Does Paul use gender accurate language in 2nd Corinthians?


Puritan Board Freshman
2nd Corinthians 6:18
"And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.
Full disclosure, I am an english-only speaking lay-person with access to a Strong’s concordance. In other words, the most dangerous kind of theologian. That is why I am reaching out here.

There are a number of covenant verses that refer to a father and son(s) relationship with God.
2nd Samuel 7:14
I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me...
1 Chronicles 17:13
I will be his father and he shall be My son...
Hosea 1:10
...You are the sons of the living God...

My reference bible indicates that Paul may be blending the phraseology of these OT passages with Isaiah 43:6.
Isaiah 43:6
I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth

The Hebrew word in question here simply translates as “a son”. Its full meaning is derived from context and is often translated as children or people. In fact, many versions translate Hosea 1:10, “Children of the living God.” But Paul did not use the Greek word for “children” or “people”. He used “sons and daughters”. There is a Hebrew word for daughter and it is not included in the 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, or Hosea passages.

My question is this: did Paul, based on context from Isaiah, expand the literal word for sons to include daughters?

Is that an example of what is often referred to today as “gender accurate language”?

Does this parallel the argument for translating the Greek word adelphoi as “brothers and sisters”?

I realize it may sound like I am trying to build a case for gender accurate or neutral language by using Paul as an example. I can assure you I am not. This verse simply stood out to me. It probably wouldn’t have 20 years ago. However, since gender language has become such a hot topic, I was surprised!
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C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Senior
My question is this: did Paul, based on context from Isaiah, expand the literal word for sons to include daughters?
We can only speculate.

Is that an example of what is often referred to today as “gender accurate language”?
No. The suggestion is anachronistic.

Does this parallel the argument for translating the Greek word adelphoi as “brothers and sisters”?
No. The Greek here is "υἱοὺς καὶ θυγατέρας". There are two Greek terms designating "sons" and "daughters," respectively. So the job of the translator is to accurately reflect that in their translation. The Greek language has terms for "brothers" (ἀδελφοί) and "sisters" (ἀδελφὰς). When those terms appear in the Greek text, they should be translated. But where the Greek text only says "brothers" (ἀδελφοί), a translator has no business adding "and sisters". It isn't there.

Now, does that mean the Apostles were only addressing the men of the church? Obviously not. Is it not clear that the term "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) was inclusive of both the men and the women? Of course. Then why not just translate "brethren" (ἀδελφοί) as "brothers and sisters"? Because, in his infinite wisdom, the Holy Spirit didn't say "ἀδελφοί καὶ ἀδελφὰς" but simply "ἀδελφοί."
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Puritan Board Sophomore
It's not quite that simple (I think I begin every post on translation with this sentence). Many Greek and Hebrew words have a semantic range that covers more than one English word; translators often try to determine which part of the semantic range the original word is operating and therefore which English word is the best equivalent in this context. Sometimes that means a "gendered" term in the original is best translated by a non-gendered term in English, whereas other times the gender component is important. For example, bene-yisrael is literally "the sons of Israel", but KJV regularly renders it "the children of Israel" ( a gender-inclusive term, though presumably not for feminist reasons). In fact, KJV even translates the Hebrew words for man ('ish and adam) with the gender inclusive "person" in places (as does the ESV).
It is widely recognized by all the standard Greek reference lexicons that adelphoi can be used in antiquity to address a mixed audience ("brothers and sisters", as well as sometimes having in view a solely male audience ("brothers"). I don't know of any contexts in which ancient Greek used adelphoi kai adelphai as an address. It then becomes an English style issue rather than a strict translation issue - how do you address a mixed congregation in a contemporary context? Probably, some of us would say "Brothers..." meaning everyone, male and female; others would say "Brothers and sisters...." Your own usage may influence how good a translation you think it is on this question. Certainly, the CSB tried to discern contextually which was the more appropriate rendition in each passage - just as we did with the bene- family of words.


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Other brothers have spoken to the linguistics. To your question about the source(s) Paul may have in mind: there does not appear to be any one text or translation of the OT to which the NT writer exactly refers.

Now, already in v2, Paul quotes Is.49:8; so it makes sense if he might further allude to other passages in the vicinity, as well as drawing on his full command of the OT and its themes. v16 could be drawing on Lev.26:12 and Ex.29:45; but see also Ezk.37:26-28, where the LORD makes his people into a permanent tabernacle/temple/sanctuary. It is a thematic reference, a highly skilled presenting of the truth of God's word, so that it is perfectly accurate for him to say, "As God has said...."

v17 refers back to Isaiah, now 52:11 (but cf. Ezk.20:34, 41). So, it is not beyond reason to think Is.43:6 is but a short step conceptually.

I'm of the mind that he could be thinking first about 49:20ff (e.g. v21, "you shall say, Who has begotten these for me?"), and in v26 he refers to himself as "the LORD... the Mighty One" (of Jacob); cf. Paul's closing: "...says the Lord Almighty."

Is.63:16 uses the term "Father" for Israel's God, as far ahead of ch52 as 43 is behind. And of course, all the other texts like 2Sam.7:14 and Hos.1:9-10 are thematically pertinent.