Acts 20:7

From: John Oaklands (
Date: Sat Sep 14 1996 - 23:41:08 EDT

How are we to understand the perfect passive participle SYNHGMENWN in Acts
20:7? Does SYNHGMENOI in v. 8 have precisely the same time reference? To
determine the v.7 time reference does it matter whether Luke is the author
not? For example, if we take the view that he was the author, was he a
convert from diaspora Judaism or from Hellenism, i.e. a Gentile convert?
Then, which time reckoning might he be employing for the first day of the
week? If a Jew would it not be sunset reckoning? But if a Greek, is the
reckoning of the day from sunrise, as some suggest? On the other hand, if
Theophilus was a Roman might Luke then be using Roman time and was that from
midnight? Of these three options where would SYNHGMENWN fit best? What
would be it's meaning in each case?

For example, if Luke is using Jewish reckoning then no doubt he's talking
about Saturday night here (in our reckoning). That's how some of the
translations also have it. So would SYNHGMENWN mean then that when sunset
came and the first day of the week began, they had already met for the
breaking of bread?

On the other hand if Luke is using Greek reckoning then the reference here
would be to Sunday night. But then what would SYNHGMENWN refer to? If it
means that they were already in meeting when the first day dawned then did
they perhaps start out in the early hours of Saturday morning? Or is that
taking SYNHGMENWN too literally? It seems most unlikely that they would
have been meeting early Saturday morning and the whole 24 hours of the Greek
first day of the week.

Furthermore, we could reasonably expect that Luke might have been using
Roman time reckong for the first day, from midnight, if that is how they did
it. In that case the meeting would have been on Sunday night and
translations which have 'Sunday night' would be in order. But then how
would SYNHGMENWN need to be understood? If it means that they had already
been in meeting when the first day came in then they were there from some
time on Saturday night, all through the night and the day and the next night
until the early hours of Monday morning, which is pretty unthinkable. But
if that has to be ruled out, then why the perfect participle passive?

See my dilemma? May be some "BIG Greeks" can help me? Are there any
Hellenistic or classical Greek parallels that might help us here? I haven't
found anything quite the same in the NT, but of course there might be. At
least the literature seems to me to be confusing--though I could be wrong,
of course--and often theologically prejudiced and directed.


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