AGALLIASQE in 1 Peter 1:6,8

From: John Barach (
Date: Thu Apr 23 1998 - 12:06:26 EDT


I've been exegeting the long doxology of 1 Peter 1:3-12 (in preparation
for preaching), and ran into the old debate about how to translate
AGALLIASQE in 1 Peter 1:6 and 8. In what follows, I'll summarize an
article by Troy Martin (JBL 111/2 [1992]:307-314), and then ask my

There are three positions on how to translate AGALLIASQE here.

(a) It is a present imperative with imperatival meaning: "Rejoice!"
(b) It is a present indicative with present meaning: "You are rejoicing."
(c) It is a present indicative with future meaning: "You will rejoice."

Martin argues as follows:

1. Since this word is found in the midst of a long doxology (vv.3-12),
it must be an indicative; an imperative is not "the appropriate mood" for
a series of doxological declarations. This argument eliminates option

2. The participles dependent on AGALLIASQE give a clue to the meaning of
the verb.

2.1. In v. 6, the participle LUPHQENTES is aorist, indicating time
antecedant to AGALLIASQE, while the adverb ARTI indicates that LUPHQENTES
is taking place now. Therefore, AGALLIASQE must be future.

2.2. In v. 6, the participles PISTEUONTES and ORWNTES and KOMIZONTES are
all present participles, and all would normally indicate that they take
place at the same time as AGALLIASQE. But PISTEUONTES and ORWNTES are
connected with ARTI ("now"), while KOMIZONTES is not. Thus, KOMIZONTES
and AGALLIASQE happen at the same time--when the final goal of faith is
reached at the revelation of Christ--while, because of the ARTI,
PISTEUONTES and ORWNTES function as "participles of the imperfect
expressing antecedent action."

2.3. From the participles, taken together with Peter's use of ARTI,
Martin concludes that AGALLIASQE is most likely future.

3. Verse 6 begins with an enigmatic EN hWi. What is the antecedent of
hWi? There are three options: (a) QEOS, the subject of the main verb in
the whole doxological sentence; (b) the whole of what has just been
described (neuter), or (c) KAIRWi ESCATWi, mentioned at the end of verse
5. Martin argues for (c) as the most natural antecedent, and then
translates EN hWi as "in which time" or "at which time." The rejoicing
will take place "at that time"--"the last time," when salvation is

4. A present verb can indeed have future meaning. (Martin gives
examples: Rom. 2:16, Nestle edition; 1 Cor. 15:32; Mark 9:31 cf. 10:33).
"The present tense can be used for the future when there is a clear
reference to future time." That reference Martin finds in the EN hWi of
verse 6 and in the circumstantial participle KOMIZONTES in verse 8 ("as
you receive").

5. Some church fathers used the future tense when they translated 1
Peter 1:6,8, and the early Latin and Syriac versions used a future tense
for AGALLIASQE here.

Martin translates:

v. 6: " which time you will rejoice although for a little while now
by necessity you are grieved by manifold trials."

v. 8: "...whom although you have not seen you love, in whom, although
you do not now see but believe, you will rejoice with joy unspeakable and
glorious as you receive the end of your faith to be the salvation of your


     (1) If EN hWi is taken to mean "at which time," does that not imply
that they are not rejoicing at present: "THEN you will rejoice though NOW
you suffer"? The problem here is that they ARE rejoicing at present.
This is a doxology, and it seems to me that part of the function of a
doxology in an epistle is to invite the readers to join in the doxology.
Moreover, in 4:13, Peter tells the readers to rejoice precisely in
connection with their sufferings: CAIRETE! They are to rejoice now so
that they may rejoice by rejoicing [CARHTE AGALLIWMENOI] when Christ's
glory is revealed. QUESTION: Does Martin's understanding of EN
hWi--with its "at which time"/"now" contrast--indeed imply that they are
not rejoicing at present?

     (2) Is KOMIZONTES referring to something which occurs exclusively at
the last time, when salvation and Christ's glory are revealed? Or are
the readers receiving the salvation of their souls all along the way, as
they believe?

     (3) Does the "joy inexpressible and full of glory" connected with
AGALLIASQE indicate something which is true only in the eschaton?

     (4) Are Martin's arguments with regard to the participles and ARTI
cogent? Again: Doesn't that understanding of ARTI set up too much of a
contrast between "now" and "then"--as if *now* they simply believe
without seeing Christ but *then* they will rejoice? as if *now* they
suffer for a little while but *then* they will rejoice? I grant that
they will rejoice in the last time, but they ARE indeed--and are supposed
to!--rejoice at present, too.

     (5) Does Martin reject option (a), the imperatival reading, too
easily? Is it not possible that in the midst of a rather complex
doxology there might be a summons to rejoice (with the apostle) in the
God who is being praised? If EN hWi does not refer back to KAIRWi
ESCATWi, then I would be inclined to take AGALLIASQE as an imperative
because Peter, by means of this doxology, is instructing his readers in
what God has prepared for them--which, it seems from the rest of the
epistle, was something they could easily loose sight of as they suffered
as pilgrims. Since Peter's epistle is designed to equip them for pilgrim
living--including a summons to rejoice in chapter 4--it seems more likely
that he is calling them to rejoice in the God who has provided such
wonderful blessings (or in the blessings provided by this blessed God)
than that he is telling them that they already are rejoicing in these
blessings (or this God).

I apologize for the long post. I hope it's clear. I've been going
around in circles on this issue for some time now, and I'd love to hear
your clarifying words. (I haven't checked commentaries yet--still trying
to formulate my own understanding of the text--but I'll be doing that
later today.)

Thanks in advance for your help.


John Barach
Ministerial Candidate
Intern Pastor, Community Reformed Bible Church, Highland, IN

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