Re: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: Paul Zellmer (
Date: Tue May 06 1997 - 00:05:40 EDT

Andrew Kulikovsky wrote:
> Philoi,
> In Ephesian 5:18 we read:
> ...but instead be filled BY the Spirit.
> Most English translations translate EN PNEUMATI as "with the Spirit" as
> if the *content* of the filling is the Spirit but this is normally a
> function of the genitive is it not?
> I think "By the Spirit" is a better translation. This means that this
> verse is talking about allowing the Spirit to dominate our lives in
> thought and action. ie. we should display the fruit of the Spirit (cf.
> Gal. 5:22-23).
> What do others think?


I generally work with a seven-case system (Nominative,
Genitive-Ablative, Locative-Instrumental-Dative, Accusative, Vocative),
and under this system, EN normally calls for the Locative. (In a
five-case system, this would be the Dative, right?) There is discussion
in the literature that sees a "slurring," if you will, of the Locative
into the Instrumental with this preposition (cf. TDNT, "EN",
II.538-40). This occurs in the "personal dative," making this
discussion a mixing of the five- and seven-case systems.

In the TDNT article, the view most cases of EN + PNEUMA as a description
of what one *is filled with* rather than what *does the filling*,
leaning more toward the location than the agent. If this interpretation
is right, I think there would be less confusion in English translations
by using "with" rather than "by," since "by" could imply either the
filling "substance" or the agent.


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