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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kingdom of God and EXOUSIA

Two terms that are somewhat related occur frequently throughout the New Testament. The first term is kingdom, which is usually perceived as a government in which the king imposes his will on a nation, allowing the people little or no choice in determining the course of their lives. This perception doesn’t fit the kingdom of God because God doesn’t impose his will on us but allows us the freedom to determine the course of our lives.

When people describe the kingdom of God as the kingdom in which God rules, I think it implies that God imposes his will on people. To avoid this misconception, I suggest describing the kingdom of God as a community of people who freely choose to follow God’s advice for a better life.

The other term that occurs frequently in the NT is the Greek word EXOUSIA, which the King James Version most often translates as power or authority. Although the Greek lexicon (dictionary) by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich lists the first definition of EXOUSIA as freedom of choice, the KJV reflects this in only three instances:
liberty - 1 Corinthians 8:9
right --- Hebrews 13:10 and Revelation 22:14
There are several other contexts in which EXOUSIA conveys the idea of freedom of choice. For example, in 1 Corinthians 9:4 the freedom to eat and drink is more in focus than the ability to do so. To clarify this, many translations use the word right instead of power:

Have we not power to eat and to drink? KJV
Do we have no right to eat and drink? NKJV RSV NIV CEV
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At Thu Nov 02, 01:34:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Dan, you make interesting points about exousia. It is worth remembering that this the noun corresponding to the impersonal verb exestin, "it is permitted". As such exousia in 1 Corinthians 9:4 should be read in the light of panta (moi) exestin, "everything is permitted (for me)" in 6:12 and 10:23. So in 9:4 Paul is giving an example of something which he has the right to do but has chosen not to do because it is not helpful. This is an important point in these days when so many people insist on their rights but seem to have less concern about their responsibilities.

In the translation I am working on I have suggested using for both a word meaning something like "right": exestin becomes "the right has been given" or, when used with the dative of a person, "(someone) has the right". In this way the link is preserved.

At Thu Nov 02, 04:37:00 AM, Blogger Dan Sindlinger said...

Thanks for your comments, Peter. I agree.


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