[b-greek] Re: Acts 22:16

From: Wayne Leman (wleman@mcn.net)
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 18:15:48 EDT

Mark Wilson responded:

>In an attempt to understand how to approach a “problem” passage as this, I
>would like some help. To be honest, I have no idea how to even start, but
>this is how I arrived at an answer:
>Based on the chronological sequence of these four actions/events elsewhere
>clearly identified in Scripture, I put together the following
>“Chronological” model:


>Anyway, that’s the best I can do on my own. I would really appreciate any
>feedback. OFFLIST responses are welcome.

Thanks for your helpful comments, Mark. Since you invited feedback, here is
how I answered my colleague before posting her question on B-Greek:

>Re: Acts 22:16
>Are there any scholarly opinions out there as to the last segment of
>this verse, "having called upon the name of him"

Yes, K----, there are quite a few, and there are nearly as many different
options on this one as there are scholars with opinions.

>To what does this properly attach.

I assume you have Newman and Nida's UBS Handbook on this, either in the book
form or on TW. If not, they say:

"The participle "by calling on his name" is an aorist participle and must be
taken as action prior to the main verb or verbs with which it is connected.
In the present context it is difficult to know if this participle is
connected with both verbs, "be baptized" and "have your sins washed away",
or only with the latter of the two. Most translations are about as ambiguous
as the Greek here, though the TEV appears to take the participle only with
the verb "have your sins washed away" (note JB "It is time you were baptized
and had your sins washed away while invoking his name"). The NEB connects
this participle only with the first of these verbs, something which is
quite difficult to do on the basis of the Greek: "Be baptized at once, with
invocation of his name, and wash away your sins." Goodspeed is typical of
what most other translators have done: "Get up and be baptized, and wash
away your sins, calling on his name." However, in translation it may be
necessary to say "calling on the name of the Lord" or even "calling on the
Lord." This latter expression would be used to avoid the implication that
the name of the Lord was merely employed as a part of some magical
incantation or formula."

I don't know if you have access to two of the newest English versions (both
still in process), the NET (New English Translation, which is on TW3) and
the ISV (International Standard Version), both also available at their
websites, respectively:

http://www.netbible.org (recently updated so the files are newer than what
is on TW3)

Both translations are done very very careful exegetes, so I'll quote their

NET: 22:16 And now what are you waiting for?58 Get up,59 be baptized, and
have your sins washed away,60 calling on his name.’61

(The numbers within the text are footnotes. Footnote 61 says:

"61sn (22:16) The expression calling on his name describes the confession of
the believer: Acts 2:17-38, esp. v. 38; Rom 10:12-13; 1 Cor 1:21."

The NET doesn't really help you, since it leaves the Greek participle form
literal in English, not telling you what is modifies in the rest of the

The ISV is a little better in this regard:

16What are you waiting for now? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins
washed away as you call on his name.’

>Is it a prayer, a baptism invocation, or?

I'm not sure what you are asking here, Katie. The quote itself is a command,
not a prayer nor a baptismal invocation, but maybe you are asking if the
quote might have been one of these or another liturgical formula. I don't
know the answer to this. Perhaps those more familiar with the writings of
the Early Fathers would know. I would not be at all surprised if: "Be
baptized and have your sins washed away, calling on his name" would have
become a liturgical formula.

>Are there any valid translation options other than tagging it onto
>the end of the verse?

I would surely hope so. Tagging it to the end of the verse is not very
satisfactory to me. Like you, I want to know the logical relationships among
the parts of this complete command.

For myself, I take "calling on his name" as one of the phrases used in the
Bible for placing faith in Christ, as we see by Rom. 10:13. I hope I don't
bring in too much of my own theology here, but I would view this action,
encoded by the Greek adverbial aorist participle, as anterior to both
commands preceding it in the verse. That is, it seems to me that one would
not be baptized and have his sins washed away (typical Acts sequence, with
washing of sins connected with baptism) unless he had first believed in
Christ. Assuming what I've said so far, I would suggest the following as
front translation options:

If you have _________ (the blank will be filled with the appropriate phrase
in your language that is used for placing faith in Christ; in my opinion it
need not have anything to do with the verb "call" since another verb may be
more appropriate), be baptized so that your sins (be sure to use the
appropriate expression in your language, which may not be a noun, but, might
be, "how you have done wrong", etc.) will be _____ (the blank will be filled
in by whatever is the appropriate term in your language for what God does to
our sins or to us when he forgives our sins) (by God; you may need to supply
the agent).


If you have taken / trusted in / depended on / believed on (Christ), then be
baptized and then (God will) forgive you.

I hope something here helps.

I think I will also post this question on the Biblical Greek discussion list
and forward responses back to this list. There are a good number of Greek
scholars on that list who know something about the scope of adverbial


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