Re: Infinitives in 1 Thess 4:11

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Sep 06 1997 - 08:36:35 EDT

At 10:27 PM -0500 9/5/97, Loril Hawk wrote:
>First, I want to thank everybody who has helped me through this passage--my
>first exegetical paper. I have learned so much from each of you. I can't
>believe there is such a rich resource as this group. I am now working on
>my grammatical analysis and am curious about Paul's abundant use of
>infinitives, especially in 4:11. I would think, given the rhetorical genre
>that he would have use predominately imperatives. What is the exegetical
>significance of the infinitives?

One thing important to realize is that the verse divisions are later--and
often quite arbitrary--additions to the text. Their placement here is
particularly unhelpful in 1 Thess 4:10-11 in that the first half of 10
appears to be a complete sentence, while 10b and 11 form another,
considerably longer sentence. All those infinitives in verse 11 depend upon
PARAKALOUMEN hUMAS PERISSEUEIN MALLON, and the actions thus advised are
followed up by the final clause of verse 11: KAQWS hUMIN PARHGGEILAMEN and
its indicated purpose in verse 12. That is to say what really should be
fairly evident:that the structure of the entire sequence from 4:10b-12
needs to be understood as a whole, in which case its partitioning becomes
transparent: Paul urges the Thessalonians to endeavor all theharder in
certain areas--those spelled out in the three infinitive phrases of verse
11, reminds them that he's given them this advice before (KAQWS hUMIN
PARHGGEILAMEN, and then (12) explains the rationale for that advice. So the
infinitives of 4:11 indicate the actions upon which the community needs to
concentrate more heavily--and these are complementary to PARAKALOUMEN

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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