[b-greek] Re: APOSTOLOI KAI PROFHTAI Eph 2:20, 3:5

From: CEP7@aol.com
Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 19:00:54 EDT

In a message dated 6/30/00 4:25:00 PM, MMccoy7872@cs.com writes:

<< I have been thinking on this reply for many months now. Thank you
for the explanation from Mr. Wallace, it has provoked much thought. I
would like to give a quote from Granville Sharp's work on the Uses of the
Definitive Article (under Rule I, pg.13) and I ask help from all on the
list who would like to respond. Note: Rule I is what is commonly known as
"Granville Sharp's Rule".

Pg. 13 Paragraph 1: "And there are at least a dozen other places, (viz.
Rom.15:6, 1 Cor. 15:24, Gal.1:4, Ephes. 5:20, col. 1:3, and 12 and 3:17, 1
Thes.1:3, 1 Thes. 3:13, 2 Thes. 2:16, James 3:9, [and] Rev.1:6) wherein
"the God and Father" is mentioned exactly according to this rule; and there
is no exception or instance of the like mode of expression, that I know of,
which necessarily requires a construction different from what is here laid
down, EXCEPT the nouns be proper names, or in the plural number; in which
cases there are many exceptions; though there are not wanting examples,
even of plural nouns, which are expressed exactly agreeable to this rule"
(Sharp 13).

I call your attention to the last clause of the paragraph. Does the last
clause not seem to indicate that Granville Sharp thought his Rule I would
also apply to plural nouns? That is, that plural nouns in the Greek NT are
"expressed exactly agreeable to this rule." This being the case the
Granville Sharp rule could apply to hO APOSTOLOS KAI PROFHTHS in

Michael McCoy
Pastor, Little Elm Baptist Church
Farmington, AR

Dan Wallace did his dissertation on multiple substantives separated by KAI
(Sharp constructions or TSKS). He spent 20 pages on Eph 2:20. Following is
the excerpt from his grammar which was written and published after his

having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets

    This text has become something of a theological lightning rod in
conservative circles in America in the past several years, largely due to the
work of Wayne Grudem.80 Grudem argues that the apostles and prophets are
identical here. This is essential to his view of NT prophecy: on the one
hand, he holds to a high view of scripture, viz., that the autographs are
inerrant; on the other hand, he believes that non-apostolic prophets both in
the early church and today mixed error with truth. If in Eph 2:20 the Church
is built on the foundation of apostles and other prophets, then it would seem
that Grudem either has to deny inerrancy or affirm that non-apostolic
prophets only spoke truth (and were thus on par with OT prophets). Hence, he
spends much ink arguing that in this text the prophets are identical with the
apostles, while elsewhere in the NT the prophets are a separate class of
individuals. This distinction allows him the luxury of embracing an inerrant
NT while admitting that today’s prophets (as well as first century
non-apostolic prophets) can commit error in their predictions.

    We must refrain from entering into the larger issues of charismata and
fallible prophecy in our treatment of this text.81 Our point is simply that
the syntactical evidence is very much against the “identical” view, even
though syntax has been the primary grounds used in behalf of it. As we have
seen, there are no clear examples of plural nouns in TSKS fitting the
“identical” group in the NT, rendering such a possibility here less likely
on grammatical grounds.82

    The strongest possibilities are either that two distinct groups are in
view or the apostles are seen as a subset of the prophets. If the OT prophets
are in view, then obviously two distinct groups are meant. But if NT prophets
are in view, this would favor the apostles as being a subset of the prophets.
In favor of this second view: (1) If OT prophets were in view, it seems
unnatural that they would be mentioned second. (2) Whenever apostles are in a
TSKS plural construction they always come first and the semantic value of the
construction involves the first group as a subset of the second. (3) Since
the picture of a building which apparently consists of the true Church is
what is being described here, and since the apostles and prophets are viewed
as foundational to this building, it seems hardly conceivable that OT
prophets would be in the author’s mind here. (4) The same construction occurs
in 3:5 in which it is declared that the mystery has now been revealed “to his
holy apostles and prophets”; thus, the NT prophets are clearly in view there.
Since the context is still about the foundation and beginning of the Church,
it would be consistent for the reference to be about the same group of
prophets in both 2:20 and 3:5. Our conclusion, then, is that Eph 2:20 speaks
of “the apostles and [other] prophets.”

Charles Powell

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