RE: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: Raymond Chen (
Date: Wed May 07 1997 - 02:46:10 EDT


        I would agree with your initial assertion. The Spirit is not the content.
What we have here is an instrumental dative, according to BDF, Moulton-Turner,
and Moule -- while PLHROW generally takes the genitive, the accusative is
already encroaching on the genitive in the LXX (e.g., Ex 31:3) and Koine
(e.g., Phil 1:11; Rev 17:3). Also, in a number of places, where the genitive
is expected, instrumental dative is used. Therefore, while EN + dative after
PLHROW is rare, it is considered as an example of the instrumental dative
encroaching on the genitive with PLHROW, much like the accusatives.

        However, I don't know why Wallace finds it necessary to insert "by Christ."
I also could not locate Wallace's assertion on EN + dative after PLHROW in
BDF, Moulton-Turner, or Moule. On the other hand, while EN + dative after
PLHROW may not indicate content, I don't know if the NT has other examples of
EN + dative after PLHROW (maybe there are sufficient amount of them in the
LXX. My hunch is that there are very few if any in the GNT. If I have
gramcord, I would do a search.)

        Finally, let me repeat F. F. Bruce's observation in the footnote of his
commentary: "PLHROUSQE EN PNEUMATI -- The Holy Spirit is 'at once the Inspirer
and the Inspiration,' says J. A. Robinson (Ephesians, pp. 203-204); he
discusses the force of the preposition EN (whether it denotes the
instrumentality or the sphere) and finds support for taking it to denote
instrumentality (or agency) in 1 Cor 12:3, 13; Rom 15:16. He takes the
interpretation to be 'Let your fulness be that which comes through the Holy
Spirit,' but concludes that the rendering 'Be filled with the Spirit,' while
'not strictly accurate, suffices to bring out the general sense of the
passage.' "

Raymond Chen
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

From: Andrew Kulikovsky
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 1997 8:11 PM
To: 'Edgar Krentz'
Cc: ''
Subject: RE: EN + dative in Eph 5:18


Your interpretation / translation presents the idea that the Spirit is
the *content* of the filling which is what I objected to in my original
post on grammatical grounds.

It is all very well and good to appeal to historical background but not
at the expense of disregarding the semantics of the grammar. The grammar
can tell you what the possible meanings are, and then you look at the
historical and grammatical context to choose the most sensible meaning.
But your interpretation is ruled out by the extreme improbability or
impossibility of EN+dative indicating the *content* of filling.

Eric Weiss posted a quote from Wallace's grammar regarding the
interpretation of this passage. No-one has yet made any comment or
responded at all to Wallace's comments so does anyone out there have any
objections to his interpretation?

Andrew S. Kulikovsky B.App.Sc(Hons) MACS
Software Engineer
CelsiusTech Australia
Module 6 Endeavor House
Fouth Ave, Technology Park
Adelaide, Australia
Ph: +618 8343 3837
Fax: +618 8343 3777

> ----------
> From: Edgar Krentz
> Sent: Tuesday, 6 May 1997 10:57 PM
> To: Andrew Kulikovsky
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: EN + dative in Eph 5:18
> >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 read this in Ephesians as the alternative to MH MEQUSKESQE OINWi,
> i.e.
> speech that comes from spirit possession (to be ENQOUS) is not to be
> confused with speech or action that comes from being drunk. So I
> sometimes
> playfully translate
> "And don't get drunk with wine, in which there is dissoluteness, but
> 'tank
> up' on Spirit, as you ..." Dionysiac inspiration was a part of the
> environment, as some of the art related to Dionysos makes clear.
> get there name from the same stem as MANIA and MANTIKOS.
> The inspired song of the Ephesian community must be clearly Spirit
> inspired
> (PNEUMATIKOS), not wine induced.
> Edgar Krentz, Prof. of New Testament
> Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
> CHICAGO, IL 60615
> Tel: [773] 256-0752; (H) [773] 947-8105
> Reply to: (office)
> or (home)

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