Grace Theological Journal 4.1 (1983) 59-84.
[Copyright © 1983 Grace Theological Seminary; cited with permission;
prepared for use at
THE SEMANTIC RANGE OF
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
DANIEL B. WALLACE
In this article the author seeks to demonstrate that the syntax of
the article-noun-kai<-noun plural construction has been largely mis-
understood. It does not fit the Granville Sharp rule because the nouns
are plural. Nor is its semantic range shut up to absolute distinction or
absolute identity. After an exhaustive treatment of the construction in
the NT, it is affirmed that there are three other semantic possibilities.
A proper semantic grid helps in seeing possibilities in certain passages
which have hitherto gone unnoticed and in omitting certain options
(e.g., that 'pastors"= "teachers" in Eph ) which have been assumed
* * *
IN Eph the apostle Paul tells his audience that the glorified
Messiah has bestowed on the church gifted men. These men are
described as "apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers."
The construction in Greek is tou>j me>n a]posto<louj, tou>j de> profh<taj,
tou>j se> eu]aggelista<j, tou>j de> poime<naj kai> didaska<louj. Expositors
have long noted that there is no article preceding didaska<louj, which
has raised the question: are the teachers to be identified with the
pastors or are pastors and teachers two distinct groups? Grammatically
speaking the question is: does the article before poime<naj govern both
poime<naj and didaska<louj and if so, in what way (i.e., does it unite
them loosely, make them identical, etc.)? Expositors have come down
on both sides of the fence, though few have seriously investigated the
syntax of the construction as a major key to the solution.1 This
1 Among the modern commentators, almost all are agreed that one group is seen in
this construction (but cf. G. H. P. Thompson, The Letters of Paul to the Ephesians. to
the Colossians and to Philemon [CBC;
and C. J. Ellicott, A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on
the Ephesians [
60 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
passage is perhaps the best known text in the NT which involves the
article-noun-kai<-noun plural construction. A proper understanding of
the grammar involved may help to solve this exegetical and ec-
But Eph is not the only debatable passage involving this
construction. Just within Ephesians we may also note 1:1, which uses
substantival adjectives (toi?j a[gi<oj . . . kai> pistoi?j e]n Xrist&?
]Ihsou?). The question here would be: are the saints to be identified
with the faithful in Christ Jesus? Although we would want to argue
this theologically, is there in fact grammatical evidence on our side?
In and 3:5 this construction is used of the apostles and prophets
(tw?n a]posto<lwn kai> profhtw?n in and toi?j a[gi<oij a]posto<loij
au]tou? kai> profh<taij in 3:5). Are these two groups identical? Or, if
not, is the foundation of the church built upon the NT apostles and
OT prophets ()? Has the mystery of Christ been revealed to OT
prophets (3:5)? These are pertinent questions theologically which the
syntax of this construction may help to resolve.
"teachers were holders of another office" without giving any evidence. Ellicott argues
solely from scanty lexical evidence). Yet those who affirm that one group is identified
by the phrase have little syntactical evidence on their side as well. H. Alford (The
Greek Testament, vol. 3:
rev. by E. F. Harrison [
1958]) argues that "from these latter not being distinguished from the pastors by
the tou>j de<, it would seem that the two offices were held by the same persons" (p. 117).
But he gives no cross-references nor does he demonstrate that this is the normal usage
of the plural construction. B. F. Westcott (Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians [New
two functions but from their connexion with a congregation" (p. 62). C. Hodge (A
Commentary on the Epistle
to the Ephesians
1856]) boldly states that "The absence of the article before didaska<louj proves that
the apostle intended to designate the same persons as at once pastors and teachers
[italics added]" (p. 226). But then he curiously backs off from such grammatical dogma
by adding that "It is true the article is at times omitted between two substantives
referring to different classes. . ." (p. 227), citing Mark 15:1 as evidence. Finally, he
reverts to his initial certitude by concluding, "But in such an enumeration as that
contained in this verse. . . the laws of language require tou>j de> didaska<louj, had the
apostle intended to distinguish the dida<sklaoi from the poime<nej [italics added]"
(ibid.). No evidence is given to support this contention. It is significant, in fact, that of
the commentaries surveyed, only Hodge mentioned any other text in which the plural
construction occurred--a text which would not support his conclusions! Eadie, Abbott,
Salmond, Lenski, Hendriksen, Erdman, Barclay, Wuest, and Barth also see the two
terms referring to one group, though their arguments are either not based on syntax or
make unwarranted and faulty assumptions about the syntax. Some would insist that
the article-noun-kai<-noun plural construction requires that the second group is to be
identified with the first, but such a dogmatic position must be abandoned in light of
such passages as Matt 16:1 ("the Pharisees and Sadducees") and Acts ("the. . .
women. . . and men")! A careful and exhaustive investigation of this phenomenon is
therefore necessary if we wish to understand clearly the relation of pastors and teachers
in Eph 4:11.
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 61
Outside of Ephesians there are several debatable passages which
involve this construction as well. For example, we read of "the tax-
collectors and sinners" in Matt , "the lawyers and Pharisees" in
Luke 14:3, and "the apostles and elders" in Acts 15:2. These are but a
handful of the plural constructions in the NT, though they are
certainly among the more significant. The exegetical and theological
significance of this construction is difficult to overestimate.
The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to investigate the
semantic range (and, consequently, the exegetical significance) of the
article-noun- kai<-noun plural construction in the NT. I will restrict the
discussion to constructions in which the plurals refer to persons and,
at the same time, expand the discussion to include all substantives
under the title "noun." In order to establish a proper framework for
the semantics of this construction in the NT, we must first look at the
work of Granville Sharp, then discuss the misunderstanding of his
first rule with reference to the plural, and finally suggest a proper
semantic grid for the construction.
THE WORK OF GRANVILLE SHARP
Granville Sharp (1735-1813) was an English philanthropist and
abolitionist. He was a student of the Scriptures, although he was not
a clergyman. He believed strongly in the verbal inspiration of the
Bible and in the deity of Jesus Christ. His strong belief in Christ's
deity led him to study the Scriptures in the original in order to defend
more ably that precious truth. Through this motivation he became a
good linguist, able to handle accurately both the Greek and Hebrew
texts of Scripture. One of his publications, written before he dis-
covered his "rule," was a defense of the view that "Jehovah" (YHWH)
of the OT referred, at times, to each person of the Trinity. As he
studied the Scriptures in the original, he noticed a certain pattern,
namely, when the construction article-noun- kai<-noun involved per-
sonal nouns which were singular and not proper names, they always
referred to the same person. He noticed further that this rule applied
in several texts to the deity of Jesus Christ. So in 1798 he published a
lengthy volume entitled, Remarks on the Definitive Article in the
Greek Text of the New Testament: Containing Many New Proofs of
the Divinity of Christ, from Passages Which Are Wrongly Translated
in the Common English Version [KJV]. The volume went through
four editions (three British and one American).2
2 The contents of this paragraph are from C. Kuehne, "The Greek Article and the
Doctrine of Christ's Deity," Journal of Theology 13 (September, 1973) 15-18.
62 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
In this work Sharp articulated six rules, though what has com-
monly become known as "Sharp's Rule" is the first of these. Sharp
articulated this rule as follows:
When the copulative kai< connects two nouns of the same case, [viz.
nouns (either substantive or adjective, or participles) of personal
description, respecting office, dignity, affinity, or connexion, and attri-
butes, properties, or qualities, good or ill,] if the article o[, or any of its
cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not
repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates
to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or
participle: i.e. it denotes a farther description of the first-named
person. . .3
To put this simply, in the construction article-noun- kai<-noun,
four requirements must be met if the two nouns refer to the same
person: (1) both nouns must, of course, be personal; (2) both nouns
must be common nouns, i.e., not proper names; (3) both nouns must
be in the same case; and (4) both nouns must be singular in number.
Although many today have argued against the validity of this rule, no
one has demonstrated its invalidity in the NT.4 The implications of
3 Granville Sharp, Remarks on the Definitive Article in the Greek Text of the New
Testament: Containing Many New Proofs of the Divinity of Christ, from Passages
Which Are Wrongly Translated in the Common English Version, 1st American edition
(Philadelphia: B. B. Hopkins, 1807), 3.
4 The best modern defense of the validity of Sharp's rule that I have seen is a seven-
part series in the Journal of Theology by C. Kuehne ("The Greek Article and the
Doctrine of Christ's Deity" in JT 13 [September, 1973] 12-28; 13 [December 1973]
14-30; 14 [March 1974] 11-20; 14 [June, 1974] 16-25; 14 [September, 1974] 21-33; 14
[December, 1974] 8-19; 15 [March, 1975] 8-22). Unfortunately, this journal apparently
has such a limited circulation that this superb series has hardly been noticed. It may be
added here that the primary reason evangelicals have been hesitant to adopt the
validity of this rule is the anti-Trinitarian bias of last century's greatest grammarian of
NT Greek, G. B. Winer. A. T. Robertson vividly points out Winer's influence:
A strange timidity seized some of the translators in the Jerusalem Chamber that
is reproduced by the American Committee. There is no hesitation in translating
John i.l as the text has it. Why boggle over 2 Peter i.1?
The explanation is to be found in Winer's Grammar (Thayer's Edition,
p. 130; W. F. Moulton's (p. 162), where the author seeks by indirection to break
the force of Granville Sharp's rule by saying that in 2 Peter i. 1 "there is not
even a pronoun with swth?roj." That is true, but it is quite beside the point.
There is no pronoun with swth?roj in 2 Peter i. 11, precisely the same idiom,
where no one doubts the identity of "Lord and Saviour." Why refuse to apply
the same rule to 2 Peter i. 1, that all admit, Winer included, to be true of 2 Peter
i. 11? . . . The simple truth is that Winer's anti-Trinitarian prejudice overruled
his grammatical rectitude in his remark about 2 Peter i. 1.
. . . It is plain, therefore, that Winer has exerted a pernicious influence, from the
grammatical standpoint, on the interpretation of 2 Peter i. 1, and Titus ii. 13.
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 63
this rule for the deity of Christ in passages such as Titus (tou?
mega<lou qeou? kai> swth?roj h[mw?n Xristou? ]Ihshou?) and 2 Pet 1:1
(tou? qeou? h[mw?n kai> swth?roj ]Ihsou? Xristou?) are, to say the least,
THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF SHARP'S RULE
WITH REFERENCE TO THE PLURAL
Considered to be Legitimately Applied to the Plural by Some
As we have already seen by surveying some commentaries on
Eph , several commentators assumed that the article-noun- kai<-
noun plural construction identified the second noun with the first just
as the singular construction did.5 Wuest articulates this assumption
most clearly: "The words 'pastors' and 'teachers' are in a construction
called Granvill [sic] Sharp's rule which indicates that they refer to one
How has such an assumption arisen? On this we can only
conjecture, but it is possibly due to (1) the lack of clarity by Sharp
himself in stating his first rule and (2) a continued ambiguity in the
grammars. As we saw earlier, Sharp does not clearly state that his
rule is applicable only in the singular. Such a conclusion may be at
best only inferred via an argument from silence (i.e., in stating that
"the latter always relates to the same person. . . i.e. it denotes a
farther description of the first-named person,”17 Sharp only refers to
the singular). However, a perusal of his monograph reveals that he
insisted on the singular in order for the rule to apply absolutely.8 The
grammars have perpetuated this ambiguity. Some, of course, have
dogmatically stated (and without sufficient evidence) that the rule
Scholars who believed in the Deity of Christ have not wished to claim too much
and to fly in the face of Winer, the great grammarian, for three generations. But
Winer did not make out a sound case against Sharp's principle as applied to
2 Peter i. 1 and Titus ii. 13. Sharp stands vindicated after all the dust has
(A. T. Robertson, "The Greek Article and the Deity of Christ," The Expositor, 8th
Series, vol. 21  185, 187.)
5 See n. 1 for a survey of these commentaries.
6 K. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Ephesians and
Colossians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1953), 101.
7 G. Sharp, Remarks, 3.
8 On pp. 5-6 Sharp points out that
. . . 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. . . .
64 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
does not even apply in the singular.9 Others have sided with Sharp,
but apparently have neglected his requirement that the construction
be in the singular, or else their discussion is vague enough to be
misleading.10 Robertson stands apart as having the most lengthy
9 E.g., W. H. Simcox
(The Language of the New Testament [
as indicating two Persons, though only the former word has the article" (p. 50). G. B.
Winer (A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek, trans. and rev. by W. F.
3rd ed., rev. [
allowed his theological bias to override the plain evidence from the syntax governed by
In Tit. ii. 13. . . considerations derived from Paul's system of doctrine lead
me to believe that swth?roj is not a second predicate, co-ordinate with qeou? . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[In n. 2 at the bottom of the same page:] In the above remarks it was not
my intention to deny that, in point of grammar, swth?roj h[mw?n may be
regarded as a second predicate, jointly depending on the article tou?; but the
dogmatic conviction derived from Paul's writings that this apostle cannot have
called Christ the great God induced me to show that there is no grammatical
obstacle to our taking the clause kai> swt . . . Xristou? by itself, as referring to a
second subject (p. 162).
J. H. Moulton (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 1: Prolegomena, 3rd ed.
, reading it as though borne from a sober grammatical judgment: "We cannot
discuss here the problem of Tit 213, for we must as grammarians, leave the matter open:
see WM 162, 156n [italics added]" (p. 84). But his own Trinitarian persuasion comes
through as he cites evidence from the papyri that the phrase found in Titus and
2 Pet 1:1 was used of one person, the emperor (ibid.). Finally, M. Zerwick (Biblical
Greek Illustrated by
the rule is only suggestive, "since the unity of article would be sufficiently accounted
for by any conjunction, in the writer's mind, of the notions expressed" (p. 60).
10 E.g., L. Radermacher
(Neutestamentliche Grammatik, 2nd ed. [
B. Mohr, 1925]) makes an ambiguous statement: "Wenn mehrere Substantiva in der
Auflahlung miteinander verbunden werden, gentigt oft der Artikel beim ersten Wort
und zwar nicht allein bei gleichem Genus" (p. 115), citing ta? e]nta<lmata kai>
occurs in hellenistic Greek, citing o[ h!lioj kai> selh<nh as an example (ibid.). His two
examples are both impersonal, one being singular and the other plural. A case could be
made for the first example expressing identity, but certainly not the second. W. D.
(An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New
Macmillan, 1941]) seems to have a clear understanding as to when the rule applies and
when it does not, but he does not clearly articulate this to the reader (p. 55). F. Blass
and A. Debrunner (A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early
Christian literature, trans. and rev. by R.
W. Funk [
1961]) seem to support the rule in Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1, but also apply it to proper,
impersonal names (p. 145)! They make no comment about the plural. C. F. D. Moule
(An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek,
2nd ed. [
1959]) has a sober treatment of the rule, seeing its application in the singular and
questioning it in the plural (pp. 109-10). But he sides with Radermacher by allowing it
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 65
discussion of the article-noun- kai<-noun construction though he con-
siders the impersonal construction to fit the rule and the plural
construction to specify two distinct groups.11
Improper Semantic Approach by Others
More recently, a few have recognized that the rule applies
absolutely only to singular nouns.12 Their articulations as to when the
with impersonal nouns. N. Turner (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 3:
Syntax, by N. Turner [
the New Testament [
discussion, for he apparently allows the rule to stand with the singular nouns (Syntax,
181; Insights, 15-16), but also applies it to the plural at his discretion (Syntax, 181).
Thus he speaks of a "unified whole" with reference to Eph 2:20, Luke 22:4, and Acts
15:2, but then declares that this same construction may "indeed indicate that two
distinct subjects are involved [italics mine]" (ibid.), citing the common phrase oi[
Farisai?oi kai> Saddoukai?oi as an illustration. It is doubtful that the construction
indicates two antithetical ideas; it is rather better to say that it allows for this. J. H.
Greenlee (A Concise Exegetical Grammar of New Testament Greek, 3rd ed. [Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963]) is very unclear when he applies the rule to impersonal
constructions (Eph ) and plurals (John ) (p. 50). C. Vaughan and V. E. Gideon
(A Greek Grammar of the New Testament [Nashville: Broadman, 1979]) apply the rule
to both impersonal and personal constructions, making no comment about the plurals
(p. 83). They do note, however, that there are exceptions with the impersonal
constructions (ibid., n. 8). Finally, J. A. Brooks and C. L. Winberry (Syntax of New
Testament Greek [
personal, impersonal, and plural constructions explicitly (pp. 70-71). It is no wonder,
therefore, that the exegetes have misread the semantic range of the plural construction
since the grammarians have almost universally failed to restrict the application of the
rule to the singular or have been so vague as to speak only of some kind of unity
(whether a loose tie or apposition) with reference to the plural.
11 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of
Historical Research, 4th ed. (Nashville: Broad man, 1934), 785-89.
12 E. A. Blum ("Studies in Problem Areas of the Greek Article" [Th.M. thesis,
Dallas Theological Seminary, 1961]) declares with reference to Sharp's first rule
Since he is talking about nouns of personal description, Wuest was wrong in
applying the rule to Acts [t^? . . . boul^? kai> prognw<sei]. Since he limits his
rule to the singular, it is wrong to apply the rule to the "pastors and teachers" of
Kuehne is in full agreement, observing that Sharp "specifically excluded plural
personal nouns and proper names from the rule" (JT 13 [December, 1973] 17). A. M.
Malphurs ("The Relationship of Pastors and Teachers in Ephesians 4:11" [Th.M.
thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1978]) concurs: "Therefore, Sharp states that
plural nouns as well as proper names are an exception to his rule because some
examples in the Scriptures seem to agree with the rule while others contradict it"
(p. 23). R. D. Durham ("Granville Sharp's Rule" [unpublished paper, Grace Theo-
logical Seminary, 1972]) acknowledges the exceptions to the rule of the plural and
proper names, but thinks that Sharp meant to include impersonal nouns as meeting the
66 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
rule does and does not apply are, therefore, among the clearest
presentations I have seen. However, when they examine the plural
construction, their semantic approach is inadequate in that the only
question they raise is: are the two groups identical or distinct?13 Such
a question for the singular, personal construction is entirely adequate:
either the first-named person is identical with the second-named
person or he is distinct. But the very nature of a plural construction
demands that several other questions be asked if we are to see with
precision its semantic range (i.e., since the plural construction deals
with groups, there may be other possibilities besides absolute distinc-
tion and absolute identity). Thus, although the most recent treatments
of the article-noun- kai<-noun plural construction are accurate in
absolutely applying Sharp's rule only to the singular, they are never-
theless inadequate in only raising the same question they asked of the
requirements of his first rule (p. 7). Finally, G. W. Rider ("An Investigation of the
Granville Sharp Phenomenon and Plurals" [Th.M. thesis, Grace Theological Seminary,
impersonal nouns as fitting the rule (pp. 23-25). Thus all five of the most recent
treatments on the article-noun- kai<-noun construction acknowledge that Sharp in-
tended to exclude plurals and proper names from
and Rider believe that Sharp did not exclude impersonal constructions. Although this
point is ancillary to the subject of this paper, I
misread Sharp, for Sharp explicitly states that he accepts the impersonal constructions
as fitting the second, third, fifth, and sixth rules, but not the first or fourth (Remarks,
120; cf. also pp. 140-42 in which Sharp refutes a certain Mr. Blunt for bringing in
impersonal constructions as exceptions to the rule). It may be added here that there has
been quite a bit of confusion and misunderstanding by some over the application of the
impersonal construction to Sharp's first rule. For example, some see the rule applying
in Eph (to> pla<toj kai> mh?koj kai> u!yoj kai> ba<qoj) because the four terms of
measurement all refer to God's love. Although this is true, the four terms are not
identical with each other. Such would have to be the case if Sharp's rule were to apply
here. Cf. also Rev 1:9 and for very clear references where the impersonal
construction does not fit the rule.
13 Blum, "Problem Areas," pp. 26-27 (Blum is not to be faulted, however, since the
plural construction is entirely ancillary to the point of his thesis); Kuehne (JT 13
[December, 1973]) has a lengthy discussion on the plural construction, though he deals
with it under only two semantic grids: identical vs. distinct groups (pp. 18-21);
Malphurs ("Pastors and Teachers") follows the same scheme as Kuehne (pp. 24-29),
neglecting any semantic nuances besides distinction
Rule") attempts to make all plural constructions fit the rule, even though he recognizes
that Sharp considered the plurals as a clear exception (pp. 31-34). It seems to me that
n. 12 with reference to impersonal constructions); finally, Rider ("The Granville Sharp
Phenomenon and Plurals") deals only with the question of distinction vs. identity, even
though his thesis is specifically on the plural phenomenon (pp. 41-78, 79-96).
14 This is completely understandable because (1) when those who have studied
Sharp's rule finally turn to the plural construction, the question foremost in their
minds most naturally is: does the plural construction fit the rule or not? Thus by their
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 67
A PROPER SEMANTIC GRID
As was mentioned in the preceding section, the only question
that has been raised with reference to the semantics of the article-
noun-kai<-noun plural construction is: are the two groups identical or
distinct? A proper semantic grid should see this question as ad-
dressing the outer limits, the black and white of the semantics of the
plural construction. However, there are various shades of gray which
also need to be explored. The approach in this section is to layout in
chart form the antecedently possible semantic range of the plural
construction. Then, in the final section, the plural construction in the
NT will be investigated briefly to see what the actual semantic
Two Entirely Distinct Groups, Though United
The grammars are agreed that even when two entirely distinct
groups are in view, the fact that the article precedes only the first-
named group indicates that they are united somehow. Thus, by way
of illustration,15 in the clause, "The Democrats and Republicans
approved the bill unanimously," the two political parties, though
distinct, are united on a particular issue. Illustrations of this kind are
numerous, e.g., "the mothers and children," "the fathers and daugh-
ters," "the coaches and athletes," etc. This particular semantic nuance
is diagrammed in Chart 1.16
Two Overlapping Groups
It is theoretically possible that the plural construction in the NT
could refer to two overlapping groups. That is, some members of the
first-named group could belong to the second-named group and vice-
versa. The idea of this nuance would probably be expressed in
modem English by "The X and/or Y" and vice-versa. We could
preoccupation with this very question, they lock themselves into a binary system which
does not allow them to see other alternatives; and (2) as James Barr laments in his The
Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford: Oxford University, 1961), most theological
students (myself included) rarely have any substantial training in modem linguistics
(pp. 288-96). Since this is the case, we should not necessarily expect that those who
have been trained in theology as a prior discipline should be able to ask all the right
linguistic questions of the article-noun-kai<-noun plural construction.
15 In this and the following sections, English illustrations will be used only to
demonstrate, via analogy, that a particular semantic nuance is possible. I am not
implying by such illustrations that the English idiom is identical with the Greek.
16 In this and the following charts, the definite article before the first noun and the
kai< between the two nouns are omitted because these charts are intended to depict the
semantics, not the structure, of the article-noun-kai<-noun plural construction. It is
assumed that the reader is well acquainted with the structure under consideration.
68 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
illustrate this with such phrases as "the student council members and
football players," "the blind and elderly," "the scientists and Chris-
tians," "the healthy and wealthy and wise," "the poor and miserable."
It is possible in each of these constructions that some overlap could
take place, given a particular context. This particular semantic
nuance is diagrammed in Chart 2.
First Group Sub-Set of Second
The third possibility is that the first-named group is a sub-set of
the second, i.e., it is entirely included with the second-named group.
The idea then would be "The X and [ other] Y. " Thus, by way of
illustration, one could speak of "the angels and created beings, " "the
southern Baptists and evangelicals," "the deaf and handicapped," "the
saints and sinners." This particular semantic nuance is diagrammed in
Second Group Sub-Set of First
The fourth possibility is that the second-named group is a sub-set
of the first. The idea then would be "The X and [in particular] Y."
This could be illustrated with such phrases as "the created beings and
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 69
angels," "the handicapped and deaf," "the teachers and professors,"
etc. This particular semantic nuance is diagrammed in Chart 4.
Two Groups Identical
Finally, the groups may be entirely identical. The idea may be
expressed, "The X who are Y ," or "The X even Y." Thus, by way of
illustration, one could speak of "The Los Angeles Dodgers and world
champions of baseball," "the evil and wicked," "the Gentiles and
outsiders," "the powerful and mighty," etc. This particular semantic
nuance is diagrammed in Chart 5.
70 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
As far as I can tell, these five nuances comprise the antecedently
possible semantic range of the article-noun- kai<-noun plural con-
struction. It remains to be seen whether this is the actual semantic
range in the NT.
THE PHENOMENON IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
I have discovered 70 plural constructions in the NT which fit the
pattern article-noun- kai<-noun17 and 7 other plural constructions which
perhaps fit this pattern.18 Of these seven questionable instances, I
consider one to be legitimate,19 bringing the total to 71 constructions
17 As noted earlier in the paper, I am restricting my discussion to personal
constructions. These constructions are found in the following texts: Matt 2:4; 3:7; 5:6,
20; 9:11; 11:28; 12:38; 16:1,6, 11,12,21; 20:18; 21:12, 15; 26:47; 27:3,12,41; Mark 2:16
(twice); ; 15:1; Luke 5:30. 6:35. 7:32- ; ; ; 12.4; 14:3, 21, 15:9, 18.9.
20:46; 22:4, 52; John 1:40; 7:45; 11:31, 45; 20:29; Acts 15:2; 16:4; 17:12; 23:7; Rom 16:7;
I Cor 5:10; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 1:7; Eph 1:1; 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; Phil 3:3; I Thess 5:12; I Tim
4:3; 5:8; 2 Tim 3:6; Titus 1:15; Heb 5:2; I Pet 2:18; 2 Pet 2:10; 3:16; 3 John 5; Rev 1:3;
11:9; ; 18:9; 21:8.
18 See Luke 1:2; ; Acts ; ; ;
19 The one legitimate
construction, as I see it, is in
pistoi?j a]delfoi?j). Here it is possible to construe a[gi<oij as an attributive adjective
modifying a]delfoi?j (with pistoi?j being the second attributive) rather than as a
substantival adjective. However, in light of the well worn substantival use of a!gioj in
the NT generally (cf., e.g., Acts 9:13, 32; Rom 8:27; 12:13; I Cor 6:1-2; Eph 2:19; 3:8;
Phil ; I Tim ; Heb ), in the Pauline salutations more particularly (cf., e.g.,
Rom 1:7; I Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1), and in the parallel in Ephesians especially
(1:1), a[gi<oij here is probably substantival and, consequently, fitting the article-noun-
kai<-noun plural construction.
The other constructions, which I do not consider to be legitimate, are: (I) Luke 1:2
(oi[ a]p ] a]rxh?j au]to<ptai kai> u[phre<tai geno<menoi) involves a definite article which
functions as a substantiver of the prepositional phrase, though independently of the
following nouns; (2) Luke , cited by
the article but the personal pronoun oi!; (3) Acts , cited by
Rider ("The Granville Sharp Phenomenon and Plurals," pp. 71-72), employs the
article in the place of a personal pronoun with circumstantial participles (Oi[ me>n . . .
diamartura<menoi kai> lalh<santej); (4) in Acts , manuscripts B and C* add the
article (tw?n e]qnw?n te kai> basile<wn ui[w?n te ]Israh<l), but the construction employs
as well as kai< for its conjunctions; (5) Acts , cited by Rider ("The Granville Sharp
Phenomenon and Plurals," pp. 51-52), involves two adjectives which are not sub-
stantival, but attributive (tw?n ]Epikourei<wn kai> Stwi*kw?n filoso<fwn); (6) Heb 6:4-6
involves five substantival participles, but the second member of the group uses te
instead of kai< for its conjunction (tou>j . . . fwtisqe<ntaj, geusame<nouj te . . . kai>
genhqe<ntaj . . . kai> .. . . geusame<nouj . . . kai> parapeso<ntaj). It should be noted that
although this construction does not fit the precise construction discussed in this paper,
it is still clearly analogous to it. That is to say, all of the participles must be governed
by the article and, consequently, must be substantival Thus the view held by some that
the last participle (parapeso<ntaj) is conditional (and therefore circumstantial) flies in
the face of clear syntactical usage (cf. J. A. Sproule, "Parapeso<ntaj in Hebrews 6:6,"
GTJ 2  327-32).
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 71
which will form the substance of this portion of the paper. With
regard to the use of participles, adjectives, and nouns as substantives,
the breakdown is as follows: (1) 25 constructions involve participles;20
(2) 6 constructions involve adjectives;21 (3) 17 constructions involve
nouns;22 and (4) 23 constructions are mixed.23
A well-established principle of lexical and syntactical investiga-
tion is to define the actual field of meaning by bringing forth clear
instances of a particular word or construction. Then, the ambiguous
and/or exegetically significant passages would be expected to fit into
one of the previously determined categories. The antecedent proba-
bility24 that the ambiguous text will fit into an established category is
determined by the total amount of constructions and the percentage
of those which are clearly identiftable.25 Thus, for example, if we were
unable to find one clear instance in which two nouns in an article-
noun- kai<-noun plural construction were identical, we would be on
rather shaky ground to demand such an interpretation in Eph 4:11--
especially if such an interpretation were based primarily on the
Our approach here, therefore, will first be to see which of the five
antecedently possible categories have valid examples in the NT and
second, to discuss some of the ambiguous and exegetically significant
20 See Matt 5:6; ; , 15; Mark 12:40; Luke ; ; ; 12:4; 18:9;
; John ; , 45; ; 2 Cor 12:21; Gal 1:7; Phil 3:3 (three participles);
I Thess (three participles); 2 Tim 3:6; Heb 5:2; 2 Pet ; Rev 1:3; ; 18:9.
21 See Luke 6:35; 14:21 (four adjectives); Eph 1:1; I Tim 5:8; I Pet 2:18; 2 Pet 3:16.
22 See Matt 2:4; 3:7; 5:20; 12:38; 16:1,6, 11, 12; 20:18; Luke 22:4; John 7:45; Acts
; 23:7; Eph 2:20; 3:5; ; Rev 11:9.
23 These may be divided into two groups: mixed constructions with participles and
mixed constructions without participles. With participles: I Tim 4:3 (adjective, parti-
ciple); Titus (participle, adjective); Rev 21:8 (adjective, adjective, participle, noun,
noun, noun, noun). Without participles: Matt (na); (ann); 26:47 (na); 27:3
(na), 12 (na), 41 (na); Mark (twice--an, na); 15:1 (an); Luke (na); (ann);
14:3 (an); 15:9 (an); 22:52 (nna); Acts 15:2 (na); 16:4 (na); Rom 16:7 (an); I Cor 5:10
24 By "antecedent probability" I mean the probability which has been established
by grammar alone--before other exegetical considerations enter the picture.
25 Thus, for example, if there are over 80 article-noun-kai<-noun personal, singular
constructions in the NT, and all except the few Christologically significant ones are
clear that one person is being identified by the two nouns, then there is an extremely
high antecedent probability that in Titus ; 2 Pet 1:1, et al., the biblical author is
referring to one person. Arguments against such a view must be based on other than
syntax, yet it is significant that those who do argue against the view usually attempt to
use syntax as the primary weapon in their arsenal!
72 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Validation of the Semantically Possible Categories
Two Entirely Distinct Groups, though United. I have discovered
19 clear examples of this semantic group.26 For example, in Matt 3:7
we read tw?n Farisai?wn kai> Saddoukai<wn. Although the two reli-
gious parties were entirely distinct, the one article unites them in
some way. This is the first mention of either Pharisees or Sadducees
in Matthew's gospel, and it may be significant that he presents these
two parties which were historically opposed to one another27 as
united in their opposition to the Messiah's forerunner. Matthew
mentions the Pharisees and the Sadducees together only four other
times in his gospel and in each instance the construction is article-
noun-kai<-noun and the two groups are contrasted with the Messiah.28
In Matt we read tw?n presbute<rwn kai> a]rxiere<wn kai> gram-
mate<wn. These were the three distinct parties which comprised the
Sanhedrin.29 (Some have erroneously insisted that this construction
fits the Granville Sharp rule because these three groups all refer to the
Sanhedrin. However, to say that A + B + C = D is not the same as
saying A = B = C, the latter equation being what the Granville Sharp
rule asserts.) This phrase, involving at least two of the three groups,
occurs another eight times in the NT.30 Apart from constructions
involving the religious parties or groups which comprised the San-
hedrin (for at least one of the substantives), there is only one clear
example in which the two nouns are entirely distinct. In Acts
we see "women. . . and men" in the construction (tw?n . . . gunaikw?n
. . . kai> a]ndrw?n). Nevertheless, even though the clear examples almost
exclusively occur in set phrases, in light of such clear examples of
entirely distinct groups united by one article (accounting for 27% of
all plural constructions), the dogmatic insistence of many exegetes
26 See Matt 2:4; 3:7; 16:1, 6, 11, 12, 21; 20:18; 26:47; 27:3, 12, 41; Mark 15:1; Luke
; 22:4, 52; John 7:45; Acts 17:12; 23:7.
27 J. Jeremias,
(175 B.C.-A.D. 135), rev. and ed. by G. Vermes, F. Millar, M. Black (
T. & T. Clark, 1979), 2. 409-11.
28 See Matt 16:1, 6, 11, 12. See also Acts 23:7 for the only other instance of these
two groups in this construction.
29 On a]rxiereu<j, see Schrenk, "a]rxireu<j," TDNT, 3.
179-80; Schurer, Jewish People, 2. 212-13; on grammateu<j, see Jeremias,
236; Schurer, Jewish People, 2. 212-13; on presbu<teroj, see BAGD, s.v. "presbu<teroj,"
2. a. 13.; G. Bomkamm, "presbu<teroj," TDNT, 6. 659; Schurer, Jewish People, 2.212-
30 See Matt 2:4; 20:18; 26:47; 27:3, 12,41; Mark 15:1; Luke 9:22. On three other
occasions, the chief priests are mentioned with another group(s): Luke 22:4 (toi?j
a]rxiereu?sin kai> strathgoi?j); Luke (tou?j . . . a]rxierei?j kai> strathgou>j . . . kai>
presbute<rouj); John (tou>j a]rxierei?j kai> Farisai<ouj).
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 73
that this construction fits the Granville Sharp rule does not seem to
be borne out of sober reflection.
Two Overlapping Groups. I have discovered only two clear
examples of this semantic group, making it the least attested category.
In Luke we read tou>j ptwxou>j kai> a]napei<rouj kai> tuflou>j kai>
xwlou>j. It must be remembered that although these four adjectives
are not synonymous, this does not preclude them from identifying the
same group. (Otherwise it would not be possible for a blind man to
be poor!) However, it is doubtful that in this parable the slave was
told to bring only those who met all four "qualifications"! Rather, the
obvious implication is that the new guest list was neither restricted on
the one hand to those who fit only one category, nor on the other
hand to those who fit all four. Thus an overlap of categories is
obviously the nuance intended by the author. In Rev 21:8, the most
complex article-noun-kai<-noun construction in the NT (involving
seven substantives: toi?j . . . deiloi?j kai> a[pi<stoij kai> e]bdelugme<noij
kai> foneu?sin kai> po<rnoij kai> farma<koij kai> ei]selola<traij), we
have a similar situation. Obviously, one would be committing exe-
getical and theological suicide to insist that the lake of fire is reserved
only for those who meet all of the "qualifications," or for those who
meet only one requirement. These two texts, though comprising less
than 3% of all the plural constructions, demonstrate the inadequacy
of distinguishing only the entirely distinct and the entirely identical
nuances for this structural phenomenon.
First Group Sub-Set of Second. I have found seven clear in-
stances of this semantic group.31 In Matt 5:20 (and ) we read
tw?n grammate<wn kai> Farisaai<wn. Although not all scribes were
Pharisees,32 when the two groups are mentioned together the author
is almost certainly indicating "the scribes and other Pharisees.”33
31 See Matt 5:20; ; ; Mark ; Luke ; ; 14:3.
32 See Jeremias,
that scribes = Pharisees (i.e., identical) and that all scribes were Pharisees (i.e., sub-
33 This point can be established in some measure by a comparison of the synoptic
gospels. For example, Mark 2:16 has "the scribes of the Pharisees" (oi[ grammatei?j tw?n
Farisai<wn) while the parallel passage in Luke reads "the Pharisees and their
scribes" (oi[ Farisai?oi kai> oi[ grammatei?j au]tw?n). Although the article is used with
both nouns in the Lucan account, one could hardly argue that such indicates unity
more strongly than the article-noun-kai<-noun construction would. As well, there are
three parallels in which the Pharisees alone are mentioned in one gospel and the scribes
and Pharisees in another (cf. Matt with Mark ; Matt 15:1 with Luke ;
and Matt with Mark and Luke ). Although such evidence does not prove
that the scribes in these passages were Pharisees (due to the selectivity of the
evangelists--cf., e.g., Matt 16:6 with Luke 12:2), it is rather suggestive. Further-
more, even though Jeremias insists that not all scribes were Pharisees and that not all
74 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Matt speaks of "the tax-collectors and sinners" (tw?n telwnw?n
kai> a[martwlw?n).34 Although some have argued that two distinct
groups are in view (the one Jewish, the other Gentile),35 it is far better
to understand the telw<nhj as a Jew36 and a[martwlo<j as any sinner,
Jew or Gentile.37 The impossibility of maintaining an absolute dis-
tinction between the two is demonstrated in Luke in which a
tax-collector (telw<nhj) prays, "0 God, be merciful to me, the sinner"
(o[ qeo<j, i[la<sqhti< moi t&? a[martwl&?). In Luke 14:3 we see tou>j
nomikou>j kai> Farisai<ouj.38 The substantival adjective nomiko<j is
clearly synonymous with grammateu<j;39 thus the construction has the
same semantic value as tou>j grammatei?j kai> Farisai<ouj. Finally,
note the substantival adjectives in Luke (tou>j a]xari<stouj kai>
ponhrou<j). Quite obviously, ingratitude is a kind of evil; thus the
ungrateful ones are a part of the larger group of evil ones. In
summary, although the clear examples of this semantic category
comprise only 10% of all plural constructions, it is a legitimate and
well-attested category which will demand consideration in at least five
exegetically significant and/or ambiguous passages.
Second Group Sub-Set of First. I have discovered four clear
examples of this semantic category. In Mark we read of both
"the tax-collectors and sinners" (first sub-set of second) and "the
sinners and tax-collectors" (tw?n a[martwlw?n kai> telwnw?n). However,
there is some substantial textual deviation from the word order of
this phrase, with x, A, C, families 1 and 13, and the Byzantine
cursives, et al., reading tw?n telwnw?n kai> a[martwlw?n. In 1 Cor
we see toi?j pleone<ktaij kai> a!rpacin. Although one could be greedy
(pleone<kthj) without being branded as a swindler (a!rpac), it is
doubtful that the reverse could be true. What alters the picture,
were scribes (
were Pharisees (p. 243) and that "This expression ['the scribes and Pharisees'] shows
that besides the leaders who were scribes, the great majority of members had not had a
scribal education" (p. 258). The joining of the two nouns, then (whether with one
article or two), is clearly used to indicate Pharisaic scribes and other Pharisees.
34 Cf. Mark 2: 16 and Luke 5:30 for parallel accounts, both of which have the same
construction as is found in Matt 9:11.
35 See, e.g., G. W. Rider, "The Granville Sharp Phenomenon and Plurals," 42-44.
36 See BAGD, S.v. "'telw<nhj."
37 See BAGD, S.v. "a[martwlo<j" 2. That a[martwlo<j was applied both to Jew and
Gentile can be easily substantiated. With reference to Gentiles, cf., e.g., Matt 26:45
with Luke . With reference to both, cf., e.g., Matt . With reference to Jews,
cf., e.g., Luke 7:37 with John 12:3; Luke 13:1.
38 See Mark and Luke for the other two examples of this particular
39 Note the parallels: Matt (nomiko<j) with Mark (ei$j tw?n grammate<wn);
Matt (grammatei?j) with Luke (nomikoi?j) and (oi[ grammatei?j).
also the comments by Gutbrod, TDNT, 4. 1088, and Jeremias,
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 75
however, is that h@ is found instead of kai< in P46, x2, D2, Y, and the
Byzantine minuscules, et al., nullifying the construction in a large
portion of the Greek witnesses to this text. In I Tim 5:8 Paul adds an
adverb to clarify the relation between the two substantives (tw?n i]di<wn
kai> ma<lista oi]kei<wn), though again the MSS are divided with C, D1,
and the Byzantine cursives containing a second article (thus, tw?n
i]di<wn kai> ma<lista tw?n oi]kei<wn. Finally, in 3 John 5 we read ei]j tw?n
a]delfou>j kai> tou?to ce<nouj. Here kai> tou?to functions adverbially,
having a similar force to kai> ma<lista in I Tim 5:8.40 But the
construction (as we might have expected!) is altered in some of the
witnesses (in particular, P and the Byzantine cursives which have ei]j
tou>j instead of tou?to). Thus, although there are four clear passages
in this semantic group (comprising almost 6% of all the plural
constructions), their testimony in each instance is rendered somewhat
less certain due to the textual variants. One might wonder, with some
justification, whether the "preferred" readings have created an idiom
which is foreign to the NT while these variae lectiones have preserved
the true text.41
Two Groups Identical. I have discovered 28 clear examples of
this semantic group.42 In Rev 1:3 we read that "those who hear and
who keep" (oi[ a]kou<ontej . . . kai> throu?ntej) the words of the
prophecy are blessed. It would seem obvious that the one who only
hears the Scripture read and does not obey it would fall short of the
blessing.43 The two-fold response of hearing and keeping is necessary
if one is to be counted among the maka<rioi. In John we read of
Andrew who was one of the two men who heard John and who began
to follow the Lord (tw?n a]kousa<ntwn . . . kai> a]kolouqhsa<ntwn). If
only two men are mentioned (du<o) and the participles are in the
plural, then both must have heard and followed. In John the
Lord promises a particular blessing to "those who do not see and
[yet] believe" (oi[ mh> i]do<ntej kai> pisteu<santej). The negative qualifi-
cation of not seeing the risen Lord is, of course, insufficient of itself
40 See BAGD, s.v.
as illustrative references.
41 It might be significant that the Byzantine minuscules were the only MSS to deviate
in all instances. The possible significance is certainly worth pursuing, though it is
beyond the scope of this paper.
42 See Matt 5:6; 11:28; 21:15; Mark 12:40; Luke 7:32; 8:21; 11:28; 12:4; 18:9; 20:46;
; , 45; ; Rom 16:7; 2 Cor ; Gal 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil
1 Thess 5:12; 2 Tim 3:6; Titus 1:15; I Pet 2:18; 2 Pet ; Rev 1:3; ; 18:9.
43 Such a conclusion is so obvious in fact that most commentaries on the Apoca-
lypse assume it to be true without any grammatical defense. Furthermore, if John were
to pronounce a blessing on mere hearers, he would be contradicting James' pointed
remark that the man who simply hears is self-deluded (Jas ). Both James and John
are no doubt repeating their Lord's statements to the same effect (cf. Luke ; ).
76 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
to procure such a blessing. What we have seen thus far are a few
examples of this semantic group which involve only participles.
Altogether, 23 of the 28 constructions belonging to this category
involve only participles.44 The participial constructions are in fact so
transparent in their semantic force that Rider believes that every
exclusively participial construction belongs to this semantic group,45
even though he does not see any clear examples of identity in non-
participial constructions.46 Although some adjustment should be
made to Rider's view, it is an indisputed and rather significant fact
that most (if not all) of the wholly participial constructions do follow
the semantics of the Granville Sharp rule and that this final semantic
category is comprised of an overwhelming majority of participial
However, although the participles hold a clear majority in this
group, they are not the only grammatical forms an author could have
selected to indicate identity between the two substantives. I have
discovered five clear instances of non-participial or partially par-
ticipial constructions which belong here as well. In Rom 16:7 Paul
greets Andronicus and Junius, "my kinsmen and my fellow-prisoners"
(tou>j suggenei?j mou kai> sunaixmalw<touj mou). Here the substantival
adjective suggenei?j and noun sunaixmalw<touj must, of course, both
refer to the two men. Two Alexandrian MSS (P46 and B) add an
article to the noun, however. In Eph 1: 1 Paul addresses his letter "to
the saints who are in
(toi?j a[gi<oij toi?j ou#sin e]n ]Efe<s& kai> pistoi?j e]n Xrist&? ]Ihsou?).
Although there are textual variants from this text, none affects the
article-noun-kai<-noun construction. In light of Pauline theology, it is
rather doubtful that he would be specifying two groups which could
be distinguished in any way. If one were either to see the two groups
as entirely distinct, as overlapping, or the first as a sub-set of the
second, the resultant idea would be that at least some of the faithful
in Christ Jesus were not saints!47 And the second group could hardly
be viewed as a sub-set of the first because (1) syntactically and
textually, this would be the lone NT instance which did not have a
44 See Matt 5:6; 11:28; 21:15; Mark 12:40; Luke 1:32; 8:21; 11:28; 12:4; 18:9; 20:46;
John ; , 45; ; 2 Cor ; Gal 1:1; Phil 3:3; I Thess ; 2 Tim 3:6;
2 Pet ; Rev 1:3; ; 18:9.
45 G. W. Rider, "The Granville Sharp Phenomenon and Plurals," 66.
46 Ibid., 11-18.
47 Though such a concept might fit the Roman doctrine of sainthood, it is not
Pauline, for even the licentious Corinthians were called saints (1 Cor 1:2). The term can
obviously be used of positional truth, which, if it speaks of merit, speaks only of the
merit of Christ.
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 77
textual variant;48 (2) theologically, such a view would seem to restrict
the Pauline doctrine of perseverance to less than all the elect; and (3)
lexically, the route normally taken by those who deny a perseverance
of all the elect is to read pistoi?j actively as "believing" and still to see
identity of the two substantives.49 Thus, barring exegetical factors
which may have been overlooked, there seems to be no good reason
not to take the two adjectives as referring to the same group. Since
this is so, with reasonable confidence we can say with Barth that
It is unlikely that Paul wanted to distinguish two classes among the
Christians, i.e. a "faithful" group from another larger or smaller group
that is "holy." Such a distinction would be unparalleled in the Pauline
letters. Even the wild Corinthians are called "sanctified" and "perfect"
(I Cor 1:2; 2:6). While occasionally Paul presupposes a sharp division
between "those outside" and "those inside," between "the unbelieving"
and "the faithful," he has no room for half- or three-quarter Christians.
It is probable that here the Greek conjunction "and" has the meaning
of "namely." It serves the purpose of explication and may therefore
occasionally be omitted in translation if its intent is preserved.50
Kolossai?j a[gi<oij kai> pistoi?j a]delfoi?j e]n Xrist&?).51 Thus the
arguments which were brought forth for the Ephesian text would be
equally applicable to the construction in this sister epistle. In Titus
the apostle speaks of “those who are defiled and unbelieving"
(toi?j de> memiamme<noij kai> a]pi<stoij--a mixed construction of parti-
ciple and adjective). He seems to be clarifying just who the defiled are
with the adjective a]pi<stoij, thus identifying them, in a sense, as
"filthy non-Christians." Paul continues to describe this group in v 16
with epithets which could hardly describe believers (bdeluktoi<,
a]peiqei?j, a]do<kimoi, ktl.).52 Finally, Peter declares in his first epistle
that servants should submit themselves to their masters, not only "to
the good and gentle" (toi?j a]gaqoi?j kai> e]pieike<sin) but also to the
harsh (1 Pet ). There is an obvious contrast here between two
48 Admittedly, this is not the strongest argument against such a view, though it
does bear some weight. Furthermore, even ignoring the variae lectiones, this category is
not as well attested as all but one of the other groups, rendering it less likely as the
correct view without a strong helping hand from non-grammatical factors.
49 See, e.g., W. Hendriksen, Exposition of Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967),
50 M. Barth, Ephesians (AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1974), 1. 68.
51 See n. 19 for a discussion of the legitimacy of this construction.
52 Even if one were to argue that the persons identified in v 15 were believers
(taking a]pistoij in the sense of 'unfaithful'), he would still see one group being
specified in the construction.
78 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
classes of masters (note ou] mo<non . . . a]lla> kai>), with the result being
that to posit any semantic nuance other than identity for the article-
noun-kai<-noun construction would destroy the clearly intended
To sum up, the identical category has captured almost 40% of all
the plural constructions in the NT. Over 82% of the constructions in
this group involve participles exclusively. And although the identical
category is the largest semantic group, it is weakly attested by non-
participial constructions (only four belonging to this category, none
of which is composed only of nouns).
Summary. Overall, 60 of the 71 article-noun-kai<-noun construc-
tions could be clearly tagged as to their semantic nuance (thus almost
85% percent were identifiable). With reference to these clear con-
structions, the breakdown is as follows:
Distinct 27% of total; 32% of clearly marked constructions
Overlap roughly 3% of both
First sub-set 10% and 12%
Second sub-set 6% and 7%
Identical 40% and 47%
Although all five semantic groups were represented, certain
patterns emerged which will certainly color our approach to the
remaining eleven texts. We will break these down first by semantic
groups and then by types of substantives.
With reference to the "distinct" category, we noted that although
this is the second largest category, all but one of the instances
occurred in a particular set phrase. As well, not one of the construc-
tions involved participles. Concerning the "overlap" group, we saw
that this is the smallest category (two examples). Furthermore, both
examples were the most complex constructions in the NT (Luke
has four substantives and Rev 21:8 has seven). With reference to the
"first sub-set of second" category, we found that this was well attested
among adjective and noun constructions, though not at all found in
participial constructions. With respect to the "second sub-set of first"
group, we discovered four clear examples, though each one had fairly
substantial textual deviations, making this nuance of the construction
non-existent among the Byzantine MSS with various other witnesses
departing from the "text" reading on each occasion as well. Finally,
regarding the "identical" group, we observed that this, the largest of
the semantic categories, captured all 23 of the wholly participial
constructions (which could be clearly identified), five constructions
involving at least one adjective, and no constructions made up
exclusively of nouns.
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 79
The types of substantives involved are laid out in Chart 6:
Distinct Overlap 1st Sub- 2nd Sub- Identical Totals
set of 2nd set of 1st
Noun 11 2 13
Adjective 1 1 1 2 5
Participle 23 23
Participial 8 4 3 2 17
Participle 1 1 2
Totals 19 2 7 4 28 60
In conclusion, such dead statistics as these, when properly used,
can themselves impart life to the interpretive possibilities one might
see for a given text. The very fact that all five semantic categories
have at least some clear examples clarifies and expands our syntac-
tical options for the ambiguous passages. A word of caution is in
order, however. We have no desire to put the Scriptures into a
straitjacket by telling an author what he must mean by a particular
construction. Dead statistics, unfortunately, are too often employed
this way by well-meaning expositors. We must keep in mind that as
interpreters of Holy Writ, the apostles are teaching us--not vice
versa! But in seeking to understand these authors, we attempt to
discover the boundaries of what they can mean by investigating the
idioms of their language. (Grammar, then, used correctly, is descrip-
tive rather than prescriptive.) Therefore, with reference to the article-
noun-kai<-noun construction, the patterns we have seen certainly give
us initial direction as to the proper interpretation of a passage; but
such leanings can be swayed by other exegetical factors. After all, we
are speaking about probabilities and tendencies, not certainties, and
about grammar alone, not the whole of exegesis.
80 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
Ambiguous and Exegetically Significant Texts
Altogether, there are eleven passages which fit the "ambiguous"
category,53 four of which also have some particular significance
exegetically.54 We will briefly examine the seven ambiguous examples
whose exegetical significance is minimal, then the four more signifi-
Ambiguous Passages. In seven instances I could not make a
positive identification of the semantics involved in the article-noun-
kai<-noun plural construction. In Matt we read of our Lord
entering the temple precincts and driving out "those buying and
selling in the temple" (tou>j pwlou?ntaj kai> a]gora<zontaj e]n t&? i[er&?).
On the surface, we have two distinct groups united by one article.
However, in light of the heretofore unanimous grouping of wholly
participial constructions in the "identical" category, a hearing at least
ought to be given to such a possibility in this text.56 In Luke 15:9 we
read of "friends and neighbors" (ta>j fi<laj kai> gei<tonaj). There is
some question as to whether gei<tonaj is feminine or masculine in
form (if the latter, it would still include the female 'neighbors'). More
than likely, it is to be taken as feminine. Nevertheless, due to the field
of meaning of fi<loj57 as well as contextual58 and other factors,59 it is
difficult to come down from the fence for any view dogmatically.
Acts 15:2 (= 16:4) speaks of the apostles and elders (tou>j a]posto<louj
kai> presbute<rouj). Although a]posto<louj here seems to be used in
its technical sense, it could be argued that all the apostles were elders,
53 See Matt ; Luke 15:9; Acts 15:2; 16:4; Eph 2:20; 3:5; ; I Tim 4:3; Heb
5:2; 2 Pet ; Rev 11:9.
54 See Eph 2:20; 3:5; ; Heb 5:2.
55 Obviously, to decide what is and what is not significant is a most subjective
endeavor. The basic criterion I have followed in this selection is in two directions-
theological and practical. Thus the four passages chosen for the "exegetically signifi-
cant" category deal with dispensationalism (Eph ; 3:5), soteriology and hamar-
tiology (Heb 5:2), and ecclesiology (Eph ). All of these texts make a significant
contribution to our understanding of such doctrines and each one, therefore, has
practical ramifications as well.
56 Jeremias suggests that this phrase ("those who bought and those who sold ")
"may well have meant cattle dealers (John 2.14)" (
that the 'buyers' were not the pilgrims who came to
the sellers; the tenor of the passage certainly does not seem to indicate that the
common people were among those booted out of the temple area.
57 See Stahlin, "fi<loj," TDNT, 9. 154.
58 Cf. Luke 14:12; 15:6.
59 The parallels in 3 Macc and Josephus, Ant 18.376, suggest a set phrase, the
semantics of which are still elusive. As well, the addition of a second article (ta>j) by A,
W, Y, families 1 and 13, and the Byzantine MSS casts doubt on the authenticity of the
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 81
though not all the elders were apostles.60 Such a suggestion, however,
is based partially on certain ecclesiological beliefs which are beyond
the scope of this paper. In 1 Tim 4:3 the apostle Paul speaks of "those
who believe61 and know the truth" (toi?j pistoi?j kai> e]pegnwko<si th>n
a]lh<qeian). Whatever the truth is here, it would seem impossible to
believe it unless one knows it. Questions concerning whether this text
is speaking about salvation or a specific situation, and the type of
knowledge in view here leave us with two viable options: (1) the first
group is a part of the second, or (2) the two are identical. Without
further investigation into these questions, we cannot be dogmatic for
either position. In 2 Pet 3:16, the apostle gives us his assessment of
those who distort Paul's letters: they are ignorant/untaught and
unstable (oi[ a]maqei?j kai> a]sth<riktoi). Apparently both terms refer to
unbelievers,62 though the relation of the two groups is ambiguous due
to insufficient lexical and contextual data in the NT. Finally, in Rev
11:9 John describes those who observe the corpses of the two
witnesses as "from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations"
(e]k tw?n law?n kai> fulw?n kai> glwssw?n kai> e]qnw?n). Although it is
apparent that "The multitude is composed of those who are con-
nected racially, those who are connected linguistically and those who
are connected by customs and laws",63 this does not entirely solve the
problem of identification. If lao<j could be construed to be lexically a
part of fulh<, then we might have each term being a sub-set of the
term which follows it. But since this is doubtful, it may be best to
view each category as overlapping somewhat with the others, resulting
in one grand hendiadys for 'the world.'
In comparing the plausible semantics of these seven ambiguous
passages with the clearly tagged passages, certain observations can be
made. First, in both clear and ambiguous texts, there were no noun +
noun constructions belonging to the "identical" category. Second,
only in Matt did we see a wholly participial construction as
possibly fitting other than the "identical" category. Third, among the
ambiguous texts the "first sub-set of second" category was plausible
in all but two instances. These ambiguous passages, then, tend to
confirm the patterns discovered for the clearly tagged texts and can
60 0n the one hand, in Acts 15:4, 6, 22, and 23 the nouns are separated by an
additional article before 'elders,' suggesting that an exact equation is probably not in
view. On the other hand, John calls himself o[ presbu<teroj in 2 John I and 3 John I,
though the precise connotation remains in doubt (see BAGD, S.v. "presbu<teroj,"
2. b. b.). Cf. also I Pet 5:1.
61 BAGD, S.v. "pisto<j," 2.
62 This seems evident from the results predicated of them later in the verse:
63 Rider, "The Granville Sharp Phenomenon and Plurals," 52-53.
82 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
help us in determining, at least antecedently, the meaning of the
remaining four texts.
Exegetically Significant Passages. Four ambiguous passages car-
ried particular exegetical significance (Eph ; 3:5; ; Heb 5:2).
In Eph Paul declares that the church is built upon the founda-
tion of the apostles and prophets (tw?n a]posto<lwn kai> profhtw?n). If
these prophets are OT prophets, as some have affirmed,64 Paul may
be saying that the church was prophesied in the OT. Since the
construction is noun + noun, such a possibility has some syntactical
support. However, Paul uses the same construction just a few verses
later, in 3:5 (toi?j a[gi<oij a]posto<loij au]tou? kai> profh<taij), indi-
cating that the same men are in mind. There he clearly puts the
prophets in the present dispensation.65 On the other hand, to see the
apostles and prophets as identical should also be suspect: (1) this
would be the only noun + noun construction which fits the identical
category, and (2) in Paul separates the two groups (notice
especially the me>n . . . de> construction). What is the relation of
apostles to prophets, then? In all probability, the first is a part of the
second; that is, we should understand Eph 2:20 and 3:5 to be referring
to the apostles and other NT prophets.66
In Heb 5:2 we are told that the high priest was able to deal gently
with those who were ignorant and were going astray (toi?j a]gnou?sin
kai> planwme<noij). Since two participles are used in the construction,
the antecedent probability is that one group is in mind. Hughes writes
that "The perversity of the human heart is such that, even if it should
be possible for a person to be free from sins of waywardness, yet no
man can claim to be free from sins of ignorance or inadvertency
[italics added].”67 Although the terms are not identical, they may be
referring to different attributes of the same group. In the least, since
64 See in particular I. J. Habeck, "Who Are the Prophets of Ephesians ?"
65 This assertion does not have to rest on the view that roc; in 3:5 makes a
comparison of kind rather than of degree (though I
believe this to be the case; cf.
), for the prophets are recipients of the revelation made 'now' (nu?n a]pekalu<fqh).
66 There are solid grounds for this view biblico-theologically as well as semanti-
cally. Habeck dismisses this view because the term prophet is not used of any of the
apostles (Habeck, "Ephesians ," 121), but he errs in making a conceptual-lexical
equation. As David Hill ably points out, our concept of NT prophecy must not be
restricted to the profht- word-group (David Hill,
New Testament Prophecy [
John Knox, 1979], 2-3). Certainly we cannot deny that Paul or John or Peter
67 P. E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (
Eerdmans, 1977), 178.
THE ARTICLE-NOUN-KAI'-NOUN PLURAL CONSTRUCTION 83
these sins were forgivable, the deliberate sins of do not include
being led astray (planw<menoj).68
Finally, we turn to the text which occupied us initially: Eph 4:11.
There the apostle enumerates the gifted leadership of the church,
concluding his list with "the pastors and teachers" (tou>j de> poime<naj
kai> didaska<louj). Although most commentaries consider the two
terms to refer to one group,69 we must emphatically insist that such a
view has no grammatical basis, even though the writers who maintain
this view almost unanimously rest their case on the supposed semantics
of the article-noun-kai<-noun construction.70 Yet, as we have seen,
there are no other examples in the NT of this construction with nouns
in the plural, either clearly tagged or ambiguous, which allow for
such a possibility. One would, therefore, be on rather shaky ground
to insist on such a nuance here--especially if the main weapon in his
arsenal is syntax! On the other hand, the insistence of some that the
two are entirely distinct is usually based on the same narrow view of
the semantic range of this construction (i.e., only the two categories
of absolute identity and absolute distinction are normally considered).
What is the relation of pastors to teachers, then? It must be readily
admitted that the uniting of these two groups by one article sets them
apart from the other gifted men. Absolute distinction, then, is
probably not in view. In light of the fact that elders and pastors had
similar functions in the NT,71 since elders were to be teachers,72 the
pastors were also to be teachers. Conversely, not all teachers were
said to be pastors.73 This evidence seems to suggest that the poime<naj
were a part of the didaska<louj in Eph . This possibility is in
keeping with the semantics of the construction, for the "first sub-set
of the second" category is well attested in both the clear and
ambiguous texts in the NT. Although one cannot be dogmatic, there
is a high probability that, according to Eph , all pastors are to be
teachers, though not all teachers are to be pastors.
I have sought to demonstrate that the syntax of the article-noun-
kai<-noun plural construction has been largely misunderstood. It does
68 The ramifications of 5:2 and for the doctrines of salvation and sanctifi-
cation are manifold. Not only has God forgiven our waywardness, but he forgives it
69 See n. I.
70 See n. I.
71 See Malphurs, "Pastors and Teachers," 46-53.
72 Ibid., 52-53. Of course, that an elder should be able to teach does not necessarily
indicate that he had the gift of teaching.
73 Ibid., 41-46.
84 GRACE THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL
not fit the Granville Sharp rule since the nouns are plural. Nor is its
semantic range shut up to absolute distinction or absolute identity.
By an exhaustive treatment of the construction in the NT, we
discovered that there are three other semantic possibilities, in par-
ticular the first noun could be a part of the second. A proper
semantic grid has helped us in seeing possibilities in certain texts
which have hitherto gone unnoticed and in omitting certain options
on the basis of syntax which have been assumed true. Further
exegetical work still needs to be done in many passages which have
this construction, but it cannot proceed unless the starting point is a
proper understanding of the semantic range of this construction in
This material is cited with gracious permission from:
Grace Theological Seminary
Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: firstname.lastname@example.org