2 Corinthians 2:17 "Corrupt" or "Peddle" the word of God?
"For we are not as many, which CORRUPT the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." King James Bible
NKJV, NIV, MEV, NASB, ESV, Jehovah Witness NWT - "For we are not, as so many, PEDDLING the word of God..."
There is an obvious difference between to corrupt the word of God and to peddle it. To corrupt God's words is to pervert or change the meaning, while to peddle is does not involve changing or corrupting it, but it to hawk or sell it for profit.
Like most words, the word used here can have different meanings depending on the context. The Greek word used here is kapeleuo. It can have the meaning of to sell or peddle, but it also can have the meaning of to corrupt or to adulterate.
The Baer, Arndt and Gingrich Greek lexicon says on page 404: "the word comes to mean almost adulterate."
Liddell & Scott's Abridged Lexicon 7th edition 1887 lists on page 348 the meanings of "to adulterate, to give out as genuine, to palm off".
Thayer's lexicon says on page 325 "it is also used as synonymous with TO CORRUPT, to adulterate."
And Kittle's massive work tells us in Volume III on page 604 that the adjective kapelos means "deceitful, false" and that the verb can mean "to misrepresent a thing".
Moulton, The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, 1978.
"Hence some suppose that καπηλεύοντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ in 2 Cor. 2: 17 is equiv. to to trade in the word of God, i. e. to try to get base gain by teaching divine truth. But as peddlers were in the habit of adulterating their commodities for the sake of gain. καπηλεύοντες was also used as synonymous with TO CORRUPT, to adulterate; and most interpretations rightly decide in favor of this meaning (on account of the context) in 2 Cor. 2:17."
Let's compare several versions to see how they have translated it.
The Geneva Bible 1587 was deficient here (as in other places) and read: "We are not as many which MAKE MERCHANDISE OF the word of God".
The KJB translators made a deliberate choice to depart from the meaning found in the Geneva Bible and went with "we are not as many, which CORRUPT the word of God"
CORRUPT the word of God - King James Bible 1611, the Bill Bible 1671, Whiston's Primitive N.T. 1745, The Improved N.T. 1809, The Revised Translation 1815, The Wakefield N.T. 1820, The Kneeland N.T. 1823, The Revised New Testament 1862, The American Bible Union N.T. 1865, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Dillard N.T. 1885, the Revised Version 1885, the American Standard Version 1901, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Improved Bible 1913, The New Testament Translated from the Sinaitic Manuscript 1918 Henry Anderson, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Webster's 1833 translation, The Pickering N.T. 1840, KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001 "which CORRUPT the word of Elohim", the English Majority Text Version 2002 by Paul Esposito, The Evidence Bible 2003, the Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 by Vince Garcia, Bond Slave Version 2009, Conservative Bible 2011 - "who CORRUPT the word of God", Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "For we are not as many, which CORRUPT the Word of Elohim", The New European Version 2010, and the Far Above All Translation 2011.
ADULTERATE the word of God --Mace 1729, Wesley 1755, Worsely N.T. 1770, Living Oracles 1835, Young's 1898, Moffatt N.T. 1913, Douay 1950, the New Jerusalem Bible 1985, the Public Domain Version 2009, the 2010 English Revised Version and The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011.
The 1989 Revised English Bible has: "not adulterating the word of God for profit."
DO ADULTERY BY the word of God - Wycliffe 1395 -
"We are not as many WHICH CHOP AND CHANGE the word of God" - Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540 and the Bishop's Bible 1568.
The Dickenson New Testament 1833 - "we are not as many who CONTAMINATE the word of God"
The Interlinear Greek N.T. 1997 (Larry Pierce) and the Lawrie Translation 1998 both have "make a gain BY CORRUPTING the word of God"
The Names of God Bible 2011 - “we don’t go around SELLING AN IMPURE word of God like many others."
The Latin Vulgate agrees with the sense found in the KJB saying: "non enim sumus sicut plurimi ADULTERANTES verbum Dei"
FALSIFY the word of God - Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German -
The French Martin 1744, French Louis Segond 1910 and French Ostervald 1996. All three of these French translation bibles have to "not falsifying the word of God". "Car nous NE FALSIFIONS pas la parole de Dieu"
Luther's German bible 1545 and the 2000 Schlachter Bible also read "not falsifying the word of God" - "Denn wir sind nicht wie etliche viele, die das Wort Gottes VERFALSCHEN." So does the Norwegian Det Norsk Bibelselskap - "slike at vi forfalsker Guds ord." and the Russian Synodal Bible.
Italian Diodati 1649, and the New Diodati 1991 both have "not falsifying the word of God" - "Noi NON FALSIFICHIAMO infatti la parola di Dio" and the Italian Riveduta 1927 has "not adulterating the word of God" - "Poich noi non siamo come quei molti che ADULTERANO la parola di Dio. Likewise the 1997 La Parola é Vita and La Nuova Riveduta of 2006 read: "non siamo come tanti CHE FALSIFICANO la parola di Dio."
The Portuguese Almeida has "we are not falsifiers of the word of God" as does the Portuguese A Biblia Sagrada em Portugues - "Porque no somos FALSIFICADORES da palavra de Deus"
Spanish Reina Valera 1960, 1995 - "that go about falsifying the word of God" - "Pues no somos como muchos, que medran FALSIFICANDO la palabra de Dios"
However, many modern versions, including the NKJV have changed the meaning of the verse by translating it as "PEDDLE the word of God". These include the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NKJV, NIV, Green's Literal 2005, Jehovah Witness NWT and the NASB. "For we are not, as so many, PEDDLING the word of God" - NKJV 1982.
Jehovah Witness New World Translation - "for we are NOT PEDDLERS of the word of God"
The Holman Standard has: "For we are not like the many who MAKE A TRADE in God's message FOR PROFIT".
NET version - "For we are not like so many others, HUCKSTERS WHO PEDDLE the word of God FOR PROFIT."
The Last Days Bible 1999 has: "Because we are not like many who TWIST AND CHANGE GOD'S MESSAGE FOR THEIR OWN FINANCIAL BENEFIT."
The ISV has -"At least we are NOT COMMERCIALIZING God's word like so many others."
Context Group Version 2007 - "We are not as the majority MERCHANDIZING the word of God"
International Standard Version 2014 - “At least we are NOT COMMERCIALIZING God’s word like so many others.”
As you can see, the first popular modernized English version to change the meaning from "to corrupt" the word of God to the idea of peddling it, was the liberal Revised Standard Version.
Two modern paraphrases try to combine both ideas from this single Greek word.
The Amplified version - "peddling God's word, shortchanging and adulterating the divine message"
The Message - "but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap." (Oh, No? That is exactly what they do with the Message)
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic Versions are in their usual disarray.
The older Douay-Rheims of 1582 as well as the 1950 Douay read: "For we are not as many, ADULTERATING the word of God; but with sincerity, but as from God, before God, in Christ we speak."
However in 1968 the Jerusalem bible changed this to "we do not go around OFFERING THE WORD OF GOD FOR SALE, as many other people do."
The 1970 St. Joseph New American Bible says: "We at least are not like so many WHO TRADE OF THE WORD OF GOD."
But then again in 1985 the New Jerusalem bible, the Catholic Public Domain Version 2009 and The Revised Douay-Rheims 2012 have all gone back to "we are not as many, ADULTERATING the word of God."
John Gill comments on this verse: "which corrupt the word of God; by "the word of God", may be meant the Scriptures in general, which are from God, contain his will, and which he uses for the good of men, and his own glory, and MAY BE CORRUPTED BY FALSE GLOSSES AND HUMAN MIXTURES, AND BY ADDING TO THEM, OR TAKING FROM THEM; or the Gospel in particular, which is the word of truth, of faith, righteousness, reconciliation, and salvation, and which WAS CORRUPTED BY THESE FALSE TEACHERS by making merchandise of it; they huckstered the word of God, made gain of it, sought merely their own worldly interest and advantage in it, and SO MIXED IT WITH THEIR OWN VAIN PHILOSOPHY, to please the carnal ears and hearts of men;... they did, as peddling merchants do, mix good and bad commodities together, and then vend them for sound ware... so did these men mix, and hereby CORRUPT the Gospel, the word of God; now the apostle says, they did not do so; they delivered out the word pure and unmixed, WITHOUT ANY CORRUPTION OR ADULTERATION."
John Calvin translated the word as "adulterate the word of God" and then commented: "It is, indeed, certain from the corresponding clause, that Paul intended to express here CORRUPTION of doctrine not as though they had revolted from the truth, but because they presented it under disguise, and NOT IN ITS GENUINE PURITY. For THE DOCTRINE OF GOD IS CORRUPTED in a direct way, when it is MIXED UP WITH FALSEHOOD AND LIES, so as to be no longer the pure and genuine doctrine of God, but is falsely commended under that title." (Caps are mine throughout).
John Wesley comments: " For we are not as many, who ADULTERATE the word of God - Like those vintners who mix their wines with baser liquors."
Matthew Poole commentary - "we translate it, corrupt the word; the Greek word signifies, to sell wine or victuals for money; and because such kind of people make no conscience to deceive, cheat, and deal fraudulently with their customers, it is sometimes used to signify CORRUPTING OR DECEIVING."
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament - "Which corrupt the word of God. Margin, "deal deceitfully with." The word signifies, properly, a huckster, or a retailer of wine who buys up articles for the purpose of selling them again. The proper idea is that of a small dealer, and especially in wine. Such persons were notorious, as they are now, for diluting their wines with water and for compounding wines of other substances than the juice of the grape, for purposes of gain. Wine, of all substances in trade, perhaps, affords the greatest facilities for such dishonest tricks; and accordingly the dealers in that article have generally been most distinguished for fraudulent practices and corrupt and diluted mixtures, hence THE WORD COMES TO DENOTE TO ADULTERATE, TO CORRUPT. IT IS HERE APPLIED TO THOSE WHO ADULTERATED OR CORRUPTED THE PURE WORD OF GOD in any way, and for any purpose."
It is very clear to me and many others that the King James Bible is correct with its reading of "not as many which corrupt the word of God". The KJB is the pure, inerrant, uncorrupted words of God.
The NKJV rendering of "peddling the word of God" joins with the modern versions like the RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, Jehovah Witness NWT and removes the idea that God's words are being corrupted by many, and instead has us focus on merely peddling the word of God, which is exactly what all these modern versions are doing.
The modern versions not only corrupt the word of God but they also peddle it. They corrupt it by following the wrong Greek texts, by rejecting the Hebrew Masoretic texts in scores of places, by changing the meaning in hundreds of verses and by corrupting sound doctrines of the Faith.
For more than 30 concrete examples of how the modern versions are corrupting sound doctrines and perverting the truth of God, see the linked articles here in Fake Bibles DO Teach False Doctrine.
They peddle the word of God by making many unnecessary changes in the wording so they can get their copyrights to make money, and then they "revise" them again and again, and then ply their wares with Madison Avenue advertising techniques so you will go out and buy their Late$t $cholarly Finding$.
They hide the fact that God's words are being corrupted by many, and they are guilty of peddling their adulterated wares to unsuspecting and misinformed Christians, who now read and believe these corrupted bible versions less and less every day.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, no a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD." Amos 8:11
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8
So what we have today is the "every man is a textual critic" and "Every Man For Himself Bible Versionism", but very few Bible believers.
Everybody has their own opinion about what texts should be used and then how they should be translated once you have decided on your underlying texts, but nobody agrees with anybody else 100% of the time. So what you essentially have is that each person becomes his own final authority.
I have written about this "Every Man for Himself Bible Versionism" and related it to the new Holman Standard version that just came out a few years ago.
You may find it of interest.
By His grace, believing The Book - a tangible, hold it in your hands and believe every word Bible called the King James Holy Bible.
The words “corrupt, adulterate, or falsify the word of God” makes a whole lot more sense than “peddling” the word of God. The constant threat to the truth of early Christianity was not a bunch of unscrupulous money makers trying to make a fast buck by selling God’s words cheap. However churning out a multitude of “new”, “up to date”, “modern” and “easy to read” versions one after another, and then “revising” again and again because there is a market of gullible buyers is certainly “peddling” the word of God, and that is what is happening today.
The very real attack against the truth of God has always been by those who would corrupt and pervert God’s words of truth and sound doctrine.
Deuteronomy 4:2 ”Ye shall NOT ADD UNTO THE WORD which I command you, NEITHER SHALL YE DIMINISH OUGHT FROM IT, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
Jeremiah 5:31 ”The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?”
Jeremiah 23:30 “Therefore, behold, I AM AGAINST THE PROPHETS, saith the LORD, THAT STEAL MY WORDS every one from his neighbour.”
Jeremiah 23:36 ”for YE HAVE PERVERTED THE WORDS OF THE LIVING GOD, of the LORD of hosts our God.”
Matthew 15:3,9 “But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?...But in vain they do worship me, TEACHING FOR DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN.”
2 Corinthians 2:17 “For we are not as many, which CORRUPT THE WORD OF GOD: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:2 ”But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, NOR HANDLING THE WORD OF GOD DECEITFULLY; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-14 ”For such are FALSE apostles, DECEITFUL workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and DOCTRINES OF DEVILS.”
2 Timothy 2:17-18 "And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some."
2 Timothy 4:2-4 “PREACH THE WORD; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they HEAP TO THEMSELVES TEACHERS, having itching ears; And they SHALL TURN AWAY THEIR EARS FROM THE TRUTH, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Titus 3:10 "A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject"
2 Peter 2:1-2 “But there were FALSE PROPHETS also among the people, even as there shall be FALSE TEACHERS among you, who privily shall bring in DAMNABLE HERESIES, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom THE WAY OF TRUTH SHALL BE EVIL SPOKEN OF.”
1 John 4:1 ”Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because MANY FALSE PROPHETS ARE GONE OUT INTO THE WORLD.”
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