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In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the phrase "πάντα [γὰρ] δυνατὰ" appears in a synoptic passage (Matthew 19:26 and Mark 10:27 respectively.) This phrase is often defined (e.g. by the state of Ohio or Bible Hub (Matthew, Mark)) to be translated in English as "[for] all things are possible." In particular, "πάντα" is often translated as "all things."

Is this the correct translation to use for these two chapters, or is there a better choice of words? I was unable to find a translation which chooses another word, but I do not know Koine Greek and so I do not know whether there is missing nuance.

See also this question, which is about the Gospel of John.

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The Greek word πᾶς, πᾶσα, πᾶν, πάντα must be defined with great care so as not to make it say more than was intended. BDAG defines five different meanings for this word:

  1. pertaining to totality with focus on its individual components, each, every, any. eg, Matt 3:10, Luke 3:9, Matt 15:13, Luke 3:5, etc
  2. any entity out of a totality, each and every, every, eg, 1 John 4:1, Eph 4:14, Matt 18:19, 12:31, 2 Cor 1:4b, etc
  3. marker of the highest degree of something, all, eg, Acts 4:29, 5:23, 23:1, etc
  4. pertaining to a high degree of completeness or wholeness, whole, eg, Matt 2:3, Rom 11:26, Acts 2:36, etc.
  5. everything belonging, in kind, to the class designated by the noun, every kind of, all sorts of, eg, Matt 4:23, 23:27, 28:18, Acts 2:5, 1 Cor 1:5, 6:18, 2 Cor 7:1, etc.

Let us now examine the two examples highlighted by the OP.

Mark 10:27 - Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God. For all [things] are possible with God.”

In this instance, the word "things" is supplied by the translator. However, the meaning of πάντα here fits into #5 above, namely "all things in an implied class of things". The implied class of "things" here is all the things that God does in His sovereign providence. [This obviously does exclude some things because God is not the author of sin!]

Matt 19:26 - And Jesus having looked on them, said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all [things] are possible."

Same comments as above.

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  • All the things God does, or all the things that are possible for God to do?
    – Corbin
    Aug 20, 2023 at 2:04
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    @Corbin - that is a very subtle distinction that I do not believe is made in Scripture. Theoretically, all the things that it is possible for God to do includes creates sinfulness. However, because God is love, I do not believe He does this. Therefore, all things that God does is a safer conclusion - that still does not leave much out.
    – Dottard
    Aug 20, 2023 at 2:20
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    Hebrews 2:10 - James Moffatt - New Testament translates it as "the universe". Aug 20, 2023 at 16:27
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    @RayButterworth - In Heb 2:10, I believe Moffatt's translation is correct. However, in Mark 10:27 the focus is on everything that God does. Moffatt correctly translates this verse with "anything".
    – Dottard
    Aug 20, 2023 at 21:14

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