Acts 2:17 " I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh." New World Translation.(emphasis ours)
A Popular Family Commentary on the New Testament being Notes Practical and Explanatory Vol. III, Acts of the Apostles, p.31 by the Rev. Albert Barnes (London: Blackie and Sons Limited)states, in part, on Acts 2:17 and the word "all" in "...upon all flesh":
"¶ Upon all flesh. The word flesh means persons, or men....The word all here does not mean every individual, but every class or rank of men. It is to be limited to the cases specified immediately. The influences were not to be confined to any one class, but were to be communicated to all kinds of persons- old men, youth, servants, &c. Comp. 1 Tim. ii. 1-4."-italics his, bold/underlining ours.
Observe that Barnes states that the word "all"(Greek PAS) means here "all kinds of." This agrees then with how the New World Translation reads, namely, "every sort of " at this same place.
In the book Reasoning from the Scriptures(© WTB&TS, 1985)under the heading "Salvation"(p.357, 358)we read about the word PAS, rendered as "every sort" at Acts 2:17 by the NWT Translation Committee:
"What about texts such as Titus 2:11, which refers to "the salvation of all men," according to the rendering of R[evised] S[tandard]? Other texts, such as John 12:32, Romans 5:18, and 1 Timothy 2:3, 4, convey a similar thought in R[evised] S[tandard], K[ing] J[ames], N[ew] E[nglish], T[odays] E[nglish] V[ersion], etc. The Greek expressions rendered "all" and "everyone" in these verses are inflected forms of the word pas. As shown in Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (London, 1962, Vol. I, p. 46), pas can also mean "every kind or variety." So, in the above verses, instead of "all," the expression "every kind of" could be used; or "all sorts of," as is done in NW. Which is correct-"all" or the thought conveyed by "all sorts of"? Well, which rendering is also harmonious with the rest of the Bible? The latter one is. Consider Acts 10:34, 35; Revelation 7:9, 10; 2 Thessalonians 1:9. (Note: Other translators also recognize this sense of the Greek word, as is shown by their renderings of it at Matthew 5:11-"all kinds of," RS, TEV; "every kind of," NE; "all manner of," KJ.)-bold/underlining ours.
So, the New World Translation has brought the correct thought out at Acts 2:17 with the Greek word PAS that all modern English translations here do not.
So it could be translated as "....on all sorts of persons," "on every kind of person" or better "every sort of flesh[Gk. SARX]."
As noted by Barnes from the context of Acts 2:17 the following 'classes', as quoted by Peter from the book of Joel, designate what is meant by "every sort of flesh." Not the flesh of 'creatures' but of "sons," daughters," young men," "old men," "men slaves" and "women slaves."
Regarding the Greek word SARX translated variously by different Bible translations at this place.
This last translation of SARX, that is, "every sort of flesh" offered by the NWT Translation Committee and others such as the King James Version and the English Standard Version, literally translates the Greek word SARX which ocurrs about 147 times in the Greek New Testament. The benefits of uniformly translating it as "flesh" is obvious. Here, where we read "God says, "I will pour some of my spirit[PNUEMATOS MOU, lit, "spirit of me"]on every sort of flesh[Gk. SARX]" shows that God gives to "flesh," that is, 'weak' 'fleshly' believers of His Son His strong dynamic "spirit" which empowers them to prophecy.(Cp. Mt. 26:41; Rom. 8:3) The Expositor's Greek Testament informs its readers of this by commenting rightly "pansan sarka. i.e., all men; but this expression in itself suggests a contrast between the weakness and imperfection of humanity and the all-powerful working of the divine spirit."(edited by W. Robertson Nicoll, Vol.2., The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 78, 79.-italics ours)This significance, this "contrast" is lost in such translations as Today English Version which has simply "everyone"(which is untrue!)or "Mankind" such as from the Jerusalem Bible and the New American Standard Version(the word ANTHRWPON, "man," meaning 'men and women,' 'mankind'' could have been used for this rather than SARX. Cp. Mt. 4:4; 12:25; John 2:25. But see the NASV's marginal reference here at Acts 2:17).
The New World Translation here is not only perfectly correct at Acts 2:17 with both "every sort" for the Greek PAS and "flesh" for the Greek SARX but it is also undoubtedly superior( differing translation prinicipals not withstanding*) to most other if not all other modern English Bible translations. Indeed, this example shows the great care the NWT Translation Committee took when they translated God's inspired words.
*Even though English Bible translations are either 'dynamic equivalent' or 'formal equivalent'(with any translation more so or less so in either group)this does not preclude the New World Translation's superiority at Acts 2:17 against a translation that has a different translation philosophy. This is because both kinds still have to accurately convey what the original meant aswell as not omitting something the original contains or adding what the original does not contain. Whether a translation is a dynamic equivalent one, that is, a 'thought-for-thought' translation or a formal equivalent one, that is, a literal translation, one can still compare the two types with any given scripture rendering. It is clear that some translations of the thought-for-thought philosophy have added and omitted with their translation of "all people" or "all mankind." This is just not true at Acts 2:17. The word is SARX and here literally means "flesh" and although in certain contexts it does mean "mankind" or even "people," it does not at Acts 2:17 as the context makes clear. Let us not forget the significant contrast bewteen PNEUMA and SARX which has been lost in those who translate SARX as "Mankind" or "people." Hence, the weaknesses here of the so-called 'thought-for-thought translations are clear. Still, even literal translation like the New American Standard has "mankind" here at Acts 2:17 but with a footnote "Lit[erally] flesh." The New World Translation can be said to be superior here at Acts 2:17. Not because it is a literal translation and some others who differ(cp. NIV)aren't but because of the above reasons.
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