Acts 2

Walt McFall (
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 20:52:42 +0000

Hi All,

I'm fairly new at Greek and am really enjoying studying (and
following the posts on b-greek... as much as I can). Several months
ago, in a study on Acts 2:38 I heard a Bible teacher (on cassette)
comment on A.T. Robertson's position (regarding what the Greek
grammer in this verse was actually saying). I looked up the
Robertson reference, and it sounded like a good grammatical argument,
and so I sent it to a friend, who then forwarded it to a Greek
Professor who totally shredded it.

To be honest, if I'd written my original post now, I would have
paraphrased Robertson's argument differently (that's after a few more
months of studying Greek). But still... Robertson disagrees with the
Greek Prof (at least it seems that way to me), but I'm not advanced
enough to work out who's right and wrong about what. However, all I
really care about is... what is this verse is ACTUALLY saying???

Anyway, I'm studying Greek on my own at the moment and so I'd
appreciate all of your comments regarding the following post.

Walt McFall wrote (Sep 16, 1996):
>>--- Re: Acts 2:38 according to A.T. Robertson, "Word Pictures in
the New Testament" vol 3, pp. 34-35) ... there is in this verse a
change in number - from plural to singular, and in person - from
second to third, (the "actual" meaning of this verse is obscured in
most english translations)...

>>To condense and paraphrase several pages of Robertson's comments)...
>>What this verse "actually" says is...
>>"ALL of you(PLURAL) repent,
>>and ALL of you(PLURAL) will receive the forgiveness
>>of (ALL of) your(PLURAL) sins,
>>and ALL of you(PLURAL) will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,
>>{NOTE: change of subject - "number" and "person"}
>>and [then] let EACH ONE of you individually(SINGULAR) be baptised..."
>In other words...
>>Acts 2:38 "actually" teaches... repenting, receiving forgiveness of
>>sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit...
>>as being accomplished "apart from" baptism!!!

Robert wrote:
>I recently forwarded a copy of your post concerning the grammar of
>Acts 2:38 to a friend who teaches Greek at Abilene Christian

Doctor Bruce Terry responds:
> It is true that A. T. Robertson does note in _Word Pictures_ that there is
> a change in number and person between the Greek verbs for "repent" and "be
> baptized"; he also notes that this change is obscured in most English
> translations but does not say that the "actual meaning" is obscured. He
> was too good a scholar for that.

Robertson says that most English translations obscure a marked
change that the Greek thought is trying to convey. Now if there is a
marked change in the Greek _thought_... that is *obscured* by the
English translations, then IMHO it seems to me that the "actual
_meaning_" (i.e. the actual thought trying to be conveyed by the
Greek) *is* obscured by these English translations. Which is why
Robertson then changes the English word order (when trying to convey
the actual meaning of the Greek). If Robertson didn't think that the
"actual meaning" was obscurred, then why did he change the word
order (which you complain about next)... perhaps so that the "actual
meaning" could be better conveyed?

Doctor Terry wrote:
> There are a number of things wrong with the presentation of the "actual
> meaning" as found above. For one thing, the poster has changed the word
> order to move baptism to the end, after the forgiveness of sins (I suppose
> to fit his theology);

This point is hardly worth commenting on. It was not I (originally),
but A.T. Robertson who changed the word order (in order to clearly
convey in English, the Greek meaning). I was merely using Robertson's
*own* changes in word order - in English, to demonstrate what the verse
is actually saying - in Greek. If the Professor was right about
Robertson's being such a good scholar, then perhaps Robertson was
good enough of a scholar to know when to change the "English" word
order, in order to bring out the actual meaning (thought) of the
Greek text. :-]

Also, please note that Robertson, not I, (commenting on Acts 2:38) *also*
wrote... "I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had
already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus
Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had ALREADY
received." Further, regarding the Greek change in Acts 2:38 from
singular to plural he comments, "This change marks a break in the
thought here that the English translation does not preserve. The
first thing to do is make a radical and complete change of heart and
life. *Then* let _each_ one_ [note the singular] be baptized AFTER
this change has taken place."

Now... from the above, it seems that Robertson was saying
**pretty much** the same thing that **I** had written (and after all...
it was *Robertson's* point that I was trying to get across). Obviously,
I am no _expert_ in Greek, and would not presume to speak as an
authority. I was merely trying to follow Robertson's comments (which
are in English). However, if I did not represent his view very
well... then I apologize and look forward to being correctly
instructed on this matter.

But I think that I *did* get Robertson's above point, when I wrote...
>>Acts 2:38 "actually" teaches... repenting, receiving forgiveness of
>>sins, and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit...
>>as being accomplished "apart from" baptism!!!

Doctor Terry wrote:
>however, grammatically the prepositional phrase "for
> the forgiveness of your sins" modifies the verb "be baptized."

While I never stated that it is not grammatically **possible**
- Robertson points out (as in the above quotes and the
following) that, "My view is decidedly against the idea that
Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism
as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing
such remission".

Doctor Terry wrote:
> I suppose that what the poster is doing is saying that the concord
>in plural number between the pronoun "your" and the second person
>ending on the verb "repent" means they refer to the same
>individuals. I have no problem with that.


Doctor Terry wrote:
>What the poster overlooks is that the subject of the verb "be
> baptized" is also these same individuals: overtly it is "each of
> you(PLURAL)."

Admittedly, my original paraphrase could have been paraphrased more
precisely, but still...

Peter said to them (pl = all of them)
repent (pl - all of you)
for the forgiveness/remission of your sins (pl - all of your sins),
and you (pl - all of you) will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

And then I pointed out, what Robertson pointed out... /BAPTISQHTW/
Aorist Imperative Passive, Third Person Singular = Let Each
Person(Singular) Be Baptised, and comes AFTER the others in the Greek
thought! Which is why *Robertson* puts Baptism as an action to be
taken AFTER all of them repent, all of them receive forgiveness [for all of
their sins], and all of them receive the Holy Spirit.

And so... Based on Robertson's comments I wrote: LET
>>EACH ONE of you individually (SINGULAR) be baptised.
Because I was translating the **verb**!

> It is interesting that the poster has been so careful to add
> "ALL of you(PLURAL)" to all the other places in the text (at least one of
> which does not exist in the Greek), but changes the plural hUMWN "you" to
> "you individually(SINGULAR)."

I wasn't changing /hUMWN/ from a plural to a singular, I was
following Robertson's discussion /BAPTISQHTW/ = Let Each
Person(Singular) Be Baptised.

> >I suspect that means the poster cannot in
> > fact read Greek; hUMWN would be learned in first semester Greek.

1. I was NOT discussing hUMWN.
2. I posted re: **Robertson's** position on Acts 2:38.
3. Where did I ever post saying that I could or could not read
Greek, and what does this have to do with whether or not I adequately
represented **Robertson's** argument (which was given in English)?

>The reason that the verb "be baptized" is singular in Greek is to put it in
>concord with the singular subject word "each." What "each" does in this
>sentence is make the hUMWN an overt distributive plural. Peter is
>addressing all of the crowd but saying that each one of them must make an
>individual response to Christ; a group response such as found in the old
>Mosaic covenant will not do. I will go so far as to say that all the
>second person markers in this verse (both verb endings and pronouns) are in
>fact distributive plural. The English words "all of you" can mean either a
>collective plural ("all of you as a group") or a distributive plural
>("every one of you as individuals within the group"). I suppose that even
>the poster of the above message would admit that he was using "ALL of
>you(PLURAL)" to mean the latter rather than the former. I know of no one
>who says that Peter is saying that every individual in the crowd must
>repent before forgiveness and the Holy Spirit will be offered to any--that
>they must accept the message as a group. Rather, the message is that any
>individual within the group who repents and is baptized will have his sins
>forgiven and receive the Holy Spirit. The only difference is that the
>distributed plural is implied in the case of the verbs "repent" and
>"receive" and overt in the case of "be baptized."
- Bruce

Could you please tie all of this in... with how it relates to Robertson's
comments on this passage?

Walt McFall

Walt McFall

Quest for Truth at...

"Error always seeks the dark, while truth is
enhanced by the light. Error never desires
to be investigated. Light always courts a
thorough and complete investigation."

- Joseph F. "Judge" Rutherford,
*Millions Now Living Will Never Die*,
p. 13