Acts 2:17 New World Translation

Criticism: "Acts 2:17 "Pour out my Spirit" changed to "pour out *some of* my spirit."[NWT] The revision evades recognition of the Holy Spirit and His activity at Pentecost by suggesting an impersonal force activated to a more limited degree by God." 

The Greek text of Acts 2:17 reads, at that part which we are interested in:
"...EKCHEW APO TOU PUEMATOS MOU EPI PASAN SARKA..." which literally translates as "I-shall-pour-out from[APO] the spirit of-me upon all flesh."

Why has the New World Translation understood the use of the preposition APO here as "some of" ?

Let us examine another comparative text.

John 21:10 GNT reads: "...ENEGKATE APO TWN OPSARIWN" literally translates "Bear-you from[APO] the fishes."

This has been translated by the New Revised Standard Version(1989) as "..bring *some of* the fish.."-asterisks ours.

The reason for this is that the preposition APO, which governs the Genitive only, literally means "from" (see Matthew 1:21 for example), but it is sometimes to be understood as "some of," partitive genitive, so that when Jesus asked Peter and the others to "bear-you from[APO] the fishes" he did not mean that they should bring *all* of the fish that they had caught to the shore to eat but only that amount that would suffice to be put on the fire Jesus had already made and could be then eaten by them with Him. The transitive verb here is ENEGKATE, "bring," and the direct object being OPSARIWN, "fish" and APO is used elliptically so that "some of" the fish is to be understood. Please see the Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament, Rev. Samuel Green, The Religous Tract Society, London, 1904(revised and improved edition), pp.236, 237 where this grammarian gives this and Acts 2:17 as examples of this.

So we find in Acts 2:17 this exact grammatical construction. When God "poured out" His "spirit" at pentecost did he pour *all* of His spirit out upon them there? No, of course not! But that could be inferred from most translations at this place. Rather, God poured "some of his spirit" as the New World Translation accurately reports for us.(Note the use of the word "pour." Does this indicate that the "spirit" was an actual person or an impersonal force? This has been lost with some translations that simply say that God 'gave' his spirit to them.-e.g.Contemporary English Translation, 1995)

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other early Christian Literature by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich under APO "I. Of place, exclusively, from, away a substitute for the partitive gen[itive]......Acts 2:17f(Jo 3:1 f), ......get a share of the vintage-Mark ones fill of something-Luke 16:21...pick up the remnants of the fish Ma[rk]6:43...."-University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Ill., 1957, pp. 85, 86.

Please note that this lexicon cites Acts 2:17(and following the verse) where APO serves for the "partitive genitive," that is, 'signifying that which forms a part.'

Hence, in support and agreement with the New World Translation at Acts 2:17 is that of William Barclay which reads here:

"..I will pour out a share of my spirit on all mankind."- The New Testament, A Translation by William Barclay, 1969.(italics ours)

In a footnote under Acts 2:17 in The New Testament in Modern Speech(2nd edition, 1903)by Richard Weymouth we read:

"My Spirit] Here, and in verse 18, li[terally] 'of' or 'from My Spirit'- a share or portion, as it were, of the infinite wealth of power, wisdom and grace, potentially included in that wonderous gift."-italics ours.

The New American Bible (Catholic Study edition, 1990) reads:

"...that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh."-italics ours.

Also, we can quote from The Anchor Bible, The Acts of the Apostles, A New Translation and Commentary by Joseph A. Fitzmyer translates: "...that I will pour out some of my Spirit upon all flesh; "- italics ours.

In his "Notes" Fitzmyer comments: "..Lit., "I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh." The LXX, using the Greek prep[osition] apo, reflects the partitive use of Hebrew min(hence "some of my Spirit), which, however, is not found in the Hebrew text of Joel. "The fulness of the Spirit remains with God," but human beings only partake of it (Haenchen, Acts, 179)"

In conclusion then, we can not only dismiss the above criticism of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures at Acts 2:17, but we can see quite the reverse! That the New World Translation is seen to be very careful to bring out accurately the sense of the Greek which most other Bible translations do not. For this we should be thankful! And indeed, the Greek of Acts 2:17 appears to actually indicate that the holy spirit is "an impersonal force[which was, at pentecost,] activated to a more limited degree by God." Exactly!

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