old self

The Greek that is translated in English as “old self” or similar is translated in Enlhet as “old innermost.” “Innermost” or valhoc is a term that is frequently used in Enlhet to describe a large variety of emotions or states of mind (for other examples see here). (Source: Jacob Loewen in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 24ff. )

In Toraja-Sa’dan it is translated as a’gan pa’kalean masainta or “the essence of the old body (tied to sin).” (Source: H. van der Veen in The Bible Translator 1952, p. 207ff. )

In Warao it is translated as “old obojona.” Obojona is a term that “includes the concepts of consciousness, will, attitude, attention and a few other miscellaneous notions.” (Source: Henry Osborn in The Bible Translator 1969, p. 74ff. ). See other occurrences of Obojona in the Warao New Testament.

See also flesh (human nature).

complete verse (Ephesians 4:22)

Following are a number of back-translations of Ephesians 4:22:

  • Uma: “You were taught like this: you must stop your previous behavior that you followed before you believed in the Lord. All the desires that you followed at that time caused you to fall and destroyed your lives.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “Therefore give-up/leave now your former customs. Because those customs of yours are deceiving you therefore you indulge the cravings/desires of your bodies and this is what destroys you.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “Because of this, you must abandon the thinking of your former humanity, because this is subject to the former evil behavior. This can destroy you by means of its deceitful desires.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “Therefore you must throw-away your former thoughts and behavior/customs, because that’s the source of the bad desires or cravings that deceive you and that’s what destroys you.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “Therefore, like was taught to you concerning your disgusting way of life, drop it now. Like dirty clothing, take it off now. Because if you are still following this disgusting life of yours, you are just being deceived. For you mistakenly-thought that happiness is the outcome of your indulging your disgusting desires, whereas your life is like just rotting.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “Therefore, concerning whatever evil you walked in before, separate from it now. Because that evil which you liked to do deceived your thoughts.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Translation commentary on Ephesians 4:22

The infinitive “to get rid of,” with which the verse begins, goes syntactically with “you were taught” in verse 21. Most translations, like Good News Translation, begin a new sentence with verse 22. Get rid of: see the use of the verb in Colossians 3.8, and for your old self see the same expression in Colossians 3.9; it means the readers’ character, way of life, before becoming Christians. Here get rid of stands in contrast with put on in verse 24; the figure is that of a change of clothes.

A literal translation of get rid of your old self can be seriously misunderstood, even to the point of committing suicide. It may be necessary to abandon completely the underlying figure of speech in the statement get rid of your old self. But one can say “live no longer the way you used to.” One can sometimes introduce a figure of speech so as to make the meaning of verse 24 more significant by translating get rid of by a phrase which is normally used in a context involving getting rid of old clothing, or else the more general terms for “give up,” “put aside,” or “leave behind.”

Which made you live as you used to translates a clause, “according to the former way of life”; this clause comes between the infinitive “to get rid of” and the direct object “the old man,” and may be related to the object as follows: “Get rid of the old self which manifested itself in your former way of life” (see Revised Standard Version “your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life”). The Greek noun “manner of life” is related to the verb translated lived in 2.3.

There may be some problems involved in finding an appropriate reference for the pronoun which, since a complete restructuring of the first clause of verse 22 may require some change in the second clause. It is always possible to introduce a completely new statement, for example, “it was because of that old way of life that you lived as you did” or “… did the things that you did” or “… behaved as you did.”

Destroyed translates a verb meaning “to corrupt” (see its use in 1 Cor 3.17). Some translations try to keep the image of the Greek by using an expression such as “was rotting away.”

Desires translates the same word used in 2.3; and deceitful characterizes those desires as misleading and corrupting those who yield to them.

Because of the necessary changes in the first part of verse 22, it may be difficult to render the second part without some considerable restructuring. In fact, it may be best to translate the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires as “the old way in which you lived was destroying you by causing you to have desires which were deceitful” or “… desires which led you astray.”

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert C. and Nida, Eugene A. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1982. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .