Let My People Think


(continued from part 1)

Strictly speaking, the word “condemnation” translates the Greek word “katakrima”. If this word is understood to have only a judicial meaning, then we are bound to read the divine judge into the picture (since judicial verdicts imply the active agency of a judge issuing a verdict, by definition), and ascribe the initiative to him. However, the word “condemnation” is a translation of the Greek word “kata-kri-ma”, which simply means “adverse decision effect”. It may or may not be judicial decision. For instance, if a building is condemned, it simply means that someone decided that it should be marked for destruction. It’s a practical decision, not a judicial verdict.

The world is said to be under condemnation, or “adverse decision-effect” – and that adverse decision which affected the world was made by Adam in the garden of Eden, not by God. It’s quite clear from the Scriptures. God actually warned Adam of the adverse effect of his decision (i.e. death), if anything. God’s desire, in contrast, is that the world might be saved through Christ.

Now, if you read the well-known 1 Cor 11 “communion” passage through this prism, it will read very differently from what’s still commonly taught in a lot of places. Best way to read it is in Greek interlinear with grammar parsings. I will quote from NKJV for brevity’s sake, with revelant Greek verb forms explained in the parentheses:

1 Corinthians 11:29 (NKJV)
29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment (kri-ma – decision) to himself, not discerning (dia-krino – through-decide) the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge (krino – decide) ourselves, we would not be judged (krino in passive voice – decided for). 32 But when we are judged (krino in passive voice – decided for), we are chastened (paideuo in passive voice – child-trained) by the Lord, that we may not be condemned (kata-kri-ma – adverse-decision-effected) with the world.

First off, notice that the word “condemnation” only occurs once in the entire passage, at the end of v. 32 – “that we may not be condemned (kata-kri-ma – adverse-decision-effected) with the world”.

The decision that the person eats / drinks upon themselves by doing nothing is to stay in the default mode of the world, which is adverse-decision-effect, or condemnation, brought upon it by Adam. God’s child-training is to teach them to make an active decision by through-judging the Lord’s body as availing healing to them, and thereby not participate in the default mode of adverse-decision-effect, or condemnation, of the world. It’s a passage about making a practical faith-decision.

V. 32 simply says when we are being decided for / judged (v. 31 – by not ourselves discerning the Lord’s body, i.e. making a faith decision), we are child-trained by the Lord to not do that, since he doesn’t want us to participate in the adverse-decision-effect of the world. Notice how this verse doesn’t say that the child-training consists of condemnation. To the contrary, the childtraining results in “that we may not be condemned (adverse-decision-effect affected) with the world”.

Chastening in Greek is “παιδεία” – paideia – child training, instruction, correction, nurture. The root word is simply παῖς – child. You get pediatrician, pedagogy, etc. from the root word . The word itself has no judicial or punitive connotation whatsoever.

Some translations put a comma in a different place v. 32 (“… when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened … “) which to me doesn’t make sense given the passage context, since then it places the Lord (that’s Jesus, to be precise) into the decision-maker role, whereas the rest of the passage is clearly placing the responsibility for making decisions on people themselves. v. 29, in fact, specifies that “he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” – i.e., the person takes the bad judgment / decision upon himself. And even with that comma at a different place, the verse still doesn’t say that the Lord condemns – the most that can be said is that the Lord judges / decides (that he wants to teach us how not to participate in the condemnation of the world), and then based on that child-trains.

A more general problem is that whenever a passage indicates any sort of judgment (which may simply be referring to a decision and not to condemnation – e.g., “judge / decide among yourselves if this is right”, “in my judgement / estimation”, etc) with the verb stated in passive voice, a lot of us (including myself) have been conditioned throughout the years to assume that 1) the judgment / decision is always negative (i.e., condemnation), and 2) that God and/or Jesus are the judges passing down the unfavorable verdict, even though that assumption has to be read into the passage.

This short post deals with how to properly read passive voice verbs in the Scripture.

Also, there are number of times the word “condemnation” (or “damnation” which has a lot of extraneous religious connotations) (which would be “katakrima”) is used in our translations to translate the Greek word “judgment / decision / estimation” – “krima”. Running a quick reference with the original text in interlinear would clear that up quickly.

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