I know it has been awhile since I last posted on blog. There were other things I need concentrate on especially now that I’m doing Thursday Vesper and Sunday School Classes for College students.

Anyway, I recently raised a question to Pastor Bill Mounce in his website at www.billmounce.com about Bible translations into other languages aside from English. I learned a lot from his book, Basics of Biblical Greek, and I will forever be graceful to God for him for the knowledge I’ve acquired from him especially about Biblical languages. Anyway, here is part of the email question I sent him weeks ago:

Now both translations, as stated in their prefaces, claimed to have based their translation work from the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts but as I work my way through the translation (have a working knowledge of Greek, English and Tagalog grammar), I began to notice that our Tagalog translation of theBible may have based it’s work not on the Hebrew and Greek themselves but on actually on the English Bibles (KJV and NIV).

Moreover, English grammar is VERY VERY different from the Tagalog language. Just for verbs alone, we don’t have tenses but only aspects (just like the greek). We also don’t follow strict word order because we have verb “focus”, a declension of the verbs that helps determine the main subject of the sentence, object and etc.
This is the reason why I noticed the similarity of the English Bible with our own Tagalog translation. It seems to follow the same grammatical rules of the English grammar while it should have been following the Greek or Hebrew.

Does it really the case then? Do most translation of the Bibles in other languages really came straight from the Hebrew/Greek text or mediated from the English Bible?

 Well, the exciting news here is that he answered back by posting my question into his blog site. In there, he gave his own personal insight about the issue and even appreciated our language’s verb focus. You can check out his full post in his website: www.billmounce.com

En Xristos,

Lance Filio

Verse Catalyst:

I was surprised to get a text message from my sister, asking for my help to explain the meaning of the Greek word “katoptrizo”. She probably have read some of my email blast from my https://ekpotamou.wordpress.com blog site so she knows that I’m interested with these kind of stuff.

She mentioned in the text that she needs to understand this word because she will use it as name for their choir group. So I pray that she will be able to find what she needs from this article.

Verse Focus:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord,
who is the Spirit. (NIV)

ημεις δε παντες ανακεκαλυμμενω προσωπω την δοξαν κυριου κατοπτριζομενοι την αυτην εικονα μεταμορφουμεθα απο δοξης εις δοξαν καθαπερ απο κυριου πνευματος (Koine Greek)

ēmeis de pantes anakekalummenō prosōpō tēn doxan kuriou katoptrizomenoi tēn autēn eikona metamorphoumetha apo doxēs eis doxan kathaper apo kuriou pneumatos (Transliterated Greek)

Verse Meaning:

This word, katoptrizomenoi, which only occurred in 2 Cor 3:18, can be pronounced as (kat-op-trid’-zom-ahee). This word, when used in 2 Cor 3:18, was in the form of participle. By the way, a participle usually takes a base form of verb and add a suffix -ing , making it a verbal noun. So whenever there is a verb in a the form of a participle, the clause where it belongs is called a participial phrase. Therefore, the more accurate form of this word should have been “reflecting” or “beholding” but NIV translators focuses more on meaning not form so they intentionally retained the base form of the verb since essentially the it means the same.

Now, the base form of katoptrizomenoi is katoptrizo and it is pronounced as (kät-op-trē’-zō). “Katoptrizo”, according to Strong’s concordance, is said to be a combination of two words, “kata” and “optrizo”. Now, “kata” is a preposition which semantically means either “according to” or “against” while “optrizo” is synonymous to gaze, see, look and etc. So when combined, it is supposed to mean as “gazing oneself against something”. This is probably why, the KJV version used the phrase “beholding as in a glass” because a glass or a mirror (which is more accurate) is what we use to look into oneself. Therefore, the main idea then is “reflecting something”.

Now, the idea of reflecting God’s glory goes way back since the time of Moses. The story can be found in Exodus 33:11-23 and while I have yet to make a comprehensive study of this narrative block (in Hebrew), by just scratching at the surface, we can quickly understand that Paul is clearly echoing this famous narrative and he is using it to express the idea of having a intimate encounter with God.

So what Paul was saying then to the Christians in Corinth, just like Moses, is that our encounter with God comes without intermediaries. And just as Moses spoke to Yahweh, face to face, seeing his full glory (which literally means weight or figuratively, importance), we too can see Jesus face to face, just like a reflection from a mirror. And since it is a mirror, the reflection is the exact representation of one being reflected. Therefore, Paul was summoning the Christians in Corinth to be transformed in the image which is exactly what Paul said in the next clause: “transformed into the same image from glory to glory”.

Moreover, the idea of being transformed in to the likeness of Jesus whenever his glory is beheld was also affirmed by John in his book at (1:14):

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Although the Greek word used here was not “katoptrizomenoi” but “theaomai, according to Strong’s concordance, they essentially meant the same (gaze, look, see). Therefore, John was also referring to same idea which Paul said in Corinthians. Also, we can see from this verse from John that the idea of beholding God’s glory came from the narrative of Moses in Exodus 33:11-23.


You can notice that I highlighted the word “dwelt” in the verse above. The connection is not obvious here because dwelt here has been popularly understood outside of the Old testament. So most of the time, it is understood as Jesus coming here on earth, the sending of God’s son, Jesus living in the flesh as a human. However, if we are to understand the idea of God dwelling among us, we need to understand this within John’s Jewish understanding of the word.

The Hebrew equivalent of the word dwelt, in Greek or in English, is “miskan”. This word when used in the Old testament is always translated as “tabernacle”. This is the same idea why tabernacle was the name of the tent where Moses meets Yahweh because the word literally meant “to dwell”. Therefore, when John used this idea of tabernacle as miskan, he implied here that Jesus, coming in the flesh, is the new miskhan of God, the new tabernacle, the new temple of the living God. This is why the idea of God being with us has always been referred to as the foreshadowing of the temple built in Jerusalem. This is also why Jesus, when he came into the temple in Jerusalem, placed his judgment against that temple saying that God will rebuild it in three days! Imagine everyone’s surprise when they heard it because the last temple took 46 years to built. But just like what John commented in (2:19-21). Jesus was talking about the raising of his body, the tabernacle of God in the flesh, in the third day, his resurrection.

Both Paul and John referred to the these idea from Moses which they used in order to make sense of becoming like Jesus, the tabernacle of the living God whose ever increasing glory we behold with unveiled faced, becoming like him and being transformed in his likeness.

Verse Catalyst:

I often hear this verse being used to defend oneself against the judgment of others. This is why this verse is often quoted as a guard against self-righteousness which according to popular understanding, it is unchristian because we are being called not to be “judgmental”.

However, come to think of it. If Jesus is really teaching not to make judgment over the things then does he expects us to determine the right from the wrong. Is judging really the issue then does Jesus really want us to stop making judgments?

In order to clarify the meaning of this text, I reviewed the verse again using the tool I learned from Greek grammar. I also used it to helped me see the background that came with the verse, which according to my study, was the Sermon at the Mount.

Verse Focus:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (NIV)

μη κρινετε ινα μη κριθητε (Koine Greek)

Verse Meaning:

The question I would like answered is this: Who is the one being judged and who is one judging back?

Now, the background of this verse is this: Jesus is the one talking, his audience was his disciples and his topic (over-aching subject which assumed in the entire Sermon) is the coming of God’s rule over them.

Again about the grammar, the first clause: “Judge not” is an imperative. The Greek word used was “krinete”. This means that the second person subject “you all” was assumed here. The plural is important. It means Jesus was talking to all of his audience – the disciples.

However, what was not explicit here is object of the clause. Who received the judgment?

Moving on to the next clause: “that ye be not judged”: The Greek word behind the translation, “ye be not judged”, was the verb “krithēte”. We know that the subject of the clause was “ye” which means “you all” (plural). And just like the first clause, this referred to the Jesus’ audience, his disciples.

Now, because the verb was passive in form, the object of the clause was also not explicit. Who judged back?

A lot of us assumed that the object of these two clauses refers to “the brother”, mentioned in Matt 7:3, who have a speck of dust in his eye. And just like what popular interpretation suggest, Matt 7:1 was a warning against judging each other.

However, if we are going to look at other clause construction of other passive verbs, we can see that the object of this verb can also be assumed to be God who rules the heaven and not the brother.

Verse Interpretation:

Let us take Matt 7:7 as the example:

Ask and it will be given (dothēsetai) to you;

Seek and you will find (eurēsete);

Knock and the door will be opened (anoigēsetai) to you.

 Now, the form of these clauses also follows the pattern of Matt 7:1 (except for the double negation) – the second clause contained passive verbs (highlighted in blond fonts). At the same, the subject was “you all” which refers to the audience of Jesus, his disciples. But again, the question remains: who is the object of the clause? Who is the one giving what was asked? Who allowed the seeking? Who opened the door to the one knocking?

Again, dictated by popular understanding, we all assume rightly that it was God and not other people. God was the implicit main subject of the all the verses in the Sermon at the mount. He is the assumed topic, his kingdom, his coming rule.

It became very clear then that there are three nouns involved here: the disciples, (the subject of the imperative), God (the main subject of the passive) and the “thing” being given, sought and knocked for (instrumental object).

Now, applying this to Matt 7:1: We can also assume that although the first clause (Judge not) may refer to judging others, the second clause (be not judged) may refer to God judging you back. This means that when we look at the next verse, we can clear see that the warning is not really asking not to judge but actually, it was a warning against a wrong kind of judging:

For the same way you judge others, you will be judged (by God), and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt 7:2)

This explains why Jesus called his disciples to forgive the wrongdoing of others so that God would do the same to them. The same measure they applied to others will be the same measure God will apply to them. Jesus warned his disciples against this practice because it was the sin of the Pharisees to the Jewish people. Jesus did want them to burden people will various laws and conditions but they were not doing it themselves. That’s hypocrisy! That’s fake!

This also explains why in Matt 7:3, Jesus asked them to clear things with God first. Do the things they require before asking them from others:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Again, the point here was not to judge. The point was: when you are going to judge other, make sure you judged yourself first because judging yourself will force you to deal with God first before dealing with other people.

I realized just now that the reason why people are so afraid to correct or rebuke others because deep inside, they know they themselves are not doing it. They know its hypocrisy. It’s self-righteousness. Come to think of it, self-righteousness can only be called as SELF-righteousness if it’s the SELF that is making the judgment. This is the wrong kind of judgment. For judgment to be right has to be done with God where both you and I are subjected, both you are I are corrected.

May we all be under God’s judgment, his rule.

Verse Catalyst:

I re-visited one of my father’s often used verses whenever he emphasizes the importance of God’s word in a Christian life.

The verse can be found in 1 Peter 1:23-25. And in this verse, Peter referred to the Word of God as the imperishable seed, paralleled it to Isaiah 40:6-8 then summarized by saying that “this” was the gospel preached to the church.

So In order to fully understand the meaning of these verse and make a tagalized translation straight from the Greek, I examined the text using the tools I’ve acquired from learning Greek and Bible translations.

Verse Focus: 1 Peter 1:23-25

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you. (NIV)

ἀναγεγεννημένοι οὐκ ἐκ σπορᾶς φθαρτῆς ἀλλὰ ἀφθάρτου διὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ καὶ μένοντος εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. διότι πᾶσα σὰρξ ὡς χόρτος καὶ πᾶσα δόξα ἀνθρώπου ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου· ἐξηράνθη ὁ χόρτος καὶ τὸ ἄνθος αὐτοῦ ἐξέπεσεν· τὸ δὲ ῥῆμα κυρίου μένει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς (Greek)

Ipinanganak kayong muli, hindi sa binhing nasisira kundi sa walang kasiraan, sa pamamagitan ng salita ng Diyos na nabubuhay at namamalagi magpakailanman. Ito ay sapagkat sinasabi: Ang lahat ng tao ay gaya ng damo. Ang lahat ng kaluwalhatian ng tao ay gaya ng bulaklak ng damo. Ang damo ay natutuyo at ang bulaklak ay nalalagas. Ngunit ang salita ng Panginoon ay mamamalagi magpakailanman. Ito ang ebanghelyo na ipinangaral sa inyo. (Ang Tagalog Biblia)

Verse Meaning:

By just looking at the Greek text behind the verse there were several things I noticed:

anagegennēmenoi –  was translated in NIV as “For you have been born again…” – that was a six-word english equivalent for a single greek word! Now, looking at the details for this word, I observed the following:

     a. Tense – The greek word is perfect in tense which explains the “have” helping verb in the NIV translation. However, translating it in tagalog as “ipinanganak” is quite inaccurate since ipinanganak is in the Completed Aspect. In tagalog grammar, we have no perfect tense equivalent. The only way we can communicate this meaning is by a using a particle “na”. So we say: “ipinanganak na kayong muli…”

     b. Voice – The voice is passive which explains the use of the helping verb “been”. The receiver of the action is the subject “you”. Now, there is something missing here. Someone is implied. Who is the one causing the subject “you” to be born again? Also, who is the one being born again? This clue led me to conclude that verse 23 was a subordinate clause. I would need to look at the preceeding verses in order to answer these questions.

     c. Form – anagegennēmenoi is a verb participle. This means the verse is a participial phase. And similar to item b, it seems that this verse was a subordinate clause and not a stand-alone sentense. NIV must have supplied the words “For you…” in order to create a break from its previous verses. In order to discovery the fuller context, I checked the NKJV and there I learned from there that verses 23-25 were subordinated to verse 22. Here is the NJKV version of 1 Peter 1:22-23. I highlighted the translation of the anagegennēmenoi.

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever: (NKJV)

Now, this translation makes much more sense. The verse 22-23 is really one long sentence. The subject of this sentence or the “you” is the “one with purified souls because of their obedience in the truth of the Spirit and their sincere love for their faith-brothers.” They are being instructed by Peter to continue in this kind of love but do it more passionately (fervently with a pure heart).

Why do they need continuously do it? And How?

The answer is in verse 23 –  because they have been born again with an incorruptible seed.

This seed is bound not to perish or to subside through the passing of the years. This seed will continue to get stronger and more purer in love. And since it will live and continue forever, their love for each other will always be stronger as time passesby. Their love comes from the eternal love of the seed and the seed is the Word of God!

But what or who is the Word of God?

There were several clues which could help us point to the right direction.

logou teou – was described as an incorruptible (aphthartes) seed and was contrasted to the corruptible (phthartes) seed.

     a. phthartes – aside from verse 23, this word was also used in verse 18. When it was used there, Peter likened it to “silver and gold”. Therefore, I can clearly conclude that this refers to the stuff of this-world. I can understand from here that anything that comes from this sin-corrupted world were bound to perish, nothing from this-world would last and all these things will soon fade away.

     This was the truth Peter wanted to express when he used Isaiah 40:6 and 8:

All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.

     Peter was trying to show his readers that anything sown from this corruptible seed, all the men and its glory, like grass and flowers will soon fall away. Nothing will stay. No one gets to live forever. Nothing permanent. And just what Isaiah said: The only stuff that would endure everything and that would live forever were the men and glories sown by the incorruptible seed – the word God which lives and abides forever. Incorruptible was a translation from the greek word “aphthartes”.

     b. aphthartes – aside from verse 23, was also used in verse 4. When Peter used it there, he was describing the kind of hope given to us by the Father through His son, Jesus. He expressed assurance to his readers that this hope given by the Father was the fact that Jesus, His Son, resurrected from the dead. And because Jesus was resurrected – given life beyond the stuff of this-world, Peter was certain that everyone who was in Christ would receive the same inheritance. All believers would also be resurrected just like Jesus because he was the seed (sporas) sown by God.

    c. sporas – the seed, as described by Peter, incorruptible is the word of God – logou teou. This is the same metaphor used by God to describe His promise to Abraham and his descendants. God made a promise of inheritance to Abraham’s family. That through their seed (lineage or descendant) the Messiah will come and bless all the nations of the earth.  The seed was the bodily human lineage wherein the Son of God will be born. 

And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

Genesis 26:4-5

It was a “incorruptible” seed because it was God who made the promise and not any man. And since it was God, it will be fullfilled. Actually, it was fulfilled through the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh (John 1:14). God sown the “incorruptible” promise-seed in the lineage of Abraham and God fullfilled his promise by the giving of His only Son (John 3:16).

Verse Interpretation:

But what does this mean to us now?

The promise-seed sown by God in Jesus was the same incorruptible seed that was sown in the lives of anyone who would believe in this. God sown it in the body of Jesus through his resurrection and it was given-out in the pentecost through the giving of the Holy Spirit. And although we are not yet being resurrected, the Holy Spirit in us was the deposit guaranteeing our resurrection to life in the days to come, And just like what Paul said about this topic:

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 

2 Corinthians 5:3-6

Verse Ekpotamou:

Ipinanganak na nga kayo: hindi sa binhing nabubulok, kundi sa di-nabubulok, sa salita ng Dios – buhay at nananatili magpakailanman.

“Sapagkat katulad ng lahat ng tao ang damo, ng lahat ng kaluwalhatian ng tao ang bulaklak – ang damo natutuyo at ang bulakalak nalalagas ngunit ang salitang ng Dios mananatili magpakailan man.”

Ito ang salitang ipinangaral sa inyo.

Verse Catalyst:

From my previous post, I mentioned that the pronoun “in him” from the phrase “that whosoever believeth in him” may either be interpreted as the Father or the Son. I made a grammatical conclusion that since the main subject of John 3:16 is the Father and not, particularly, the Son, therefore, “in him” from that verse grammatically speaks about the Father.

However, I also need to accept theologically that “in Him” may also refer not only to the Father but also to the Son.

How then can I reconcile both?

Now, since “in Him” is a pronoun “auto” in greek, there is also a possibility, I assume, that it means “this” or “that”. Applying this change in the verse, it reads as:

“…that whosoever believeth in this…”

Then I asked: “Believe in this? Believe in what?”

Believe that Elohim Adonia (the Father in heaven) gave his one and only son, as Yeshua in the flesh, into the world because of His great love for His creation.  This, I believe, is the complete story of our salvation. An all inclusive story which invites us not only to believe in the Father but also in the Son because he was the one sent by His Father. It is a trinitarian-made story of loving and giving.

John, the writer of the book, not only wants us to believe on the nouns (the Father and the Son), but also in the verbs (loving and giving). John wants us to believe the inseparable connectedness of the Father to His son and the Son to His Father. He wants us to believe “in him” in terms of this connection – the loving and giving. He calls us to enter the Trinitarian community of loving one another and giving ourselves to one another.



After John 3:16, I moved on to my other favorite verses and picked Eph 2:8-9. Before, I have always known it to be about grace, faith and work. However, I realized it to be more than about these things. I found out in my studies that John 3:16 and Eph 2:8-9 have a common object and it’s not just about faith nor work nor grace. It talks about salvation as a saving action from God. 

Verse Focus: 

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. (NIV)

τη γαρ χαριτι εστε σεσωσμενοι δια πιστεως και τουτο ουκ εξ υμων θεου το δωρον ουκ εξ εργων ινα μη τις καυχησηται (Greek NT)

Ito ay sapagkat sa biyaya kayo naligtas sa pamamagitan ng pananampalataya, at ito ay hindi sa inyong sarili, ito ay kaloob ng Diyos. Ito ay hindi dahil sa gawa upang hindi magmalaki ang sinuman. (Ang Tagalog Biblia)

Verse Focus: 

Before, I look for this verse and use it to either emphasize faith or grace. When I focus on faith, I often conclude that it is opposed to work and when I focus on grace, I often conclude that faith is not really opposed with work but rather opposed to earning (because it is a gift from God) .

But which is which? How can I reconcile both statements?

Since the first clause contains the main idea of the entire verse, I focused my study on the words from this first clause. There, I noticed something I haven’t seen before. Because now I’m looking at the Greek behind the English words, I have found out that it contained a copula verb “este”. The function of this kind of verse qualifies the subject with its predicate.

The subject in this clause was “For by grace” while the predicate was “you have been saved”. Now, the predicate appeared to be passive in voice. I noticed this because the subject of the predicate phrase, “you”, was the one receiving the action. This means that there is an unexpressed doer of the verb action.

So I asked: Who is the one doing the “saving”?

This question can also be applied to subject phrase “For by grace”.

So I asked: By who’s grace?

The answer to both question is God, of course. He is the the Creator God who loved the world and gave his one and only Son for the salvation of His creation. His whole act of salvation is an act of grace. He was motivated by love and acted by the giving of God’s son. And because it is His grace, it can only be lived from faith to faith.  We have nothing to do here. We have nothing to boast about. It was Him who did it all the way through! Thanks be to God!

I could imagine Paul saying Eph 2:8-9 in these paraphrased words:

“Since God has saved you then (it) is by His grace. (A grace motivated by love and acted upon by giving oneself). And since (it) is by His grace, then you part is only through faith. And having faith in Him is not from your own doing, so don’t act as if you have done something to deserve it. Instead, humbly accept it as a gift.”

Therefore, the subject of this verse is really “the whole act of salvation from God”. This is the “it” in the clause “For (it) is by grace”. This is also the “this” in the clause “(this) is not from yourselves”. This is also the “it” in the clause “(it) is a gift from God!”.

To show this explicitly, below is the my tagalized version of this verse.

Verse Ekpotamou:

Dahil sa biyaya, iniligtas na kayo ng panananampalataya. Hindi ito (kaligtasan mula sa Dios) galing sa inyong mga sarili, ito’y bigay ng Dios. Hindi ito mula sa inyong mga sariling gawa upang hindi ito maipagmayabang sa Dios.

What led me back to John 3:16?

On my quest to revisit my favorite verses in the New Testament and to apply my learning of the Greek language, I discovered something I did not see before. You see, I often consult different translations  (English, Latin and Greek) in order to help me shape my own translation in Tagalog. Now while I was trying to translate John 3:16 in tagalog, I noticed that in John 3 of the King James Version (KJV), verse 16 ended exactly the same way as verse 15. I would like to show it to you so you could see it for yourself. I pasted below the KJV verse from John 3:14 to 16 and highlighted similar text:

King James Version:

(v. 14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

(v. 15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

(v.16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now, it is highly usual for me to not notice something so obvious like this before because I’ve been reading these passages all my life and here it is, in plain english and yet I missed the relatedness of John 3:16 (the most important passage of the Evangelical Christianity) with its immediate passage John 3:14-15.

So I revisited my study bibles at home. These are NIV (New International Version) bibles which I used during quite times and devotions in churches, camps and even Lay Leader’s Institutes. There I discovered that John 3:15 of the NIV was not exactly the same as the John 3:15 in KJV. Some words were not present. I pasted both translation, NIV and KJV, of John 3:15 so that you would see for yourself. I highlighted the omitted part so you could see clearly.

New International Version:

(v. 15) that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

King James Version:

(v. 15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Now how come its appears that there was an omission in the NIV version text? Was it a mistake? Was it intentional?

Well, I checked the Greek text and I found out that different manuscript contains either the NIV or the KJV version of the text. It was not a mistake or an intentional omission but rather a choice made by the translators on which manuscript to base their translation work. By the way, “manuscript” means a copy of the New Testament in Greek. They are not “autographs” or the original letters or gospels written by the author themselves but exact copies of the originals. Hundreds of them have been discovered all through out history even until now.

These are the Greek text of John 3:15. The first one was probably the basis of the NIV text while the other was the basis of the KJV text. I highlighted the greek phase which was the equivalent of “should not perish, but”

1881 Westcott-Hort New Testament:

ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ἐν αὐτῷ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

1550 Stephanus New Testament

ινα πας ο πιστευων εις αυτον μη αποληται αλλ εχη ζωην αιωνιον

So, which should we follow?

Well, the Latin Vulgate, the one succeded by the KJV, seems to have translated John 3:15 the same as in KJV. Here is the Latin Vulgate translation. I highlighted again the phrase “should not perish, but” so would be able to see clearly:

Nova Vulgata

ut omnis qui credit in ipso non pereat sed habeat vitam aeternam

This means that the older translations contain the full version of John 3:15 while newer ones tend to translate it using the short version. We can conclude then that John 3:16, the most famous verse in the entire Evangelical world, was grounded in the context of John 3:14. So by making sense of John 3:14 first, we will be able to get a good grasp of what John 3:16 was all about.

Let us try that by using John 3:14-15 to aid our exposition of John 3:16.


How did I make sense of John 3:16?

John 3:16 contains five (5) verb actions, five (5) noun subjects and four (4) adjective modifiers – that’s what I call a very complex sentence!

In order to narrow down the exposition, I would need to figure out which of the five nouns are the (1) main subject and the (2) direct object. By the way, the main subject does the main action verb while the direct object receives it. I would also need to know which of the five verbs is the main action verb (V) connecting the two main nouns.

Now, I already figured out that God or “teos” was the main subject of John 3:16. The nominative case of the greek term “teos” gave it away.  When I focused on God as a subject and I was able to see that it was doing two main greek verbs. The first greek verb is “apape” which means “love”. I saw this in the first phrase of the verse which reads:

“For God (main subject) so loved (apape) the world….”

The second greek verb is “edoken” which means “give”. I saw this in the second phrase of the verse which reads:

“…that He (main subject) gave (edoken) his only begotten Son…”

The main subject of the first phrase “God or teos was replaced by a pronoun “He” acting as the main subject of the second phrase of the verse.

So which of these two verbs is the main verb of the main subject “God or teos”?

Some would be quick to conclude that love or “agape” is the main verb of the verse but my study showed me otherwise. Actually, It was John 3:14-15 which helped me figure out that the main verb was not love but rather give or “edokon”.


Previously I mentioned that there is a parallel connection between John 3:14 and John 3:16. So I checked out the main verb of John 3:14 and found out that there is only one verb. This verb in greek is “upso” which means “to lift” in English. “Upso” was used John to make a parallelism between Moses “lifting” of the serpent with the Father “lifting” of the his Son. The action of the “upso” connotes a subject (Moses and the Father) using an object (serpent, his Son) as an instrument. And since the action of “edeko” connotes also a subject (the Father) using an object (his Son) as an instrument, we can be certain that the main greek verb of John 3:16 is “give” rather than “love”.

So if “give” was the main verb of John 3:16, what was its relationship with the verb “love”?

The first phrase “For God so loved the world”, although it is a secondary verb when compared to the overall context of John 3:14-16, it marked a very important emphasis on John 3:16. This is why, I believe, John placed it in front of this sentence. It seems he intentional did this to show that while the “giving of God’s son” was the instrumental to the salvation of creation, it was the “loving of God’s creation” that caused it. Because of this, John made it clear that the receiver of the both actions, love and give, was the world or “cosmos” in greek.

Therefore, we have now a complete map of John 3:16: The Father is the main subject, “give” is the main verb (effect), “love” is the secondary verb (cause), “the world” is the direct object (receiver of both “give” and “love”),  “his Son” is the indirect or instrumental object (the one given (effect) because of love (cause)).

This can be shown clearly by re-translating the first phrase to:

“This is how (greatly) God loved his entire creation: He gave his one and only Son…”

Moving on the next phrase, I saw that it speaks of “that whosoever believes in him”. I could clearly see here that the noun “whosoever” pertains to the ones in the world, cosmos, or creation. It means anyone of them who will believe. “Believe” then is the main verb here so it is certain that it was the “whosoever” doing the believing.

But what is the object of this verb? Who is the noun being believed at?

Some would easily assume that it’s the “Son” or “Jesus” because he was the one sent by the father. However, examining closely the relationship established by the previous phrase, the main subject was “the Father” and not “the Son”. The “Son” was only the intrumental object while the “world” was the direct object. So if the main subject will be maintained, then the receiver of the belief should be “the Father” and not “the Son”. Therefore, the direct object “in Him” means “in the Father who gave the Son”.

To show this explicitly, the phrase can be re-translated as:

“God did it so that by believing in Him (which means the giving of His own Son because of His love for the world) no one will perish, instead anyone can live eternally!”

Finally, the entire John 3:16 has been re-translated as:

“This is how God loved his entire creation: He gave his one and only Son. He did it so by believing in Him no one will perish, instead anyone can live eternally!”

Finally, what does this implicate?

In John 3:14, Moses lifting up the serpent was an Old testament story used by the John, the author of this book, as a metaphor of the Father sending his own Son (Yeshua) for the salvation of world.

John’s metaphor, being a central story in Numbers 21, was so concrete during his time that Nicodemus himself, even any Jew who would read John’s gospel, would be able to understand its connectedness in terms of meaning and context. And because it was a story from their own Jewish history, written in Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, the implication of believing, perishing and having life was very very real to them.

This realness. This concreteness of the metaphor, I’m afraid, has been lost in translation, mainly because our modern imagination often fails to a connection with the Jewishness of the context and mind-set. Now, in order for us to jump over this hurdle, I created a concrete story Filipino that would help us make sense of the Jewish metaphor used by John. After reading the story, I would present to you my tagalog translation of John 3:16 hoping you would be able to connect it with story.

Naglabas ang gobyerno ng Dubai ng isang batas na ipinagbabawal ang pagamit ng pekeng working visa upang makapagtrabaho sa kanilang bansa. Ikukulong nila ang sinomang mahuhuli at hindi nila hahayaang makabalik sa sariling bansa. Gagawin nila ito upang magsilbing babala sa lahat ng taong susuway sa batas.

Ganun pa man, may isang grupo ng mga Filipino OFW ang tinutugis ng mga awtoridad ng Dubai dahil illegal na pumasok sa bansa gamit ang mga pekeng working visa. Ngunit sa halip na sumuko, nagtago pa ang ito upang umiwas sa mga awtoridad. Dahil dito, umapila ang gobyerno ng Filipinas sa Dubai na, kung maari, bigyan ang embahada ng Filipinas sa Dubai ng kapangyarihan na gawaran ng kapatawaran ang sinomang lalapit sa kanilang opisina. Pinakiusapan nila ang gobyerno ng Dubai na payagan makauwi sa Filipinas ang lahat ng lalapit dito at boluntaryong isusuko ang mga ito sa awtoridad ng Dubai.

Pinayagan naman ito ng gobyerno ng Dubai kaya’t naglabas ng announcement sa TV, radio at newpaper ang embahada ng Filipinas sa Dubai. Personal na ipinahayag ng ambasador ng Filipinas sa mga nagtatagong OFW na mapahamak silang lalo kung hindi sila susuko sa mga awtoridad. Ipinangako nito na kung boluntaryo silang susuko, papayagan silang makauwi sa Filipinas ng buhay at ligtas.

May ibang mga Filipino ang natakot sa banta ng kapamakan kaya’t nagpunta agad sila sa opisina ng ambasador at nuon din, sinuko sila sa awtoridad at pinauwi sa Filipinas ng buhay at ligtas. May iba naman ang nagmatigas sa kabila ng banta ng kapamakan kaya’t imbis na magtiwala sa pangako ng ambasador, pinagdudahan pa nila ito na nagpapagamit lamang sa gobyerno ng Dubai. Dahil dito, marami sa kanila ang hinuli at kinulong. Ang iba pa nga, aksidenteng napatay dahil nanlaban. Hindi na sila pinauwi sa Filipinas sa halip, binilanggo pa sa kanilang bansa.

 Finally, here is my tagalog translation of John 3:16:

Ganito (katindi) inibig ng Dios ang sanlibutan: Ibigay Niya ang kanyang kaisang-isang anak. Ginawa Niya ito upang kung sinoman ang sasampalataya sa Kanya, hindi mapapahamak, manapay bubuhayin Niya magpakailan man.

Inyo Kay Kristo,

Lance Filio

Verse Catalyst:

When I bought my own Interlinear Greek Bible, the first NT books I read were the ones written by John. I probably made a conscious decision to do so because it were also the books I first read during my formative Christian years. However, my reading of these books in Greek was quite different from reading in English or Tagalog. I noticed that in Greek, John wrote in perfect symmetry and rhythmic cadance like the ones used in beautiful poetries. Because of this, I realized that John was not just a pastor, a disciple, or an apostle but more so, a poet – a wordsmith using words carefully and intentionally.

So I searched for his frequently used words and I came across a word he often used. That word is the greek term “ginosko”.  This term was prominently mentioned in all of his book that if one would make a keyword search of the word “know” (english equivalent of gnosko) in the books of John, that person would notice that he used it several times over in every chapter of the book. 

To further expound my learnings, I will be focusing first on a single verse then probably make some connections on other verses to illustrate the point. The verse is in 1 John 2:3:

Verse Focus:

και εν τουτω γινωσκομεν οτι εγνωκαμεν αυτον εαν τας εντολας αυτου τηρωμεν (Koine Greek)

kai en toutō ginōskomen oti egnōkamen auton ean tas entolas autou tērōmen (Greek Transliterated)

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. (KJV)

Sa ganitong paraan, nalalaman natin na nakikilala natin siya kapag sinusunod natin ang kaniyang mga utos. (Ang Tagalog Biblia)

Verse Form:

Both greek terms, “ginoskomen” and “egnokamen”, are active in voice and indicative in mood. However, the former is in its present tense while the latter is in perfect tense. Now, a present tense in greek can be either translated in english as “know” or “are knowing” depending if it’s used for undefined or continuous action. While perfect tense are completed action with continuous implication and usually translated as “have known”.  

Moreover, both terms are also third in person and plural in numbers. This would explain the use of pronoun “we” in the sentence.

Verse Meaning:

Ginosko. This word has a very robust and dynamic meaning in greek that when translated to english, its meaning becomes flat and static. Its equivalent english word, “to know”, connotes a mental acknowledgement of a fact. It’s often used as a kind of knowing that can only be learned through observation, computation and polarization or thing which can be possessed by scientific and technological skills and disciplines.

But “ginosko” means more than just a acquisition of knowledge or a mental assent to a thing. John used the word to connote a kind of knowing that can only be understood in a context of relationship. He used it to describe a certain relatedness or connectedness between the Father (Elohim Adonai) to his Son (Yeshua), and the Rabbi (Jesus) to his disciples. (John and etc) John 10:14-15 beautifully illustrate this:

I am (Jesus) the good shepherd; I (ginosko) my sheep and my sheep (ginosko) me— just as the Father (ginosko) me and I (ginosko) the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

A person possessed with this kind of ginosko, as illustrated in this verse, is willing to lay down his/her own life. This is the same kind of action which a friend would do for his beloved friend, as described in this verse in John 15:14:  “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Therefore, consistent with usage of John, “ginosko” means more of an initimate kind of knowing prevalent in close relationship like friendship (love between friends) or agape (love for God).

Verse Ekpotamou:

Now, given this kind of meaning, the closes equivalent of “ginosko” in Tagalog is “kilala”. But since Filipinos are highly relational people, we ascribe certain degrees of closeness to a person. Whenever we are asked to describe our relationship to acquitances, we say: “Kilala ko siya pero di naman ganung kakilala.” While this will be difficult for any foreigner to understand, we would never have any problem discerning the relationship. Any Filipinos would conclude: “Ah, di sila pa close.”

Now, in order for us to emphasize a superlative kind of closeness, we use “Inuulit-ulit” as a typical grammatical device to describe a high level of intimacy. So whenever asked to describe our relationship to close friends and family, we say: “Hay naku, kilalang-kilala ko siya noh.” This expresses a kind of knowing from the inside-out. No secrets. Always open. Never apart. This is why “kilala” as verb can never take an “thing” for its noun because “kilala” will always pertain to a “person. A person can never make “kilala” something which cannot make “kilala” back because it has to run both ways which can only be ascribe to relating with a person.

So how then Filipinos describe a kind of knowing with an object, place, idea, living or unliving things? We use the word “alam”. This pertains to things we acknowledge as a fact or something we give mental ascent to. It can never be used to a person or being (God) because it’s impersonal and void of relationship. “Alam” connotes a kind of knowing often ascribed to knowledge. And as mentioned a while ago, this is not the kind of knowing, I believe, John meant when he used it in his writings.

I’m happy to say that the Ang Tagalog Biblia traslation was quite accurate. It translated “ginoskomen” as “nalalaman”. The root word of “nalalaman” is “alam” which perfectly connotes a kind of knowing an
“idea” or a statement of fact (e.g. we know that the skie is blue = alam nating bughaw ang langit) However, I would like to comment on the aspect of the verb since “nalalaman” is continuous and while the tense of “ginoskomen” is present, the meaning suggests an undefined action.  This is why “know” and not “are knowing” was used when it was translated to English. So, I submit then that in Tagalog, we use “alam” instead of the conjugated verb “nalalaman” to reflect this kind of meaning.

As for the “egnokomen”, Ang Tagalog Biblia translation was also accurate. It was translated as “nakikilala”. However, I would prefer to make implicit the superlative quality of “knowing” which can be translated as “kilalang-kilala”. And since this word in itself connotes a kind of action, like the perfect aspect, which is already completed and has on-going implication, I submit that we use exactly the same form and not conjugate it anymore. 

This then would result to a translation:

Dahil dito, alam (ginoskomen) ninyong kilalang-kilala (egnokomen) nyo Siya kapag sinusundan ninyo ang utos Niya.

By the way, I did not use strict word ordering here because it was not my intention to do so.

En Xristos,

Lance Filio

Please read it through until the end. While reading, ask yourself this: “Who is the real prodigal in the story?”

You’ll be surprise that the story was meant to have a twist in the end. This unexpected turn of the story is what I’m trying to make obvious in my own version of the story.

Here it is:

May isang ebanghelikong obispo ang may dalawang anak na lalaki. Minsan, kinausap siya ng kanyang bunsong anak na nagsabi:

“Tay, kasama ko po ngayon ang aking Katolikong nobya at nagdadalang-tao po siya. Kailangan na ko pong kayong iwanan ni Kuya, pati na rin ang kapilya at magpunta sa probinsya. Duon ikakasal kami sa kanilang parokya at duon na rin nanirahan kasama ng kanyang pamilya.”

Dahil dito, walang nagawa ang ama kundi basbasan na lamang ang bunsong anak kasama ng nobya. At mula nuon nabuhay itong bunsong anak kasama ang asawa at sanggol duon sa probinsya na malayo sa ama.

Hindi naging maganda ang buhay ng bunsong anak sa bagong tinitirahan. Madalas bagyuin at salantain ng malalakas na hangin at ulan ang napilit nitong lugar. Isang gabi, muling dumating ang napakalakas na bagyo. Lumubog sa tubig ang buong nayon kaya’t napilitang mag-evacuate ang bunsong anak sa pinakamalapit na eskuwelahan kasama ang kanyang mag-ina. Hindi naging madali ang buhay nito sa evacuation center dahil naging natumal ang dating ng tulong at pagkain kaya’t marami ang nakakasakit at nagugutom. Muntik pang mag-agaw buhay ang sanggol nito dahil hindi agad malapatan ng lunas.

Dahil dito, napaamin ang bunsong anak na nagkamali siya sa piniling buhay at nasabi sa kanyang sarili na mabuti pa sa bahay kasama ng kanyang ama lagi siyang ligtas sa piling nya.

“Babalikan ko ang aking ama” ang sabi ng bunsong anak.

“Sasabihin ko na nagkamali ako laban sa Dios at sa kanya. At kahit hindi na niya ako ituring na isang anak, naninirahan pa rin ako malapit sa kanya.”

Mula nuon, isinakay ng bunsong anak ang kanyang mag-ina sa barko, iniwan ang probinya at pinuntahan ang kanyang ama.

May Versper service nuon nang dumating sa kapilya ang bunsong anak habang nagsasalita ang obispo sa pulpito sa harap ng kanyang kongregasyon . Papalapit pa lamang ang bunsong anak sa gate ng natanaw siya ng kanyang ama na tumigil sa pagsasalita at tumakbong sinalubong ang bunsong anak. Iniyakap ng ama ang bunsong anak kasama ng dalang asawa at sanggol.

Nagsalita ang bunsong anak:

“Tay, nagkamali ako laban sa Dios at sa’yo. Hindi na ako karapat-dapat na tawagin pa na inyong anak.”

Pinigil ng ama ang anumang sasabihin ng bunsong anak at tinawag ang buong kapatiran upang ibahagi sa ang kagalakan sa pag-uwi ng bunsong anak.

“Dali”, ang sabi ng ama, “magpaluto tayo ng masasarap na pagkain at magpatawag tayo ng gawain para sa buong kongregasyon. Magpatugtog tayo ng masasayang awitin at magpalaro tayo sa mga bata at matatanda. Kumain tayo at magsaya. Sapagkat lumisan ang anak kong ito ngunit ngayon’y nagbalik. Muntik na siyang mamatay at ngayon, siya’y buhay!”

Pauwi galing sa seminaryo ang panganay na anak ng marinig niya ang kasiyahan sa loob ng kapilya. Nakasalubong niya ang ilan sa mga miyembro at nagtanong siya kung ano ang nagyayari.

“Bumalik na ang bunso mong kapatid.” ang sabi ng isang miyembro.

“Mayroon tayong congregational fellowship ngayon para maikiisa sa kagalakan ng iyong ama sapagkat ngayon, ligtas na ang inyong kapatid.”

Nagtampo ang panganay na anak at hindi umuwi sa kanilang bahay. Napansin ito ng ama kaya’t pinuntahan siya nito upang suyuin. Ngunit imbis na sumama sa kanya pauwi, sinumbatan pa siya nito at nagsabi:

“Buong buhay ko sinunod ko ang gusto nyo. Sinamahan ko kayo sa lahat ng gawin dyan sa kapilya. At kahit hindi ko kayo iniwan ni minsan, hindi nyo man lang naisip na ipagmalaki ako sa inyong mga kaibigan. Pero ngayon, umuwi lang ang magaling ninyong anak na tumalikod sa lahat ng ating sinasampalatayan, heto at ipinatawag nyo pa ng gawain kasama ang buong kapilya.”

Lumapit ang ama sa panganay na anak at nagsabi:

“Mahal kong anak, sa buong buhay mo na nakasama ako sigurado akong kilalang-kilala mo na ako. Alam na alam mo sa gugustuhin kong ipagdiwang nating dalawa ang pagdating ng iyong bunsong kapatid sapagkat sa kabila ng lahat ng nangyari, nagbalik ang iyong kapatid. Muntik na siyang mawala at ngayon, siya’y natagpuan. Muntik na siyang mamatay at ngayon, siya’y buhay!

Yes. The prodigal son was the oldest son and not the youngest. The attitude of the oldest towards the youngest was the unexpected turn of events considering that the father was supposedly closes to him. The father was actually expecting the oldest to feel the same kind of joy he felt for the return of this lost family member yet the oldest showed the an opposite response – he resented his own brother and felt betrayed by his own father.

To whom did Jesus tell this story for during his time? He aims this story towards every Pharisees who questions his acceptance of the sinners like prostitutes, tax collectors and Gentiles (even Romans). Jesus was charging them of not really knowing the God whom they serve because if they really know this God, they would share His joy in accepting the sinner.

That’s the point then and that’s still the point now.

This is a subject study about parables. 

I’ve heard this several times from contemporary NT scholars, preachers and philosophers that a helpful way of understanding a parable is by looking at it through its original first-century Jewish context then comparing it side-by-side to our current contemporary context. Its message then becomes, as often effectively illustrated through parables, potent call of action from its hearers. I was able to undestand from them that parables are not just earthly stories with heavenly meanings but rather plain stories with radical implications.

To illustrate this, I present to you my Tagalog version of the Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10:25-37). This is, by the way, not to imply that the current translations are incorrect. What I’m trying to do here is to illustrate by way showing a plain tagalog contemporary translation in order to highlight the radical implication.

Lumapit ang isang miyembro sa kanyang pastor at nagtanong: “Pastor, paano ako magiging isang mabuting Kristiyano?”

Sumagot ang pastor at nagsabi: “Ano bang natutunan mo sa Bible Study?

“Mamahalin ang inyong kapwa gaya ng sa sarili”, mayabang na sagot ng miyembro.

“Tama ka!” ang sagot ng Pastor, “Gawin mo iyan at mapapabuti ka.”

Pero parang di nasiyahan ang miyembro sa narinig na sagot mula sa pastor kaya nagtanong pa siya ulit: “Pastor, sino sa aking mga kapwa?”

At sumagot ang pastor sa pamamagitan ng isang kuwento:

“May isang sales lady ang nagaabang ng masasakyan papunta sa kanyang pinagtatrabahuan dyan sa SM MOA nang biglang tinambangan siya ng mga batang adik sa Pasay. At dahil sa nanlaban, aksidenteng nasaksak ang babae nang pwersahang hablutin ang bag sa kanyang mga kamay. Walang nagawa ang babae kundi ang humiga sa madilim na eskenita, agaw-buhay na naghintay sa sinomang dadaan at tutulong.

Nagkataon naman na may simba nuon dyan sa Sta. Rita kaya’y may isang Katolikong deboto ang dumaan sa eskenita ngunit ng dahil sa takot, minabuti niyang dumaan sa Airport road upang maiwasan ang mapasali sa gulo ng babaeng duguan.

Maya-maya, may isang diakonesang taga-Unida na dapat din dadaan sa eskenita ngunit dahil napansin niyang ang daming usisero, alam niya agad na may gulo kaya’y umiwas siyang dumaan dito at mahuhuli na rin siya sa B.S dyan sa Sitio.

Buti na lang may isang muslim na taga dyan sa G.G. Cruz na papunta sana sa kanyang puwesto ng paninda dyan sa labasan ngunit nung napansin niya ang duguan babae, nahabag siya rito at isinakay niya ito sa taxi. Dinala niya ang babae sa Protacio hospital at sinundan hanggang emergency room. Nagbilin pa siya sa on-duty nurse na kung kakailanging operahan ang babae, babalikan ang kanyang pwesto para kunin lang ang kita nung araw na iyo para lamang may pang-abono.”

“Sino sa tatlong ito ang sa tingin mong naging mabuting kapwa sa sales lady na tinambangan ng mga adik?” tanong ng pastor.

“Ang taong nagmalasakit sa babae”, sagot ng miyembro.

Ang sabi ng pastor: “Ganun din ang iyong gawin.”

I could imagine anyone in Baclaran who will read or hear this story complaining: “Huwhat? Mayroon bang mabuting Muslim sa G.G. Cruz? Kalokohan yan!”

Well, that proves the point. This was the expected reaction that a story like this would solicit when I was spoken by Jesus during his time. Calling a samaritan good then was unimaginable just as associating a Muslim now as someone virtuous. The same will be true to us when we hear this version of the story. We would just dismiss it as “scandalous”.

The story of the Samaritan reminds us that by asking “who to love” reveals that our intention was not really “to love”. This would implicate loving everyone regardless of race, background and religion affiliation. And yes, that would mean loving a Muslim.

Verse Catalyst: I just read my dad’s, our pastor, devotion email blast on the topic of praying without ceasing. Quoting him directly, he wrote: “When you pray without ceasing for something it means the prayer must be continuing from the moment it began.  It does not mean spending your whole life praying but CONTINUING to pray for that something. ”
This led me to fully explore the meaning of this verse (1 Thes 5:17) in order to discover whether his observations are accurate and to properly apply the Tagalog language from the greek text. 
Verse Focus: (I Thes 5:17)                      

                 ἀδιαλείπτως    προσεύχεσθε, 
                     Unceasingly          Pray

Verse Form:   Adialeiptōs (Unceasing) is an adverb modifying another word which in this case a verb, proseuchesthe (pray). And since it is an adverb, it follows the person and number of the verb it modifies which is 2nd Person and Plural.   The verb mood proseuchesthe (pray) is imperative. The person it implies is “You all” or in plain english, just the word, “You”. The verb tense is present which can imply either undefined or continuous action while the voice is middle which is often translated as active in meaning.   The word order is reversed which why when translated in English, the subject has to be the first in the order so it was translated in NKJV as “Pray without ceasing”.  
Verse Meaning   The verse before (v.16)  and the verse after (v.18) reveals consistency in the form and use.  

πάντοτε χαίρετε,
always rejoice  

ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε,
unceasing    pray

ἐν παντὶ  εὐχαριστεῖτε·
in everything thanks  

I sensed some poetry here. I noticed a consistency in the word order which reminds me of “Filipino Tula” which creativity puts rhyme at the end of each line. I observed that the last word (in greek form, of course)on each of the verses has the same ending (τε). I believe it could imply then that the meaning for each of the verses may as well be the same since the adverbs (always, unceasing, in everything) connote a meaning that is essentially the same – continuous or on-going action which does not necessary mean non-stop from start to finish.  
I observed same thing when Paul used the same word, (adialeiptōs), on all of his letters:  

Romans 1:9   For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the Good News of his Son, how (adialeiptōs) I make mention of you always in my prayers,  

1 Thessalonians 1:3   …remembering (adialeiptōs) your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father.  

1 Thessalonians 2:13   For this cause we also thank God (adialeiptōs), that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.  

Verse Interpretation   I agree with the observation made by our Pastor that the “unceasing” does not necessarily mean “non-stop” but rather as a continuous or on-going activity being conducted with regularity. (e.g. praying, thanking, remembering) I also agree with his interpretation that the description “unceasing” pertains not on the manner of the prayer itself (which would mean non-stop prayer) because in the imperative the subject could be implied. What do we need to unceasing pray about? When I studied Paul’s use of the word adialeiptōs, I noticed that he prayed about Thessalonica’s work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope which he happily remembers (1 Thes 1:3) and he also prayed about Thessalonica’s acceptance of their word as a message from God and not from men which made him very thankful (1 Thes 2:13). This made me believe that praying unceasingly means praying for the same subject regularly.
Verse Ekpotamaou Here is the Tagalog translation of 1 Thes 5:16-18 in the “Ang Biblia” version.

Mangagalak kayong lagi; (v.16)

Magsipanalangin kayong walang patid; (v.17) 

Sa lahat ng mga bagay ay magpasalamat kayo; (v.18) 

(Ang Biblia)

I compared the Ang Biblia version to the Original Greek Text and with the KJV version and noted some disparities.
1. Word order – Both the KJV and Ang Biblia version reversed the Greek word order. The first thing I noticed, when translated to Tagalog, was the reversed word order. It appears to me that the translator followed the English word order.

Rejoice evermore.  (v.16)

Pray without ceasing. (v.17)

In every thing give thanks: (v.18)

(King James Version)

I would imagine that since English grammar strictly follows a Subject-Verb-Object word order, the translator may have decided to put the verbs (Pray and Rejoice) first before the adverbs (evermore and without ceasing).
2. Word vocabulary of adialeiptōs – Both KJV and Ang Biblia used the same vocabulary to translate the adverb, adialeiptōs. It used a two-word equivalent which is the negated form of the verb “to cease” in order to connote a meaning close to the orginal greek text. In KJV, adialeiptōs translates to “without ceasing” and In Ang Biblia, adialeiptōs translates to “walang patid”.
3. Use of imperative – Unique to Ang Biblia only, I noticed that it made an over translation by making implied “You” explicit by using the “kayong” pronoun.
Making the closes Tagalog translation which could be made straight from the Greek text, I believe, should be consistent with the word order and word vocabulary. (as much as possible) And since the Tagalog language can peserve the meaning regardless of its word order, it has an advantage over English to make a more accurate translation. Also, since there are tagalog words which has no directly translation to English, it also has an advantage in choosing more appropriate word vocabulary.
With this said, Here is my Ekpotamou translation of the Greek text in 1 Thes 5:16-18

Lagi-lagi, magalak; (v.16)

Tuwi-tuwina, manalangin; (v.17)

sa lahat-lahat, magpasalamat (v.18)

En Xristos,