“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Here, in Matthew 3:2, is at least one instance where the NIV2011 offers a slightly better rendering, in my opinion, than the ESV (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”), and is certainly an improvement over the NIV84 (“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”). Although the ESV is better than the NIV84, the NIV2011 better captures the perfect tense of the original Greek. In his Grammar of the Greek New Testament, A.T. Robinson categorizes the verb as an extensive present perfect=a completed state, and here it is likely “durative-punctiliar”. Fancy grammar aside, when the definition of the Greek word engizo (“draw near, come near, approach” according to BDAG) is combined with the perfect tense, “has come near” seems a very good translation, which reflects the decisive change that Jesus’ coming has inaugurated.

Published in: on February 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. It’s that “perfect tense” that we don’t always have an easy way of expressing in English.

    I think that “is at hand” may be technically correct; however, we sometimes use that expression to mean something that’s just around the corner, and that certainly isn’t what the original text intends here.

    I might say, “the kingdom of heaven is here” or “has arrived“!

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