24 December 2009

The world in solemn stillness laid

Tonight, we look back on a night two-thousand years ago when hope for mankind – in the form of a baby boy – was born.

The story of Christ’s birth according to the Gospel of Luke says that there was no room for Joseph and the pregnant Mary at the inn, so they stayed in the stable. Meanwhile, there were shepherds out in the hills of Bethlehem tending their sheep when an angel appeared before them and said “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Then out of nowhere a whole mass of angels started singing “δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια.”

Yes, that’s right. They sang …that (found in Luke 2:14); which is the original Greek phrase which is literally translated like this:

δοξα - Glory
εν - to
υψιστοις - (the) highest
θεω - God
και - and
επι - upon/toward/on/(in the sense of distribution)
γης - (the) globe/earth
ειρηνη - peace/prosperity
εν - in/with/to/(a preposition, with multiple meanings as a preposition)
ανθρωποις - mankind
ευδοκια - satisfaction/delight; or goodwill/desire/purpose/wish

Looks pretty straightfoward except for the last phrase. “Glory to the highest God and upon earth, peace
The New International Version translates it as “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Other similar modern translations will say “and on earth peace to men with whom God is pleased.” That sounds rather Calvinistic to me, that there is peace only to those who have God's favor. Whereas the King James says “and on earth peace, goodwill toward men", so that means peace and goodwill belong to all men.

Which one makes more sense? Which one is actually true? Peace and goodwill to mankind OR Peace on those who please God? In this scripture’s context, which is most logical, or Biblical in that it portrays the Gospel clearly?

(This exegesis on the translation of Luke 2:14 is why I started writing this evening.)

I am definitely not a Greek scholar, but by the grace of God I understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I believe one of these versions makes the most sense because of its good news.

In Isaiah 9:6, it says “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Remember that Jesus is also called Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We realize that at the Incarnation, there wasn’t necessarily an end to wars going on at that time, that hate and violence had ceased, but because of Jesus Christ, all of mankind had peace, if only they would experience it by faith (Romans 5:1), for The Prince of Peace Is With Us (ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις, “peace with mankind”).

Now this next part not entirely solid, but I hope it makes sense: ευδοκια Eudokia, the last word in that phrase, is nominative, meaning it will refer to the noun preceding it (i.e. “The dog is happy.” Happy describes or refers back to The dog). I suppose then, translators believe “Eudokia” describes the noun preceding it, ανθρωποις-Anthropos “mankind” and θεω-God, therefore it would mean “men in whom God delights (is pleased) in”. But remember, the angel brought “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people”, not just those who please God. In fact, is there anyone who can please God? No, there isn’t (Psalm 14:1-3) Isn’t that why we needed a Savior? We were all condemned, we all sinned in Adam (Romans 5:12) and we continue to sin. So then God gave us The Solution – Christ, the one in whom God is well pleased (Matthew 3:17). So no one had been pleasing God, therefore no one deserved peace, but “we have peace with God through Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Perhaps then, we can say “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to mankind who has His kindness.” Or, you know, Christ has also been called “the desire of nations” (Haggai 2:7) and since Eudokia can also mean “desire” or “wish”, we could say “Glory to God in the highest, for on earth is Peace (the Prince of Peace!) in the Desire of mankind.”

Yet whatever the true and complete meaning of Luke 2:14, we must never forget the goodness of God, the hope of mankind born that glorious night in a little town of Bethlehem. If God is with us, then love is with us, joy is with us, peace is with us. Because, as Linus says here, “Glory to God in the highest. and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” is what Christmas is all about. In, essence, it is Christ.

"Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled."

0 Reactions ✈:

Post a Comment