Re: EPH 5:21

Philip L. Graber (
Thu, 2 May 1996 18:19:38 -0400 (EDT)

On Thu, 2 May 1996 wrote:

> I would certainly take the participle in Eph 5.21 as an imperatival participle.
> Note BDF 468:
> "(1) Paul is fond of continuing a construction begun with a finite verb by
> means of co-ordinated participles, sometimes in a long series. . . . (2)
> Related to this type of anacoluthon and probably arising from it is the
> peculiar use of a participle in place of a finite verb and without any
> connection to one, usually in a long series and in an imperatival sense."
> One of the examples BDF lists under (2) is Eph 5.21: they note, "It appears as
> if Paul considered the descriptive ptcp. to be the equivalent of the impera. .
> . . (hUPOTASSOMENOI in 5.21 is smoother, yet greatly detached from the finite
> verb and already approaching the imperatival usage; . . ."

This is most unsatisfactory. There are a cluster of imperatives starting
in 5.15. One must explain why 5.21 has a participle. There is clearly
some kind of "imperatival force," but I don't think this is very
informative. The interesting question is: Why is it a participle?

When I was a child, my mother, on different occasions, might say, "Set
the table!" or "Would you please set the table?" or "I would like you to
set the table." It is appropriate to say that each of these, in the
proper context, has "imperatival force." But the truly interesting
matter is why one is used instead of the others at any give time. They
do NOT mean the same thing, in the sense in which current functionalist
linguistic theories define meaning. If you translate each of these the
same way, you have certainly lost something in the translation, and not
just "sylistic" features.

What are we missing by translating imperatives and participles in the
same way?