Good Will Toward Men

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. —Linus

Who doesn't remember Linus telling Charlie Brown about the true reason for Christmas? Or who hasn't received a Hallmark card quoting Luke's "good will toward men"?
   Interestingly enough, the King James translation was based on some not-your-best manuscripts. The Textus Receptus gives us a reading in the Greek that Jesus' birth would bring about a generic, worldwide peace for all men, the kind of peace that gives us warm fuzzies around Christmastime. Older manuscripts, however, which are considered more reliable, give us a different reading. In them, "goodwill" is what Greeksters call a genitive, modifying "men." This qualifies the peace the angels proclaimed to those of God's good will or those characterized by God's good pleasure. A literal reading would be thus:

Glory in the highest to God and on earth peace among men of [God's] goodwill.

Who might these be? Paul tells us who they are.

Having been justified therefore by faith, peace we have toward God through the Lord of us, Jesus Christ (Romans 5.1, literal)

Merry Christmas.

GospelPeter Smythe