Friday Jul 08, 2022

Acts 8:33

Friday, 8 July 2022

 

“In His humiliation His justice was taken away,

And who will declare His generation?

For His life is taken from the earth.” Acts 8:33

 

Luke now continues the quote from Isaiah 53:8 which speaks of the coming Messiah. The eunuch continues to read out the passage to Philip with the words, “In His humiliation His justice was taken away.” The words vary from the Hebrew text, which reads –

 

He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;

 

Despite the differences, the words cited now by Luke follow the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the LXX) exactly. As such, unless Luke only later referred to the Greek to write out the words, it demonstrates that the eunuch was reading from the Greek translation.

 

The Hebrew and Greek don’t actually vary as much as may appear from the English translation. Albert Barnes notes, “The word rendered ‘prison’ denotes any kind of ‘detention,’ or even ‘oppression.’ It does not mean, as with us, to be confined ‘in’ a prison or jail, but may mean ‘custody,’ and be applied to the detention or custody of the Saviour when his hands were bound, and he was led to be tried.”

 

As such, the Greek translators may have seen “humiliation” as being equivalent to the idea of His imprisonment. It is in this state of humiliation and being bound and oppressed that He was also denied justice. In studying the events of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, it is clear that a large number of actions occurred that were contrary to the law. Volumes have been written about this demonstrating the completely unfair trial that Christ Jesus faced.

 

Next, it says, “And who will declare His generation?” The seemingly simple intent of these words is highly debated, and there are many suggestions as to what the meaning actually is. Does “generation” refer to those who are Christ’s after the completion of His work? Meaning those who spring from Him? Does it refer to those who treated Him wickedly? Meaning they are a generation that must be called out and punished for the rejection of their Messiah. And so on.

 

The greater evidence would point to those of His generation who rejected Him. Jesus spoke of them again and again in the gospels. Two of the many examples are –

 

But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.’” Matthew 12:39-42

 

“Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? 34 Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, 35 that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Matthew 23:31-36

 

With this considered, the final portion of the eunuch’s reading is, “For His life is taken from the earth.” It is a close enough rendering to the Hebrew and the meaning is obvious in both. The Messiah would be “cut off from the land of the living” (Hebrew text) through a death that would be sudden. He was alive, and then His life was ended. In the Greek, it is clear enough. He was on the earth and His life was in Him. However, that life was taken from Him. The reference of the action is the Messiah, not the earth as if He was abducted by aliens or snatched away by angels.

 

With the reading of these words of Isaiah complete, the narrative will continue in the next verse.

 

Life application: There may be differences between various source texts, and this can cause confusion as to what the true rendering of Scripture is. This is more the case when it becomes evident that some texts have been purposefully corrupted in order to hide or twist obvious things that don’t fit a particular agenda. Likewise, commentaries may have been written which are clearly biased against what really occurred.

 

As this is so, it is a good thing that scholars over the years have taken a global view and looked at all of the texts and commentaries and carefully pieced together where errors have crept in or where they have been intentionally inserted into Scripture. By doing this, those corrupted areas of various texts can be highlighted and dismissed. God has ensured that enough translations exist of the word to allow us to do this, and there is very little doubt about what the actual reading of Scripture is.

 

A very simple example of this is to set a portion of Colossians 1:16 side by side with various translations and see what happened with one particular “translation” –

 

For in him all things were created. NIV

For by him all things were created. ESV

For everything was created by him. CSV

because by means of him all other things were created. NWT

 

The Greek is clear and easy to understand. It is speaking of Jesus, and it conveys the truth that everything was created by Him. However, the NWT of the Jehovah’s Witnesses adds in a word, other, that cannot even be inferred. In their older translations, it used to say, “because by means of him all [other] things were created.” However, the addition of this word was so obviously wrong that people would ask, “Hey, why did they insert that word there?” In order to avoid such questions that have no reasonable explanation, they simply took out the brackets. In this, it then removed any future questions by those who might otherwise be seeking the truth.

 

This sort of manipulation is common, and such an error is easily discovered and dismissed by referring to various translations and then checking with the original. So, when you read the Bible and see things that are hard to reconcile, please understand that there is an answer to your question. Someone out there has done the hard work to point out to you where the resolution is. With a little searching, you will find it.

 

Be confident that what we have is God’s word. Where variations arise, there is always another source text to refer to that will provide the needed clarification to settle any difficulties.

 

Lord God, thank You that You have protected Your word so that we can know what is correct and what has been corrupted, either accidentally or purposefully. Thank You for the assurance we have concerning it. We have full confidence that it is reliable. Hallelujah for Your precious word! Amen.

 

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