From: Randy LEEDY (
Date: Mon Feb 09 1998 - 08:26:13 EST

Paul Dixon writes:

>>>I'm preaching on Jn 13:1-17 tomorrow. I have always found the
voices of LELOUMENOS and NIYASQAI interesting.


My point. It strikes me as rather strange that the physical imagery
is done in the middle voice, while the spiritual truth being taught
is rather passive. The spiritual bath and spiritual footwashing are
both done by another agent, not by the individual himself. Is not
the whole point of the footwashing here to teach that the one who has
been made clean positionally, still comes into defilement with sin,
and needs not to be cleansed of such by another and not by himself?
Perhaps we should not expect a necessary parallel in voices here.


Since nobody seems to have answered yet, I'll put up a response,
albeit too late to affect yesterday's sermon. First, I would
certainly take both verbs as middle. As I understand it, verbs for
acts such as washing, anointing, clothing, etc., when performed upon
someone else, are active voice, transitive. When performed upon
oneself, they are middle voice; I suppose "reflexive" comes close to
capturing the idea. These verbs seems to be among those in the use of
which the NT preserves the older distinction between active and
middle voices.

Second, I think the middle rather than the passive is used because AT
THIS POINT IN THE DISCUSSION Jesus isn't directly addressing the
spiritual truth under consideration. He's simply illustrating from
everyday experience the various sorts of self-cleaning, and both
bathing and washing are services that one ordinarily provides for
himself, hence middle voice. Jesus' only point in these words is the
amount of washing Peter needs; the question of who does the washing
is not in view at the moment.

In Love to God and Neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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