Re: Eph 4: 22-24

From: Harold R. Holmyard III (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 10:21:42 EST

Dear Jurg,
     Thank you for your involved thinking on these verses. Regarding the
aorist verb APOQESQAI in Eph 4:22 I spoke of "the decision to put off" the
old man, but of course the aorist refers only to the action. The aorist may
look at the action as a whole. Paul is saying that believers were taught to
put off the old man (a single action, compared to putting off clothes), and
to put on the new man (another similar action). The Christian is to be done
with the kind of person he was before conversion. He is to put off the
behaviors and thoughts associated with sin. He is to do this completely,
replacing them with the new behaviors and thoughts which Christ inspires.
While the mind's renewing should be a continuing reality (present
infinitive), the aorist infinitives can describe entire outcomes. Paul
envisions changes of life that may take time, but they need accomplishment,
however long they take.
     You mention that in verse 22 the infinitive with the accusative
pronoun (APOQESQAI hUMAS) is unexpected. The structure may derive from
verse 17, where the entire instruction originates. Paul tells the Ephesians
no longer to walk in a certain way: MHKETI hUMAS PERIPATEIN. Verses 18-19
detail the way they are not to walk. Verse 20 reminds them that they did
not learn thus learn Christ. Verses 21-24 state how they did learn Christ,
but they also give the positive contrast to the negative infinitive in
verse 17. So verses 22-24 can carry the imperatival tone of the infinitive
PERIPATEIN in verse 17. They are no longer to walk as they did, but they
are to put off the old man and put on the new. So APOQESQAI hUMAS in verse
22 seems a bit parallel to hUMAS PERIPATEIN in verse 17. This fact could
explain the presence of the accusative pronoun hUMAS after APOQESQAI.
     Also, if the infinitives in verses 22-24 are imperatival, or at least
describe action by believers, the pronoun hUMAS after APOQESQAI can
emphasize the action as something which they themselves need to take. Paul
is reminding them of a responsiblity which they may not have fully
undertaken. If Paul tells them no longer to walk as they did before
conversion (v. 17), they apparently have not put off the old man entirely.
Insofar as this is true, the old man is perceptibly being corrupted (TON
FQEIROMENON). If DE in verse 23 is a mark of contrast, then the two main
actions in verses 22-24, putting off and putting on, each have subsidiary
aspects. What is being put off is continually being corrupted; what is to
be put on should continually be renewed. These ongoing realities both
concern the inner life, for the corruption involves deceitful lusts, and
the renewing concerns the mind.

                                        Harold Holmyard

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