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Darkness to Light - Vol. VII, No. 5

Darkness to Light
Volume VII, Number 5


Presented by Darkness to Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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Scripture Workbook: Second Edition; Volume I

This is the first of what will be two volumes. This first volume covers the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. It is these doctrines that separate the true Christian faith from cultic and other deviations. Included here are studies on such essential doctrines as the authority and reliability of the Scriptures, the attributes of God, the Trinity, and forgiveness and salvation.

1Corinthians 13:8 in ALT3

Email Exchange with Gary F. Zeolla

The following email exchange is addressing my translation of 1Corinthians 13:8 in the Analytical-Literal Translation: Third Edition. The e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.

Love never fails. But if [there be] prophecies, they will become useless; if tongues, they will cease by themselves; if knowledge, it will become useless.

>Gary - where did you get the phrase; "tongues shall cease by themselves" in 1 Cor. 13:8?   I just ordered the large-print hardback of the ALT3 yesterday, and I have 4 of the 1st edition, and another regular edition ALT3.  

I can't find "by themselves" in any Greek text or any other English version.

Please help me to understand where you got that - it shook my confidence.

Let me know.


The verb is in the middle voice, hence the translation. As A.T. Robertson writes:.

1Co 13:8 - Love never faileth (Hê agapê oudepote piptei). New turn for the perpetuity of love. Piptei correct text, not ekpiptei, as in Lu 16:17. Love survives everything. They shall be done away (katargêthêsontai). First future passive of katargeô. Rare in old Greek, to make idle (argos), inoperative. All these special spiritual gifts will pass. It is amazing how little of human work lasts. They shall cease (pausontai). Future middle indicative of pauô, to make cease. They shall make themselves cease or automatically cease of themselves.

>Thanks Gary! 

I appreciate you getting back to me. 

God Bless!

>Thanks for your explanation. 

After researching what you said - and talking to the Greek Professor at a large, reputable seminary - I see that this is an interpretation of the word "cease"  - only proffered by cessationists - not by most Greek scholars.  In the Robertson quote that you sent - he refers to the gifts of the Spirit as works of the flesh - that's ridiculous!

No other translation that I can find (I have over 60) translates it as you did.

It is a little disappointing because of the bias - and it not actually being there in the Greek.  

My learned professor friend said that the middle voice explanation by Robertson was not accurate - that's why no other translation translates it as "by themselves."

I guess that's the problem with a one person translation - it's hard to keep personal bias out of the text. Now I feel that I have to check every single word and phrase.

Too bad.

I'm not trying to offend you.  Just disappointed.

God bless your continued efforts.

There was no "bias" whatsoever influencing my translation. The verb is middle voice and "by themselves" is a perfectly legitimate translation of the middle voice. I document this in detail in the chapter on Voices in the Companion Volume to the ALT, using quotations from two different Greek grammars (Dana & Mantey and Hewitt). These are the grammars I used while studying Greek at Denver Seminary, and yes, I was taught there that the middle voice can and even should be rendered as I did. As such I rendered the middle voice in a similar manner elsewhere, not just in that verse.

>Gary - thanks for your response. I'll order the companion volume. 


>Gary - I had your Companion Volume overnighted.  Lots of helpful stuff in it - thanks!



Thanks for communicating with me - and for your patience with me.

God Bless!

First off, I find your SHOUTING to be very disturbing and unnecessary. I also find it disturbing how you previously charged me with being "bias" and how you wrote off the comments of renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson because you disagree with his theological position. Similarly, you simply ignore the comments of the three Greek lexicons you found that support my translation by labeling them "hyper-cessationists (whatever that means) and thus declaring they are not "reputable". Such name-calling and unjustified dismal has no place in a theological discussion.

That said, in all honesty, I never even thought of my rendering of 1Cor 13:8 as having any bearing in regards to the "tongues" debate. I was simply following the Greek text. To charge me (or Robertson or other Greek scholars) whom you do not know with theological bias is simply unwarranted.

Second, it does not surprise me one bit that no other translation renders the verse as I do as that was the whole point of the ALT. There would have been no point in the translation if it simply duplicated the work of others.

Back in seminary, there were many times that my Greek professors would be explaining a finer detail of Greek grammar and then would say that this nuance generally is not expressed in most English translations. The reason it is not is generally because to do so would cause the text to be rather awkward or "wordy,"

The rending of the middle voice is a perfect example of this phenomenon. On page 69 of my Companion Volume I quote Greek scholars Dana & Mantey to this effect and state that most translations do not even try to express the middle voice in most cases. 1Cor 13:8 is just one of many verses where my translation renders the middle voice where other translations do not. In the discussion to follow other examples will be given. I would suggest you check all of these verses in your versions, and you will probably see my translation differs from them.

All of this is to say, the very reason I decided to publish the ALT was because I believe that everything God had to say in every detail was important, As such, I thought it would be beneficial to the Christian community to make available a translation that expressed the many nuances of the Greek text that are not expressed in most translations. Thus by design, my translation will differ many times from most any other translation.

The reason why I published the CV was to explain all of this in detail. It details many, many times where my ALT differs from other translations. This is not to say my translation is correct while the others are incorrect (or vice-a-versa). It is just that I am attempting to express every nuance of the text even if it makes the text awkward while most translations place a higher regard to readability (which is also important but not my main concern with the ALT).

As for the lexicons that you say do not support my translation, I would guess they simply do not comment on this particular nuance of the Greek text, which is far different than if they said it was an incorrect rendering. Again, check those lexicons in the examples to follow, and I would guess they are also silent on these verses in regards to the rendering of the middle voice. This is simply not a point of Greek grammar that gets a lot of attention. As for your professor, not knowing him, I cannot comment.

But one possible reason for the confusion on this verse is that a couple of my sources indicate that "cease" is deponent. In that case, even though it is middle in form, it would be active in sense, as I discuss in the CV (p. 71). In that case, just "they will cease" would be correct. However, since Dana & Mantey and Robertson specifically refer to it as middle with the sense thereof, and most of my sources give it as just middle not deponent, then I am taking it as middle.

That said, on page 159 of Dana & Mantey's A Manuel Grammar of the Greek New Testament (again, the main grammar used at Denver Seminary when I attended), there is a discussion of the "indirect middle" (a.k.a. intensive middle or dynamic middle). D&M gives three verses as examples: Heb 9:12; 1Cor 13:8; 2Tim 4:15.

Their translation of Heb 9:12 is "He himself secured eternal redemption" while they say the "sense" of 2Tim 4:15 is "you had better take head for yourself." Unfortunately, they do not give a translation for 1Cor 13:8. But given these examples, it would probably be "if tongues, they themselves will cease" or maybe something similar to my "if tongues, they will cease by themselves."

Also, unfortunately, I missed the middle voice in Heb 9:12. I only have "having secured eternal redemption." But I will correct that on the ALT3 Errata pages and make it "[He] Himself having secured eternal redemption."

However, to do so will require adding (in brackets) a word to the text to make it readable, and it will make my translation differ from every translation I checked, none of which indicate the middle voice. But the participle is middle voice and should be rendered, hence why I will make the change. Note how it is not "theological bias" causing me to make this change but fidelity to the exact details of the Greek grammar, which I simply missed in this case.

But an example from Hebrews that I did not miss is 11:4 – "he himself still speaks." Every version I checked has something like "he still speaks." But again, "speaks" is middle voice, and again, my translation differs and is more awkward, but is more exactly accurate.

On 2Tim 4:15, I have "whom you also [must] be guarding yourself against." The "yourself" is used because "guarding" is middle voice. This time, about half of the versions I checked have ‘yourself" here while half do not.

Now, on 1Cor 13:8, my rendering is, "if tongues, they will cease by themselves." This is following Robertson's suggestion. Note also, Robertson gives a similar suggestion for Heb 9:12, saying it should be "by or of himself." So I could render Heb 9:12 as "by Himself having secured eternal redemption." In fact, thinking about it, I will give that as an alternative.

My point is, it is not "bias" causing me and Robertson to render these verses in such a manner but fidelity to the exact nuance of the Greek grammar and consistency in translation. It is consistent for me and Robertson to render 1Cor 13:8 as "by themselves" and Heb 9:12 as "by Himself."' It would also be consistent to render these verses as "they themselves" and then "[He] Himself."

All of this is to say, I stand by my translation of 1Cor 13:8. But it would probably be good to give the alternative of "tongues, they themselves." So I will also add that to the Errata pages.

>Gary - thanks for your response.  Actually - I wasn't yelling at you - the caps were an accident, and I caught it - but didn't want to re-type it.  I appreciate your patience and your candor.  Defining theological camps is not name calling - just trying to define their different, and sometimes unscriptural, beliefs.

After reading this email carefully - I feel much better about your translation.  I actually have 8 copies of ALT1 and now 2 of ALT 3, and the Companion Volume (which the textual variant section alone - is extremely helpful and useful, and worth the price of the book - I also have Differences of the Versions).  I can't imagine how much work that was.  My opinion and thoughts may not matter much to you - but they do to me.  What I mean is - I love good and accurate translations of the Bible - they help me very much as I study the Word.  This is why I bothered emailing you at all - I wanted to believe that your translation was unbiased and accurate.  I've learned by harsh experience that if you can't trust a translation in one place - you can't trust it anywhere.  Case in point - the NIV eclectic text.  I quit using Rotherham when I saw his failure to accurately translate God "hardening" Pharoah's heart.  His theology caused him to purposely mis-translate the Hebrew - and write some amazing gobblygook trying to explain why.  It ruined his translation for me.

If I falsely accused you of "personal bias" - I'm sorry. When I researched the way you translated "cease", on the Internet - the only websites that came up with that point of view were 4 that very strongly espoused hyper-cessationism (no gifts, no miracles, no power of the Holy Spirit in the world anymore). I immediately thought - "Oh, My Goodness! I can't use the ALT anymore - these extreme views have been inserted into 1 Cor. 13:8." I side with Charles Finney on the Holy Spirit being honored - "If you honor the Holy Spirit, He will honor you!"

I've run into this bias so much that I'm sick of it - and sick of spending good money on the work of false brethren creeping in.  The CLT (which I bought - and is expensive) doesn't even believe in the deity of the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity, and doesn't capitalize the references to the Holy Spirit - incredibly dishonest, and ridiculously biased.  I tried to get my money back - but they refused.  Works like this should be required to have a warning - "Strange and Bizarre Beliefs - Buyer Beware".

If I over-reacted - I apologize.

I will take your word for it that the "tongues" issue never entered your mind when translating 1 Cor. 13:8. (I still believe that it is an inaccurate, literal translation of the original Greek.) I know that you go by the Majority of the Greek texts. I will go by the vast majority of the Greek Lexicons.

You've worked so hard on your translation - it would be foolish to be dishonest about.  Your love for God's Word is evident - the amount of work that you've done is amazing.  You converted me from the Textus Receptus to the Majority Text a few years ago.  You've helped me a lot in my Bible study.  I in no way want to negate the many years of hard work, or to discourage you.  Keep it up.  I truly wanted to trust and to believe in the accuracy and trustworthiness of the ALT.  That is why I felt so disappointed.

I feel much better now about the ALT because of your responses and patience.  I will continue to use it.  (I always check every translation that I use frequently, against the original Greek and Hebrew).

God Bless Your Continued Efforts to Build His Kingdom!


Thank you for your response and apology accepted. But I did want to clarify one point. You've mentioned on several occasions about consulting "lexicons" and even sent me a lengthy lexical entry, which I ignored. I did so as a lexicon is basically just a Greek dictionary. But the meaning of the Greek word is not the issue here. All versions including mine have "cease" or something similar as the translation of the meaning of the Greek word.

The issue is the grammatical form of the verb and the sense thereof, specifically in this case the middle voice. For study in that regard, you need to consult a Greek grammar, or at least an analytical lexicon.

My Companion Volume provides a "primer" in Greek grammar. So it is a good start for study in this regard. But I would also suggest you pick up a full Greek grammar. I referred to Dana & Mantey's grammar previously. The other grammar I use is New Testament Greek by James Hewitt. There are many other Greek grammars available, but these are the two I used at seminary.

An analytical lexicon will help with parsing of words. I have The New Analytical Lexicon by Wesley Perschbacher, along with his Refresh Your Greek annotated NT (unfortunately CT text). Also, BibleWorks parsing helps are even more helpful, if you can afford that software program. I would suggest you pick up one or more of these references if you really want to pursue studying the Greek NT.

On the interpretative question, I still do not see how "will cease" versus "will cease by themselves" affects the issue. The issue at debate is not how tongues will cease but when, in the first century or at some date still future.

For further details on the translations seen in the ALT, see the Companion Volume to the ALT.

Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament of the Holy Bible: Third Edition. Copyright © 1999-2007+ by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (
BibleWorksfor WindowsCopyright © 1992-2003 Michael S. Bushell. Big Fork, MT: Hermeneutika.
Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York: Macmillian, 1955.
Hewett, James A. New Testament Greek: A Beginning and Intermediate Grammar. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986.
Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament. As found on BibleWorksfor Windows™.

Three Volume ALT3 Set

The Ideal Bible Study Tool:
Analytical-Literal Translation: Third Edition
Companion Volume to the ALT
Complete Concordance to the ALT

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