without the "s"].

It appears to me that in:

A. The Spirit is the firstfruits.

B. The firstfruits belong to the Spirit.

C. In the Greek "aparchen" is singular but often appears as "fruits".

What translation issues account for these differences?

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The operative noun here is ἀπαρχή (aparché) which occurs just 8 times in the NT and always in the singular form, "firstfruit", but is usually translated plural. Here is a summary of BDAG's entry:

  1. cultic technical term, first fruit, first portion
  • (a) literal: Rom 11;16 - first lump of dough
  • (b) figurative with components of a above strongly felt: Rom 16:5, 1 Cor 16:15, 2 Thess 2:13, James 1:18, Rev 14:4, 1 Cor 15:20, Rom 8:23
  1. birth-certificate also suits the context of Rom 8:23

Thus, I would prefer the translation, "first portion". See appendix below for my translation of these verses.

Lastly, the genitive in Greek as in English can denote:

  • belonging to, ie, owned by
  • a product of, ie, produced by
  • something that is associated exclusively with

Thus, in Rom 8:23, if we have the firstfruit/first portion of the Spirit, then the very fact that we "have", the genitive here does not denote ownership but obviously means "a product of, or, produced by". That is, we as Christians are motivated and trained by the Holy Spirit as referenced in Rom 8:5-9

5 Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

APPENDIX - ἀπαρχή (aparché) in NT

  • Rom 8:23 - And not only so, but we ourselves, even having the first portion [ or "birth certificate"] of the Spirit, also groan ourselves in ourselves, awaiting divine adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
  • Rom 11:16 - Now if the first portion [of dough] is holy, also the lump; and if the root is holy, also the branches.
  • Rom 16:5 - and the church at their house. Greet Epenetus, my beloved, who is [the] first portion [of converts] of Asia for Christ.
  • 1 Cor 15:20 - But now Christ has been raised out from the dead, the first portion of those having fallen asleep.
  • 1 Cor 15:23 - But each in the own order: Christ the first portion, then those of Christ at His coming
  • 1 Cor 16:15 - Now I exhort you, brothers--you know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first portion [of converts/Christians] of Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to service to the saints--
  • James 1:18 - Having willed it, He brought us forth by the word of truth, for us to be a kind of first portion of His creatures.
  • Rev 14:4 - These are they who have not been defiled with women; for they are pure, these following the Lamb wherever He shall go. These have been redeemed out from men as [the] first portion to God and to the Lamb.
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    Up-voted. 'First portion' to translate aparche agrees with 'first delivery' for prototokos. I have been researching aparche and 'lump' during the week and didn't see the 'first portion' concept.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 16, 2021 at 7:13
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NIV Romans 8:

23a Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit

firstfruits
ἀπαρχὴν (aparchēn)
Noun - Accusative Feminine Singular
Strong's 536: From a compound of apo and archomai; a beginning of sacrifice, i.e. The first-fruit.

Case C

OP: Berean Literal Bible, Literal S.V. and Young's L.T. all "fruit" [without the "s"].
In the Greek "aparchen" is singular but often appears as "fruits".

Being literal Bibles, they faithfully follow the original singular Greek word.

Case B

OP: ESV, NIV and KJB put "have the firstfruits of the Spirit".
The firstfruits belong to the Spirit.

ἀπαρχὴν means the first collection of sacrifices. These Bibles decided to translate the singular Greek concept into a plural English word corresponding to the same Greek concept.

of the
τοῦ (tou)
Article - Genitive Neuter Singular

Spirit,
Πνεύματος (Pneumatos)
Noun - Genitive Neuter Singular
Strong's 4151: Wind, breath, spirit.

These Bibles interpret the genitive here as belonging to the Spirit.

Case A

OP: Here we read "have the Spirit as the firstfruits" CSB, or "the Spirit as a foretaste" W.N.T.
The Spirit is the firstfruits.

Instead of genitive of possession as in Case B, these Bibles interpret it as the genitive of apposition: the Spirit as first-fruits.

What translation issues centre on "firstfruits" in Romans 8:23?

Different Bibles, different translation philosophies.

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