Monday, June 6, 2016

Why I Want A Housewife

As a Christian young man, and as a minister of the gospel, I unashamedly admit that when I am married I want my wife to be a housewife.  By saying this, I risk offending the sensitivities of quite a few people.  When men say that they want their ladies to be stay-at-home wives, people tend to retort with something like, "Men are just trying to keep women down".  It's as if people assume that staying at home somehow lessens a woman's value.  It doesn't.  I will save my discussion about women in the church for another time.  For now, let's discuss what the Bible says about women in the home.

Titus 2:4-5 instructs women "to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands"; and women are supposed to conduct themselves this way "that the word of God be not blasphemed".  In other words, if women don't follow these precepts, there is the potential that they will bring shame on God's word.  Obeying these instructions allows women to bless their households and to protect God's word from slander.  I want to make just a few remarks on this passage in general, and then focus on the topic of stay-at-home wives in particular.

In the original Greek New Testament, the phrase "love their husbands" is actually only one word, φιλανδρος; and the same goes for "love their children", φιλοτεκνος.  In English "love their husbands" and "love their children" are verb phrases---things that people do; but in Greek φιλανδρος and φιλοτεκνος are adjectives---things that people are.  Sometimes it is easy for Christians to be so busy doing what we should that we forget to be who we should.  A Christian woman should love their husband and love their children until loving them becomes part of who she is as a person.  What she does should be identical to who she is.

In a secular or non-Christian context, φιλανδρος can actually have the meaning or connotation of a woman that is lewd, lustful, impure, or "loose".  Obviously, when God tells women "to love their husbands" he is NOT telling them to be promiscuous!  This very passage instructs women to be chaste!  But perhaps this domain in the meaning of φιλανδρος still deserves noticing.  The only love affair that a lady of the Lord should ever have is with her husband.  She should be his passionate lover.  Christian women should love their husbands until it is almost scandalous.

Titus 2:4-5 tells women to be sober (serious) and discreet (wise); but it also tells them to obey their husbands.  These two things are hard to balance.  There will be times when a Christian woman disagrees with her husband.  And she will be right.  In those times it is very important that she is respectful to him.  As long as she is obedient, he will eventually figure out that she was right and that he needs her discression and advice.

Now let's turn our attention to the phrase "keepers at home".  This statement plainly teaches that women should stay at home and take care of the house.  I understand that there are situations (single mothers, widowhood, disabled husband, and such) where this is not doable.  But in a home where the husband is working, women should not work outside of the house.  Any job that a woman has should be done from home; and even then, only if it does not take her away from her household duties.

The phrase "keepers at home" is a single word in Greek, οικουρος.  Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines this word as "the (watch or) keeper of a house...keeping at home and taking care of household affairs, domestic".  The KJV translates οικουρος as "keepers at home"; but some other interesting translations from this word.  The Geneva Bible (1557) translates it as "abiding at home", the Rheims Bible (1582) has "having a care of the house" here, and the Bishop's Bible (1568) translates οικουρος as "house keepers".  My favorite rendering of οικουρος is probably the one found in Tyndale's New Testament (1534): "housewifely".  It should be apparent that οικουρος "keepers at home" refers to ladies who stay at home, care for and keep the house, and are housewives for their husbands.

Just to summarize this point, the Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek lexicon tells us this about οικουρος: it meant "watching or keeping the house", it referred to the "mistress of the house", and it was a compliment "used in praise of a good wife".  Interestingly enough, calling a man οικουρος was an insult, "used...contemptuously of a man: stay-at-home [as opposed to] one who goes forth to war".  It is God's plan for women to stay at home, not men.  If a woman's husband is disabled and cannot work, that is an entirely different situation.  But under normal circumstances, God intends that men work outside the home and women be "keepers at home".

Why ought women to be what God describes in Titus 2; do you remember?  So that "the word of God be not blasphemed.  A woman sho stays at home is better able to devote herself to loving her husband and children, blessing her family and protecting God's word from slander.  I am just simple enough to believe that God's way is the best way.  I want a wife that will love me and my children, that will be wise but not contentious; that's why I want a housewife.       -CJK

Friday, May 13, 2016

Hungry? Don't read the KJV!

I noticed something the other day as I was studying.  One day Jesus' disciples tried to cast out a devil but couldn't.  After Jesus had successfully cast the devil out, the disciples asked him why they were unable to.  In Mark 9:29 Jesus gave them the answer: "And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting" (KJV).

Notice that Jesus tells the disciples that prayer and fasting are both spiritual disciplines necessary to cast out devils.  When I look this verse up in modern translations of the Bible, though, Jesus' words are modified ever so slightly: "He told them, 'This kind can come out only by prayer.'" (NET).  The words "and fasting" are left out.  The ESV, NIV, NASB, and J.B. Phillips versions all do this same sort of thing; and I'm sure there are others.  For whatever reason, many modern versions of the Bible leave the words "and fasting" out of Mark 9:29.

The reason modern versions omit the words "and fasting" is because modern versions are based on a different type of manuscripts than the KJV is.  And the footnotes in modern versions sort of let us know that.

The NASB, J.B. Phillips, NET, and multiple other versions, don't even bother to give us a footnote explaining the change at all---much less that the change is because of a different set of manuscripts.  The ESV and NIV leave out "and fasting", but put a footnote that says something along the lines of "Some manuscripts add and fasting".  The HCSB and ISV versions include "and fasting" but put a footnote that says something like "Other mss. lack and fasting".  Modern versions are based on manuscripts that leave the words out; the KJV is based on manuscripts that keep the phrase in.

At this point many would assume, "Well, there are manuscripts that read both ways, so it doesn't really matter".  Or maybe someone will go a step farther and say, "We have found older manuscripts since the KJV was made.  The KJV manuscripts probably added and fasting, but we now have better manuscripts that prove the KJV wrong".  But before we assume, let's look at the evidence.

Should Mark 9:29 have the words "and fasting" or not?  The footnotes don't really give us much help deciding which reading is better.  Just how many "some manuscripts" disagree with the KJV?  Just exactly which "other manuscripts" leave these words out like most modern versions?

The answer to these questions?  Only three Greek manuscripts leave out the words "and fasting" from this verse.  To be specific, only manuscripts א, B, and 0274 support this reading.  A couple ancient versions (geo1 and itk) also agree with the omission.  This means, when it comes to this verse of Mark, that modern versions are based on a total of five manuscript witnesses.

Five.  Modern versions of Mark 9:29 are supported by five manuscript witnesses.  Five.  Let that number sink in.  We literally have over 2300 Greek manuscripts for the gospels!  And only three leave "and fasting" out of Mark 9:29.  Of the nearly fifteen ancient Latin versions that attest Mark 9:29, only one (itk) supports modern versions.  These "some" "other" manuscripts that modern version footnotes tell us about all of the sudden seem less impressive.

So what about the KJV?  The KJV's "prayer and fasting" is supported by the VAST majority of Greek manuscripts.  It is supported by over ten different ancient Latin translations (some of which date as early as the 4th century and as late as the 12th), as well as an ancient Syriac version (syrh, 7th century), two Coptic versions (the earliest of which is 4th century), a Georgian version (geo2, 10th century) and the Slavonic version (9th century).  On top of all of this our oldest manuscript, P45 (dating to the third century), seems to agree with the KJV as well.  P45 is an interesting witness to "prayer and fasting" because it is about 100 years older than א, B, and itk (the oldest witnesses modern versions have for leaving "and fasting" out).

From a textual perspective, the KJV is immensely superior than modern versions at Mark 9:29.  I do not have nearly the prestige that some of modern version editors do; but going against the EXTENSIVE corpus of manuscript evidence seems like a foolish decision at best and like shoddy scholarship at worst.  What other senseless textual changes have the NIV, ESV, NASB, NET, and other versions made to our Bibles?  Please keep Mark 9:29 in mind the next time you use a modern version or criticize the KJV.
-CJK

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

It Pleased The Father

By my counting, the popular website www.biblegateway.com lists no less than about 50 different English translations of the Bible.  These days it seems like everyone is using a different translation of the Bible and arguing over which version is the best, is the easiest to understand, is the closest to the original Greek, and so forth.


Frequently the Authorized Version (KJV) gets thrown under the bus as "antiquated".  But occasionally, people will attempt to give a more substantive criticism of the KJV about how it translates the original Greek.  I ran into one such criticism when I was having a fun, friendly debate with one of my friends about the differences in Bible versions.


My friend's critique of the KJV centered around Colossians 1:19:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell .
My friend pointed out to me that "the Father" was not in the original Greek.  Because of this, he argued that the KJV's translation of this verse was not as accurate as the English Standard Version (ESV)'s:
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell  .
Since "the Father" isn't in the original Greek, my friend's argument made sense.  If we take out "the Father" from the verse, it makes sense to read it along the lines that the ESV does: it pleased all fullness to dwell in him.


I admit that my friend's argument wounded air tight to me; and I was bothered (in a good, fun sort of way) that the ESV seemed to do a better job of translating this verse than the KJV does.  Since I can read ancient Greek, I began to pour over this passage in the original Greek New Testament; and I have come to the conclusion that not only is the ESV's translation not superior to the KJV's, but that the KJV actually does a better job with the original Greek than the ESV.


In order to understand why I have reached this conclusion, we need to look at the next verse with it:
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:19-20).
In the original Greek, this passage is
ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησεν πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν, εἰρηνοποιήσας διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ σταυροῦ αὐτοῦ, δι’ αὐτοῦ εἴτε τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς εἴτε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·


As I said before, "the Father" is not in the original Greek.  But I want to look at the grammar of this passage for a little bit.  The ESV translates this passage as if πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα (all the fullness) is the subject of εὐδόκησεν: all fullness was pleased to dwell in him.  But there is a problem with this. 


In verse twenty there is a participle εἰρηνοποιήσας (having made peace) that grammatically has to match with the subject of εὐδόκησεν (it pleased).  The problem comes because πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα (all the fullness) is grammatically neuter but the participle εἰρηνοποιήσας is grammatically masculine.  This means that πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα cannot be the antecedent of εἰρηνοποιήσας.  And since εἰρηνοποιήσας must grammatically must go with the main verb εὐδόκησεν, this means that πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα cannot be the subject of εὐδόκησεν.


So if "all the fullness" is not the subject of the verb "it pleased", then who is?


In this passage, the main verb "it pleased" (εὐδόκησεν) has two other verbs, "to dwell" (κατοικῆσαι) and "to reconcile" (ἀποκαταλλάξαι) that are infinitives dependent on this main verb.  In other words, these verses are basically saying "it pleased someone to dwell and to reconcile".


Since both of these infinitives (to reconcile and to dwell) depend on εὐδόκησεν (it pleased), let's ignore verse 19 for a second and focus on verse 20.  It pleased someone..."by him [Jesus] to reconcile all things unto himself".  It pleased someone to reconcile everything to himself through Jesus.  Who was that?  The Father.  It pleased the Father to reconcile everything to himself through Jesus.

Verse 20 shows us that the subject of εὐδόκησεν (it pleased) is the Father.  Having "the Father" as the subject of "it pleased" eliminates the grammatical problem that the ESV's translation causes.  The Father is masculine, and so it matches with the masculine participle εἰρηνοποιήσας (having made peace); and since εἰρηνοποιήσας goes with εὐδόκησεν, the Father is the subject of the main verb.  πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα then becomes the subject of the first infinitive: it pleased the Father that all the fullness dwell...etc.



The ESV creates a careless grammatical mistake in Colossians 1:19-20, but the KJV recognizes the issue and adds in "the Father" in order for the verses to make sense in English: "it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and...by him to reconcile all things unto himself".  The Father was pleased that all fullness dwells in Jesus and that everything is reconciled through Jesus.  The KJV is not playing loose and free with the original Greek here.  Not adding "the Father" causes the grammatical translation mistake that we see in the ESV.  Many other versions insert "the Father" when translating this passage.


The original Greek at a glance does seem to support the ESV.  But when we look deeper into the grammar, we see that the KJV is actually superior.  As a final thought, perhaps it is worth noting that in context Colossians 1:19-20 is part of a prayer in which the apostle Paul is " giving thanks unto the Father" (Colossians 1:12).
~CJK


NOTE:  The KJV is not the only version that inserts "the Father" into Colossians 1:19.  Some other versions include
  • Pre-KJV Bibles: Erasmus' Latin translation (1519), Coverdale's translation (1535), the Great Bible (1541), the Geneva New Testament (1557), the Bishop's Bible (1568), the Reina's Spanish translation (1569), and the Spanish, French, Italian, and English versions found in the Hutter Polyglot (1599)
Other modern versions follow the KJV's line of reasoning, but add "God" instead of the Father

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday Musings

Today is called Good Friday by many.  Today, as Jesus' first disciples did, we mourn (in a sense) for the happenings of that first Good Friday---that terrible Friday those many years ago when our Lord died on Calvary.

On that day, in that moment, so many things were contrary.  So many things were unspeakably wrong.  The Son of God was put to death by the sons of men.  He who was without sin was made sin for sinners.  The cup of wrath was drunk by one who only would show mercy.  He who only did good received only evil; he who showed only love received only hate.  He cried out, "Father, forgive them!" on behalf of those who deserved to be forsaken; and the only one who deserved the Father's fellowship cried out, "My God, my God; why have you forsaken me?"

The Light of the world hung there, enshrouded by three hours of darkness.  Earth's Cain killed Heaven's Abel; and the sons of Adam crucified the Son of Man.  The hands that formed man from the dust were nailed by a man.  He who commanded the trees to grow was lifted up on a tree.  He who made heaven and earth was hung there between heaven and earth.

So many things were backwards!  So many things were wrong!!  He who was in the beginning said, "It is finished."  The King was crowned but not with gold.  The crown of thorns he wore matched the reed he held; in a hand that holds the scepter of eternity.  His robe clothed a back beaten by his subjects until they stripped him naked for his whole kingdom to see the shame.  Before him pagans bowed: in mockery, not worship.  He who could have called legions of loyal angels to his aid was betrayed by a friend.  Once his disciples argued over who would sit on his right hand and on his left.  Now two thieves hung on his right hand and on his left.  He came down from heaven; and earth put him through a living hell.

Life died on a tree.  Life was buried in a tomb.  The Judge of the living laid down among the dead.  He who called Lazarus out of the grave was put into a grave himself.  He raised the son of a grieving mother; now his mother grieved for him.  He who promised that his followers would never die was dead.

We mourn.  We mourn!  He promised us joy and his death brings us weeping.  Could we have known that his promises of life would end like this?  Could this man really die?  Could he really stay dead?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Altar

When the children of Israel had just come out of Egypt God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle.  This tent was supposed to be a place where God's presence could come and live among his people.  God told Moses, "let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8).  This tabernacle was called "the tent of the congregation" because here God would live among and meet with the congregation of Israel; God called the tabernacle the place "where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee" (29:42).

In front of the door of this tabernacle, this sanctuary tent, was an altar made of brass.   The Lord ordered Moses, "thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation" (Exodus 40:6).  When a person wanted to sacrifice something to God, they were supposed to bring that offering to this brasen altar at the tabernacle's door (Leviticus 17:5). When a person had sinned, they would bring a lamb, bull, or goat to this altar to take away their sins (4:1-4, 5:6, 9).  The altar speaks of death; when a man brought an animal to offer it, the animal died and was offered on the altar.

 The altar is a symbol for the death of Jesus on the cross.  In the Old Testament men would bring an animal to take away their sins; but Jesus is "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  Scripture says that the blood of bulls and goats purified the flesh, but the blood of Jesus purifies our conscience from sin so that we can serve God (Hebrews 9:13-14)!  All of the blood spilled at the tabernacle's brasen altar was a foreshadow of the blood that Jesus, our perfect sacrifice, would shed at Calvary.  The brasen altar is a symbol of Jesus' atoning death.

This brasen altar (as I said before) was in front of the tabernacle, the tent that the children of Israel worshiped at while they were traveling from Egypt to Canaan.  The Bible calls this sanctuary "the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness" (Acts 7:44).  As Jews would travel through the wilderness, they would set up the tabernacle tent when they set up camp and they would take the tent down and pack it up when they would travel to the next place.

In Numbers 4 God gave the Israelites very specific instructions on how to disassemble and carry the tabernacle; and these included instructions about how to carry the brasen altar.  When the Hebrews were packing up the brasen altar they were commanded to empty the altar of all its ashes; then they would spread a purple cloth over the altar and cover the purple cloth with badger skins (Numbers 4:13-14) so that the altar could be transported.

It is interesting that the brasen altar was covered with a purple cloth.  When the tabernacle was moved, five pieces of furniture were supposed to be covered with colored cloth.  The brasen altar is the only piece of furniture that was not covered in blue; and it was the only piece of furniture that was covered in purple.  This break in the pattern should catch our attention.

Remember, the altar is a symbol of Jesus' sufferings to take away our sins.  The Bible says that when Jesus was about to be crucified, that Pilate delivered him over to the soldiers to beat him.  When the soldiers were beating Jesus, they "plated a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe" (John 19:2).  

Just like the altar where so many sacrifices had died before, our sacrifice--Jesus--was covered with a purple cloth!  Jesus' suffering fulfilled the purpose of the brasen altar.  Under the new testament we have Jesus' blood to take away our sins; we do not have to come to the brasen altar with sacrifices any more.  By God's grace I no longer have to come to an altar draped in purple; now I can come to a Savior draped in purple, and to the cross where he died for me!       ~CJK

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Musings--Passover

A new year has come; and it is common for us to look forward into the new year with expectancy.  Many of us see the new year as a time to make a fresh start of things, to better ourselves, and to get rid of bad habits that we may have in our life.  This is a perfectly natural response, and I believe it is a Biblical response.

As I think about the year ahead, my mind goes to the story of Israel's deliverance from Egypt in the book of Exodus.  The Israelites had lived happily in Egypt for many years; but eventually the Egyptians made the Hebrews into slaves.  Scripture says that the Egyptians "did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens....and the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage" (Exodus 1:11, 13-14).  The Jews were no longer free, but were slaves to Egypt.

Israel was God's chosen nation, and so he sent Moses to deliver the Hebrews from servitude in Egypt: God said to Moses, "behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:9-10).

When Moses arrived at Egypt the Lord Jehovah poured out many plagues upon the nation of Egypt because Pharaoh would not let the Hebrews go.  Finally God told Moses, "Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go" (Exodus 11:1).  This final plague would be the death of every firstborn child: "all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh...unto the firstborn of the maidservant" (11:5).

To protect the children of Israel from this horrific plague, God gave them specific instructions; instructions on performing the first Passover.  Through Moses, God instructed each household to take a lamb (Exodus 12:3), a lamb that did not have any blemishes or imperfections (12:5).  The people would take the lamb and kill it, and put the blood of the lamb upon the doorposts and lintel of their house (12:6-7).  They would then cook the lamb and eat it as a feast.

The Bible calls this feast "the LORD's passover" (Exodus 12:11).  God even gave them the reason why they were supposed to complete these instructions: God said, "I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt....And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt" (12:12-13).  As a celebration of God's deliverance and protection, God told the children of Israel to keep the feast of Passover yearly; "this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever" (12:14).

 So we see that God used the blood of the lamb to protect his people from death and to deliver them from bondage in Egypt.  Interestingly enough, when God gave Moses the instructions about Passover, he told Moses, "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:2).  In Israel's first New Year, God saved them by the blood of a lamb and delivered them from slavery.  Every new year after that God commanded them to celebrate Passover and remember his salvation.

This whole story of Passover---God delivering his people from slavery with the blood of a lamb---is a grand analogy of what Jesus has done for us.  1 Corinthians 5:7 says that "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us".  Jesus is the lamb; because scripture calls him "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).  Jesus is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).  God delivers us from the bondage of sin through the blood of Jesus.  Because the lamb died for the Jews, they were protected from death; and because the Lamb has died for us, our names can be "written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27).  The plague on Egypt was the death of the firstborn; I find it interesting that Jesus, God's firstborn, died in our place.

The New Year is a time of new beginnings; by making Passover part of the first month God teaches us that new beginnings start with the blood of the Lamb!  

I find it interesting that the scriptures say "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Exodus 12:2, emphasis added).  For those of us who have been saved through the blood of Jesus, I feel like it would be appropriate to spend the first part of this new year remembering is death on the cross.  We Christians know best of all how the Lamb's blood saved us from death and liberated us from sin and gave us a new start.  For us, our new life started with "Christ our passover"; and at the beginning of this year we ought to remember these things and think on them.

To my readers who may not yet know the saving power of Jesus' blood: A new start is possible!  Just as Jehovah saved Israel from death by the blood of a lamb, and delivered them from slavery; so he can save YOU from death by the blood of his Son and deliver YOU from the slavery of sin.  In this New Year, know and understand that a new start through Jesus' blood is possible. 

Happy New Year!  I hope that in this next year we all start a new beginning through the blood of the Lamb!!       ~CJK

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Godhead Grammar

It is very common for students of the Bible in our modern day to misunderstand certain things from the scriptures, especially when those things involve the original Hebrew and Greek.  One particular source of confusion is the way certain plural words function in the Hebrew language. One website I saw had this to say about the plural Hebrew word for God, Elohim (אֶלהִים):

In the Hebrew language the "im" ending imputes plurality. Therefore, "Elohim" is the plural from of the word "El."
It is interesting to note that each usage of this word throughout the Bible is grammatically incorrect. It is a plural noun used with singular verbs. According to Genesis 1:1, the Creator of the Universe, Elohim, exists as a plural being.
What the author says at first about the word Elohim is true; it is a plural form.  But the author makes a serious error when he says that using a plural noun with a singular verb is "grammatically incorrect".  In English, using a plural noun with a singular verb is a huge grammatical error; but the Hebrew language functions very differently from English.  In Hebrew, there are times when a plural noun can be used with a singular verb and there is no grammar problems at all.

In English (and many other languages) there are two numerical categories: singular , which refers to only one person/thing; and plural, which refers to only multiple persons/things.  In languages that function this way there is no middle ground---if a thing has a plural form then it is numerically more than one and if a thing has a singular form then it is numerically only one.  This is not the case in Hebrew, however.

In Hebrew, there are not two numerical categories, but three.  Just like any other language it has singular and plural; but the third option stands half way in between the other two.  The intensive plural refers to only one person/thing, even though it looks plural in form.  Intensive plurals LOOK plural, but in reality they only refer to one thing; and that is why they can be used with singular verbs, predicate nouns, and adjectives.  The intensive plural form is to express greatness, hugeness, authority, or majesty; not multiplicity.

Let's look a the Hebrew word אָדוֹן (adon), the word for a master, lord, or overseer.  This word will show us that there are certain times when it is perfectly natural in Hebrew to use a plural noun to refer to only one person .

  • Singular
    When the children of Heth were speaking to Abraham in Genesis 26 they said "Hear us, my lord (אָדוֹן
    ): thou art a mighty prince among us" (v.6).  Abraham is only one person so they used the singular form of the word. 
  • Numeric Plural
    Isaiah prayed, "O L
    ORD our God, other lords (אֲדֹנִים) beside thee have had dominion over us" (Isa. 23:16).  In this verse Isaiah is talking about multiple other rulers that have controlled Israel instead of God.  He uses the plural form "lords", אֲדֹנִים (adonim); and he uses it with the plural verb "[they] have had dominion".

    In Psalm 136:3 David called Jehovah "the Lord of lords (אֲדֹנִים)".  David is saying that God is the ruler over all of the other rulers that exist; אֲדֹנִים (adonim, "lords") here is obviously numerically plural.
  • Intensive Plural
    In Genesis 42:30 Joseph is described as "The man, who is the lord (אֲדֹנִים) of the land", Egypt.  This verse uses the plural form אֲדֹנִים (adonim).  But this verse is only talking about one person; that is why the verse uses the singular word "man".  Joseph is only one person!  The intensive plural is used to show that he was a very powerful ruler.

    In Exodus 21:6 a servant's owner is called "his master (אֲדֹנִים)".  This verse is only talking about one owner, because this verse uses the singular verb "[he] shall bring".  The intensive plural is used because of the authority that a master has over his servant.

    In 2 Kings 2 there were certain men who told Elisha that God was about to take Elijah, Elisha's master, from him.  These men told Elisha, "the L
    ORD will take away thy master (אֲדֹנִים) from thy head to day" (v.3).  Elijah is only one person, so the plural form אֲדֹנִים (adonim) cannot be numerically plural and refer to multiple people.  It is an intensive plural referring to only one person, Elijah.
    These are only three.  I could list multiple other times when the Hebrew word אָדוֹן (adon) uses a plural form even when it refers to only one person.  
Understanding the intensive plural in Hebrew grammar is important because some teachers (like the website I quoted at the beginning) abuse these plural forms and use them to teach that unbiblical things about God.  Trinitarian believers teach that God is multiple persons because he is described with plural words; and this is simply not the case.

God is described with the plural form אֲדֹנִים (adonim) in scripture; but that does not automatically mean that God is numerically plural or that he is more than one being.  In Malachi 1:6 God says "if I be a master (אֲדֹנִים), where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts".  Psalm 135:5 says, "I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord (אֲדֹנִים) is above all gods".  And Psalm 147:5 says "Great is our Lord (אֲדֹנִים), and of great power: his understanding is infinite".

A teacher who does not know about (or who chooses to ignore) the Hebrew intensive plural may look at these verses and say, "See there!  These verses describe with plural words so he must be more than one!"  But notice what else the verses say.  In the verse from Malachi, God uses singular self-descriptions "I" and "my".  In Psalm 135:5 and 145:5 the Hebrew word "great" is in the singular form.  אֲדֹנִים (adonim) in these verses is an intensive plural; God is only one person, speaks like only one person, and is described as only one person!  He is described with a plural word to show how mighty, awesome, powerful, and big he is.

In closing, there is one thing that you need to keep in mind about plural Hebrew words.  The numeric plural and the intensive plural look IDENTICAL.  The only way to know if you are looking at an intensive plural or a numerical plural is to know who you are describing.  The best example of this is in Deuteronomy 10:17:

"For the LORD your God is God (אֱלֹהִים) of gods (אֱלֹהִים), and Lord (אֲדֹנִים) of lords (אֲדֹנִים), a great God".

If you look carefully at the Hebrew word for "God" and "gods" you will notice that they are identical in the original Hebrew; and so is the word for "Lord" and "lords".  How can this be?!?  It is because the first time (God/Lord) is an intensive plural; it looks plural but actually only refers to one person, Jehovah.  The second time (gods/lords) is a numerical plural; it looks plural and actually does refer to multiple other beings.
If you would like to read more about plural descriptions of our singular God, see my post These Are The Gods.  In the Bible God is certainly described in plural ways; but these plural words are always used to highlight his majesty, might, and glory.  Always remember, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD"!!      ~CJK