Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 3, 1953
NUMBER 17, PAGE 6,9b

The Original Text -- No. 5

George P. Estes, Maplewood, Missouri

In Hebrews 2:10; 12:2 the RSV renders "archegos" by the word "pioneer' 'instead of the familiar "author." The same word they render "author" in Acts 3:15, and "leader" in Acts 5:31.

Webster's Dictionary makes this distinction: "Author is one who begins, forms, or originates; creator; prime mover; first cause."

"Pioneer: one who goes before to remove obstacles and prepare the way for others; one among the first to explore a country."

Jesus built the church (Matt. 16:18); He is its foundation and first cause. (Eph. 2:20) Therefore, He is the "author" of our salvation and not merely a "pioneer" who prepared the way for others.

Even Moffatt admits, "He is not so much a pioneer as the 'author' or 'originator.' Man's salvation began with Jesus; apart from Him and from what He did, there could have been no real and valid purification." (N. T. Commentary on Hebrews, p. 19.)

A pioneer is a leader who is ahead of us and differs from us only in degree. Jesus is a "pioneer" if He saved himself and leads us to save ourselves. But He had no sin from which He needed to be saved (Heb. 4:17; 7:26-27), nor does He merely help us to save ourselves. We are wholly dependent on Him for our salvation, and could never "save ourselves" by any means without the provisions made by Him.


God has told us that He "would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim. 2:4) Again, He "is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) He is angry with sin and will punish it, yet He delays the punishment to give opportunity for repentance.

In Romans 9:22 the RSV translates, "What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction." "Desiring to show his wrath" and "made for destruction" express the idea: God wants people to he destroyed. (That this is the meaning intended by the RSV is also seen from its reference to Prov. 16:4 in a footnote.) The RSV translators would have done well here to have followed Moffatt and Goodspeed, two of the committee, who in their separate translations have rendered the passage correctly. "What if God, although he wanted to show people his anger and let them know his might, waited patiently before he would punish those who deserved his anger and were ready for destruction ..."

Jude 4

Jude 4 is given by the RSV as, "Who long ago were designated for this condemnation." To "designate" means to "appoint." (cf. Rom. 1:4 RSV) But the Greek word here does not mean to "designate" but to "predict." God has predicted the damnation of these men, but he has not appointed them for it. Here again, Moffatt and Goodspeed in their own versions have rendered the passage correctly. But they were over-ruled by the rest of the RSV committee.

1 Peter 2:8

The RSV gives this passage as, "They stumbled because they disobeyed the word as they were destined to do." The ordinary reader will get from this the meaning: God wants people to disobey and stumble, and destines them to that end. But Jesus tells us, "God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. If any one believes in him, he is not condemned; but if anyone will not believe, he is already condemned, because he does not believe in the name of the only Son of God." (John 3:17.18)

It is obvious that in these last three passages (1 Tim. 2:4; Jude 4 and 1 Peter 2:8) the RSV translators have conformed to Calvinism and the doctrine of predestination and election. God has not destined some men to be lost and others saved regardless of what they do. The responsibility of salvation rests with man — not with God. God has done his part and now leaves it up to the individual to accept and obey.

Elemental Spirits

In Galatians 4:3,9 and Colossians 2:8-20 the RSV translates "the elemental spirits of the universe." Grant says of this rendering, "Such language may strike modern readers as mythological — as indeed it is." (An Introduction to N. T. Thought, pg. 241) Burrows, another RSV translator, declares, "The 'elements' of Gal. 4:3,9, Col. 2:8,30, are the spirits believed to rule and operate the heavenly bodies and the natural phenomena." (An Outline of Biblical Theology, pg. 130.) The rendering is animistic and polytheistic, foreign to Paul both as a Jew and as a Christian. There is no Greek word for "spirits" in any of these verses, and "elemental" is neuter plural, meaning the ABC's or the elements; for the Stoics it meant earth, water, air, and fire. Elsewhere the RSV translates it "the first principles" (Heb. 5:12) and "the elements." (2 Peter 3:10,12) The rendering "elemental spirits" does not fit these three passages. In Gal. 4:3,9 Paul is speaking of the "weak" and "beggarly" elements suited for a time "when we were children"; in Col. 2 he is warning against traditional regulations. Fairness should have induced the RSV to add a footnote, "or elements." Sound scholarship would have put "elements" into the text, which is the correct rendering.

One Marriage

In giving the qualifications for elders the RSV renders 1 Tim. 3:2,13; 5:9 and Titus 1:6 in such fashion as to prohibit any man from serving who has ever been married twice. If a man's wife died and he married a second time, he could not serve. This same prohibition would prevent the church helping widows who had been twice married.

Such a translation would fit the second century after Christ when asceticism crept into the church and condemned all second marriages as fornication. "Married only once" is for the RSV translators evidence that the letters to Timothy and Titus were not written by Paul but by some pious forger in the second century. (Moffatt: Introduction To Literature of the N. T., pg. 410.)

The text reads, "the husband of one wife," and like any other phrase or sentence applies only to the time referred to in the context. If we say a man must be "the citizen of one country," we do not imply that, when he moves to another country, he cannot become a citizen

there. The RSV adds to the text the idea "for all his life." Paul says that widows may and should re-marry. (Rom. 8:2,3; 1 Cor. 7:8,9,39; 1 Tim. 5:14) He would not contradict himself and condemn a second marriage. Such condemnation is unheard of in the New Testament. If one is scripturally freed from the first mate, a second marriage is permissible and desirable.