Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 19, 1961
NUMBER 24, PAGE 2-3b,14b

More On "Neither Part Nor Lot In This Matter"

Robert H. Parish, Lufkin, Texas

A gospel preacher has written to me requesting further information on the point which I made, on the use of the Greek word "gar" in Acts 8:21, in the article which appeared in the Gospel Guardian, August 17, 1961. The article was called, "Neither Part Nor Lot in This Matter." In that article it was pointed out that, "Peter is represented as saying, 'Thou hast neither part not lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God.' (Acts 8:21) The word which is here translated 'for' should be translated 'verily'." The point was asserted without discussing it.

The brother wrote, "I have no knowledge of Greek and what little information I get, I obtain from the use of dictionaries." He goes on to state that an authority which he consulted defined "gar" in such a way as to limit it to "properly assigning a reason." He then raises the question, "Now, if the word were translated 'for' or 'verily,' would not the meaning be the same since it is "properly assigning a reason?" These quotations from the brother's letter present the problem clearly and concisely.

This letter points up the need for more extensive treatment of the point. But as I stated in my letter in response to the inquiry, I make no claim to being a Greek scholar, and do not depend on my meager knowledge of Greek in making an argument. In this article authorities will be quoted and arguments made upon their findings, but in the main the contextual requirements will be relied upon to establish the point.

Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible gives two words, "verily" and "therefore" for the Greek word "gar." Either of these words would have served to state a conclusion and would not have suggested the idea that the condition of Simon's heart was the thing which prevented his having "neither part nor lot" in the matter of impart ing gifts to others by the laying on of his hands. As I could think of no passage of scripture where the gifts were imparted through any human being, other than the apostles. I selected the word, "verily," as the word which suggested an idea more in keeping with the tenor of the teaching of other scriptures than was the idea suggested by the word "for." The context is against using "for" in translating "gar" in this place.

"Gar" Not Limited To "Assigning A Reason"

If the role of "gar" is limited to "properly assigning a reason," it must be conceded that this is strong evidence in proof of the idea that the condition of Simon's heart, and not the fact that he was not an apostle, was the thing which prevented his receiving the "power that on whomsoever" he laid his hands he would "receive the Holy Spirit." As the passage is translated in the King James and American Revised and other versions, Peter is represented as saying, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God." (Acts 8:21) It would not help the matter by using "verily," "therefore" or any other word instead of "for" if the original word ("gar") always properly assigned a reason. But the word "gar" is not limited in its use to "properly assigning a reason."

Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says that "gar" is:

"properly a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting 'truly therefore,' verily as the case stands'.... Now since by a new affirmation not infrequently the reason and nature of something previously mentioned are set forth, it comes to pass that, by the use of this particle, either the reason and cause of a foregoing statement is added, whence arises the casual or argumentative force of the particle for, or some previous declaration is explained, whence "gar" takes on an explicative force: for, the fact is, namely. Thus the force of the particle is either conclusive or demonstrative, or explicative and declaratory

Thayer discusses three distinct uses of "gar" and concludes by stating that the force of "gar" is either (I) conclusive (2) or demonstrative (3) or explicative and declaratory. The particle is not limited to "assigning a reason."

If "gar" in Acts 8:21 has the force of the first use discussed by Thayer that is, "properly a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting "truly therefore" or "verily as the case stands," the statement, "thy heart is not right before God" is an "affirmation and conclusion" about the condition of Simon's heart. This "affirmation and conclusion" is based upon previous statements: (1) 'Thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money." (2) "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter." Now with these two statements in mind, just insert the terms suggested by Thayer for "gar" when it has the force of affirmation and conclusion — "Truly therefore or verily as the case stands thy heart is not right before God." This gives a clear idea which is not contradicted by other scriptures.

"Neither Part Nor Lot"

It appears that Simon was guilty of a "compound" sin. He thought to purchase the gift of God and he thought to obtain that in which he had "neither part nor lot" There are striking similarities between Simon's case and the case of Korah. Korah, Dathan and Abiram were ambitious for that in which they had "neither part nor lot." We read that "they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them: Wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of Jehovah?" (Num. 16:3) This involved a demand that these men be allowed to function in the capacity of priest for Moses said, "Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. And Moses said unto Korah, hear now, ye sons of Levi: seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of Jehovah, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them: and that he hath brought thee near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee? And seek ye the priesthood also?" (Num. 16:7-10) Simon sought the rights and powers which God had bestowed exclusively upon the apostles. Korah and his associates sought the rights and powers that God had bestowed exclusively upon the sons of Aaron, that is, they sought the priesthood also. In each case the principals were ambitious for something in which they had "neither part nor lot." It would not have been improper for Simon to have desired to speak in tongues, etc., for Paul said, "Desire earnestly spiritual gifts" (1 Cor. 14:1) but this is not what Simon desired. It would, of course, have been wrong for him to attempt to buy any gift of God.

How Translators Have Translated "Gar"

Another way by which it can be learned that "gar" is not limited to "assigning a reason" and also by which it can be shown that such is not its force in Acts 8:21 is to examine the different English words selected by the translators of the New Testament as the proper words by which "gar" should be translated in different places. The following list of references contain most of the words by which "gar" has been translated. From this list it will be seen that the Greek word is variously translated and furthermore it will be seen that the translators did not regard "gar" as always, or even most of the time, as "properly assigning a reason." If they had regarded it as "properly assigning a reason" in Acts 8:21 they had an English word (because) which would have given it precisely that force. That they did use "because" in those cases where they were sure that "gar" was intended by the inspired writer to assign a reason, is seen in the first group of references.

"Gar" Is Translated:

1. "Because:" John 3:19 "..than light because their deeds were evil" ("For" in American Standard Version) (ASV) John 10:26 "because ye are not of my sheep."

Rom. 4:15 "because" the law worketh wrath.." ("For" in ASV)

"Because that:" Acts 28:20 "because that for the hope of Israel" ("For" because of the hope" in ASV)

3 John 7 "because that for the name sake"

2. "And:" John 4:37 "And herein is that saying true." ("For" in ASV)

Acts 8:39 "And he went on his way rejoicing" ("For" in ASV)

2 Tim. 2:7 "And the Lord give thee understanding" ("For" in ASV)

3. "But:" 1 Pet. 4:15 "But let none of you suffer as a murderer.." ("For" in ASV)

2 Pet. 1:9 "But he that lacketh these things.." ("For" in ASV)

4. "Indeed:" Rom. 8:7 "For it is not subject — neither indeed can be."

1 Thess. 4:10 "Indeed ye do it toward all the brethren.."

5. "No doubt:" 1 Con 9:10 "For, our sakes no doubt (this) is written"

6. "Seeing:" Acts 2:15 "Seeing it is but the third hour.."

7. "Therefore:" Mark 8:38 "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of .."

8. "Verily:" Acts 16:37 "Do they thrust us out privily, nay verily."

Rom. 15:27 "It hath pleased them verily and their.." (Yea, it hath been their good pleasure" ASV)

9. "For:" 1006 times in King James Version.

A careful examination of these passages will reveal that the scholars who translated the New Testament did not regard the Greek particle agar" as always having the force of "assigning a reason." "Verily as the case stands" or "truly therefore" expresses an idea that is in harmony with the other passages that deal with the laying on of hands to confer miraculous gifts.