New World Translation, ROMANS 8:27 and PHRONEMA.
The New World Translation here reads:
"Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning[Gk: phronema] of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones."
Most translations render the Greek
word phronema here as "mind" New
International Version or as "intention" New
American Bible. This word occurs also at verses 6 and 7 and
the NWT translates it there as "minding." A 'Question
From Readers' article that appeared in the December 1st 1990
issue of the WatchTower magazine said in answer to the question:
At Romans 8:27, the New World Translation renders the Greek phronema as "meaning," but in verses 6 and 7, the rendering is "minding." Why is the same Greek word translated differently?"
The answer supplied reads:
"The context recommends the two renderings
The Foreword of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (1950) stated: "To each major word we have assigned one meaning and have held to that meaning as far as the context permitted." Some would not consider phro'nema a major word, since it occurs only four times. It is, though, related to words that are used more often. One is phrone'o, meaning "to think, to be minded in a certain way." (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33; Romans 8:5; 12:3; 15:5) Other related Greek words convey the idea of using practical wisdom, sense, or discretion.- Luke 1:17; 12:42; 16:8; Romans 11:25; Ephesians 1:8.
The Kingdom Interlinear Translation the Greek Scriptures shows that phro'nema occurs four times at Romans 8:6, 7, 27 and that its literal meaning is consistently "minding." Greek scholars Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich explain phro'nema as: " way of thinking, mind(-set), aim, aspiration, striving.-A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature.
In Romans chapter 8, the apostle Paul counseled Christians not to walk according to the imperfect human flesh. To succeed in this, they should guard against the tendencies or impulses of the flesh, as well as the reasonings of an imperfect heart. Setting their minds on the things in accord with God's holy spirit will help in this.- Romans 8:1-5.
Paul offered this contrast: "The minding of the flesh means death, but the minding of the spirit means life and peace; because the minding of the flesh means enmity with God, for it is not under subjection to the law of God." (Romans 8:6, 7) Humans are the subjects in these two verses. Humans, particularly Christians, ought not set their minds on, or be "minding," the things of the fallen flesh. Instead, they ought to set their minds on, or be "minding," the things that are in harmony with and stimulated by the spirit.
In contrast, Romans 8 verse 27 is dealing with God himself. We read: Yet he [Jehovah] who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones. Yes, the "he" here is Jehovah, the Hearer of prayer.
The word phro'nema could have been rendered in Ro 8 verse 27 as "minding." But holy spirit is not a person that actually thinks or has its own thinking. The spirit is the active force of God, who knows how his holy spirit works in accomplishing his will. Further, the import of this verse differs from that of Romans 8:6, 7. Those earlier verses highlighted the need humans have to control their thinking and actions. But Jehovah does not have to work, or struggle, to control himself. He knows what was recorded in the Bible under inspiration, such as Biblical expressions that indicate his will for his earthly servants. Dr. Heinrich Meyer comments on Romans 8:27: "God would in every case know the purpose of the Spirit."
Hence, the rendering "meaning" is in line with the context or thrust of Romans 8:27, and it is allowed by the Greek. The Translator's New Testament renders it: "He who searches hearts knows what the Spirit means."-end of WT article.
The New English Bible of 1960 has "and
God....knows what the Spirit means..." as does the
revision of this version The Revised English Bible of 1990.
Also, Richard Francis Weymouth's translation The New Testament in Modern Speech(both the 2nd edition, edited and partly revised by Ernest Hampdon-Cook, 1903 and the 5th edition 'newly revised' by James Alexander Robertson, 1929 reads "...and the Searcher of hearts knows what the Spirit's meaning is..." William Barclay's The New Testament(1968) translates "He who penetrates into the inmost depths of the human heart knows what the Spirit means..." At verses 6 and 7 Barclay translates phronema as "mind." This is an almost exact same rendering with the New World Translation's.
We fail to see therefore that the rendering in the New World Translation is without solid foundation or support from other translators and translations.