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Thread: Can Unbelievers be killed? Acts Chapter 3 v 23

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    Can Unbelievers be killed? Acts Chapter 3 v 23

    Acts Chapter 3 verse 23 has some interesting different translations. In the KJV it says:

    “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

    But the NIV says:

    “Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

    Seems to me this newer translation is trying to soften the idea of killing unbelievers. This would be popular in today’s views of religion where the killing of unbelievers is frowned upon. Not so much during King James day.

    But what’s the correct translation?

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    I'd argue that the political bias is the other way around; King James had every reason to want to justify the anti-Semitic violence characteristic of his family line and the contemporaneous law of the land. Whereas the NIV board has less money and violence invested in anti-Semitic language, though the translation is not entirely free of criticism on that front.

    If we look at the original text, I'd argue that either translation is valid, but that the KJV translation probably comes closer to the sense that the verse's authors intended. The Textus Receptus, the Greek edition that James' translators were using, records this verse as:

    εσται δε πασα ψυχη ητις αν μη ακουση του προφητου εκεινου εξολοθρευθησεται εκ του λαου

    The key term is bolded: εξολοθρευθησεται. Interpreting it is a slight problem, as it is only found in this text; no exact equivalent is seen in any other Greek text. The usual method of interpreting by examining context of existing cases is therefore impossible, and it makes it very hard to get the sense, or connatation, of the word as it would have been perceived by its original listeners. This leaves only morphological analysis, which is usually better at explaining etymology than implication. But it does cast some light on the probable meaning of the term. This is a fairly complex verb, a phenomenon much more common in Greek than in English. Its root word is problematic, as it does not exist at all in the historical record and can only be inferred from the structure of this instance of it: ἐξολεθρεύω. No certain definition is possible here. But this root, whatever its meaning, is almost certainly itself derived from ὄλεθρος. This is a much more common word, and it means, straightforwardly, "destruction". We see ὄλεθρος used to describe scenes of utter devastation throughout the New Testament, from the description of the Apocalypse in the letters of Paul to Thessalonia to the descriptions of Satan's destruction of the soul in Hell in the letters of Timothy and that to the Corinthians. Always heavy stuff, and notably, always the work of supernatural agents, in both Christian and non-Christian texts. Destruction beyond what mundane human violence could possibly accomplish. Divine retribution seems strongly implied here.

    The rest of the mystery word are affixes, though, and subject to interpretation. "-εύω" makes it a verb rather than a noun. "ἐξο-" usually means "out of" or "from" and is one of the more common prefixes in Greek morphology, carrying a wide range of potential meanings. The other modifications are conjugations, making this a Future Passive Indicative 3rd Person Singular, ie something that "will (factually, not speculatively) happen to him".

    A further wrinkle is that for the original authors, this whole sermon was actually a reference to an older text, the popular Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures known as the Septuagint, or LXX. The verse Peter is quoting here is found in the book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 18, verses 15-19. In English, this passage reads “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers — it is to him you shall listen — just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him." A key passage for those Jews who believed in the coming of a future Messiah. Notably, it says nothing at all about detroying those who aren't on board, just that YHWH will "personally require" that they listen to his prophet. Threatening, to be sure, but pointedly vague. Both ancient and modern skeptics have argued that this position of "prophet" or "judge" in Moses' absence was originally meant to be a permanent office that many would occupy over time, as opposed to a single Messiah figure, and these powers were historically claimed by the Judean monarchy. But there you have it.

    All in all, given the use of somewhat similar phrases in the NT, I think it is most probable that some kind of End Times, apocalyptic destruction is being implied here. Though not holy war, as you seem to be implying, as the original sspeaker would have been in no position whatsoever to wage one, this being written more than two centuries before Christians ever held real political power.
    Last edited by Politesse; 06-03-2021 at 10:09 PM.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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    Shunning was a tribal penalty, exclusion.

    I;d say it means spirtutul destruction not physical.

    There are no original documents.

    It is all interpretaion.

    I read about a 19th century Christian who figured he's get to the bottom of it.
    He learned Hebrew and Greek. In the end he concluded there was no traceable original source.

    Back then excision from a group ciould have survival implications. Np support. No food.

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    RSV (1946): "...every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people."
    Good News Bible (1966): "Anyone who does not obey that prophet shall be separated from God's people and destroyed."

    Those are similar phrasings, although the RSV is an awkward construction -- whoever says 'destroyed from the people'? As a literal wording, it doesn't make sense.
    Neither translation says what 'destroyed' actually means, or who does the destroying. Neither do the verses that follow. My idle guess: it refers to the final dispensation and judgment. God's people get to see the new Jerusalem, a big town that's 1500 miles wide & long. People like me get shoveled into the cosmic poop chute. So it's a useful verse for the priest class to arm themselves with.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    'destroyed from the people'? As a literal wording, it doesn't make sense.
    Though a very literal translation of the words themselves.

    Neither translation says what 'destroyed' actually means, or who does the destroying. Neither do the verses that follow. My idle guess: it refers to the final dispensation and judgment. God's people get to see the new Jerusalem, a big town that's 1500 miles wide & long. People like me get shoveled into the cosmic poop chute. So it's a useful verse for the priest class to arm themselves with.
    I think this is the most likely meaning. As I noted, its word root is a noun almost exclusively associated with supernatural wrath elsewhere in the canon.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

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    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Be it killed, destroyed or shunned, these are harsh punishments for not listening to the prophet.

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    When God assures me that something WILL happen, I take it for granted that He isn't asking me for help with the task.

    I mean, like, He didn't ask me to take care of the witches. He didn't put me in charge of sifting the wheat/chaff or stoning adulterers. Quite the contrary. He told me sinners can't judge sinners. Something about logs/specs of dust...casting the first stone...etc etc.

    So no, I don't think anyone is required to kill unbelievers.

    Now, in contrast, there are countless secular examples of people being explicitly ordered to kill specific classes of humans. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_on_violence

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    Romans, Persians, Egyptians and Hebrews were living in harsh realitis and had harsh punishments.

    We see the form today everyday in the news.

    A republican who rejects Trump is shunned by the republican party. Meaning he or she can't raise campaign money. Tribal is as tribal does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post

    I mean, like, He didn't ask me to take care of the witches. He didn't put me in charge of sifting the wheat/chaff or stoning adulterers. Quite the contrary. He told me sinners can't judge sinners. Something about logs/specs of dust...casting the first stone...etc etc.
    Not sure I am following you, at all. This sounds exactly like what you'll hear Squeaky Fromme say about Manson, if you google her 2019 interview -- "I am honored to have known him. Charlie never told me to kill anyone."
    When the entity commanding murder is God, it's easier to show the culpability than in Manson's case.
    Ex. 22:18 commands the reader (or his community, anyway) to kill any woman who practices witchcraft.
    Lev. 20:10 says that both parties to adultery shall be executed.
    Jesus says that he has not come to alter one jot or tittle of the law.
    John 8:1-11, about the woman caught in adultery and the famous "He who is without sin" statement, is not in the earliest manuscripts and is considered by a majority of scholars to have been interpolated by a scribe.
    The fact that today, in the west, we don't burn Satanists or stone fornicators to death just means that we've progressed a bit past Hebraic law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SLD View Post
    Acts Chapter 3 verse 23 has some interesting different translations. In the KJV it says:

    “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

    But the NIV says:

    “Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

    Seems to me this newer translation is trying to soften the idea of killing unbelievers. This would be popular in today’s views of religion where the killing of unbelievers is frowned upon. Not so much during King James day.

    But what’s the correct translation?
    You must be unaware of Christians who are quite concerned, who warn people to beware of the NIV and similar new translations, for example: missing verses and changes of meanings in verses to name a few. There's tons of vids and sermons about this.


    I'll use this exerpt as an example, borrowing from the link below:

    12 unspoken reasons why you should never use the NIV
    https://becomingchristians.com/2018/...ion-niv-bible/

    "..... among the many passages that the NIV changed. According to one estimate I read, there are over 60,000 words deleted in the NIV translation!

    Let me give you a list of some of the verses that NIV deleted."

    Matthew 17:21
    Matthew 23:14
    Mark 7:16
    Mark 9:44
    Mark 9:46
    Mark 11:26
    Mark 15:28
    Luke 17:36
    John 5:3–4
    Acts 8:37
    Acts 15:34
    Acts 24:6–8
    Acts 28:29
    Romans 16:24
    Reminds me of the warning from Jesus about those who are misleading people, like the several verses of 'Woe to you scribes' in Matt 23

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