Re: 1Co 1.18

Carlton L. Winbery (
Sun, 5 May 1996 14:21:58 +0400

>1Co 1.18a o logos gar o tou staurou TOIS men APOLLUMENOIS mwria estin,
>1Co 1.18b TOIS de SWZOMENOIS hmin dunamis theou estin.
>TOIS SWZOMENOIS is apparently a present passive dative masculine 1p plural
>participle from the Gk verb SWZW. One can reconstruct the present active
>sentence by common sense: God SWZei (present = "saves" or "is saving") some
>people. The "some people" is transformed into "those saved" or "being
>saved", depending on whether the present is understood as simple or
>continuous (some use progressive for continuous). The participial phrase is
>then put in the dative case, which brings in the idea of "to/for" those
>people. TOIS SWZOMENOIS ("to/for those being saved" OR "to/for those
>saved") is parallel to TOIS APPOLLUMENOIS ("to/for those being destroyed"
>OR "to/for those perished" OR "to/for those destroying themselves"). The
>form of TOIS APOLLUMENOIS is either passive or middle, entailing that
>either a. God APOLLUsin someone or b. someone APOLLUtai him/her-self.
>Question: for all I know, the -MENOIS is a middle/passive ending for
>present participles: if correct, then why can't SWZOMENOIS be construed as
>middle here implying "those saving themselves"? On the deeper philosophical
>level and connection with "working out one's salvation" in Phil, it would
>seem that dunamis/logos is in a believer and this is the life
>principle/power/energy/thing which allows the one "possessed" with it to
>"continually transform" themselves into "righteous" people. I'm not wanting
>to debate whether that is the case philosophically or theologically. I'm
>more interested in knowing if that is a LOGICAL explanation based on the
>ambiguity of the participial evidence. It may not be the best explanation,
>but it is an original thought with me (although I'm sure someone else has
>thought through it before as well).
Liddell & Scott gives the active APOLLUMI as to destroy, to kill. For the
middle they give the middle APOLLUMAI as to perish, to waste away. There
are a number of words that have a different referent for the different
voices. SWZW on the other hand in the passive is a true passive, i.e., to
be saved. Context has to tell whether it is passive or middle. In the
context of Col 1:18, I would say that SWZOMENOIS is passive. Keep in mind
the Hebrew bent to use the passive rather than use the name of God. Those
being saved (by God) refers to the belivers.

Carlton L. Winbery
Fogleman Professor of Religion
Louisiana College