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December 26, 2008


After I read your comments I looked up the passage in several translations. I was surprised to find that some said some version of goodwill toward men without any mention of pleasing God. Some mentioned pleasing God in brackets as if the words were not originally there or there was some question about it they belonged or not, and others mentioned the pleasing God part as if it were always there.

Does anyone with any knowledge in Greek have any comments about this?

NIV, NASB, The Message, NLT, ESV, CEV, HCS, TNIV, NLV & ASV all mention it.

The Aplified translation had brackets, which cited its source.

The only translations that I found lacking the qualifier were the KJV/NKJV. I haven't any knowledge in Greek, but if a comparison between translations is helpful at all, my initial insight would be to say that the King James translations are lacking, not that all the others are all improperly adding.

In William Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek," Verlyn Verbrugge writes a litle blurb about this exact topic. The KJV uses the manuscripts that translate the word "good will" as a nominative or the subject; the other translations mentioned used older manuscripts that translate the word as a genative which shows possession or characterizes something (page 43). That might help a litle bit.

The KJV and NKJ are made from a different manuscript family ("Received Text") than most other modern translations ("Critical Text"). Note the footnote in the NKJ version:;&version=50;

It is amazing as well how people just consider this peace to be relational peace among men and women, or some warm, fuzzy global peace.

Ephesians 2:11-22 gives a better picture of the peace that is described in Luke 2.

"And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

It seems to me this could be interpreted in one of two ways. It could mean "peace among the particular men that God is pleased with." That seems to be how you take it. But could also mean "peace among mankind (generally), and God is pleased with mankind (generally)." I've always taken it in the second sense. Of course that wouldn't mean he was personally pleased with every individual. Like you said, nobody can please God without Jesus. But God may be pleased with the species of man in general. He's pleased with his creation. That's the way I've always taken it.

And if he wasn't pleased with man in general, I see no reason to think he would "take no pleasure in the death of the wicked," or that he would show mercy on everybody by "causing the sun to rise on the just and the unjust." He is, after all, delaying his wrath.

I am pretty sure the peace being discussed is between God and man, in " We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". His role as saviour was what made this peace, he didnt mean peace among men, as Jesus said "I came not to bring peace, but a sword, daughter will rise against mother,..etc..." So the good news/ glad tidings is God provided a way primarily for peace between him and man, not among men,.. the point of the Gospel is reconciling man to God not to each other, though that can sometimes be a nice side effect, it surely wasn't the main reason it seems

"And if he wasn't pleased with man in general, I see no reason to think he would "take no pleasure in the death of the wicked," or that he would show mercy on everybody by "causing the sun to rise on the just and the unjust." He is, after all, delaying his wrath."

I also see no reason for God to show us the mercy of common grace or of delaying his wrath. But I don't take that to mean that he's pleased with mankind in general--I take it to mean that he is loving us and showing his tender mercies entirely undeservedly.

When you say that God is delaying his wrath because he's generally pleased with us, it makes it sound like we deserve mercy. But his mercy is freely given to we who do not deserve it. That's part of what makes the gift so amazing. It was not grounded in anything good in us; it was all mercy.

I don't mean to suggest that God is pleased with us because we're good people. I just mean he's pleased in the sense that he created us, and he thinks he did a good job of it. After all, even sinners are valuable human beings, and if the source of all objective value in the world is God, then God must value all people.

Hey Sam,

Interesting thoughts. It's always helpful in these things to look at the Greek construction - sometimes ambiguities in the English translation can be cleared up pretty quickly.

The pertinent line, which Melinda quoted from the NASB as "And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased" reads in the Greek "kai epi ges eirene en anthropois endokias" - which, word-for-word, is "and on earth peace in men of good thought."

Grammatically, the peace is directed to a specific group ("men", or "anthropois") which is qualified by the word "endokias" ("of good thought/pleasure", "thought well of" or "held in honor") to make the group that receives peace those men who are thought well of (by the "theou" (God) of the preceeding section).

An earlier commenter was correct that the KJV is the only major translation that uses the manuscripts that read "of goodwill" rather than the older manuscripts that read as I have quoted above.

Don't know if that makes sense, but it seems like the Greek construction favors Melinda's "particular" interpretation rather than your "general" one, though your thougths from that point on were good.

I agree, Aaron. Thanks.

I've recently come upon two blogs about text criticism run by actual scholars. The discussions here are way over my head be very interesting.

I don't know if an answer to the verse in question is discussed on these sites, but you should check them out anyway.

Arwings misquoted

I was at the grocery store today and I couldn`t believe what I saw! It was a Whitmans Christmas chocolates tin with a Christmas tree on the front with this very passage and quoted with the correct ending, "....with him who He is pleased"! Can you imagine that! Theologically correct chocolate! I guess Whitman settled that one.

The Greek lexical parser at shows that the word translated well pleased is a singular genitive noun. Considering that the word "all men" is plural, then the noun must be modified by another singular noun, in this case God. The genitive case lets us know this understanding is correct.

So the verse is properly transliterated:

Doca en uyistoiv qew kai epi ghv eirhnh en anqrwpoiv eudokiav

or translated:

Glory in the highest (to) God and upon earth, peace or tranquility to men well-pleasing (to God)

The Greek text doesn't use too many words, because it is so rich in meaning and precise. Too bad the English language is too simplified.

A blast-from-the-past post. That was funny - I read the post, read Sam's comment, thought of a good response, and saw that I already responded a year ago :)

I'm wondering if there is another interpretation that includes the tense of what is occurring but essentially gets to the same end. The angel is speaking in the present tense of a Savior being born. At that time, prior to the Cross, there isn't any intercessory benefit yet from Jesus, is there? In this case, it is still not a peace between and among all men but peace with God to those men who follow His Law that is pleasing to Him.

Actually the whole issue is over one Greek word translated "of good pleasure" versus "good will." Most Greek copies of Luke's gospel have "good will." A few manuscripts which are older and precieved as better have "of good pleasurer." It is the same word in the Greek, only the part of speech is different. I believe most manscripts have it correct, "good will toward men" (as oppossed to "amoung men of good will.") Since all men are in need of the Savior and God's grace is an offered for all men, not just His elect who are the only ones to receive God's grace.

Hmmm, seems everyone here is reluctant to use the "elect" word.
Yes,"particular" election.
Anyone here care to apply "general" election to the parallel passage in Matthew 1:21?
For serious discussion on this, try this link-

Not reluctant, just didn't come up. Election is theologically related to the passage under examination, but not exegetically related.

Thanks Aaron,
But I do think it's exegetically related to this passage. So does John Gill- Reformed Baptist Puritan in his commentary. Download his commentary in the free E-Sword- It's well worth buying the CD for your pastor also.

"nor was a Saviour provided for them; but to men, and not to all men; for though all men share in the providential goodness of God, yet not in his special good will, free grace, and favour: but to elect men, to whom a child was born, and a Son given, even the Prince of Peace"

Nor do I think that Melinda is espousing a "particular" call as you seem to think. "His offer is open to all people", suggests differently. Care to clarify Melinda?


Just for clarification, if one accepts God's offer of grace, then that one is one of the God's elect. The apostle Peter advises to make sure of one's election. The apostle Paul advises to make sure one has Jesus. The reprise "good will toward men" is the correct one, seeing it is God's will that lost men should be saved. And that all men are lost without Christ.

Hi Ron,

I meant "exegetically" in the sense of trying to find out what the words mean by examining grammar, syntax, etc. I agree with both you and Gill on the theological implications (election) related to the passage; it just wasn't the particular level of the text (Greek construction) we were discussing.

Also, I never said anything about a "call" - I said a "particular interpretation" as opposed to a "general" one, meaning simply that the peace is directed to a particular group of men (the ones with whom God is pleased) rather than all men in general. Melinda is indeed offering a "particular interpretation" in this sense. "Call" is a different subject which none of us were addressing.

Thanks Aaron and Paul,

Enjoyed your commentary as well. Am looking forward to receiving Philip Comfort's latest- New Testament Text and Translation Commentary from Amazon. Deals with issues discussed above. Supposedly superior to Metzger!
My compliments to you all (even Ozzie :) and may you have a blessed new year.


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