The preceding post was a comprehension exercise, checking to see what meaning we get from the Heb. 1:3 translation wording “the word of his power.” I agree with each person who mentioned that that wording sounds awkward in standard English. I don’t think that such awkward wordings should appear in Bible translations because they are not the way translation users normally speak or write. The awkwardness creates a difficulty not intended by the author of Hebrews, obscuring the intended meaning, and such obscurity is a form of inaccuracy. Inaccuracy can be created by any wording or form which prevents translation users from getting the meaning intended by an original author.
I agree, too, with those who said that “the word of his power” sounds like it is a word (or message) about his power. So what is the intended meaning of the original Greek phrase in question
τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ
It is “by his powerful word.” A number of English Bible translations get it right.
Remember that the Creator spoke the universe into existence. Obviously, it takes a powerful Creator to be able to do that. His word (or speaking) is powerful, as he is. This same Creator keeps the universe going by means of that same powerful word. What he says happens!
The Greek construction is, as others noted in the previous comments, a genitive. Genitives are often mistranslated into non-standard English forms. Far too many genitives are translated mechanically with the English preposition “of.” This is unfortunate, because such word-matching often obscures the meaning of the genitive which varies depending upon the semantic role that the genitive plays in each sentence and the context in which the genitive appears.
New Testament scholar and Greek professor, Mark Strauss, has written an important article on The Abused Genitive, a paper he presented at the 2001 annual meeting of the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society). It would do all Bible translation teams, including those translating to English, to read and digest Strauss’ paper well.
In his textbook Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, New Testament Greek scholar Dan Wallace describes the important kind of genitive which appears in Heb. 1:3 as an “attributive genitive.” It is attributive in that the genitive describes some characteristic of the noun it is modifying. On page 88 of his textbook Wallace includes Heb. 1:3 among the attributive genitives of the New Testament. English “of” is not normally used to describe the attributes of some noun. Instead, an English adjective is.
The proper way to translate τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ is not “the word of his power.” That inaccurately communicates the meaning that it is a word about his power. Instead, the proper translation is “his powerful word.” The genitive describes what kind of word the Father’s Son uses to uphold the universe. It is a powerful word, not a word of power.
If we use translation equivalents that are part of the standard syntax of a language, we can increase the accuracy of our Bible translations. Better Bibles do not use better, more natural English simply to make them easier to read, but, more importantly, to communicate God’s Word more accurately to people.