Corrupt - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


kapeleuo (G2585) Corrupt
Handle Deceitfully
doloo (G1389) Peddle
In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul claimed that he was not "as many, which corrupt [kapeleuontes] the Word of God." Shortly thereafter, in 2 Corinthians 4:2, Paul disclaimed "handling deceitfully [dolountes] the Word of God." Neither kapeleuo nor doloo appear elsewhere in the New Testament. Their contexts and characters make it evident that these words must have similar meanings. Although translators frequently have assumed that kapeleuo and doloo are absolutely identical and have translated them by one word, this is incorrect. When examined more closely, it becomes apparent that kapeleuein, whether used literally or figuratively, refers to all that doloun does plus something more. Whether or not the Authorized translators understood this distinction, they did not obliterate it.
The history of kapeleuein is not difficult to follow. The kapelos is properly the huckster or petty retail trader, as contrasted with the emporos (G1713) or merchant who sells in large quantities. Although it may refer to any such peddler, the kapelos is predominantly the retail vendor of wine. The wine trade exposed its vendors to numerous temptations (Ecclus. 25:29): to mix their wine with water (Isa. 1:22) or otherwise to tamper with it or to sell it in short measure. Because they generally yielded to these temptations, kapelos and kapeleuein became terms of contempt. Kapeleuein refers to any shameful traffic and gain done by the kapelos. Doloun, however, is only one aspect of kapeleueinnamely, the tampering with or adulterating the wine by adding a foreign substance to it. Doloun does not suggest that this was done for the purpose of making a disgraceful profit and may refer only to the tampering itself, as the following phrase from Lucian indicates: "The philosophers sell their learning just as the hucksters [kapeloi]indeed in many cases after adulterating it and tampering [dolosantes] with it and using false measures." Here doloun refers only to one aspect of the deceitful handling by the kapelos.
Doloun certainly implies no more than simply falsifying, but kapeleuein includes the intention of making an unworthy profit. Surely here is a moment in the sin of the false teachers that Paul, in disclaiming the kapeleuein, intended to disclaim for himself. And Paul did this quite emphatically in as many words in 2 Corinthians (12:14; cf. Acts 20:33), because according to Scripture, the idea of making an unworthy profit is a hallmark of false prophets and false apostles, who through covetousness make merchandise of souls. This distinction must be maintained. The false teachers in Galatia might undoubtedly have been charged as dolountes ton logon (G3056)mingling vain human traditions with the pure word of the gospel, building in hay, straw, and stubble with its silver, gold, and precious stonesbut there is nothing that would lead us to charge them as kapeleuontes ton logon tou Theou (G2316)working this mischief for filthy lucre's sake.
Bentley strongly maintained this distinction:
Our English Translators have not been very happy in their version of this passage [2 Cor. 2:17]. We are not, says the Apostle, kapeleuontes ton logon tou theou, which our Translators have rendered, "we do not corrupt," or (as in the margin) "deal deceitfully with," "the word of God." They were led to this by the parallel place, ch. 4 of this Epistle, v. 2, "not walking in craftiness," mede dolountes ton logon tou theou,"nor handling the word of God deceitfully"; they took kapeleuontes and dolountes in the same adequate notion, as the vulgar Latin had done before them, which expresses both by the same word, adulterantes verbum Dei; and so, likewise, Hesychius makes them synonyms, ekkapeleuein, doloun.Doloun, indeed, is fitly rendered "adulterare"; so doloun ton chryson, ton oinon, to adulterate gold or wine, by mixing worse ingredients with the metal or liquor. And our Translators had done well if they had rendered the latter passage, not adulterating, not sophisticating the word. But kapeleuontes in our text has a complex idea and a wider signification; kapeleuein always comprehends douloun; but douloun never extends to kapeleuin, which, besides the sense of adulterating, has an additional notion of unjust lucre, gain, profit, advantage. This is plain from the word kapelos, a calling always infamous for avarice and knavery: perfidus hic caupo [this treacherous huckster] says the poet, as a general character. Thence kapelein, by an easy and natural metaphor, was diverted to other expressions where cheating and lucre were signified: kapeleuein ton logon, says the apostle here, and the ancient Greeks, kapeleuein tas dikas, ten eirenen, ten sophian, ta mathemata, to corrupt and sell justice, to barter a negotiation of peace, to prostitute learning and philosophy for gain. Cheating, we see, and adulterating is part of the notion of kapeleuein, but the essential of it is sordid lucre. So cauponari in the well-known passage of Ennius, 'where Pyrrhus refuses to treat for the ransom for his captives, and restores them gratis: 'I do not demand gold, nor shall you give me a price, war is not for one trading, but for one waging battle.' And so the Fathers expound this place.... So that, in short, what Paul says, kapeleuontes ton logon, might be expressed in one classic wordlogemporoi [merchants of the word], or logopratai [sellers of the word] where the idea of gain and profit is the chief part of the signification. Wherefore, to do justice to our text, we must not stop lamely with our Translators, "corrupters of the word of God"; but add to it as its plenary notion, "corrupters of the word of God for filthy lucre."
If Bentley was correct, it follows that "deceitfully handling" would be a more accurate (though not a perfectly adequate) translation of kapeleuontes and "who corrupt" of dolountes, than the reverse, which our Authorized Version actually offers.

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