Philemon 1:4

David Lim wrote: cwconrad wrote:Philemon wrote:4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε μνείαν σου ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, 5 ἀκούων σου τὴν ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν ἣν ἔχεις πρὸς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, 6 ὅπως ἡ κοινωνία τῆς πίστεώς σου ἐνεργὴς γένηται ἐν ἐπιγνώσει παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ τοῦ ἐν ἡμῖν εἰς Χριστόν· 7 χαρὰν γὰρ πολλὴν ἔσχον καὶ παράκλησιν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀγάπῃ σου, ὅτι τὰ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἁγίων ἀναπέπαυται διὰ σοῦ, ἀδελφέ.

I see that nobody has yet responded to this. I’ll offer what may appear to be an unguarded opinion and allow those who can or will to go ahead and prove it wrong: I am not convinced that there’s a significant difference in NT Koine Greek, when there’s a substantive referring to a person or persons, between (1) a dative, (2) πρὸς with accusative, (3) εἰς with accusative. I know the mantra: “Choice implies difference” — but I think that the burden of demonstration of a difference between these three NT Koine Greek ways of expressing “to, towards, for, in association with” rests upon those who believe there is a difference. I rather suspect that usage of εἰς + acc. and ἐν + dat. when the object is a substantive referring to a person or persons is in many instances impossible or exceedingly difficult to distinguish.

I interpreted both to mean “for (for the reason of)”, and for the first instance I also think it depends on what the prepositional phrase is construed with; ακουω σου την αγαπην ην εχεις εις παντας τους αγιους και την πιστιν εχεις προς τον κυριον. As for the second instance, this is how I read it: δια τι εστιν παν αγαθον εν ημιν? εις χριστον παν αγαθον εν ημιν εστιν. Carl, did you mean to imply that the first instance should be construed with “την πιστιν”? Also, do you mean that “εν ημιν” is just the same as “εις ημας” here? I read it to mean “in us” and not “to/for us”.

Actually, in my earlier response, I wasn’t commenting on the text at hand at all, but rather making a general observation about the semantic equivalence of modifier phrases constructed with εἰς and πρὸς with the accusative and ἐν with the dative of a substantive indicating a person. In Philemon 5 above, I think that πρὸς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν and εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους both mean “directed toward [the Lord Jesus/all the saints]; I also think that there’s rarely any significant difference between εἰς τὸν Χριστόν and ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. And there’s no difference whatsoever between λέγει πρὸς αὐτόν and λέγει αὐτῷ.

I do not think that εἰς + acc. in these phrases will mean “for the reason of” — I would expect that if the acc. object of εἰς is a person or persons, one would use διὰ + acc. or ὑπὲρ + gen.

As for the text of Philemon 4-6, there’s quite a problem of sorting out the alternative ways of reading/understanding several of the words and construing the syntactic elements. I think that the NET Bible has an excellent note on these alternatives that need to be sorted out. I think that construing that final εἰς Χριστόν in verse 6 is especially difficult. Koine Greek often seems to use prepositional phrases in rather loose syntactic connection; I’d like to construe that phrase with ἐνεργὴς γένηται: “be efficacious in association with Christ” — simply because I would prefer to construe prepositional phrases adverbially. But I’m not really very confident of that way of putting this text together. I do think, however, that εἰς Χριστόν here could just as well be ἐν Χριστῷ without a difference of meaning. Statistics: Posted by cwconrad — April 3rd, 2012, 7:57 pm

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