Re: Some clarity on DIA

Date: Fri Mar 21 1997 - 10:30:51 EST

>I'd like to get some input on the meaning of the Greek DIA. Most
>of the time it means "through" or "by" or something similar, but
>it sometimes has other meanings. How does one distinguish among
>the various meanings to understand a particular passage when the
>context provides an apparently uncertain guide?
>For example, in Romans 1:1, 2, God is said to give his gospel
>THROUGH his prophets; in 1: 4, 5, grace and apostleship are
>received THROUGH Christ; in 2:16, God judges THROUGH Christ.
>Similarly, in Hebrews 1:2, God makes the world THROUGH his Son;
>in Colossians 1:16, all things were created THROUGH the Son;
>in John 1:3, all things were made THROUGH the Word; etc., so
>that Christ is presented as the mediator of creation.
>However, in Romans 11:36 and Hebrews 2:10, the same word is used
>of God, who can in no sense be called a mediator of creation, but
>rather, the originator:
>Since DIA seems to be used in two rather different senses, both
>in the sense of origination and in the sense of mediation, how do
>I make sense of this?

>Alan Feuerbacher

Dear Alan,

The following analysis by Winer makes sense to me and did not find his comments
to be outdated, although old. Here is his exposition that directly addresses the
good question you posed.

Wes Williams

A Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament pp. 378, 379

   From this local through, in Greek as in all languages, the transition
   is easy to the instrument (whether animate or inanimate), as that
   *through* which the effect passes (cf. in paticular 1 Pet 1:7), that
   which intervenes between the volition and the deed. <snip multitude
   of examples such as "by word of mouth, by letter, by his power, etc.>
   Thus in particular in the expression DIA IHSOU CRISTOU of the
   (mediatorial) agency of Christ in all its manifestations, Rom 2:16;
   5:1; 2Cor 1:5, Gal 1:1; Eph 1:5; Phil 1:11; Tit 3:6 etc., (fn. 2) as
   also in DIA PNEUMATOS (hAGIOU) Rom 5:5; 1Cor 12:8; Eph 3:16. To this
   (instrumental) use may be referred likewise 2Tim 2:2 DIA POLLWN
   MARTURWN *intervenientibus multis testibus,* through the
   interposition i.e. here in the presence of many witnesses, Heb 7:9
   DIA ABRAAM KAI LEVI DEDEKATWTAI *through* Abraham (that is, in the
   person of Abraham as reresentative of the whole Israelite people,
   when Abraham was tithed Levi also was tithed). DIA but rarely
   indicates the _causi principalis_, (fn. 3)
   [[ footnote 2 p. 378 - This expression comes essentially under the
   same head when it is joined to praising, thanking, etc., Rom 1:8;
   7:25; 16:27; Col 3:17. Not merely the benefits for which thanks are
   offered are procured through Christ, but even the thanksgiving itself
   is offered (if so as to be acceptable to God) through Christ who
   lives with God and continues the work of mediation for his people.
   The Christian does not give thanks in his proper person, but through
   Christ, whom he regards as the mediator of his prayer as well of
   salvation. Phillipi on Rom 1:8 is unsatisfactory; Bengel on the same
   passage is better.
   footnote 3 - *The wrong done through me,* and *the wrong done by me,*
   may on the whole express quite the same thing; yet the wrongdoer is
   viewed in these expressions under two different aspects. Probably DIA
   is employed purposefully in Matt 26:24 TWi ANQRWPWi DI hOU hO hUIOS
   TOU ANQRWPOU PARADIDOTAI (the betrayer was an instrument, cf. Rom
   EGINETO, as the efficient cause was God himself (Acts 2:22; 15:12),
   cf. DIA CEIRWN 5:15; 14:3. That this more precise mode of expression
   is not observed everywhere and by all writers does not invalidate
   this exposition.]]
   (continued) 1Cor 1:9 (Gal 4:7 var.), in other words but rarely seems
   to be equivalent to hUPO or PARA; but even in such cases it does not
   designate the author as such, i.e. as the one *from* whom something
   proceeds, but rather as the person *through* whose effort, or
   kindness, etc. something accrues to one cf. Gal 1:1 (without
   specifying whether it flows *from* him directly or indirectly). (fn.
   1) We may add with Fr. (Rom 1:15): est autem hic usus ibi tantum
   admissus, ubi mullam sententiae ambiguitatem crearet; thus in Gal
   1:1, after the discriminating use of hUPO and DIA, DIA alone is
   employed in summing up, and employed too of God. Many passages,
   however, have been erroneously referred to this class: in John 1:3,
   17 the doctrine of the LOGOS justifies the *per* of mediate agency,
   cf. Origen in loc. (Tom. I. 108 Lommatzsch); in Rom 1:5 DIA hOU is
   explained from 15:15; Rom 11:36, owing to the prepositions EK and
   EIS, admits no other interpretation; on Gal 3:19 see my Comment; in
   Rom 5:2 nobody will be misled by Fr's. remarks; in Heb 2:3 Christ is
   viewed as commissioned by God to proclaim salvation; as to 1Pet 2:14
   see Steiger in loc. (fn. 2)
   [[footnote 1 page 379 - Nearly to the same effect is the remark of
   Bremi on Corn. Nep 10,1,4. Even conceded that DIA and hUPO are wholly
   identical, it would not follow that Gal 3:19 (NOMOS) DIATAGEIS DI
   AGGELWN represents the angels as *authors* of the Mosaic Law (as
   Schulthess persisted in asserting). To justify any departure from the
   plain meaning - *ordained through* angels - far other and more solid
   reasons must be assigned than those urged by Schulthess.
   footnote 2 - At first sight TINAS PARAGGELIAS EDWKAMEN hUMIN DIA TOU
   KURIOU IESOU 1Thess 4:2 appears strange. Bu the Apostle was not
   acting in his private capacity, but as moved by Christ, the charges
   he issued were properly charges given through Christ.

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