"Obey" or "Be persuaded" at Hebrews 13.17

by Wonderment 25 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Wonderment

    Various posters have apparently concluded that the WT Society is wrong by quoting Hebrews 13.17 as a reason for Christians to submit to, and be "obedient" to those taking the lead among them. They have pointed out that the Greek word for obedience is "hypakouo" or some other, not "pei'tho" which is the one that appears in the beginning of verse 17 at Hebrews ch. 13.

    Their motive for their objections may be one of rancor brought about by the extreme authoritative measures the Society have imposed on the brotherhood. I agree that current members, and more so with ex-JWs, have all suffered the evil consequences of such detrimental policies.

    But coming back to Heb 13.17: Is the Bible version (NWT), or the people behind it, guilty for projecting the thought of "obedience" instead of "persuasion" in their translation within the verse? Is there a conspiracy within the WT Society to impose a meaning that is not there to a word for the sole purpose of extracting loyalty to their organization?

    First, let's take a look at the Greek word used for "persuade" or "obey" in Heb. 13.17: "Pei'thesthe" is a form of peithō.

    peithō has two basic meanings in classical Greek: Actively it means "to persuade, convince." The passive use is the second basic understanding: "to be persuaded." A typical usage is illustrated by Luke: the people were ‘convinced’ (Or: persuaded) that John the Baptist was a prophet (Luke 20.6).

    The "obeying" to those leaders (Pei'thesthe tois hēgoumenois hymōn) is described in the dative case = The case of personal interest; typically names "to/for" whom an action is done.

    "Pei'thesthe" is the imperative, present, passive, second person plural form of the verb peithō.

    Robert H. Gundry translates Heb. 13.17: "Be obeying your leaders and submitting [to them]." (Brackets his.)

    Gundry says: "The verb for obedience has to do with letting yourself be persuaded--in other words, with taking advice--and the verb for submission has to do with yielding to the leaders' attempts at persuasion." (Commentary on the New Testament)

    Stephen D. Renn explains: "peithō is a verb found in approximately sixty contexts with the primary meanings ‘persuade,’ ‘trust,’ as well as related senses. However, peithō is translated ‘obey’ in three places [KJV]. Gal. [5]:7 refers to the importance of ‘obeying’ the truth, which the Galatians had ceased to do. Heb. 13:[17] instructs people to obey their spiritual leaders, whom God has ordained to act as overseers of his people in local congregations. Jas. 3:3 mentions the bits place in the mouths of horses as a means of rendering them obedient to their riders." (Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pp 683-684. Underlines added.)

    Dr. Spiros Zodhiates defines peithō as:

    "Generally [in Active Voice], to persuade another to receive a belief, meaning to convince, and in this sense used mostly with the acc[usative] of person..."
    In Middle/passive voice: "meaning to let oneself be persuaded, to be persuaded... To assent to, obey, follow, followed by the dat[ive] of person or thing (Acts 5:36,37, 40; 23:21; 27:11; Rom. 2:8; Gal. 3:1; 5:7; Heb. 13:17; James 3:3)." (The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament)

    Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: "‘To obey’ [is the meaning] in Heb. 13:17; Jms. 3:3; Rom.. 2:8; Gal. 5:7."

    New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: "In other places it means to obey or follow (Gal. 5:7; Heb. 13:17; Jas. 3:3)." (Abridged Edition, Page 447)

    Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: "To listen to, obey, yield to, comply with: ["tiní"] one ... Heb. xiii. 17."

    Abbott-Smith: "To listen to, obey: c. dat. pers. [with dative of person].., ...He. 13.17" (Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 351)

    "The ‘obedience’ suggested [in Heb. 13.17] is not by submission to authority, but resulting from persuasion." (Vine's)

    How various translators render peithō at Heb. 13.17:

    NIV: "Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority"

    The Message Bible: "Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel."

    CEB: "Rely on your leaders and defer to them"

    ABP: "Comply with the ones leading you"

    BBE: "Give ear to those who are rulers over you"

    Concordant LT: "Be persuaded by your leaders"

    Darby: "Obey your leaders, and be submissive"

    KJV: "Obey them that have the rule over you"

    Goodspeed: " Obey your leaders and give way to them"

    Young's LT: "Be obedient to those leading you"

    Moffatt: "Obey your leaders, submit to them"

    ESV: "Obey your leaders and submit to them"

    CEV: "Obey your leaders and do what they say"

    From this information, I don't see any justification in starting a conspiracy here or elsewhere that the WT Society has indeed conspired to use Heb. 13.17 to demand blind obedience from their members.

    Only a few translators have opted to translate peithō as "be persuaded." Most translators have chosen to convey the idea of "obedience" by Christians to pastoral leaders at congregation levels at Heb. 13.17.

    I think NWT detractors are better off suggesting that the WT leaders do abuse the term peithō to take advantage of their members for selfish gain, instead of trying to crucify them for translating the Greek term as they do. The error is not found in translation per se, if any.

    Any group of people who gather for a common purpose will see the benefit of some organization, otherwise, chaos will be the daily norm. These people will logically look up to their leaders for guidance and advice. (1 Cor. 14.33)

    However, the WT has been guilty of manipulating members into slavehood for decades.


    You forgot something. The rest of the scriptures that teach:

    1) mature ones to lead by example.

    2) obey God as ruler, rather than men.

    3) how to identify hypocrisy by its fruitage.

    Pastoral "leaders" we're to be an example to follow. As soon as they stray, they deserve to be exposed.

    I understand what you're saying. The issue for dubs is "The Channel of God." Until they see through that illusion, they will never question the decrees of the GB.


  • WireRider

    Too deep.

    Russell and others were confronted several times in court for fraud. Under oath he admitted that he could not read Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. The group just changed English words to control the herd. And they have done so all along.

    Several Hebrew, Greek, and Latin scholars have called out the WT/JW translators for for 30 years to discuss or debate their translations. They have refused every invite - "due to fear of the safety of their translators".

    They just change words.

  • Iown Mylife
    Iown Mylife

    Can we be our own leader - just stay away from being a member of anything and be my own boss.


  • WireRider
    And of course print a whole new batch of the NWT that everyone pretty much is forced to buy copies of every couple of years - when mortgages are due.
  • Wonderment

    Data-Dog: Good observations!

    WireRider: Excuse, but I fail to see the relevance of your comments with the material I submitted.

  • WireRider

    My point was simply that you can not get too deep into translations of languages and meaning when the WT had no intention of "correcting" mis-translations. They deliberately changed words to support their own belief.

  • WireRider
    Various posters have apparently concluded that the WT Society is wrong by quoting Hebrews 13.17 as a reason for Christians to submit to, and be "obedient" to those taking the lead among them.

    The WT are not Christians. People are not subservient to humans.

    Show me where the WT has any connection to God or has any control. "to those taking the lead among them" is a very dangerous thing. George Jones took the lead. Charles Manson took the lead. My best proof is on the Bible's dire warnings of beware of false profits. The WT has proven of a dozen times to claim the end of the world, as fund raisers. I would not trust them.

  • WireRider

    I don't get it.

    The people/former-people can only see 2 or 3 times the WT/JW guaranteed the end of the world when you can prove on paper it was more then a dozen times -- but they cannot see those other worlds. How does that work?

    Yet every day they insist on on getting up in the morning, get dressed, and uninvited go pounding pounding door-to-door to claims their FALSE PROPHETS know the truth.

    Rutherford stole $150 million from people during the depression era - promised the end of the world many times - why the hell would I sign up for your cult?

  • Wonderment

    WireRider: The WT has proven of a dozen times to claim the end of the world, as fund raisers. I would not trust them.

    I don't either.

    WireRider: "...why the hell would I sign up for your cult?"

    The JW organization is not my cult. In fact, I don't assist to religious activities of any kind. I haven't seen the inside of a Kingdom Hall or Assembly Hall for more than 20 years. Your comments are appreciated, but I find them irrelevant to the discussion at hand regarding Heb. 13.17. I think one argument you made, if I understood you correctly, is that no one should be enslaved to a totalitarian religious organization. I agree with that. Nonetheless, I don't understand how any of this disputes the fact that most Bible versions at Heb. 13.17 say that Christians should "obey" their leaders within their communities. It seems to me that you haven't addressed this issue yet.

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