The following observations on this scripture are from one of our contributors: "I send a note on Ephesians 4:26, which you comment on in the Christian Friend for August. If you think it worth while to notice it it may be of interest to students, and elicit further light perhaps.
"These words (Ephesians 4:26) seem to be a quotation of Psalm 4:4. The Septuagint may be received, I suppose, as giving in Greek the sense of the original Hebrew; and these words stand there, orgizesthe kai me amartanete, and are exactly repeated by Paul in the above passage; hence I scarcely think that one can get away from the admission that the apostle quotes them from the psalm. Our English translators of 1611 (translating, not from the Septuagint, but from the Hebrew) seem to have concluded that the English they give, 'Stand in awe, and sin not,' represented the meaning of the Hebrew. But the Textus Receptus (having the same words as the Septuagint) they have translated, 'Be ye angry, and sin not.' J. N. D. translates in his French Bible (Psalm 4:4), 'Agitez-vous, et ne péchez pas,' and agrees with our translators in Ephesians 4:26; viz., 'Mettez-vous en colère,' etc. The prayer-book version of the Psalms has, 'Stand in awe, and sin not.'
Does the Septuagint give the Greek meaning of the Hebrew? Does the English of the Psalms represent also the meaning of the Hebrew? If so, why not translate Ephesians 4:26 into the English which the psalm gives? These are interesting points for those who may have a better knowledge of Greek (I never studied Hebrew) than I have. For all must see there is a great difference in English (a beautiful shade of meaning) in 'Stand in awe, and sin not,' which 'Be ye angry, and sin not' does not contain - "Agitez-vous" contains it. I should be glad to know if you have gone over this, as I daresay you have."
We add a few remarks to assist any who may desire to examine the question raised. The meaning of the Hebrew word translated (Psalm 4: d) "stand in awe" is, "to be moved," or, "to be disturbed;" and hence sometimes, "to be moved with anger," or, "to be angry" (see Proverbs 29:9; Isaiah 37:28), also, "to be moved with grief." (2 Sam. 19:1.) Again, "to be moved with fear," "to tremble," or, "to quake." The affection or feeling, therefore, with which one is moved must be gathered from the context.* We conclude that the English translation, rather than the Septuagint, expresses the sense of the Hebrew. When the Spirit of God distinctly sanctions the Greek renderings, as is the case, for example, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, they have for us the stamp of divine authority, but not otherwise. Nor do we judge that the fact of Paul citing the Greek rendering of Psalm 4:4 (if it is a citation) endorses the translation of the psalm. He is led of the Spirit to use the words in Ephesians 4:26; and there, of course, they are inspired words; and we cannot doubt that they are rightly given in English as, "Be ye angry, and sin not." (See the New Translation, P.V., Vulgate, Luther, etc.)
*The reader who is unacquainted with Hebrew may see the various uses of the word in the Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, Vol. ii. p. 1155.
It is conclusive from many examples that Luke uses "the third person active for the mere existence of the fact, or the passive." The words, "That they may receive you," should consequently be rendered, "That ye may be received." The possessions of this world "the mammon of unrighteousness" - are to be used, not for present gratification or enjoyment (for man, or Israel, is looked upon as a steward, even if out of place), but in view of the future. The apostle Paul touches upon the same doctrine when he writes, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life" (or rather, "on that which is really life"). (1 Timothy 6:17-19.) It will at once be perceived that there is no foundation for the popular conception, embodied in poetry, books, and sermons, that those who have been the recipients of the bounty of the saints on earth will be assembled to welcome their former benefactors on their entrance into "everlasting habitations." It is quite true that Christ Himself will forget nothing which has been done in His name; but the above conception puts the saints before Christ, nay, leaves Him altogether out of the picture.
2 Corinthians 3:18.
Etymology, while it may sometimes assist, is worse than useless when relied upon for the interpretation of the word of God. It forgets that it has to do with the formation of a word, rather than its use or application after it is formed. For example, the above passage is given, and no doubt correctly according to the etymology of the word, in the Authorized Translation: "We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," etc. A twofold error has been the result. First, it has been contended by some that we "mirror" the glory of the Lord; and by others, secondly, that we "reflect" it. In both cases our gradual transformation from glory to glory is lost sight of; and, worse even than that, it makes the believer to "mirror" or to reflect the glory before he is "changed into the same image." The truth is, the words "as in a glass" must be omitted if we would apprehend the Lord's mind. Then it is at once seen that we have two things: the glory of the Lord, "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6. Compare John 13:31, 32); and then that we, by beholding it (for it is unveiled), are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord (or, by the Lord the Spirit). It is doubtless in the Word that this glory is displayed before our gaze; and the effect of our contemplation of it, in the power of the Holy Ghost, is to bring us into a growing moral correspondence with Him on whom we look.
Care must be taken not to put into a scripture more than it actually contains. The words are, "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain," etc. That our blessed Lord, after His resurrection, bore the marks of the nails in His hands, and of the spear thrust in His side, we know from John 20; but whether it was these John beheld when in vision he saw the Lamb in the midst of the throne, and therefore was led to describe Him as One that had been slain, is not revealed. The object of the Spirit of God in calling attention to this characteristic is doubtless to identify the exalted with the suffering Lamb, and to teach that He who alone had "prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof," was the same who had suffered at Calvary, and that His present power and exaltation were possessed in virtue of His death. A beautiful type of His glory in the kingdom as the result of His sacrificial death is found in Numbers 4, where for the transport of the brazen altar through the wilderness, it was commanded that a purple cloth (symbol of royalty) should be spread thereon, before the badgers' skins were thrown over the various vessels of ministry. All the displayed glories of Christ indeed follow upon His suffering. (See Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11.) So for the Christian it is, "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him," and, "If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." (2 Tim. 2:12; Rom. 8:17.)