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(An appendix for my self-study course on Matthew.
See my more complete study of Luke 16:16.)
John Hepp, Jr.
Theology affects translation. Notice how their theology affected NIV translators in Matthew 11:12. Convinced that the kingdom began and could be entered in Jesus’ day, they took unusual or mistaken meanings for certain words in Matthew 11:12.
Matthew 11:12 in Two Translations
Greek for Bolded Words NIV
(has unusual meanings) NASB
(has normal meanings) Comments
biadzetai From the days of John the Baptist until now,
the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, And from the days of John the Baptist until now
the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, This verb means rape in Deut. 22:25, 28. In Matt. 11:12, Louw & Nida translate, “suffers violent attacks”; NET, “has suffered violence.”
biastai and forceful men and violent men Never used elsewhere of good men.
harpadzousin lay hold of it. take it by force Elsewhere NIV always translates this verb as take quickly or forcibly: see Matt. 12:29; 13:19; etc.
We can conclude that Matthew 11:12 does not speak of men entering the kingdom but plunder-ing it. The same argument applies to the parallel passage in Luke 16:16. There both NIV and NASB say that “everyone is forcing his way into” the kingdom. But the nearly identical form of biadzetai should be translated “uses violence.” That raises the question of how “everyone” (people in general) or “violent men” could use violence against the kingdom or plunder it? By their selfish treatment of its representatives: John the Baptist, Jesus, and Jesus’ own representa-tives. Instead of submitting to it humbly, they tried to use it for their own purposes. What is your attitude toward the kingdom?