RE: Eph 1.18 Acc Abso

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Tue Jan 21 1997 - 13:18:36 EST


>Dale Wheeler on 20 Jan 1401 wrote:
>>Let me suggest that PEFWTISMENOUS is in fact an accusative absolute
>>in Eph 1:18. The two reasons I wouldn't construe this the way Carl
>>has above are: (1) the ptc is perfect, and my "feel" for this passage
>>tells me that it has to have happened BEFORE the time of the main
>>verb DWHi, which is Aorist, thus it cannot be another way of saying
>>the same thing as "God grant you a/the s/Spirit of wisdom..." My
>>suspicion is that if they were to be understood as the same thing,
>>then the ptc would have been aorist as well (cf., a similar situation
>>in Eph 3:17-18, "rooted and grounded"); (2) FWTIZW and FWS are in
>>Ephesians terms used to describe the new birth (cf., 5:8ff., cmp.,
>>3:9; John 3:18ff) and thus the enlightenment of new birth provides
>>the foundation for Paul's subsequent request that they mature in
>>their spiritual understanding of God's plan.
>Carl's response is well taken. The most obvious problem with Dale's
>position regarding time of the perferct participle is that its part of a
>hINA clause with the verb DWHi being subjunctive. PNEUMA is the
>direct object with TOUS OFQALMOUS being its appositive. Nothing
>could be clearer grammer. The perfect participle modifying this
>appositive is not circumstantial, it is attributive, "that God may
>give a spirit...eyes illumined...." See the discussion on the
>doctrine of illumination and this verse in John Owen's Works Vol.4
>pp.121ff, "SUNESIS PNEUMATIKH, The Causes, Ways, and Means of
>Understanding the Mind of God as Revealed in His Word, with
>Assurances Therein; and A Declaration of the Perspecuity of the
>Scriptures with the External Means of the Interpretation of them."
>(Johnstone & Hunter: London, 1678).


Pardon me if I missed something, but I can't figure out what bearing
on the ptc phrase the fact that its in a hINA clause has to do with
the issue of the syntax or the temporal relationship between DWHi and
PEFWTISMENOUS. And as I stated in my response to Carl, I still think
that the fact that the ptc is Perf is important (make sure you look
at Eph 3:17b-18), and I'm not the only one, as ATLincoln in Word
Comm on Eph says: "The perfect tense, with its sense of completed
action which has continuing results force, must then refer to the
illumination of conversion." p. 58 I wouldn't have said it that way,
ie., by stressing the sense of the perfect, per se, but his point
is nevertheless clear. He is also in agreement that "enlighten"
must refer to the new birth experience in Eph, the deliverance from
the darkness to the light, as I pointed out above as well.

As to your statement, "Nothing could be clearer grammer (I assume this
was a typo for "grammar").", I obviously disagree. In teaching the book
of Ephesian as a Greek Exegesis course virtually every year for the past
15 years, I've discovered that there are AT LEAST 6 different ways this
construction has been taken by GREEK commentators over the past 100+ years
(to mention a few):

1) Acc Abs: Eadie, Barth, Salmond, Hendrickson, Simpson, prob
Robt WordPict, Bengel (?); prob. KJV, RSV, Phillips, NRSV.

2) Substantival in Apposition to hUMIN (anticipating hUMAS of v 18b):
Robt WP (?), RSV ?, Phillips ?

3) Circumstantial of Result, with an anacoluthon of case to hUMIN:
Ellicott, Meyer, Alford (?), Westcott (?)

4) Circumstantial of Cause, with an anacoluthon of case to hUMIN:
Lincoln, prob Alford, prob Westcott, Robinson (?), NRSV (?)

5) Apposition to PNEUMA: Abbott, Bengel(?), BAGD (?); TEV, NIV, LB, JB,

6) Second Predicate to DWHi: Gaugler, versions for #4 (?)

Options 1 and 4 are very close in their sense of the meaning of the passage.
I'd also note that the bulk of Greek commentators HAVE NOT chosen option 5
or 6, though it appears that the modern translators have (except NRSV,
which adopts either 1 or 4)...I suspect because of the comments of BAGD.

BTW, if anyone is really interested in chasing this issue, esp., the Acc Abs
part of it, there are some marvelous references to older works which have
discussed this in detail throughout the history of Greek, in the commentaries
of Ellicott, Alford, and Eadie.

I think I'll follow Carl's example and abstain from the Absolute discussion...
for the time being... (-:


Dale M. Wheeler, Th.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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