Article: Act 3:19 times of refreshing; 7:20 Moses was exceeding fair by Will Kinney

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Acts 3:19 “WHEN the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Many King James Bible critics tell us that the KJB is wrong in how it has translated Acts 3:19. In Acts 3:19-21 the Holy Bible reads: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, WHEN the times of refreshing SHALL COME from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”

The King James Bible, and many others as we will soon see, refers to the times of refreshing as something that will come at a later time - that is, when the Lord Jesus Christ will come again.

Some of the modern versions like the NKJV, NIV, RSV, ESV and NASB have rendered this verse in such a way as to change the meaning from that found in the King James Bible. The NKJV says: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, SO THAT times of refreshing MAY COME from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before.”

The meaning of the NKJV and others like the NASB and NIV is that the times of refreshing will come now upon their having repented.

One such KJB critic, Barry Hofstetter, writes the following: “Ac 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, WHEN the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord...

I know of no other translation that uses "when." For example, this is typical:Act 3:19 “Therefore, repent, and convert, for the blotting out of your sins, SO THAT times of refreshing may come from the face of the Lord...(LITV, based, Ibelieve, on the TR).

A simple examination of the Greek reveals that the clause begins with the words *hopos an* followed by the verb in the aorist subjunctive. This is nearly always translated as a purpose clause, and never as a temporal clause. In fact, none of the major Greek lexicons which I consulted (Louw & Nida, Arndt & Gingrich, Liddell and Scott) list "when" as a possible translation of *hopos*, and especially not in combination with *an* and the aorist subjunctive, thus confirming my suspicion. The TR and the eclectic text have the identical wording at this point.

Now, does this mean that the KJV guys were wrong at this point? Not conclusively. Several times I have seen zealous Greek students charge the KJV with error when the problem has not been what the translators intended, but that our usage of the English has changed over the centuries. It is possible that the word "when" had a different usage in Elizabethan English that approximated our "so that." I suggest this because the KJV translators were quite competent, and when something like this occurs, one is prejudiced to find another reason for the puzzlement other than a charge of outright error. I have not had time to research this aspect of the problem. However, as it stands, the English communicates to the modern reader something that Luke did not intend, and therefore is functionally an error, even if correct at the time of publication." - N.E. Barry Hofstetter, Adjunct Faculty, The Center for Urban Theological Studies, Philadelphia, PA.

Let me respond to the 4 main points of criticism Mr. Hofstetter raises.

1. “I know of no other translation that renders it this way.”

2. “None of the major Greek Lexicons list “when”

3. “Possible that “when” meant “so that” in Elizabethan English.

4. “The KJB communicates an error that Luke did not intend.”

I would first like to point out that I have had many discussions about the inerrancy of the King James Bible with this gentleman, and I know for a fact that he does not believe in a “hold it in your hands, read and believe every word” type of complete, inerrant and 100% true Bible in any language, including “the” Hebrew and “the” Greek on this earth. He simply has no infallible Bible in any language to recommend to anyone.

  • 1 If he is unaware of any other Bible translation that translates this verse in the same manner as does the King James Bible, then I can only assume he has not done his homework very well. Not only does the King James Bible correctly read: “that your sins may be blotted out, WHEN the times of refreshing SHALL COME from the presence of the Lord” but so do the following Bible translations: Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, Daniel Mace N.T. 1729, Webster’s 1833 translation, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, The King James 21st Century Version 1994, and the Third Millenium Bible 1998.

Wycliffe 1395 "Therefore be ye repentant, and be ye converted, that your sins be done away, that WHEN the times of refreshing SHALL COME from the sight of the Lord,..."

Even Green’s ever changing translations (he has at least three different ones that keep changing all the time) which Mr. Hofstetter mentions as the LITV, presents us with a curious case. I have right here on my desk J.P. Green’s Interlinear New Testament King James 2 Version, 4th edition, 1979 and in his ‘Literal’ interlinear translation he has: “for the blotting out of your sins, SO AS WHEN MAY COME times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord...”

Other bible translations give a similar sense to that of the KJB and all the others listed so far.

Contemporary English Version - "So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. THEN THAT TIME WILL COME WHEN the Lord will give you fresh strength. He will send you Jesus, his chosen Messiah."

New International Reader's Version 1998 - "So turn away from your sins. Turn to God. Then your sins will be wiped away. THE TIME WILL COME WHEN the Lord will make everything new. He will send the Christ. Jesus has been appointed as the Christ for you."

Spanish Reina Valera Antigua - "Así que, arrepentíos y convertíos, para que sean borrados vuestros pecados; pues que vendrán los tiempos del refrigerio de la presencia del Señor, Y enviará á Jesucristo, que os fué antes anunciado." (Repent and be converted, so that your sins be blotted out, SINCE TIMES OF REFRESHING SHALL COME from the presence of the Lord, and He will send Jesus Christ, who was before preached unto you."

Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta reads just like the KJB with: "Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out WHEN the times of tranquility SHALL COME to you from before the presence of the Lord.”

Douay version 1950 - “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that, WHEN the times of refreshment SHALL COME from the presence of the Lord, he may send him who has been preached to you, Jesus Christ.”

  • 2. Mr. Hofstetter informs us that no major lexicon he consulted, including Liddell and Scott, list “when” as a possible translation of this Greek word “hopos”. It just so happens that I have right here in my study A Greek-English Lexicon compiled by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, with a Supplement 1968, Oxford at the Clarendon Press. On page 1243 under the word “hopos” in section #7 Liddell and Scott list hopos when referring to “Time - WHEN or WHENEVER”, and they then give a series of ancient Greek literature wherein the use of “hopos” as meaning “when” is found.

  • 3. To suggest that in the time of the King James translators the word “when” might possibly have really meant “so that” is absurd speculation at best. Admittedly the English language has changed somewhat over the past 400 years, but there never was a time that “when”, referring to a time in the future, really meant “so that”, meaning “with a view to, or for the purpose of”.

  • 4 Mr. Hofstetter tells us that the meaning found in the King James Bible (and all the other 13 or so other translations I have listed, that he had never seen)...that the KJB meaning is in error, when actually, IN THE CONTEXT in which it is found, it is the most accurate.

The immediate context of Acts 3 is that if these Jews repent of their sins, then they will find themselves in a state of having been forgiven WHEN God sends Jesus Christ again at His Second Coming. The Lord Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of God, and verse 21 clearly tells us regarding this Jesus: “Whom the heaven must receive UNTIL the times of the restitution of all things.”

Other Bible commentators agree. Matthew Henry comments: "They must believe that times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19), and that they will be the times of the restitution of all things, Acts 3:21. There is a future state, another life after this; those times will come from the presence of the Lord, from his glorious appearance at that day, his coming at the end of time...The presence of the Lord will introduce, [1.] The restitution of all things (Acts 3:21); the new heavens, and the new earth, which will be the product of the dissolution of all things (Revelation 21:1), the renovation of the whole creation, which is that which it grieves after, as its present burden under the sin of man is that which it groans under. Some understand this of a state on this side the end of time; BUT IT IS RATHER TO BE UNDERSTOOD (Caps are mine) of that end of all things which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.. With this will come the times of refreshing (Acts 3:19), of consolation to the Lord's people, like a cool shade to those that have borne the burden and heat of the day. All Christians look for a rest that remains for the people of God, after the travails and toils of their present state, and, with the prospect of this, they are borne up under their present sufferings and carried on in their present services. The refreshing that then comes from the presence of the Lord will continue eternally in the presence of the Lord."

"Namely, seasons in which, through the appearance of the Messiah in His kingdom, there shall occur blessed rest and refreshment for the people of God." --Heinrich A. W. Meyer.

John Calvin’s Latin translation and commentary agree with the reading found in the King James Bible. His translation is: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be forgiven, WHEN THE TIMES OF REFRESHING SHALL COME from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send him that was preached before, Jesus Christ.”

He then comments: “When the time of refreshing shall come, you may also enjoy this refreshing; when Christ shall come to judge the world, you may find him a redeemer and not a Judge.... That sins are so forgiven against the day of the last judgment;..First of all, we must note, that he setteth before them the day of judgment, to the end the former exhortation may take the greater effect. For there is nothing which doth more prick us, than when we are taught that we must once give an account. Wherefore the message of the last judgment must sound as a trumpet to cite us to appear before the judgment-seat of God. For then at last being truly awaked, we begin to think of a new life. In like sort, when Paul preached at Athens, God saith, that he doth now will all men to repent; because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world, (Acts 17:30-31.) The sum is this, that Christ, who is now unto us a Master, when as he teacheth us by the gospel, is appointed of the Father to be a Judge, and shall come in his due time; and that, therefore, we must obey his doctrine betimes, that we may gather the fruit of our faith then.”

Far from the King James Bible being in error here in Acts 3:19, it is the more accurate and infallible words of God.

Since I wrote this rebuttal to Mr. Hofstetter's criticism of the King James Bible rendering of Acts 3:19, another Bible believing brother wrote me about another ancient reference to this verse by one of the well known early church writers. One of my friends recommended me to order custom writingon EssaysProfessors.Com. To tell you the truth, I have never regretted my decision. The writers are real professionals and know how to write impressive work full of knowledgeable information. Here is what he sent me: "Yesterday I was reading Tertullian's treatise on the Resurrection of the Flesh, and coincidentally he quotes this verse in there ( saying "It is to these same times that Peter in the Acts refers, when he says: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing..." The English translation shows it as having "when" exactly where the KJV does and I would assume they accurately translated his Latin. So, the translation "when" in that verse goes back beyond Jerome (contrary to Hofstetter's view) to at least 209 AD if not earlier. Just thought I'd pass that along, because it stuck out at me when I read it due to this discussion." - Jun Kaddy.

While we're here in Acts chapter Three, let's take a look at some of the textual confusion that exists among the constantly changing modern versions and their underlying fickle texts.

In Acts 3:6 we read: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth RISE UP AND walk."

The reading of "RISE UP AND" is found in the Majority of all Greek texts, including A and C, the Syriac Peshitta, Harkelian, Old Latin, Boharic and Armenian. The older Nestle-Aland Critical Texts USED TO omit these words and so do the RSV, NASB, NIV and the TNIV, based on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. However now the newer Nestle-Aland texts have gone back to including these words and so too the NRSV, ESV, and the Holman Standard. Notice that the old RSV omitted them, but then the revisions of the NRSV and ESV have now included them once again. I guess the NASB and NIV are now out of date. See how "scientific" this whole textual process is?

In Acts 3:11 we read: "And as THE LAME MAN WHICH WAS HEALED held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering."

Here the words "the lame man which was healed" are found in the Majority of all texts, and in Tyndale, Geneva Bible, NKJV, Spanish Reina Valera, and the Modern Greek texts used by the Orthodox churches throughout the whole world. However the Critical Text omits these words and has merely "he" (NASB). But the NIV says: "the beggar" (which is not found in any text) and the TNIV says "the man".

In Acts 3:13 we read: "The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus". This is the reading of the Majority of all texts including Vaticanus. The previous Nestle-Aland critical texts also used to read this way, and so do the NASB, NIV, TNIV, Holman Standard and the RSV. However, recently the Nestle-Aland editors decided to add two more extra "God"s to the verse ( based primarily on Sinaiticus) and now the "updated, scientific" critical text reads: "The God of Abraham, THE GOD OF Isaac, and THE GOD OF Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant (?!?) Jesus." And so read the ESV, NRSV and the ISV. Notice that the NRSV, ESV changed from the previous RSV, and that not all the other recent bible versions have adopted this new reading.

In Acts 3:18 we read: "But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all HIS prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." This again is the Majority reading and that of Tyndale, Geneva, NKJV, Spanish, but based on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV change the location of the word "HIS" and say: "God before has shown by the mouth of all the prophets (omit "His") that HIS Christ would suffer..." (adds "His" before 'Christ' instead of 'prophets').

In Acts 3: 20 we read: "And he shall send Jesus Christ which BEFORE WAS PREACHED unto you." This is the reading found in many Greek texts (Stephanus, Beza, Elziever, Scrivenir) as well as the Latin Vulgate 425 A.D., the Coptic Boharic, Tyndale, Coverdale, Bishops' Bible, Geneva Bible, Young's, NKJV, Green's interlinear, Third Millenium Bible, the Spanish Reina Valera, and the Modern Greek text used throughout the Greek Orthodox churches today.

However the Nestle-Aland text, without any notes indicating there is another Greek reading, along with the NASB, NIV, ESV, and Holman says: "that he may send the Christ APPOINTED for you, Jesus." (ESV)

In Acts 3:22 we read: "FOR Moses truly said UNTO THE FATHERS, A prophet shall the Lord YOUR God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you."

In this verse the reading of "FOR....UNTO THE FATHERS" is the reading of the majority of all texts including D, and that of Tyndale, Geneva, NKJV, Young's, Spanish Reina Valera, and the Modern Greek New Testament of the Orthodox churches today.

But versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV and Holman all omit these words, primarily because of the so called " oldest and best manuscripts" of Vaticanus and Sinaiticus. YET, even in this same verse the word "YOUR God" is found in the majority and Sinaiticus correction, A, D and in the present "updated" Nestle-Aland critical text. Vaticanus, on the other hand, omits this word "YOUR" (as did the previous Nestle-Aland texts) and so do the NASB, RSV and ESV. HOWEVER, now the versions that have gone back to including the words "YOUR God" are the NRSV, NIV, TNIV and the Holman Standard. The only thing consistent about the modern versions is their inconsistency.

In Acts 3:25 we read: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with OUR fathers..." OUR fathers is the majority reading as well as Sinaiticus original, C, D, the Syriac Peshitta, Old Latin, and Coptic. So too read Tyndale, Geneva, NKJV, Young's, Spanish Reina Valera and the Modern Greek N.T.

However, Vaticanus reads "YOUR fathers" and so do the NASB, NIV, ESV and Holman.

Finally when we get to Acts 3:26 we read: "Unto you first God, having raised up his Son JESUS, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of YOU from his iniquities."

In this verse the word JESUS is in the Majority of all texts including Alexandrinus, and in Tyndale, Geneva, NKJV, Spanish Reina Valera, Italian Diodati, German Luther, Young's, and the Modern Greek N.T. of the Orthodox churches.

But based primarily on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus versions like the NASB, NIV, ESV and Holman Standard all omit the word JESUS. But why follow the Vaticanus reading in part but not in the other part? Instead of "every one of YOU from his iniquities" Vaticanus actually reads in this verse: "in turning away every one OF THEM from his iniquities". Remember, this is one of "the oldest and best" manuscripts upon which most modern versions are based.

What we have seen in this brief textual study is that the modern versions continue to disagree with each other; the Nestle-Aland critical texts continue to change every few years because they have no settled text, and the "oldest and best manuscripts" are continually in disagreement even with each other. No wonder most Christians today do not believe that any Bible in any language is now the complete, inerrant and 100% true words of God.

Will Kinney

Acts 7:20-- "In which time Moses was born, and was EXCEEDING FAIR, and nourished up in his father's house three months."

I am continually amazed at the barrage of silly arguments raised against the authority and accuracy of the King James Bible. As for those who raise objections to the text of the King James Bible, I have yet to find one of them who actually has any Bible version they defend as being the pure, preserved, infallible words of God. Instead, "every man doeth that which is right in his own eyes" and they become their own final authority with a mystical bible that exists only in their own minds.

Such an example of ignorantly trying to "correct" the KJB is found in Acts 7:20. Years ago I was invited to debate the Bible Version issue on the radio. I wish I knew then what I know now, but in any event, one young man called in to say that the King James Bible was wrong when it said Moses was EXCEEDING fair in Acts 7:20. He said it should read as do the NKJV, NASB: "At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing TO GOD, and he was brought up in his father's house for three months." - (the NKJV), or "was lovely in the sight OF GOD" - (NASB).

Other versions that read like the NKJV, and NASB are Tyndale, the Geneva Bible, the RSV, NRSV, ESV, ISV, Young's, and the Holman Christian Standard.

However there are also many bible translations that read like the King James Bible with "was exceeding fair". Among these are the Revised Version 1881, the American Standard Version 1901, Darby, New American Bible 1970, the Bible in Basic English 1960, Webster's 1833 translation, the KJV 21st Century version 1994, Third Millenium Bible 1998, John Wesley’s translation 1755, Mace’s New Testament 1729, Goodspeed 1943, Weymouth 1913, Rotherham's Emphatic bible 1902, the 20th Century New Testament, the Comtemporary English Version 1991, the Hebrew Names Bible, the World English Bible, the New Century Version of 1988, God’s Word translation 1995, Worldwide English N.T., Easy to Read Version 2001, Portugese Ferreira de Almeda, Spanish Biblia en Lenguaje Sencillo 2000, Italian La Parola e Vita 1997, the Updated Bible Version 2004 and The Message of 2003.

The NIV and the TNIV are a bit unusual in that they both say Moses "was no ordinary child", but like the KJB, they do not contain the words "of God" in their translation.

There is a simple and thoroughly biblical explanation as to why the KJB and many others translated this phrase as "exceeding fair" instead of "lovely to God". The Greek reads the same here in all texts (kai hn asteios tw thew) so it is not a textual but rather a translational issue.

Some of the meanings of the word "God" or Elohim in Hebrew and God or Theos in Greek are "mighty, very great, exceeding, or judges". ALL bible versions at times translate Elohim as "great, mighty, or exceeding". The NIV, for example, shows the word Elohim as translated in the following manner: "God, angels, godly, idols, majestic, sacred, MIGHTY, GREAT, and VERY." The NASB also lists "God, mighty, great, judges, and rulers."

Notice how the post-Christian Greek Septuagint version renders these verses from the Old Testament, and how they employ the word "God, or Theos".

Jonah 3:3 "Now Nineveh was and EXCEEDING great city of three days' journey" - h de nineuh hn polis megalh tw thew.

Genesis 23:6 "Hear us, my lord: thou art a MIGHTY prince among us" - basileus para theou ei su en hmin

Genesis 30:8 "And Rachel said, With GREAT wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed." - kai eipen rachl sunelabeto moi o theos

Exodus 9:28 "Intreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more MIGHTY thunderings and hail" -fwnas theou kai calazan

1 Samuel 14:15 "and the earth quaked: so it was a very GREAT trembling"- egenhqh ekstasis para kuriou

The King James Bible is NOT incorrect in Acts 7:20 by saying Moses was "exceeding fair". In fact, it makes more sense and is consistent with what we are told in Exodus 2:2. "And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months." That he was a goodly child simply means that Moses was a beautiful baby, and that is exactly what we are told again in Acts 7:20.

To say, as the NKJV and NASB do, that this little baby boy of only a few weeks old was "well pleasing to God" when all he could do was cry, wiggle, eat and poop his diapers is to attribute a spiritual life to him that babies simply do not have.

Will Kinney

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