Trow

Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not, Luke 17:9.


Missionary Danny Foss sent this little gem concerning the word "trow". I found it interesting and I think it will help many.


trow – v. [1x., Lk.17:9] [Danish troe, Germ. trauen, Old Teut. trûwian, Saxon treothian, Gothic trauan; in English it goes back as far as c. 888, per the OED] There are no corresponding references to define the term in context, though it can be said that it corresponds to “when ye think not” of Luke 12:40 or “I suppose” of Luke 7:43. I mention those since dictionaries usually define the word as “think” or “suppose.” However, according to a 1530 dictionary, trow can also mean to “believe,” “trust,” or “to judge.” Luke 7:43 therefore also connects it to “judge” (“suppose” is there associated with “rightly judged”). A 1582 dictionary adds that it can mean “deem,” which backs up the “judge” meaning. The verb is admittedly out of common use, even said to be so by 1755 by Samuel Johnson in his dictionary. This verb is used just the once there in Luke, in the statement from the Lord Jesus, “I trow not.” It appears to be first used there in Tyndale’s translation, and each subsequent translation had it (except Douay-Rheims which put “I think not”) up to the KJB. However, due to a tiny amount of corrupt texts in Greek (Vaticanus, Sinaiticus [which are counterfeits], P75 [3rd cent.], L019 [7th cent.], miniscule 1 [7th cent.], X033 [10th century]) not having the statement there (which is αυτω ου δοκω), modern versions routinely delete the whole phrase there of “I trow not” (RV, ASV, RSV, NASV, NRSV, NIV, ESV, CEV, HCSV, et al.). The vast majority of texts in Greek have the statement (as all the Byzantine texts, A02, D05, K017, W032, Gamma 036, Delta 037, Theta 038, miniscule 13), so it ought therefore be in the text. Also, the Gothic translation by Ulfilas (c. 341) corroborates that it should be there, as well as the Vetus Latina before it (such as aur, b, d, f, ff2, i, l, q, r1) and the Syriac Peshitta. Even the Anglo-Saxon Gospels have it (c. 990-1200), with “ne wene ic[h].” It is an important statement to the verse because it answers the question posed by the Lord Jesus in the verse as the conclusion to verses 7 and 8. Without the answer, it would be assumed to be a rhetorical question, to be answered at your own discretion, should the master thank the servant when he does what he is supposed to. Your flesh might say, if you were in that position, “Yeah, he ought to thank me!!” That is the problem though; the short parable applies to the Christian’s role as a servant to the Lord God, and thus may get you thinking God is going to have some great procession in Heaven for you when you get there because you did what you were supposed to. God owes us no gratitude for us simply carrying out His commands of what we are to do. We owe Him only gratitude for allowing us to serve Him. That makes verse 10 make sense, that the Lord Jesus says that when the servant has done it, that he would say, “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” They are unprofitable because they have only done what they were commanded, not anything above and beyond the call of duty. Should God thank us for doing what we are supposed to, especially the Great Commission of reaching the world with the Gospel? Jesus says, “I trow not,” which I take there to be more than just “I think not,” or “I suppose not” which are like “presume.” That makes Him sound uncertain about it, but yet He is certain about it immediately in the next verse. I see it therefore as that He is saying instead, “I judge not,” or “I deem not.” It is like we say now, “I would say not.” Looking at the writings of KJB translators and how they used it personally, it appears stronger than “suppose” could be. In a debate with an opponent, John Reynolds said, “I haue the right meaning of these wordes, I trow; for they are plaine of all thinges that doo concerne our faith and life.”1 If “trow” only meant the weak meaning of suppose or think, he would look very uncertain, but yet he said in the next clause that they were plain, a ready contradiction thereby if trow meant only suppose. Trow then has to be stronger as deduce or conclude. Same thing with the way that Lancelot Andrewes used it. “‘All;’ and, to shew the extent of it, subdivided into ‘all in Heaven, all in earth;’ and that, I trow, is ‘all.’”2 It would not fit to mean suppose there. 1 John Rainolds, The summe of the conference between John Rainolds and John Hart, touching the head and faith of the church (London, 1584), p. 460. 2 Lancelot Andrewes, Ninety-Six Sermons (Oxford, 1841), vol. 1, p. 269.


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