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Every Bible student must appreciate that an English translation is just that – a translation.  Each translation carries its own nuances because there are not many words with a one-to-one correlation.  Sometimes it is good to refer back to the original language.

For the Day 163 reading, Acts 23:11 stood out, and it reads in the ESV translation:

11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”

The phrase that stood out read “for as you have testified to the facts about me” and especially use of the phrase “the facts about me [Jesus].” The reason it stood out was because the saving gospel of Jesus Christ comprises facts, historical facts that possess historicity.  So I was encouraged to see Jesus advise Paul to testify to “the facts about” Jesus.

Because the saving gospel is about facts, at a minimum, it is important that Christ-followers understand the facts.  If possible, it is valuable for a Christ-follower to be able to establish the historicity of the facts of the gospel.  Both goals are important and the phrase “the facts about” Jesus in Acts 23:11 seems to intensify those goals.

As I began to look into this verse in more detail, I found that other translations did not contain my phrase-of-interest.  For example, the following English translations read:

Acts 23:11 (NASB95) – 11 But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”

Acts 23:11 (NET) – 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Notice that the NASB95 and NET do not say a thing about “the facts” and such absence caused me pause.  When faced with kind of issue, it makes sense to return to the Greek, which reads (NA28):

11 Τῇ δὲ ἐπιούσῃ νυκτὶ ἐπιστὰς αὐτῷ ὁ κύριος εἶπεν· Θάρσει· ὡς γὰρ διεμαρτύρω τὰ [the facts] περὶ ἐμοῦ εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, οὕτως σε δεῖ καὶ εἰς Ῥώμην μαρτυρῆσαι.

Using the Exegetical Guide from Logos 8, I found that the ESV translated the article ho (in the accusative case it is “ta”) to the phrase “the facts.”  One lexicon (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 815). New York: United Bible Societies) defines this article means:

92.24 ὁ, ἡ, τό (pl. οἱ, αἱ, τά): a reference to an entity, event, or state, clearly identified by the linguistic or non-linguistic context of the utterance—‘the, he, she, it.’

The ESV translates the verb diamartyromai as “you have testified to” and according to Louw et al., it means, “to make a serious declaration on the basis of presumed personal knowledge—‘to declare, to assert, to testify.’”

Please understand what I know about NT Greek is very little and what I do not know is quite a lot.  Keeping this in mind, it is my supposition that the ESV translated ho as the phrase “the facts” to elaborate on the meaning of the verb which has an inference of testifying based on personal knowledge, i.e., facts. 

What I take away from this exercise is when my Bible study places importance on a particular English word, I must make sure the English translation is close to the original language.  It is important to check to see that the translation did not add or subtract something that is important to your study.  In this case, before I looked into the text, I was going to stress the factual nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ by emphasizing that Jesus said that Paul “testified to the facts about me.”  But, since the phrase “the facts” may be inferred from the verb-article combination, I chose not to place any emphasis on that phrase.  This, of course, does not diminish the importance of proclaiming the facts of the gospel since they comprise historical facts which are provable as authentic and worthy to be relied on.

If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell.  But, your destiny can change.  Today can be the day of your salvation.  Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.

The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan.   The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf).  My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day.  For Day 163, Acts 23:11 was the passage that stood out.

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