ACTS 5:42 "from house to house" New World Translation
There is a comment in the footnote of the New World Translation Reference Edition(1984) about the phrase "from house to house." Here is what it says: "Lit., "according to house." Gr[eek], kat oi'kon. Here ka'ta' is used with the accusative sing[ular] in the distributive sense. R. C. H. Lenski, in his work The Interpretation of The Acts of the Apostles, Minneapolis (1961), made the following comment on Ac 5:42: "Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. "Every day" they continued, and this openly "in the Temple" where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also [ kat oi'kon ], which is distributive, "from house to house," and not merely adverbial, "at home."
The New American Standard Bible reads at Acts 5:42:
"And every day, in the temple and from house to house(Gk: kat' oikon), they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."-italics ours.
The English Standard Version reads: "And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."-italics ours.
The New International Version translates as does the New World Translation at this place, namely, "from house to house."
The Roman Catholic Douay Version:
"And every day they ceased not in the temple, and from house to house, to teach and preach Christ Jesus."-Acts 5:42. (Our copy being that sanctioned by C. Denvir, Belfast 18th of March, 1846)
Also the translation by William F. Beck: "And every day, in the temple and from house to house.."-The Holy Bible: An American Translation.
In The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words we read under KATA:
"5.Finally, kata can have a distributive meaning. ....the early church in Jerusalem...taught and proclaimed the good news "from house to house" (5:42; lit., "according to the house")."-p.653.
The Anchor Bible, The Acts of the Apostles, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary by Joseph A. Fitzmyer translates Acts 5:42 as "Day after day, both in the Temple and in house after house, they never stopped teaching and preaching Jesus as the Messiah." In his "Notes" he comments "Day after day, both in the Temple and in house after house. Lit., "every day in the Temple and by house," i.e., in different houses. Luke uses the prep[osition] kata in a distributive sense(BDF 224.3)."
After the Christian congregation was founded, we read concerning the apostles: "And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.-Acts 5:42 The expression in the Greek translated "from house to house" is kat oi'kon. Here ka'ta' is in the distributive sense. Hence, it might be said that the disciples' preaching was "distributed" from house to house. They were not making mere prearranged social calls. A similar use of ka'ta' is found at Luke 8:1 in the expression "from city to city and from village to village." The same expression in the plural, kati oi'kous, is used by the apostle Paul at Acts 20:20. There he stated: I did not hold back from . . . teaching you publicly and from house to house." The expression "from house to house" is rendered "in your homes" in some translations. So some of Christendom's Bible commentators say that Paul is referring here to shepherding visits in the homes of believers. But Paul' s next words show that he was speaking about a ministry to nonbelievers, for he states: But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. Acts 20:21.
Six German Bible translations render these verses similarly. Among them are the revised Zurcher Bibel and the New Testaments by Rupert Storr, Franz Sigge, and Jakob Schafer (revised by N. Adler). Many English versions agree. German scholar Hans Bruns justifies his translation, "from house to house," at Acts 5:42, saying: "According to the original text, it seems as if they went from house to house." Yes, kat' oi'kon, the original expression in this text, is not used in an adverbial sense ("at home") but in a distributive sense, literally meaning "according to house."(The plural form, kat' oi'kous, meaning "according to houses," is found at Acts 20:20.) Other scholars, such as Heinz Schurmann, substantiate the distributive translation of these expressions. Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider, publishers of an exegetical dictionary to the New Testament, say that this expression can be rendered "house after house." A number of English reference works explain this verse similarly.
Commenting on Paul's words at Acts 20:20, in 1844 Abiel Abbot Livermore wrote: "He was not content merely to deliver discourses in the public assembly, and dispense with other instrumentalities, but zealously pursued his great work in private, from house to house, and literally carried home the truth of heaven to the hearths and hearts of the Ephesians."
"House to house dissemination of the gospel characterized the first-century Christians from the beginning (cf. Acts 2:46; 5:42). . . . [Paul] had thoroughly discharged his responsibility both to Jews and Gentiles at Ephesus, and they were left without excuse if they perished in their sins.- The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Volume 4, pages 642-3.
Commenting on Acts 20:20, Randolph O. Yeager wrote that Paul taught "both in public assemblies [ de'mo'si'a ] and from house to house (distributive [ ka'ta' ] with the accusative). Paul had spent three years in Ephesus. He visited every house, or at least he preached to all of the people ( Ac 20 verse 26). Here is scriptural warrant for house to house evangelism as well as that carried on in public meetings. A similar use of ka'ta' appears at Luke 8:1, which speaks of Jesus preaching "from city to city and from village to village." Paul used the plural form kat oi'kous at Acts 20:20. Here some Bible translations read "in your homes." But the apostle was not referring solely to social calls upon elders or to shepherding visits in the homes of fellow believers. His next words show that he was speaking about a house-to-house ministry among unbelievers, for he said: "But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus." (Acts 20:21) Fellow believers had already repented and exercised faith in Jesus. Hence, both Acts 5:42 and Acts 20:20 have to do with preaching to unbelievers "from house to house," or from door to door.
"Perhaps [the churches] are excessively neglectful about that which precisely constitutes the greatest preoccupation of the Witnesses- the home visit, which comes within the apostolic methodology of the primitive church. While the churches, on not a few occasions, limit themselves to constructing their temples, ringing their bells to attract the people and to preaching inside their places of worship, [the Witnesses] follow the apostolic tactic of going from house to house and of taking advantage of every occasion to witness." El Catolicismo, Bogot'e1, Colombia, September 14, 1975, p. 14. italics ours.
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