The Causal use of ἀπὸ: In part I of this series, I pointed out the awkwardness of the noun καταβολῆς (casting down), allegedly meaning “foundation/founding,” and its use in Hebrews 11:11 the only time it appears in the Bible apart from the clause καταβολῆς κόσμου (casting down of the world). In this post I would like to address three passages, where the entire clause appears, which are equally awkward and problematic for the same reason – the wrong definition of the noun καταβολῆς. These passages are: Matt. 25:34; Heb. 4:3; & Rev. 13:8. In each case, the entire clause (with the preposition) is ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (“from the casting down of the world”), and in these three instances should be translated “because of the overthrow of the world,” using the common causal nuance of the preposition ἀπὸ.
I. Matthew 25:34 NKJ “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”
This passage makes much better sense if we translate it as follows: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom which has been prepared for you because of the overthrow of the world.” As stated in the previous post, the preposition ἀπὸ (from) has the following possible nuances: from – spatially (distance – away from), from – temporally (time – ever since), or from – causally (because of). It is also important to note that the verb (participle) translated “prepared” is in the perfect tense, referring to a past completed action with continuous results to the present. This is why I translated it using the perfect tense in English, “has been prepared.” There are three ways to translate and interpret this verse, especially given that the completion of the action of “preparing” is linked to the critical clause. These three interpretations are as follows:
a. The Kingdom has been completed for us “from” (temporally – ever since) the beginning of creation. This interpretation is plausible, yet pins the entire completed action of preparing the Kingdom at the very beginning of creation before sin and death entered, followed by its ready continuous state from that time on. This view is difficult to harmonize with the long and slow progress of implementation of God’s plan concerning the Kingdom, especially the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants which both promise and converge at the arrival of promised “Seed,” Jesus the Messiah (King), the seed of Abraham and seed of David (Luke 1:26-33). The promised “Seed” certainly had to arrive before the Kingdom could actually be prepared and stand ready.
b. The Kingdom inheritance has been prepared for us “because of the foundation of the world.” This interpretation would make no sense if “foundation of the world” refers to creation, since the creation was already very good and the Kingdom is a return to that perfect state.
c. The Kingdom inheritance has been prepared for us “because of the overthrow of the world.” This is by far the preferred interpretation, since the Kingdom is precisely the reversal of the “overthrow of the world,” the lifting of the curse and renewing the original perfect order. Also, this interpretation best explains both the completed action and resulting continuous state implied by the perfect tense – “has been prepared.” The action of preparation of the Kingdom was accomplished up until the arrival of the King on the scene, and the continuous ready state of the Kingdom extends from that time on. The Kingdom was “ready” to receive the saints when both John the Baptist and Jesus were preaching: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15 NKJ). Yet after Israel rejected their Messiah, the Kingdom was on hold for them. This is why Jesus must sit at the Father’s right hand until His enemies are made His footstool in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. Before Jesus arrived, the “Kingdom” was not already prepared and ready to receive those who would be redeemed and perfected. Consider Jesus’ statement in Luke 16:16 “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it” (Lk. 16:16 NKJ). Thus, the Kingdom was in the process of being prepared prior to John’s and Jesus’ preaching, and was in that static, ready state since that time. This best explains Jesus’ use of the perfect tense “has been prepared.” Consequently, “because of” is the correct nuance of the preposition, and “overthrow of the world” must be the correct event referred to since there is no logical reason the Kingdom would be prepared because the creation of the world (which was perfect). Also keep in mind that this is one of three occurrences of the critical clause from the lips of Jesus who coined this technical term and defined what it meant by His usage.
II. Heb. 4:3 (NKJ) For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
At first glance this verse seems to best support the common interpretation that God’s works were finished at the time of creation on the sixth day. However, if the preposition “from” has a temporal sense (ever since) as this interpretation requires, it would seem that God has been in a static state of “rest” ever since the creation. Yet Jesus, in reply to the accusation that He was breaking the Sabbath by healing on that day, said “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” (Jn. 5:17 NKJ). Again, the problem with the modern understanding and translation of this verse is driven by the wrong understanding of the noun καταβολῆς as “foundation” rather than “overthrow.”
This wrong definition takes us all the way back to the six days of creation and forces the interpreter to apply the “works” to God. However, if it is translated, “because of the overthrow of the world,” the passage becomes much more meaningful. This is especially true given that in the above translation, the word “finished” is also a bad translation. The Greek reads καίτοι τῶν ἔργων ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου γενηθέντων, lit. “although the labors because of the casting down of the world, originated.” The highlighted Greek word does not mean “finished/completed” but “originated.” That is, it points to the beginning not the end of the “labors” or work. It does not refer to God’s works in creation, but to the labors of mankind which are “because of” the curse upon the ground. “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:17-19 NKJ).
Here is the LGV translation of Heb. 4:3: “For we – the ones who believed – are entering the Rest, (just as He said: “As I swore in My anger, whether they shall come into My Rest,”) although the labors came about because of the casting down of the world.” The whole point of this passage is that the faithful will finally enter into God’s “Rest” on the Seventh Day (Millennium). Our entering into His “Rest” means relief from the hard labor “by the sweat of your brow” which is the result of the “overthrow/casting down of the world.” This is explained in verses 9-10. “Consequently, the Sabbath-observance awaits the people of God. For the one entering into His Rest, he has also ceased from his own labors just as God did from His” (LGV). The “labors” in verse 3 are our “own labors” in verse 10, that is our hard labors which are the result of the “overthrow of the world.” The way this passage is translated in most versions seems very disjointed and hard to follow. However, by simply correcting the word καταβολῆς from “foundation” to “overthrow,” taking the preposition ἀπὸ in the causal sense (because of) rather than temporal sense (ever since), and correcting the mistranslation of γενηθέντων from “finished” to “originated” or “came about,” everything falls neatly into place and the passage flows easily and naturally. Our hard labor is “because of the casting down of the world,” but we will enter into God’s Rest, our upcoming “Sabbath observance,” when the “seventh Day” (7th Millennium) arrives. The LGV translation and interpretation solves three different incorrect translations in this passage.
III. Rev. 13:8 NKJ “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This verse is by far the most problematic. If we take the preposition “from” temporally, meaning since, then Jesus was has been “slain” and remains dead ever since the beginning of creation. Again, the verb ἐσφαγμένου “having been slain” is in the perfect tense, implying that the action (slain) occurred at “the foundation of the world” and the result of the action (being dead) is continuous ever since. Of course no one can take such a thing literally, so work-arounds are attempted. Some might attempt to argue that God’s initial plan of redemption included the crucifixion and was fixed at the time of creation. But the text does not say His slaying was foreordained, both that He literally has been slain. Also the continuous resulting condition implied by the perfect tense would lead one to conclude that the finished results of His crucifixion began at creation and continues ever since. That is pretty hard to synchronize with Jesus’ statement on the cross, “It is finished.” It takes quite the exegetical gymnastics and creative spiritualizing to make this verse fit any reasonable interpretation as long as “foundation” is taken as the meaning of καταβολῆς and the preposition is taken temporally (ever since). If one only takes the preposition causally, it would mean that Christ was slain because of the creation of the world. Again, that makes no sense because prior to the curse the creation was very good, there was no sin, and neither man nor the creation was in need of redemption. The correct interpretation and translation of this passage is this: “And all those dwelling on the land shall worship him, whose name is not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb, the one having been slain because of the casting down of the world” (LGV). This makes the most sense by far and shows that the crucifixion was necessary because of sin, the cause of the “casting down of the world.”
In the next post, we will consider the remaining verses which use this same clause, but with the temporal sense of the preposition, “since the casting down of the world.”