Re: [Intro Greek]: Happy Holidays!!

Kevin Paszalek (
Fri, 20 Dec 1996 20:58:09 +0600

I'm wrestling with John 1:15: "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes
after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'" (NIV)
Other translations:
NASB: JOH 1:15 John *bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying,
"This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than
I, for He existed before me.'"
KJV: "John bore witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of
whom I spoke, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was
before me."
I'm specifically wrestling with the meaning of EMPROSTHEN here.
According to BAG and most expositors the idea seems to be that of rank.
Apparently, this was a common usage in extrabiblical literature and in the
LXX. However, if it means rank here, this is the only example of that
meaning out of 45 occurrences in the NT. Alford takes it in the sense of
"preferred before me" citing Plato and Demosthenes (in loc). The
alternative is to take this in the normal sense and translate: "The one who
came after me has come to be in my presence, because he was prior to me."
This actually makes sense, and avoids using the word with a meaning that is
foreign to all its other uses.
All of the commentators I have access to take EMPROSTHEN to mean
"superior." Only Bengel comes to my rescue: "This is the sense: He who was
behind me is now before my face, and has outstripped me, and left me behind

How strongly would any of you weight the usage of the extrabiblical
literature in this case?

Kevin Paszalek
Sr. Pastor, Southway Community Church, Houston, TX