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I noticed something strange about how several recent translations handle Luke 2:14, that in my own impression of understanding the English does not seem to make sense compared to older translations.

The common modern one is:

(1) Glory to God in the highest (2) peace on earth ‘to those on whom his favor rests’ (some unidentified group)

The one from Charlie Brown Christmas special seems more logical:

(1) Glory to God in the highest (2) peace on earth (the whole world) (3) goodwill towards men (all men)

My interlinear has (3) literally translated ‘in men good pleasure’ (this also seems good to me)

Luke 2:14 (The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament): 14 Δοξα εν υψιστοις Θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια

The problem I have with these New Translations is they are restricting the scale of the good news. The Charlie Brown version is to the ‘whole world’ but this new version is to some restricted set of people that God shows favoritism to?

Is there something in the Greek that would support the more generous and glorious translation? Or am I confusing myself and the news translation is not making the restriction that I read into it?

3 Answers 3

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The Textus Receptus has :

εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια

... among men good will (or good pleasure) which conveys an invitation for humanity, generally, to respond to the herald of the angels by having good will towards one another, as well as there being peace exhibited from heaven to earth.

The modern Critical Text has :

εν ανθρωποις ευδοκιας

which is translated as, see Biblehub, 'peace on earth among men with whom he is pleased', thus removing any concept of goodwill from all humanity and confining peace to only those 'deserving' it.


I am not going to alter the above answer, but, on reflection, another meaning came to my mind regarding 'among men - goodwill' (note that eudokia - TR - is nominative, therefore the concept which is conveyed is something being 'among men'). It could be considered that this is a statement by angelic power that the One born and laid in the manger will be 'among men' an expression of God's goodwill, that many will be blessed, many be healed, many will walk again, some will see again, and hear again.

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  • I see so it is not a translation issue (seems my interlinear is actually from Textus Receptus) but an actual discrepancy between different manuscripts, where one offers good news to the world and the other just to the elect. I can actually accept either as true but I do think it is more aligned with scripture not to limit it to the elect otherwise many other scriptures such as ‘God so loved the world’ would need to be ‘God so loved those of whom he was well pleased! This makes me confident they chose the wrong manuscript on this particular verse. Thanks!
    – Mike
    Commented Apr 22 at 9:54
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    The reason the good news is only given to elect is because only the elect want to receive it - the wicked reject the grace of God. It has everything to do with free will and the choice of the individuals who accept the grace and gospel of God. You have placed a very bad construction on this text that is unbiblical - does God grant good will to all men when the wicked suffer His judgment?
    – Dottard
    Commented Apr 22 at 10:00
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    @Dottard You state 'elect' and then state 'free will' and 'choice'. But I understand that there is no room for boasting when grace descends from heaven. I cannot understand your comment. It makes no sense to me, sir. I have not interpreted : I have stated the facts. I know you do not like the Received Text, sir, and there is nothing at all I can do about that. Sorry.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 22 at 11:28
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I would not recommend a television program as a reliable source of God's truth.

Young's Literal Translation:

"`Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will.'"

The word translated as "good will" is Strong's Gr. 2107, "eudokia," meaning good pleasure, good will, favor, a feeling of complacency of God to man, happiness, delight of men. Thayer's Greek Lexicon definition #2 at Luke 2:14 is "men in whom God is well pleased, i. e. not a particular class of men (viz. believers), but the whole race, contemplated as blessed in Christ's birth)," Biblehub

The action is from God to man, mankind. It is not a blessing of creating goodwill between men, although that is a by-product among believers. But the first action is the offer of reconciliation with God through His Son by whom we can be restored to our Father in heaven.

Jesus said that He did not come to bring peace upon the earth.

"51 `Think ye that peace I came to give in the earth? no, I say to you, but rather division; 52 for there shall be henceforth five in one house divided -- three against two, and two against three;

53 a father shall be divided against a son, and a son against a father, a mother against a daughter, and a daughter against a mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.'" (Luke 12:51-53, YLT)

The peace offering, the good will intended was between God and man. It was not and is not restricted on God's part to a group of men, or a class of men, but to all men. It is up to each of us to accept that offer of peace from God by believing and accepting Christ, putting Him on through immersion (baptism), to be clothed in His righteousness (Eph 4:24; Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; 2 Cor. 5:21; Matt. 22:11-12).

"Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ," (Rom. 5:1, YLT)

We become pleasing to God, acceptable to God when we are reconciled to Him though His son. Then we are at peace with God.

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  • + 1 for giving a good explanation how people pleasing to God may simply mean all men from the standpoint of his gift and the hope of obtaining actual approval in it by faith. btw - the tongue in cheek reference to Charlie Brown is just a reference to KJV and the common words many people remember from that famous verse.
    – Mike
    Commented Apr 25 at 4:52
  • Thanks, Mike. Re: Charlie Brown, sometimes on this site you never know....
    – Gina
    Commented Apr 25 at 10:09
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The Greek for 'all' does not appear in verse 14, though that for 'men' does.

The Greek for 'all men' does appear in verse 10 - παντι - reading literally, "good news to you [the shepherds] joy great which will be to all the people because was born to you [all the people] today Savior..."

The context indicates that this good news of the birth of the Savior was first declared by an angel to shepherds, who said they, and their people had born that night to them the Savior. Chapter 1 of Luke's account (vs. 30) says Mary had found favour with God; the one she would give birth to "shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest : and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David : and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (vss. 32-33)

Matthew's account says this One would "save his people from their sins" (Mat. 1:21). We know from the rest of the New Testament that Christ's people would come to include Gentiles who turned to him in faith, after his death and resurrection. The Israel of God would become spiritual Israel, incorporating Gentiles as well as Jews. The good news would go global (Mat. 28:19-20).

The angelic host that had appeared to those shepherds did not contradict the first angel. They declared the combined truth that it was news of great joy for all the people that the Savior had been born, and that there would be "on earth peace, good will toward men". Good will will be toward men, as One goes from place to place healing them, his healing continuing from heaven to this day.

But there can be no peace from God for the wicked! (See Isaiah 26:3 & 48:22 & 57:16-21.) There can be no peace from God for those who shake their fists at his Anointed One and cry "Crucify!" Only those who believe the good news of the Savior having come into the world to die for repentant sinners will discover that peace from God, due to the good news of Christ. God's good will is towards men, and remains open to be received freely from erstwhile disbelievers who come to believe in Christ.

Why different translations of Luke 2:14, then? Some seem to show universalist interpretations by inserting the idea that "all men" (unqualified) will receive God's goodwill, and that the "whole world" will experience peace. But that ignores the righteous judgment of God coming upon unrepentant sinners on the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. The book of Revelation (as but one example) blows the idea of universal salvation right out of the water.

Older ones are right to stick to the most literal translation possible, while modern ones (that generally do not) can take liberties by slipping in their interpretation biases. The good news is, indeed, to the whole world, but not all men will receive it or believe it in order to know the peace of God. Yet God sending his Son is a global demonstration of the peace of God as the angels declared.

There is nothing in the Greek that would support what you refer to as 'the more generous and glorious translation'. It is actually utterly generous that God has shown his peace, while harmonising perfectly with his utter holiness and righteousness in judging sin. When Christ went to the cross, God poured on him all his righteous wrath on sin, exacting full punishment for that on the sinless one, that believers could be freely pardoned and come to know his peace, personally. Older, literal translations are faithful to that.

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