All things are lawful
- πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ' οὐ πάντα συμφέρει πάντα ἔξεστιν ἀλλ' οὐ πάντα οἰκοδομεῖ Zhubert
“Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up. NET
"Everything is permissible" but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible" but not everything is constructive. NIV
"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive. TNIV
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. NASB
You say, "I am allowed to do anything "but not everything is helpful. You say, "I am allowed to do anything" but not everything is beneficial. NLT
"All things are lawful," but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. NRSV
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. NKJV
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. KJV
"All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. ESV
Which is more literal? In the first place, panta can be translated by 'all things' which reflects the plural but is actually two words, rather than one word. 'Everything' does not reflect the plural but, on the plus side, it is a single word translation. Does that make it more literal? Is it at all relevant if the translation of one Greek word is one word or two words in English? Is it less word-for-word if the English demands two words?
Now for the real stuff. Translating exestin with lawful gives the impression, in my view, that this verse refers to the law - nomos. It does not. So there is a disadvantage in translating exestin by 'lawful'. 'Permissible' or 'I have the right' are to me contenders for a literal translation.
Translating sumpherei with 'beneficial', 'helpful', 'expedient', or 'profitable', are all equally literal for this rather vague Greek expresssion. I would suggest that 'expedient' is the closest to the Greek. 'Helpful' has been chosen by the ESV and is the easiest English word to use in this case. It has the lowest register, and occurs in the NKJV and the NLT. There seems to be no rational for this grouping. But these translations are the favourites of the ESV general editor. The main difference seems to be in stylistic register rather than literalness.
Finally, oikodomew. This is more interesting. It was a literal and transparent metaphor in Greek. There is no doubt in my mind that the word 'build' is the best rendering. Perhaps 'edify' was a transparent and concrete word for the KJV translators. Maybe the connection to edifice was obvious and automatic. But no longer. 'Edifying' today has spritual reference first. Not so the Greek word. 'Constructive' maybe.
Now for the placement of the negative. In the Greek there is a contrast between 'all things' and 'not all things'. So the KJV does not perform well here. This word order is retained in every other translation.
Let's try this for consistency and Anglo-Saxon roots. If anyone can supply another word for 'permissible' that would be great.
- All things are permissible, but not all things are helpful. All things are permissible, but not all things build up.
What do you think? I was not able to find an answer to my question regarding the NKJV. I don't know why it would be considered better. I do know that the use of quotation marks was an irritant to my young friend.
You may notice that the title reflects my propensity to identify verse by their rendering in the KJV.