Sunday, June 5, 2022

A Note on the Meaning of the Word All

by James C. Morris –

Like English, both Greek and Hebrew have different terms for “all” in a general sense, and “absolutely all.” We often use the word “all” in a general sense, without even intending the thought of “absolutely all.” For instance, when we say, “all over the place.” We do not mean every possible spot, but many spots in many places.

Greek and Hebrew are the same. The Greek word πας, pas in our alphabet, word number 3956 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary, and the Hebrew word כֹּל, kol in our alphabet, word number 3605 in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, are both direct equivalents of the English word “all.” But like the English word “all,” they do not necessarily mean “absolutely all.” In all three languages, this word is sometimes used in the sense of “absolutely all.” But in none of these three languages does it necessarily have that meaning.

In English, to make the word “all” absolute, we add a word, saying “absolutely all.”

In Greek, this is done by adding a syllable, rather than an entire word, changing the word πας, pas in our alphabet, to απας, hapas in our alphabet, word number 537 in Strong’s Greek Dictionary. To understand how this works in the New Testament, we notice that pas is the Greek word used in Matthew 27:1, where we read that “all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.” But Luke 23:50-51 says that Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the council and “had not consented to their decision and deed.” Also, Nicodemus opposed the council in John 7:50-51 and came with Joseph to bury Jesus in John 19:39. But hapas is the Greek word used in Luke 17:27, where we read that “Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” But we also need to realize that, even as in English, we sometimes use the word “all” in the absolute sense, even without the word “absolutely,” pas is sometimes used by itself in the absolute sense. We see this in Acts 13:39, where we read, \pard *39 and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” In this verse, both the word “everyone” and the word “all” are English renditions of the Greek word pas.

In Hebrew, the word “kol” is made absolute by doubling it, saying “kol kol,” which translates literally as “all all.” We see how this works by first examining the general use of the Hebrew word kol in 2 Samuel 6:5. 5 Then David and all the house of Israel played music before the LORD on all kinds of instruments of fir wood, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on sistrums, and on cymbals.” The Hebrew word here translated all kinds of is kol. Now it should be evident to even the most casual reader that David and his people could not have been using every musical instrument in the entire world (or even in the entire city, for that matter). So from the context it is obvious that the correct translation is, as our translators rendered it here, all kinds of, not all. But in Ezekiel 36:7-10, we read: 8 But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. 9 For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. 10 I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt.” Here, the English words “all... all of it” are a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase “kol kol.”

But, like the Greek word pas and the English word all, the Hebrew word kol is sometimes used in an absolute sense. We see this use in Deuteronomy 4:23, where we read, 23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you.” Here, the Hebrew word translated “anything” is kol.

So in all three languages, the word that literally means “allcan mean “absolutely all.” But it does not necessarily have that meaning.

But now we come to the question, why is this important? What is its significance in regard to Bible prophecy? Many people stress the words all, or every when they find them in Bible prophecy, incorrectly imagining that these words are used in the absolute sense. But whenever we find these words in our English Bibles, we need to check the original text, to see if the Holy Spirit stated either of these words in absolute terms.

The most common occurrence of this error is in the imagination that the scriptures each that the Roman “beast” will become the official ruler of the entire world. This would seem to be what we see in Revelation 13:7, where we read that he was given “authority over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” as well as Revelation 13:3, where we read that “all the world marveled and followed the beast” and Revelation 13:8, where we read that “All who dwell on the earth will worship him...” But this conclusion collapses when we realize that the Greek word used in each of these cases was only pas, not hapas. So these scriptures do not actually say that “the beast” will become the official ruler of the entire world. And other scriptures clearly tell us otherwise.

We see this in Revelation 16, where, as “the beast” is gathering his last great army, we read of “the kings of the East” in verse 12 and “the kings of the earth and of the whole world.” in verse 14. These references are only general, but scripture specifically speaks of two great powers that will continue to exist during that time.

The first of these is “the Assyrian.” Isaiah 10:12 says that this evil invader will be punished “when the Lord has performed all His work on mount Zion and on Jerusalem.” Verse 20 of the same chapter says “And it shall come to pass in that day That the remnant of Israel, And such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, Will never again depend on him who defeated them, But will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.” It should be clear to even the most casual student of prophecy that the Lord’s “work on mount Zion and on Jerusalem” will not be completed until He returns in power, nor will Israel learn to “depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth” until that time.

The second of these powers is Gog. Ezekiel 39:7 says that after Gog is destroyed the Lord “will not let them profane” His holy name “anymore.”Again, Ezekiel 39:22 says that “the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward”

Neither of these could possibly apply until after the time when they allow “the man of sin” to sit “as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

So we see that, not only do the scriptures not say that “the beast” will become the official ruler of the entire world, they also show that he will not.

This same problem occasionally causes other misunderstandings in interpreting Bible prophecy. But this is the most common one.

No comments:

Post a Comment