Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Wednesday, August 16, 2000

A Response by Al Maxey to
Broking's Additional Source Information
on the Greek Form Lelusai

Darrell wrote: "In regard to the failed perception of this writer, the submission of the following source information is submitted for the consideration of the readership of this discussion." I think my critic probably intended for a word such as "alleged" or "supposed" to precede the phrase "failed perception of this writer." However, if he truly meant to acknowledge his failed perception, then I accept his admission.

It might also be good to make the following observation "just for the record." In the "Conditions of the Discussion," which were written by Darrell himself, and to which I was obligated to agree before he would "permit" me to defend myself and my work against his repeated accusations, the following is clearly declared in item #3:

It was made very clear to me by my critic that I would not be "permitted" to quote from anyone else's work with regard to this topic, but that he would "allow" me to quote from certain specific reference works. Frankly, I thought this was a rather unfortunate and unfair restrictive action by an accuser over his accused, but I agreed to it in order to have the opportunity at long last to defend myself in public before the very ones who had beheld my vilification.

I am glad to see that Darrell has apparently come to agree with my perception of that prior condition, as he has quoted extensively from Gary Workman's writings on MDR. Therefore, I consider this particular condition of our discussion to be null and void, and will reserve unto myself the same right to freely quote from the writings of other reputable scholars and scholarly works pertaining to this subject if in my view those select quotes are relevant and will contribute materially to the discussion at hand. Don't misunderstand, Darrell. I am not faulting you for quoting from such sources in your own defense, as I believe this will contribute to our search for Truth. I merely reserve unto myself the same right.

Now, to his latest post. Although there are virtually no comments by Darrell himself in his most recent offering (the bulk of the post being a series of quotes from various sources, reference and otherwise), nevertheless his points in all of this seem to be that:

  1. Luo and Lusis are two separate words with distinct meanings.

  2. They specifically convey different meanings in the I Cor. 7:27 passage.

  3. In the second phrase of verse 27, lelusai does not signify divorce.

If I have somehow misunderstood these basic points of Darrell's theory, then I ask him to correct or clarify them. However, to keep this exchange moving along, I will proceed in this discussion under the assumption that this skeletal summation fairly represents and reflects his point of view.

I still believe Darrell has failed to perceive the fact, which I'm sure none of his sources would deny if pressed to do so, that luo and lusis are essentially the same word (in their root and in their basic meaning). They are merely the noun and verb forms of the same word. Those who try to build some theology on alleged differing meanings and applications from these differing forms of the same word are seeking to formulate doctrine "ex nihilo" (out of nothing). In an article entitled "Understanding of Marriage & Divorce" (Antipas Magazine) the editor reviews a previously written article which seeks to promote this perceived distinction. Note the following editorial comment: "'Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.' The article makes a point of the words 'loosed' being different, but it does not say what it thinks this proves. Actually the difference is simply between a verb ('luo' -- to loose) and its related noun ('lusis' -- a loosing). Strong says the noun 'lusis' is derived from the verb 'luo.'"

If one checks W.E. Vine's An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words under the listing "Loose," one will find:

It's the same word. One is just the noun form and the other is the verb form. They both mean "loose, unbind, release." It is also interesting to note that Vine interprets them both the same (something which Darrell claims is not possible). Under lusis Vine gives the I Cor. 7:27 passage and says it is used "of divorce." Under luo he also gives the I Cor. 7:27 passage and says it is used "of the marriage tie." Gary Workman maintains that the "Greek specialists deny" that luo in this text means divorce, or any unbinding of a marriage tie. He apparently, however, failed to carefully consider W.E. Vine's classic work.

Jimmy Allen, formerly of Harding University, in his book Survey of I Corinthians, wrote: "The scope of Paul's remarks is now widened in this general statement of the principle which he has elaborated throughout the chapter. Actually the language employed suggests that the principle addresses the married and the divorced. This is implied in the KJV and brought out by the NEB: 'Are you bound in marriage? Do not seek a dissolution. Has your marriage been dissolved? Do not seek a wife.'"

In the Living Word Commentary series, which was edited by Everett Ferguson and published by Sweet Publishing Company, Carl Holladay (in the commentary on I Corinthians) writes: "If bound in 7:27 means marriage bond, its opposite, not bound, would surely mean freedom from the marriage bond. If not, why not? ..... The opposite of being bound to a wife in 7:27 is being loosed or free from a wife."

Cecil Hook, in an article entitled "Law & Principle: Divorce & Remarriage" (Freedom's Ring, Issue 21), wrote: "We miss the impact of that passage because of pre-set ideas and vague translations. The word that Paul uses is the Greek luo which Vine defines as 'to loose, unbind, release.' In order for a man to be loosed, unbound, or released from a wife, he must necessarily have been bound to one previously and then loosed by divorce or her death. This passage is expressed clearly in the NEB: 'Are you bound in marriage? Do not seek a dissolution. Has your marriage been dissolved? Do not seek a wife. If, however, you do marry, there is nothing wrong with it.' Marriages are dissolved by death and divorce. Paul makes no distinction here in granting the privilege of marriage."

In Cornerstone -- Vol. 25, Issue 110 (1997) -- we find the following: "Of this passage, Jay Adams notes that the word translated 'released' (NASB) or 'loosed' (NKJV) appears twice, and in both cases is the Greek word luo. 'To be released from a wife in the second instance (i.e., "Are you released from a wife?") must mean what it does in the first (i.e., "Do not seek to be released") or the intended contrast that is set up would be lost'" (Jay Adams, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, page 84).

These few references, and numerous others which could be quoted, have all shown an awareness of the fact that luo and lusis are essentially the same word (having the same root and meaning), and are just the noun and verb forms of a single word. Those who seek to build a rigid, restrictive theology upon some perceived (even fabricated?!) distinction in meaning or usage, are guilty of theology ex nihilo. Even Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament shows the following listing: "lusis (luo)" --- the point is made; they are merely separate grammatical expressions of the same word.

Darrell quoted Robertson & Plummer as saying, "In a state of freedom from matrimonial ties and not freed from a wife by death or divorce." This, of course, is merely an interpretation; a theory; an opinion of men. The fact is, the passage itself literally reads: "Have you been released, unbound, loosed FROM A WIFE?" Some translations try to get around this, like the NIV which reads, "Are you unmarried?" This fails in two respects. First, it is not a true translation of the Greek text ..... in fact, it's not even close and borders on textual dishonesty. The entire phrase "from a wife" is omitted, and the less specific state of simply being "unmarried" is substituted for the word which clearly and more specifically means "a loosing, untieing, unbinding, releasing." Second, if Paul had wanted to use the word "unmarried," or simply refer to the general state of being unmarried, he would have used the Greek word agamos ("unmarried"). It was a common word, and Paul undoubtedly knew of it. In fact, Paul used agamos four different times in I Cor. 7 --- but he did NOT use it in verse 27!!! Instead, he spoke specifically of being "unbound from a wife." There's a big difference there!!! Some try to make this phrase "unbound from a wife" to mean the more general state of being "unmarried," and thus seek to suggest it means one who NEVER had a wife. Paul knew what the word for "unmarried" was (he used it four times in I Cor. 7), but he chose NOT to use it in verse 27. Instead, he selected a word and phrase which clearly declared the man had been loosed from a wife, NOT that he had never been married.

Some have sought to get around this obvious difficulty to their theory by suggesting that the phrase "have you been released, unbound, loosed from a wife?" is not literal, but figurative. This theory has been given a certain "mantle of respect" (or at least the illusion of it) due to the fact that both Thayer and Bauer (Arndt & Gingrich) list luo (in I Cor. 7:27) in their "figurative" column. Both essentially acknowledge that the word signifies a loosing and untieing and unbinding from that which had previously been bound or united, and even that the passage alludes to a union of husband and wife, however they seek to free themselves from the more obvious interpretation (divorce) by declaring this phrase "figurative" rather than literal. Vine declares it is used "metaphorically."

I believe this to be completely without hermeneutical foundation. Indeed, it flies in the face of the universally accepted laws of biblical interpretation. One of the primary rules of this age-old science is: "All words should be understood in their literal sense, unless the context specifically dictates that they be understood otherwise." In other words, unless the context itself clearly and unequivocally points to a figurative application of a term or phrase, it is to be interpreted as being literal. That's just common sense for those skilled in the science of biblical interpretation.

D.R. Dungan, in his classic work Hermeneutics: The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures (page 184), wrote: "Figures are the exception, literal language the rule; hence we are not to regard anything as figurative until we feel compelled to do so by the evident import of the passage." Dr. Clinton Lockhart, in another classic on hermeneutics (Principles of Interpretation, page 157 --- one of the textbooks I used in graduate school in my study of this science), wrote: "Since the literal is the most usual signification of a word, and therefore occurs much more frequently than the figurative, any term will be regarded as literal until there is good reason for a different understanding." Another way of phrasing this hermeneutical law is: "Nothing should be regarded as figurative unless such a demand is made by the meaning of the immediate context, or by the evident meaning of the passage as a whole."

One is thus left wondering: what exactly in the context of I Cor. 7 (and especially the verses immediately surrounding vs. 27) compels some to assume this one phrase in the latter half of the verse is figurative, but all else is literal?!! What overwhelming evidence demands the literal be set aside for a figurative application? I would be interested in having my critic present this overwhelming evidence, if he accepts this phrase as being figurative. If he doesn't accept this phrase as figurative, but as literal, then it would be to our benefit in this discussion if he would so state for the record.

One should also not overlook the fact that lelusai is the "Perfect Passive Indicative" form of luo. This indicates several things. One, since it appears in the "Passive Voice" it suggests that the action of the verb is being performed ON the subject rather than BY the subject. In other words, the subject is being acted upon. "I am kicking" is active voice, for example, and the subject is performing the action of the verb. "I have been kicked," however, is passive, and the subject is being acted upon. In the second phrase of I Cor. 7:27 we see the subject being acted upon: he has been loosed from a wife.

It should also not be overlooked that this appears in the "Perfect Tense." Thus, his present condition is the result of a prior event which occurred. If I say, "I have been kicked," the meaning is that at some point I was kicked, and am now feeling the impact of that action upon me. It is a present condition based upon a past occurrence. The man addressed in verse 27 "has been released, unbound, loosed from a wife." Yes, he is indeed in an "unmarried" state, but it is due to the fact that at some point in the past he was unbound from his wife; thus, the recipient of a specific action. To try and get around this clear meaning by suggesting that this single phrase in I Cor. 7 is figurative, but all else in the passage is literal, is to violate the basic rules of biblical hermeneutics. Not to mention it violates common sense as well.

I will let this suffice for now. I don't want to get too deeply involved in an exegesis of Paul's writings as we have not even begun the teaching of Jesus Christ, much less that of Paul. However, since chapter four of my book dealt with the Greek terms employed by the biblical writers, and since Darrell raised the issue in that context, I felt that a somewhat detailed explanation was appropriate at this juncture. I'll reserve any further in-depth analysis for our discussion of the teaching of the apostle Paul.

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