Monday, December 10, 2012

Anyone / everyone / each one - Colossians 4:6

There's an important difference between "anyone", "everyone" and "each one".

When I see a shop advertising "everything £1", I sometimes think of trying to get the entire contents of the store for only £1, because that's what they are offering. Likewise, when Paul says in Colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (NIV 1984)

what the passage clearly means is that somehow we are enabled to come up with a clever answer that will work on everyone. Except that isn't what the Greek says.

What the Greek says is literally translated as "how it is necessary for you to answer each one", and that is very different. That means that each individual is distinct, that some people will need one answer and others another and that God will equip us with wisdom as to how to answer each person well. That's what the passage really means.

The "every" is there in the Geneva and the KJV, but I don't know if it meant exactly the same there. Among modern translations, it's in the NIV (and the new NIV!), the NRSV and the Good News. The ESV, the NKJV, and the HCSB get it right though. But then, so did Wycliffe back in the 1300s!

Post a Comment