Re: telelestai

From: Jim West (
Date: Mon May 18 1998 - 16:05:33 EDT

At 12:19 PM 5/18/98 -0700, you wrote:
>To whom it may concern:
>I heard a sermon last week that spoke of the way that Jesus' death on
>cross paid for our sins. To illustrate his point, he gave the word
>tetelestai. He translated the word as "paid in full". The reason he
>for this is that on some receipts they found at Galilee in ancient times
>the word "tetelestai" was stamped on them to indicate that they were

This may or may not be true- but the word 'tetelestai' does not mean "paid
in full" it means "finished" (it is a perfect tense verb, so it indicates
completed action in the past with present implications).

Though a nice sermonizing- such a mistranslation is not proper. Jesus
simply said "it is done".

>One pastor said that the word is still used this day on receipts. If I
>mixing up the story, please let me know.

No. I have heard this "preacher greek" explanation before. It is not new,
nor is it true, sadly.

>My question is because I know
>that the word "tetelestai" comes from the root word "teleo" which means
>complete". Therefore the perfect infinitive of the word would mean "It
>been completed".

You are 100% right.

>Are these stories true, and is "paid in full" a possible translation.

Again, even if these stories are true it has nothing to do with this verb in
this text.

>it is not, then why do so many pastors today use it?

Because it sounds good!


Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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