Since yesterday I checked further on Matt. 18:18. Most
so-called “literal” translations from the past do not translate the future
perfect tense literally there. An exception is Benjamin Wilson’s Emphatic
Diaglott: “will be as having been bound … loosed.” I mentioned Charles B.
Williams’ NT translation of 1937. He was known for having paid special
attention to Greek verbs and for trying to bring out the full flavor of them.
It reads here, “must be already forbidden … must be already permitted in
heaven.” This use of the future perfect tense is found in a similar context earlier
in Matthew, where Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom and tells him that
“whatever you forbid on earth must be what is already forbidden … and …
permitted in heaven” (16:19), C. B. Williams again.
The New American Standard Bible which began to come out in 1960,
and has gone through multiple revisions, has the 18:18 passage rendered quite
literally: “whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven;
whatever you shall loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven” (1973 ed.).
So too does the NET Bible of 1996 on: “will have been bound … released.” Not
quite as literal but conveying the thought is the Holman Christian Standard
Bible which reads, “is already bound … is already loosed.” Two other
conservative translations put the literal rendering in their footnotes but
retain the standard rendering in their main text: the NIV (beginning only with
the 1983 ed.) and the English Standard Version (2001).
Interestingly, two recent one-man translations done by
well-known scholars both render the passage literally. N. T. Wright (2011) has
“will have been tied up … will have been untied.” David Bentley Hart (2017):
“will have been bound… will have been unbound.” Whether this use of a literal
rendering will catch on overall remains to be seen.
The point of the passage as it literally reads is that
whatever Christ’s real disciples decide (in groups according to the passage’s
context) on earth will have already been decided in heaven. That is, God so
directs them that whatever decisions they make, God has already made those
decisions for them, and he thus guides them to come to his already determined
conclusions on earth.
Brief mention should be made about why most scholars do not
render the Matt. 16 and 18 passages literally. The future perfect tense only
occurs in two other places in the NT, Luke 12:52 and Heb. 2:13. In those
instances nobody seems to want to render them as “shall have been divided” and
“shall have put trust in him.” It should also be noted, however, that that
cumbersome literal translation is what those two passages literally say.
The recent NWT revision changes Fred Franz’s older
rendering(s) with “will be things already bound … already loosed in heaven” (with
a similar change at 16:19). One could see the influence of the HCSB and C.B.
Williams with the new “already” present, and indeed that may be one factor at
work. I cannot help but wonder how much the view that the anointed and
especially the GB view themselves as “perfect, without sin” for which thefallguy
has provided the reference above, was also at work, because whatever decisions
they come up with, in their minds, have already been determined in heaven. That
brief statement in the ’74 WT reflects a viewpoint from a larger article (or
book statement) that I distinctly remember reading when I was in. THAT is the
article I want to now access. I’m wondering whether the org has “adjusted”
their currently available indices so as to cause a researcher difficulty in
locating it. Again, I will be grateful to anyone who can provide the ref to
that larger exposition.
The GB, past and present, do not, of course, broadcast their
true feelings and motivations. Yet by studying their past statements it is
possible for an observer to see some of the hidden thinking behind their
regularly secretive behavior. It would cause them problems if they were to
proclaim today that they still believe in Franz’s idea that they are “perfect,
without sin” in Jehovah’s eyes, just like it would cause them problems to
regularly harp on the Bible’s view of the role of women, as subservient to that
of men. But the fact that they do not dwell on a matter does not mean it is not
at work in their minds, even quite heavily. If we are going to understand the
way they think, and thus their history, we need to seriously pay attention to
the things that motivate them, like this bit of Fred Franz’s theology, which
appears to have been, and still is, heavily at work among them.