2 Corinthians 2:17 Corrupt or Peddle the word of God?

“For we are not as many, which CORRUPT the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” King James Bible

NKJV, NIV, NASB “For we are not, as so many, PEDDLING the word of God…”

There is an obvious difference between to corrupt the word of God and to peddle it. To corrupt God’s words is to pervert or change the meaning, while to peddle is does not involve changing or corrupting it, but it to hawk or sell it for profit.

Like most words, the word used here can have different meanings depending on the context. The Greek word used here is kapeleuo. It can have the meaning of to sell or peddle, but it also can have the meaning of to corrupt or to adulterate.

The Baer, Arndt and Gingrich Greek lexicon says on page 404: “the word comes to mean almost adulterate.”

Liddell & Scott’s Abridged Lexicon 7th edition 1887 lists on page 348 the meanings of “to adulterate, to give out as genuine, to palm off”.

Thayer’s lexicon says on page 325 “it is also used as synonymous with to corrupt, to adulterate.”

And Kittle’s massive work tells us in Volume III on page 604 that the adjective kapelos means “deceitful, false” and that the verb can mean “to misrepresent a thing”.

Let’s compare several versions to see how they have translated it.

CORRUPT the word of God – King James Bible, the Revised Version 1881, the American Standard Version 1901, Lamsa’s 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta, Webster’s 1833 translation, KJV 21st Century Version 1994, and the Third Millenium Bible 1998.

ADULTERATE the word of God –Mace 1729, Wesley 1755, Young’s, Douay 1950, Living Oracles. The 1989 Revised English Bible has: “not adulterating the word of God for profit.”

DO ADULTERY BY the word of God – Wycliffe 1395

WHICH CHOP AND CHANGE the word of God – Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, Bishop’s Bible 1568

FALSIFY the word of God – Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German

French Martin 1744, French Louis Segond 1910 and French Ostervald 1996. All three of these French translation bibles have to “not falsifying the word of God”. “Car nous NE FALSIFIONS pas la parole de Dieu, comme font plusieurs; mais nous parlons de Christ avec sincérité, comme de la part de Dieu, et devant Dieu.”

Luther’s German bible 1545 also reads “not falsifying the word of God” – “Denn wir sind nicht wie etliche viele, die das Wort Gottes VERFALSCHEN.”

Italian Diodati 1649, and the New Diodati 1991 both have “not falsifying the word of God” – “Poichè noi NON FALSIFICIAMO la parola di Dio” and the Italian Riveduta 1927 has “not adulterating the word of God” – “Poiché noi non siamo come quei molti che ADULTERANO la parola di Dio”

The Portuguese Almeida has “we are not falsifiers of the word of God” – “Porque nós não somos FALSIFICADORES da palavra de Deus”

Spanish Reina Valera 1960, 1995 – “that go about falsifying the word of God” – “Pues no somos como muchos, que medran FALSIFICANDO la palabra de Dios”

However, many modern versions, including the NKJV have changed the meaning of the verse by translating it as “PEDDLE the word of God”. These include the RSV, NRSV, ESV, NKJV, NIV and the NASB. “For we are not, as so many, PEDDLING the word of God” – NKJV 1982. The Holman Standard has: “For we are not like the many who MAKE A TRADE in God’s message FOR PROFIT”.

NET version – “For we are not like so many others, HUCKSTERS WHO PEDDLE the word of God FOR PROFIT.”

As you can see, the first popular modernized English version to change the meaning from “to corrupt” the word of God to the idea of peddling it, was the liberal Revised Standard Version.

Two modern paraphrases try to combine both ideas from this single Greek word.

The Amplified version – “peddling God’s word, shortchanging and adulterating the divine message”

The Message – “but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap.” (Oh, No? That is exactly what they do with the Message)

John Gill comments on this verse: “which corrupt the word of God; by “the word of God”, may be meant the Scriptures in general, which are from God, contain his will, and which he uses for the good of men, and his own glory, and MAY BE CORRUPTED BY FALSE GLOSSES AND HUMAN MIXTURES, AND BY ADDING TO THEM, OR TAKING FROM THEM; or the Gospel in particular, which is the word of truth, of faith, righteousness, reconciliation, and salvation, and which WAS CORRUPTED BY THESE FALSE TEACHERS by making merchandise of it; they huckstered the word of God, made gain of it, sought merely their own worldly interest and advantage in it, and SO MIXED IT WITH THEIR OWN VAIN PHILOSOPHY, to please the carnal ears and hearts of men;… they did, as peddling merchants do, mix good and bad commodities together, and then vend them for sound ware… so did these men mix, and hereby CORRUPT the Gospel, the word of God; now the apostle says, they did not do so; they delivered out the word pure and unmixed, WITHOUT ANY CORRUPTION OR ADULTERATION.”

John Calvin translated the word as “adulterate the word of God” and then commented: “It is, indeed, certain from the corresponding clause, that Paul intended to express here — CORRUPTION of doctrine — not as though they had revolted from the truth, but because they presented it under disguise, and NOT IN ITS GENUINE PURITY. For THE DOCTRINE OF GOD IS CORRUPTED in a direct way, when it is MIXED UP WITH FALSEHOOD AND LIES, so as to be no longer the pure and genuine doctrine of God, but is falsely commended under that title.” (Caps are mine throughout).

John Wesley comments: ” For we are not as many, who ADULTERATE the word of God – Like those vintners (so the Greek word implies) who mix their wines with baser liquors.”

Matthew Poole commentary – “we translate it, corrupt the word; the Greek word signifies, to sell wine or victuals for money; and because such kind of people make no conscience to deceive, cheat, and deal fraudulently with their customers, it is sometimes used to signify CORRUPTING OR DECEIVING.”

Barne’s Notes on the New Testament – “Which corrupt the word of God. Margin, “deal deceitfully with.” The word signifies, properly, a huckster, or a retailer of wine who buys up articles for the purpose of selling them again. The proper idea is that of a small dealer, and especially in wine. Such persons were notorious, as they are now, for diluting their wines with water and for compounding wines of other substances than the juice of the grape, for purposes of gain. Wine, of all substances in trade, perhaps, affords the greatest facilities for such dishonest tricks; and accordingly the dealers in that article have generally been most distinguished for fraudulent practices and corrupt and diluted mixtures, hence THE WORD COMES TO DENOTE TO ADULTERATE, TO CORRUPT. IT IS HERE APPLIED TO THOSE WHO ADULTERATED OR CORRUPTED THE PURE WORD OF GOD in any way, and for any purpose.”

It is very clear to me and many others that the King James Bible is correct with its reading of “not as many which corrupt the word of God”. The KJB is the pure, inerrant, uncorrupted words of God. The NKJV rendering of “peddling the word of God” joins with the modern versions like the RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, and removes the idea that God’s words are being corrupted by many, and instead has us focus on merely peddling the word of God, which is exactly what all these modern versions are doing.

The modern versions not only corrupt the word of God but they also peddle it. They corrupt it by following the wrong Greek texts, by rejecting the Hebrew Masoretic texts in scores of places, and by changing the meaning in hundreds of verses. They peddle the word of God by making many unnecessary changes in the wording so they can get their copyrights to make money, and then they “revise” them again and again, and then ply their wares with Madison Avenue advertising techniques so you will go out and buy their Late$t $cholarly Finding$. They hide the fact that God’s words are being corrupted by many, and they are guilty of peddling their adulterated wares to unsuspecting and misinformed Christians, who now read and believe these corrupted bible versions less and less every day.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, no a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11

“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8

Will Kinney