Translation Project: Col 1:15-23
First of all, what an amazing passage!
I’m obviously running a bit behind schedule, but here’s my translation for two weeks ago. I’m happy with it, but not overjoyed; I’d like to spend a bit more time with it clarifying some of the ambiguities. Here it is:
15 who [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation, 16 for in him everything was created, things in the heavens and things on earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities – everything has been made through him and for him. 17 Indeed he is before all things and everything has held together in him, 18 and he is the head of the body, that is, the church. He is the beginning, firstborn from the dead, so that he himself might become first in all, 19 because in him all fullness was pleased to dwell 20 and through him to reconcile everything to him, making peace through the blood of his cross, through him whether the things on earth or the things in the heavens.
21 Indeed, you once were strangers and hostile in thought, doing evil deeds, 22 but now, in his body of flesh through death, he has reconciled to present you holy, faultless, and blameless in his presence, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith being firmly established and settled and not being moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached in all creation under heaven, of which I, Paul started becoming a servant.
I’m curious to hear how you dealt with the second “through him” in v. 20. Obviously, it’s originality is somewhat in question, but I opted to include it since it is well-attested and more difficult. If you included it, how do you interpret it? If not, why not?
I love translating because it slows me down enough to notice things that otherwise would slip past me, and what a great passage to spend some time with!
The power and sovereignty of Christ are shown with great majesty in vv. 15-20. In fact, his deity is so clear that the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible translation, the New World Translation, inserts “other” in brackets in vv. 16 and 17. For example, “he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist” (Col 1:17, NWT). The insertion is of course required because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Christ himself is a created being, so he couldn’t have made all things to exist, but only all things other than himself. But the Greek doesn’t give any qualification to the word “all” here.
But I digress, how amazing is this passage in which we learn that through Christ’s bloody death we who were once “strangers and hostile in thought, doing evil deeds” have been reconciled in order to be presented as holy before God. Yet, this is true only “if indeed [we] continue in the faith.” Does this teach apostasy? I’ll leave that question alone for now.
Two take aways for me: 1) Think more on the amazing grace of the cross, and 2) pray to be less and less hostile in intent and evil in deeds, instead becoming more and more united with the mind and person of Christ.
How do you translate this passage? And more importantly, how do you apply it?
Filed under: Greek, The Gospel | 3 Comments