Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Taking Exception with R.C. Sproul

I'm reading and studying Acts by R.C. Sproul with a close friend.  This book is part of the St. Andrew's Expositional Commentary series and contains adaptations of Dr. Sproul's sermons at St. Andrews.

In chapter 10 'Peter's Second Speech', Dr. Sproul looks at Acts 3 verse 13 and makes the following comment on page 81:
"Notice that Peter did not say that God glorified His Son Jesus or His prophet Jesus, though He was that, or His Prince of Peace.  The language that Peter used here took them squarely back to the Old Testament.  This miracle was done by the One who "glorified His Servant Jesus," identifying Christ with the promised Messiah of the latter portion of the book of Isaiah, the "ebed Yahweh,"--the "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (v.3), the One who would bear the sins of His people.  That this servant of the Lord that every Jew expected to appear on the scene of history, and now Peter was saying, "don't look at me.  Don't look at John.  Look at the God of our fathers, who in this act glorifies His servant, the servant of the Lord."
Now, when I read Acts 3:13 from my Bible, I find:  "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go,"  (emphasis mine).

Dr. Sproul indicates that this verse does not say "His Son Jesus," but my Bible clearly says "his Son Jesus."  Therefore, I decided to do a little research on my own.  It is true that verse 13 does not use the normal Greek word Uios for Son, but it also does not use the normal Greek word Doulos for Servant.  According to Strong's Comprehensive Concordance of the Bible, the Greek root word is Pais (3816) and means "a boy (as often beaten with impunity), or (by analogy) a girl, and (gen.) a child; spec. a slave or servant (espec. a minister a minister to a king; and by eminence to God); --child, maid (-en), (man) servant, son, young man."  Pais is also used in Acts 13:26, and the King James Bible translates that word as Son there as well.  Therefore, since the Greek word Pais in Acts 3 is not the normal word for Servant or Son, then both translations are adequate since the word can have both meanings.

I found Dr. Sproul's comment extremely biased because he is the editor of the Reformation Study Bible - ESV  which uses the translation of Servant in this verse.  Since the Greek form of Pais is used, it is intentionally misleading to say that "Peter did not say that God glorified His Son Jesus."  This dogmatic statement is made so that Peter's sermon can be connected to Isaiah's allusion of the Suffering Servant.  Dr. Sproul could have expanded this section and done a more thorough analysis of the word Pais to include both meanings of the word:  Servant and Son.  His point would have still been made without the conclusion that the translation of Son is wrong.  This conclusion undermines the authority of the King James Bible by implying that it is fallible when the translation used is perfectly acceptable.

Dr. Sproul is also committing the fallacy of Chronological Snobbery to indicate that he knows better than all of the translators as to the exact meaning of the Greek word.  The Christian men who translated the King James Bible over 400 years were well-educated and knew many languages including Hebrew and Greek.  To dismiss their knowledge is a common error that many Christian leaders make today when they "look at the original Greek."

"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation," (1 Peter 1:20).