RE: EN + dative in Eph 5:18

From: Andrew Kulikovsky (
Date: Wed May 07 1997 - 20:56:24 EDT

Ken wrote:
> ----------
> From: kdlitwak
> Sent: Thursday, 8 May 1997 12:16 AM
> To: Carl W. Conrad
> Cc: Andrew Kulikovsky; 'Edgar Krentz'; ''
> Subject: Re: EN + dative in Eph 5:18
> Hmmm. I think I have some difficlty with arguing that an othewise
> unknown construction clearly has the force of X, particularly when it
> seems to me to break the context.
Does it really? I think you need to read the whole book of Ephesians
more closely.

> That is, Paul has said to not be
> drunk with wine. Certainly one can argue that OINWi has an
> instrumental
> force, but the parallel with the Spirit begs for what the drunk person
> is filled with. If OINWi is an instrument, with what is the drunk
> person full?
The verb here is MEQUSKESQE (be drunk) - it is not PLHROUSQE (be
filled/fulfilled) so the parallel (really its a contrast) is NOT between
being filled with wine and being filled with the Holy Spirit - that is
not what Paul is saying.

> If one is filled by means of the Holy Spirit, with what is
> one filled? The implied reader is surely to undestand "Don't be
> filled
> with wine. Instead be filled with an unknown by means of the Holy
> Spirit." I'm afraid that doesn't make much sense contextually and I
> think it is necessary to see grammar inthe service of meaning, and NOT
> the other way around. There needs to be something the believer is
> filled with. The obvious choice is the Holy Spirit (barring that, it
> could be virtually anything, since it's unstated), and if that's
> expressed with an otherwise unknown construction, I have a hard time
> thinking that it's not grammatically possible, based on analogies
> which
> may not apply. Not to be flippant, but after a semester of
> Thucydides,
> Lucain, Eupolemos and other classical writers, I'minclined to the
> opinion (for which I claim no expertise) that Greek writers, much as
> English writes, felt free to do pretty much what they wanted
> grammatically in the search for "a well-seasoned soup (Lucian)."
As I said before, you really have to read the whole of Ephesians.
Because you have started by drawing the wrong parallel you end in
problematic interpretation like the above.

I believe the parallel (or rather, contrast) is between the apparent
effects and results of drunkuness (ie. being under the influence of
alcahol) and the apparent effects and results of being filled full BY
the Holy Spirit (ie. under the influence of the Holy Spirit). Being
drunk leads to debauchery but being filled full by the Spirit leads to
the joy and ecstacy of being one in Christ.

IN answer to the question, with what are we filled? We are filled with
the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and the experience of Christ
(which is well discussed in Ephesian 3). It is by means of the Spirit
that Christ dwells in our hearts (Ephesians 3:16-19).

ps. In regard to Edgars comment about the Dionysiac background of this
text, I noted that Gordon Fee in his book God's Empowering Presence
(under Eph. 5:18) indicates that this is inappropriate since they used
more than just wine for their ecstacy because wine is a depressant, and
doesn't produce ecstatic effects, therefore they must have used some
form of stimulating drug as well.

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

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