1 Corinthians 15:2

From a webpage entitled "Mis-leading Revisions of the New World Translation" we can read:

"By this gospel you are saved" changed to "through which YOU are also being saved.[NWT]" "...this["revision"] .....obscures the completeness of salvation by grace. The JW's salvation exists as an extended process ("being saved") with the outcome being uncertain until final judgment before Jehovah."

The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures(WTB&TS, 1969 ed.):

"through which also you-are-being-saved..."

Greek: "dia ou kai sozesthe..."

The First Epistle to the Corinthians, An Introduction and Commentary by Leon Morris:

"2....Ye are saved is present continuous, the meaning being, 'you are being saved.' There is a sense in which salvation is once for all(as in the 'which you recieved' of verse 1), and there is also a sense in which it is progressive(e.g. i.18; 2 Cor. ii.15). It is to this progressive character of salvation that Paul directs attention."-Tyndale Press, London, Reprint Edition November 1971.

The Revised English Bible(1989) reads here:

"And now my friends, I must remind you of the gospel that I preached to you; the gospel which you recieved, on which you have taken your stand, and which is now bringing you salvation."(italics ours.)

The First Epistle to the Corinthians , Nigel Watson, Epworth Commentaries, Epworth Press, 1992 says regarding 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2:

"15.1f. In the first two verses Paul piles up a whole series of verbs to bring home to his readers the life-and-death importance of the gospel he had preached to them. Not only did I preach it to you - so he reminds them - you recieved it, you have taken your stand on it, and it is now bringing you salvation, provided that you hold it fast and that your conversion was not in vain.
"Two convictions of Paul's come through here with unmistakeable clarity: first, the gospel is essential for salvation; and, secondly, salvation is not an instantaneous process, nor is the intial act of faith a free ticket to heaven. One must build one's life upon the gospel. One must hold fast to it. Otherwise there is a real possibilty that one will have believed in vain."(p.158, italics his, indicating the Revised English Bible translation)

Notice that both the REB translation and the above commentator shows that the 'complete' salvation of the christian, who have recieved and taken their stand on the "gospel," will be given to them *future*. This is because the Greek, "sozesthe" is the 2nd person plural present indicative passive of "sozo,"("to save, to rescue; to preserve safe and un-harmed," etc.) and literally means "you are being saved," rather than just "are saved."(See A Grammatical Analysis of the New Testament, Rome Biblical Institute, Max Zerwick/Mary Grosvenor, 1981 edition- "sozesthe you are being saved, pass[ive] sozo." p.528.)
This means that whilst the christian *continues* to hold fast to the gospel, which they had been given, and they had accepted, then they would *continue* to be in line to gain salvation. It is indeed a "process," and not that the salvation of the christian individual is granted to them at the point when they accepted the "gospel," that is, it is not "an instantaneous process" as the above commentator rightly points out. This can also be seen to be the correct thought from this text because Paul says, according to the New Revised Standard Version(1990), "..through['the gospel']which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message...." Yes, "if" they *continue* to "hold firmly" to the "message," the gospel, *then* they will know they will be 'saved'. If they did not, then, consequently, their savlation would have been 'lost' because their initial belief would have been in vain.

The above does not deny that the Bible writers did write as if the christian believer had already been saved in the past. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament under the Greek word for "save,' SWZW states:

"In the N.T., esp[ecially] of salvation from the spiritual disease and death, in which sense it is "spoken of in Scripture" as either (1) past, (2) present, or (3) future, according as redemption, grace or glory is the point of view. Thus ....(2) Ac.2:47, 1 Cor.1:18, 15:2, 2 Cor. 2:15...." Abbott-Smith, p.436, T & T Clark, 1937 ed.

Notice that this lexicon rightly points out that the "salvation" of the believer is often spoken of as if it ocurred and was 'completed' in the past aswell as the present and the future. The 'salvation' was said to be a past event because as the following commentator remarks:

"15:2. By which you are saved: ....Somtimes Paul described Christians as having 'been saved', i.e. he used a past tense(see 2 Tim.1:9; Titus 3:5). When he said this he meant that there was a time when they had begun to know that God loved them, and when they had gratefully accepted His Life and His plans for them. Similarly, he taught that God had, by sending Jesus(at a time in the past),done what was needed for our salvation.
But usually Paul taught that Christians were 'being saved.' This is the meaning of 15:2. When a volcano was destroying an island in the Pacific in 1966 the people who lived there had to escape in boats to another country. Although they were leaving their homes and feeling sea-sick in the boats they could say, 'We are being saved'. They were glad that they were going to a place where they could live safely. But they had not yet got there. According to Paul, Christians are like those people who were 'being saved.'" A Guide to 1 Corinthians -John Hargreaves, SPCK, London, 1978.

The tense of the word SWZESQE at 1 Corinthians 15:2 is the present tense. Now, the primary consideration of the Greek verb is that of the kind of action of the verb more so than it's reference to the time of the action. This means that the present tense denotes a progressive, continuous action, 'action in progress,' 'action' that is ocurring in the present and is ongoing. Hence, there can be no doubt that SWZESQE at 1 Corinthians 15:2 should be rendered into the English as "are being saved" rather than "are saved."

So, aswell as the New Revised Standard Version and the Revised English Bible saying exactly as the New World Translation does here, that is, "being saved" rather than "are saved," so does Weymouth(1903) "obtaining salvation," New American Bible(1990) "being saved," God's New Covenant, A New testament Translation(Cassirer, 1989) "obtaining your salvation," and the Complete Jewish Bible (D. H. Stern 1998). Others could be cited.

So while the critic can call on other translations, such as the New International Version, and the King James Version (and some others) for "are saved," the New World Translation, aswell as the others cited that agree with it(and more could be cited), appear to reflect a greater degree of accuracy and faithfulness to the Greek and of Paul's thoughts therein.

The Jerusalem Bible well puts Paul's thoughts here by rendering 1 Corinthians 15:2:
"....because the gospel will save you only if you keep believing exactly what I preached to you..."(italics ours)

So it is not so much as the New World Translation offers a "revision" of Paul here at 1 Corinthians 15:2, but that the critic ought to 'revise' the criticism he himself offers against this translation! Indeed, the critic appears to think that the christian individual gains his salvation in "completeness," or, as Watson above quoted states, gets his "free ticket to heaven" at the point when he "recieves" the "gospel." But this is the almost exact opposite of that which Paul was actually saying(and indeed as the Bible teaches as a whole)! The truth is that the translations that offer "are saved" here, might be said to be the ones that are "obscuring" the truth about the individual's own responsibilities(compare Luke 13:24)of holding fast to the "gospel" which will result in them "being saved" and the dire consequences of those who "are saved" yet can then lose that 'salvation' as did the people that were 'saved'(past tense)from Egypt yet because of not "showing(present continuous tense)faith" were afterwards destroyed."- Jude 5f.

Hence, the New World Translation is above criticism at this place.

page index
main page.