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The ancient text of Matthew 24:3 reads:

“Καθημένου δὲ αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους τῶν ἐλαιῶν προσῆλθον αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ κατ᾽ ἰδίαν λέγοντες· εἰπὲ ἡμῖν, πότε ταῦτα ἔσται καὶ τί τὸ σημεῖον τῆς σῆς παρουσίας καὶ συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.”

One modern Greek Bible translation has rendered the verse in the following way:

“Ενώ καθόταν στο Όρος των Ελαιών, οι μαθητές τον πλησίασαν ιδιαιτέρως, λέγοντας: «Πες μας, πότε θα γίνουν αυτά, και ποιο θα είναι το σημείο της παρουσίας σου και της τελικής περιόδου του συστήματος πραγμάτων.»”

Is the modern translation correct when it renders the word συντέλεια with the phrase “final period” (τελική περίοδος)?

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Good question!

Syntéleia is formed from the verb syn-teléō, which originally meant "to complete something". It was the verb for placing the final stone on a building, making the finishing touches on an artwork, or paying off the last part of a loan.

Because of this last meaning, it also started to mean "to contribute to a fund", even if you weren't the one to "finish" it. So if you look up syntéleia in a dictionary, the first meaning you'll find is "a tax to be paid". And then the verb also started to mean "to be in a certain tax bracket", so the second meaning you'll find for syntéleia is "tax bracket".

But in this case, we're interested in the original meaning: "completion". Syntéleia is the moment of completion when everything finally falls into place. In the Vulgate it's rendered as consummātio, "consummation", which is a very literal translation (con~syn, summa~télos).

P.S. You'll notice the same root in syntéleia and the modern telikěs: the word télos originally meant "end", though its meaning weakened a lot over time.

  • Thank you. It seems to me that the translation of the word συντέλεια as “final period” (τελική περίοδος) is not correct at Mt 24:3, because the context in Matthew chapter 24 speaks about Christ’s coming and the end (τέλος, mentioned at Mt 24:14), which are short events rather than long periods of time. – Alexander Feb 26 at 14:28

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