Questions From Readers
● What accounts for the change in rendering of Ephesians 5:13 in the New World Translation, from the 1950 edition, which said: “Everything that makes manifest is light,” to the 1961 edition, which reads: “Everything that is being made manifest is light”?—R. J. S., United States.
In Ephesians 5:13 the expression “that makes manifest” as found in the 1950 edition of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, or the expression “that is being made manifest” as found in the 1961 edition of the complete New World Translation, is a rendering of the participial form of the Greek word, which in the active voice means “to make manifest.” However, this Greek participle in Ephesians 5:13 is not in the active voice form, but is in the form that can be either in the Greek middle voice or in the Greek passive voice. The 1950 edition took it to be in the middle voice of the Greek participle, the same as the Authorized or King James Version, which reads similarly. In the middle voice this verb would mean to make manifest for itself, and as the “Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Epistle to the Galatians and to the Ephesians” by Dr. Meyer shows, the treating of the Greek verbal participle as being in the middle voice has resulted in such translations as, “For that is light which makes all things manifest,” or, “For everything that makes other things manifest is light.” This idea seems to be that adhered to by Monsignor Ronald A. Knox’s The New Testament in English, for he renders the expression, “only light shews up.” This also seems to be the idea of Hugh J. Schonfield’s The Authentic New Testament, for he renders the expression, “since all visibility is due to light.” Accordingly, the 1950 New World Translation edition has good support.
However, in the 1961 New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures the translation committee showed its preference for understanding the Greek verbal participial form to represent the passive voice instead of the middle voice. With this understanding there is much agreement on the part of other modern Bible translators. For instance, Moffatt’s translation reads: “For anything that is illuminated turns into light.” An American Translation by Smith-Goodspeed reads: “Anything that is made visible is light.” The New English Bible, released in 1961, reads: “Everything thus illumined is all light.” The Revised Standard Version, published in 1952, reads: “Anything that becomes visible is light.” George Lamsa’s Bible translation from the Aramaic reads: “Anything that is made manifest is light.” The Roman Catholic Confraternity Bible reads: “All that is made manifest is light.” Correspondingly, the 1961 New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures reads: “Everything that is being made manifest is light.”
Of course, as the apostle Paul shows in the context, the unfruitful works that belong to darkness want to remain hidden and obscured and away from the light. They do not choose to manifest themselves publicly to the open view of everybody. On the other hand, those things that belong to the light offer themselves to be manifested to everybody for what they are, and this without shame or reproof. As Jesus said in John 3:21: “He that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.”
However, the primary thought of Ephesians 5:13 appears to be that those who participate in these unfruitful works of the darkness do not recognize them for sin. They have not been exposed to these perpetrators as being sins. However, in course of time along comes the light of Christian truth and it shines upon these unfruitful works that belong to the darkness. It exposes the real nature of them and makes very clear and plain that such works belong to the darkness and are sinful and are so shameful that those things that take place in secret by these perpetrators do not deserve to be related, or recounted or described, so as to put bad ideas in the hearts and minds of those who hear the accounts of these things. However, when, because of necessity and unavoidability, such shameful things are exposed by the light of Christian truth, then they stand revealed as sinful. This revelation of the sinfulness of these things is therefore a flash of light. It is an illumination and these things in their sinfulness become light to us. The sinfulness of these things is what is the light, not the shameful works in themselves. So these things that are reproved and made manifest are seen by Christians in their true light, namely, as things condemned by God and to be avoided and shunned by Christians.
● In the case of an accident involving dedicated Christians, would it be proper for one to enter a legal suit against a fellow Christian in order to claim the benefits of insurance that he has?—E. G., United States.
If this is the only means by which the one who sustained injury can get the compensation provided by the insurance, it would not be improper; it is up to him to decide whether he wants to take the matter to court or not. This is not the type of situation that the apostle Paul was discussing when he wrote about law suits, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. He was discussing instances in which persons who claimed to be Christian brothers were at odds with each other. The one felt that he had been defrauded by the other. But the apostle wisely showed that Christians ought to be able to settle matters privately, if not directly between the individuals concerned, then with the aid of other mature ones in the congregation.
However, when there is no such animosity between members of the congregation and the legal suit is simply a procedural arrangement required in order to obtain compensation from the insurance company, the situation is quite different. The course to be taken becomes a matter for personal decision.
● Why did the disciples of John the Baptist call him Rabbi, when Jesus plainly said: “You, do not you be called Rabbi”?—C. W., United States.
Not only did John’s disciples call him “Rabbi,” as shown at John 3:26, but Jesus’ disciples also called Jesus “Rabbi,” as shown in the inquiry recorded at John 1:38, which says: “They said to him: ‘Rabbi, (which means, when translated, Teacher,) where are you staying?’” It is clear from this text that Rabbi means teacher. John, who had been commissioned by Jehovah as a prophet to make ready the ways of Jehovah and to give knowledge of salvation to His people, was such a teacher, and his disciples recognized that fact.—Luke 1:76-79.
Of course, at John’s death he ceased to be a teacher, and it was after John had died that Jesus made clear to his disciples that he was now their teacher and that they were not to make distinctions among themselves by designating certain ones by the title Rabbi. “Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers.”—Matt. 23:8.