“All of you have …. fellow feeling.” – 1 Peter 3:8.
[From ws 3/19 p.14 Study Article 12: May 20-26, 2019]
This week’s study article is a rarity. One for which we can all benefit from the encouragement it contains.
That is, except for Paragraph 15 which appeals to Hebrews 13:17. The NWT (and a number of other Bibles, to be fair) translate this scripture as “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive,”
The Greek word translated “obey” is “peitho” which means “to persuade, have confidence in”. This would imply to be persuaded or have confidence in someone because of their example and reputation.
The Greek word translated “taking the lead” is “hegeomai” which means “properly, to lead the way (going before as a chief)” . We could also say as a guide. This conveys that the leader is going there first, trail blazing, risking their lives to ensure you are safe to follow them.
Properly, the passage should therefore be translated, “Have confidence in those leading the way”.
The 2001Translation reads similarly “Also, have confidence in those who are taking the lead among you and submit to them, because they’re watching over your lives!”
Note how it is not obligatory in tone, but rather assuring the audience to follow these ones who are setting the example, because these ones know they will have to account for their actions. The onus in this account is on those leading, to do it properly, so that others will be happy to follow.
Sadly, the tone of the NWT and many Bibles is, do as you are told by those in charge of you. Two vastly different messages, I am sure you will agree.
Bear in mind that during his last hours with his disciples, Jesus Christ took the time to emphasize to his disciples that his followers should follow a new commandment: to love one another.
Which understanding of Hebrews 13:17 do you think Jesus Christ would agree with?