The Translation Of Ο ΠΡΟΑΓΩΝ In 2 John 9 -- By: Terry Griffith

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 67:1 (NA 2016)
Article: The Translation Of Ο ΠΡΟΑΓΩΝ In 2 John 9
Author: Terry Griffith

The Translation Of Ο ΠΡΟΑΓΩΝ
In 2 John 9

Terry Griffith



A little known Old Latin variant of 2 John 9 (‘qui recedit’ for ὁ προάγων) provides an interpretive clue that has been overlooked in the translation and exegesis of this verse. After a survey of modern translations (which tend to over-interpret this verb) and a look at ancient variants, new lexical evidence is adduced to show how προάγων functions in the Elder’s statement. Finally, a more neutral translation is offered: ‘Anyone who goes forth [or leaves] and who does not remain in the teaching of the Messiah does not possess God.’

1. Introduction

The first half of 2 John 9, πᾶς ὁ προάγων καὶ μὴ μένων ἐν τῇ διδαχῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ θεὸν οὐκ ἔχει, looks straightforward enough but the verb προάγειν has presented peculiar difficulties for copyists, translators and commentators alike. Its basic meaning is ‘to lead forward’ or ‘to go ahead’, although it has a much wider semantic range according to context.1 Few, however, choose to translate the participial phrase πᾶς ὁ προάγων in this basic sense in this context.2 Many offer a more

interpretive translation choice such as ‘Everyone who innovates’;3 ‘Anyone who is so “progressive”’;4 ‘Anyone who runs ahead’;5 ‘Anyone going beyond’;6 ‘going too far’;7 and ‘all those advancing’.8

The assumption behind many, if not all, of these translations is that those being referred to have taken a christological position that is more progressive or more advanced than that expressed by the Elder in verse 7: ‘Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world’ (TNIV).9 Th...

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