Re: article with prepositional phrase (Rom. 9:5)

From: Wes Williams (
Date: Sun Mar 15 1998 - 23:21:51 EST

>At 8:39 AM -0600 3/13/98, David Mills wrote:
>>The phrase TO KATA SARKA is a little puzzling to me, and I don't find much
>>help in any of my resource books. Why is an article needed? What
>>determines the case of the article? What does this construction mean?

In examining the arguments (mainly in great detail from the previous century
since Romans 9:5 was the John 1:1 of 1898) pro and con on the expression
KATA SARKA in Romans 9:5, there appears to be consensus among the major
parties that KATA SARKA is a restrictive statement and that the TO gives the
restriction a stress, an emphasis. Thus, Christ came from Israel AS TO THE
FLESH, by his natural birth and in his outward relations as the Messiah.

The lengthy debates on the TO are about (1) the antithesis of KATA SARKA, or
what the reverse implication implies. Does the antithesis of KATA SARKA =
KATA PNEUMA or a „divine nature?š (2) Does the prefixing of TO to KATA
SARKA grammatically require that the antithesis be explicitly stated? And,
(3) what is the relationship of the antithesis to KATA SARKA?

Some examples to illustrate: (A = KATA SARKA; B = antithesis)
- Christ came A (but not B).
- Christ came A, and also B.
- Christ came not only A, but B.

A point to note here is that the final two points I just mentioned are not
antitheses, rather they are agreements.

One Dutch commentator, Van Hengel wrote in Inter. Ep. Pauli ad Rom. Tom. Ii.
(1859), pp. 348-353, and pp. 804-813 maintains that KATA SARKA with the
neuter article prefixed, absolutely requires a pause after SARKA, and does
not admit, according to Greek usage, of the _expression_of an antithesis
after it, so that the following part of the verse must be referred to God.

Dr. Timothy Dwight questioned this assertion in SBL, attempting to outline
the issues as a disinterested third party. He questioned, not the need for a
pause, but the statement that the Greek „does not admit the expression of an
antithesisš because of the addition of the TO.

Dr. Ezra Abbot, writing a 78 page article on Romans 9:5 in SBL, agreed with
Dwight saying, „We may say, however, and it is a remark of some importance,
that the TO before KATA SARKA, laying stress on the restriction, and
suggesting an antithesis which therefore did not need to be expressed,
indicates that the writer has done with that point, and makes a pause
natural; it makes it easy to take the hO WN as introducing an independent
sentence, though it does not, as I believe, make it necessary to take it
 so.š (p. 102)

As for an alleged requirement that an antithesis be explicitly expressed due
to the prefixing of TO, we have a grammatical parallel in the Epistle of
Clement of Rome to the Corinthians. Speaking of the distinctions of Jacob,
Clement says: „For from him were all the priests and Levites that ministered
to the altar of God; from him was the Lord Jesus TO KATA SARKA; from him
were kings and rulers and leaders in the line of Judah.š One can easily see
that it has no such expressed antithesis.

These are some reasons why many of diverse theological persuasions are
compelled to see the TO as pointing to the option "Christ came A (but not

Wes Williams

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