What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Forum rules
Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Eiji Koyama
Posts: 13
Joined: July 13th, 2011, 2:04 am

What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Eiji Koyama » July 13th, 2011, 2:19 am

Romans3:23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ,

Most Japanese Bible translated this passage as "for all have sinned and can not receive the glory from God."
I understand that ὑστεροῦνται is passive. However most English Bible translated as "fall short."
Please give me comments for better understanding of this passage.
0 x



Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3610
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 13th, 2011, 10:02 am

Hi ejii - first off, could you please send me your full name so we can change your user name to reflect it? Please see this policy:

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/test/foru ... ?f=38&t=90

I think the right way to interpret this is as a middle, not a passive. Here's A.T. Robertson's comment on the phrase:
ATR wrote:And fall short (κα υστερουντα). Present middle indicative of υστερεω, to be υστερος (comparative) too late, continued action, still fall short. It is followed by the ablative case as here, the case of separation.
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1579
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Barry Hofstetter » July 13th, 2011, 11:51 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:Hi ejii - first off, could you please send me your full name so we can change your user name to reflect it? Please see this policy:

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/test/foru ... ?f=38&t=90

I think the right way to interpret this is as a middle, not a passive. Here's A.T. Robertson's comment on the phrase:
ATR wrote:And fall short (κα υστερουντα). Present middle indicative of υστερεω, to be υστερος (comparative) too late, continued action, still fall short. It is followed by the ablative case as here, the case of separation.
I have already updated Eiji's name to be compliant with board policy. I really hate the "8 case system" applied to Greek, but the "genitive of separation" following ὑστεροῦνται is a sure clue to the meaning. I carefully read through the lexical entries in L&N and BAGD (I still don't have BDAG, alas) and fail to see anything which would justify this rendering.
0 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

David Lim
Posts: 901
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by David Lim » July 13th, 2011, 12:07 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:I think the right way to interpret this is as a middle, not a passive. Here's A.T. Robertson's comment on the phrase:
ATR wrote:And fall short (κα υστερουντα). Present middle indicative of υστερεω, to be υστερος (comparative) too late, continued action, still fall short. It is followed by the ablative case as here, the case of separation.
Hmm then is there a reason why Heb 4:1 and Heb 12:15 use the active forms rather than the middle-passive forms? The structure and usage seems to be similar to Rom 3:23.

[Heb 4:1] φοβηθωμεν ουν μηποτε καταλειπομενης επαγγελιας εισελθειν εις την καταπαυσιν αυτου δοκη τις εξ υμων υστερηκεναι
[Heb 12:15] επισκοπουντες μη τις υστερων απο της χαριτος του θεου μη τις ριζα πικριας ανω φυουσα ενοχλη και δια ταυτης μιανθωσιν πολλοι
0 x
δαυιδ λιμ

Jonathan Robie
Posts: 3610
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
Contact:

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 13th, 2011, 1:10 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I carefully read through the lexical entries in L&N and BAGD (I still don't have BDAG, alas) and fail to see anything which would justify this rendering.
I assume this is the rendering you refer to: "for all have sinned and can not receive the glory from God."
0 x
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

cwconrad
Posts: 2110
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by cwconrad » July 13th, 2011, 1:13 pm

David Lim wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I think the right way to interpret this is as a middle, not a passive. Here's A.T. Robertson's comment on the phrase:
ATR wrote:And fall short (καὶ υστεροῦνται). Present middle indicative of υστερεω, to be υστερος (comparative) too late, continued action, still fall short. It is followed by the ablative case as here, the case of separation.
Hmm then is there a reason why Heb 4:1 and Heb 12:15 use the active forms rather than the middle-passive forms? The structure and usage seems to be similar to Rom 3:23.

[Heb 4:1] φοβηθωμεν ουν μηποτε καταλειπομενης επαγγελιας εισελθειν εις την καταπαυσιν αυτου δοκη τις εξ υμων υστερηκεναι
[Heb 12:15] επισκοπουντες μη τις υστερων απο της χαριτος του θεου μη τις ριζα πικριας ανω φυουσα ενοχλη και δια ταυτης μιανθωσιν πολλοι
"Hmm, hmm, hmm ... " I guess that "hmm" does service as an emoticon whenever you come to an ἀπορία in a Greek text or someone's comment on that text -- it gives one the sense that one is approaching a bee's hive ...

This verb - ὑστερῶ/ὑστεροῦμαι is very interesting in terms of voice. (The lexica always list the lemmata in the uncontracted form,which is never seen in any actual extant Greek text. Why not just say that they're α, ε, or ο contract verbs but use the forms that actually appear in texts as the lemma?). The verb appears 16x in the GNT, 8x in the active, 8x in the middle-passive. In the LXX it appears 19x, 16x in the active, 3x in the middle-passive.

I would agree with Jonathan that it's not passive. The question is: Why the divergence between active and middle forms of this verb in Biblical Greek?

I've stated previously my view that "active" voice forms are the "default" form for verbs regardless whether they are transitive and active (e.g. ἀποκτείνω), intransitive (e.g. βαίνω) or even, as in some instances, passive (e.g. δεῖνα ἔπαθον ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν μου), while the middle-passive forms are marked for subject-affectedness, such subject-affectedness being that the subject is a patient, a beneficiary, or maybe an undergoer of a process. It would appear that ὑστερῶ is a denominative verb derived from the comparative adjective ὕστερος/α/ον and means fundamentally "run short" or "run behind" or "come up short" or, in a variety of extended senses, "be deficient." Just the examples indicated in LXX and GNT are sufficient to indicate that the verb is used in both the active and the middle in much the same senses. What then, if any, is the difference. I draw here on our friend Steve Runge's ad nauseam dictum, "difference implies choice." My guess is that when the author uses the middle, he/she intends to underscore the subject's helplessness or deficiency.

Thus, when Paul writes in Rom 3:23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, he might say, were he speaking American English, "Everybody has blown the opportunity; we're all of us missing the boat that should take us to heaven." My own take on this is that if Paul had written ὑστεροῦσι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, he'd be noting the fact of their failure; by writing ὑστεροῦνται he emphasizes the tragedy of their failure. He could have made the verb active or middle-passive and the fundamental sense would, I think, have been the same. His choice of the middle-passive, it seems to me, marks a distinct nuance of difference.
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Eiji Koyama
Posts: 13
Joined: July 13th, 2011, 2:04 am

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by Eiji Koyama » July 13th, 2011, 6:29 pm

Thank you for all the comments. They are very helpful. I convinced this is middle. However I still wonder it is proper to interpret "can't receive" for "υστεροῦνται." I totally agree that Paul "emphasizes the tragedy of their failure." My point is this: Did Paul emphasize we cannot achieve our salvation by our own effort? Or did Paul emphasize we even cannot receive salvation. How far we can interpret this word, "υστεροῦνται"?
0 x

cwconrad
Posts: 2110
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by cwconrad » July 14th, 2011, 5:58 am

Eiji Koyama wrote:Thank you for all the comments. They are very helpful. I convinced this is middle. However I still wonder it is proper to interpret "can't receive" for "υστεροῦνται." I totally agree that Paul "emphasizes the tragedy of their failure." My point is this: Did Paul emphasize we cannot achieve our salvation by our own effort? Or did Paul emphasize we even cannot receive salvation. How far we can interpret this word, "υστεροῦνται"?
Be careful here: our discussion focuses on precisely what the text says, not on all the implications that may be inferred from what it actually says. What υστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ actually says is that they "fall short of God's glory." I think you can find other passages that may speak more directly to the question whether human beings can or cannot achieve salvation by their own efforts. This passage simply states that everybody fails, everybody misses it. I think it's a mistake to make a single text such as this bear the burden of the author's message in the larger context.
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

David Lim
Posts: 901
Joined: June 6th, 2011, 6:55 am

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by David Lim » July 14th, 2011, 7:40 am

cwconrad wrote:
David Lim wrote:Hmm then is there a reason why Heb 4:1 and Heb 12:15 use the active forms rather than the middle-passive forms? The structure and usage seems to be similar to Rom 3:23.

[Heb 4:1] φοβηθωμεν ουν μηποτε καταλειπομενης επαγγελιας εισελθειν εις την καταπαυσιν αυτου δοκη τις εξ υμων υστερηκεναι
[Heb 12:15] επισκοπουντες μη τις υστερων απο της χαριτος του θεου μη τις ριζα πικριας ανω φυουσα ενοχλη και δια ταυτης μιανθωσιν πολλοι
"Hmm, hmm, hmm ... " I guess that "hmm" does service as an emoticon whenever you come to an ἀπορία in a Greek text or someone's comment on that text -- it gives one the sense that one is approaching a bee's hive ...
Good analogy.. the honey inside the hive would be more inviting if I had thicker fur for the bees. ;)
cwconrad wrote:This verb - ὑστερῶ/ὑστεροῦμαι is very interesting in terms of voice. (The lexica always list the lemmata in the uncontracted form,which is never seen in any actual extant Greek text. Why not just say that they're α, ε, or ο contract verbs but use the forms that actually appear in texts as the lemma?). The verb appears 16x in the GNT, 8x in the active, 8x in the middle-passive. In the LXX it appears 19x, 16x in the active, 3x in the middle-passive.

I would agree with Jonathan that it's not passive. The question is: Why the divergence between active and middle forms of this verb in Biblical Greek?

I've stated previously my view that "active" voice forms are the "default" form for verbs regardless whether they are transitive and active (e.g. ἀποκτείνω), intransitive (e.g. βαίνω) or even, as in some instances, passive (e.g. δεῖνα ἔπαθον ὑπὸ τῶν ἐχθρῶν μου), while the middle-passive forms are marked for subject-affectedness, such subject-affectedness being that the subject is a patient, a beneficiary, or maybe an undergoer of a process. It would appear that ὑστερῶ is a denominative verb derived from the comparative adjective ὕστερος/α/ον and means fundamentally "run short" or "run behind" or "come up short" or, in a variety of extended senses, "be deficient." Just the examples indicated in LXX and GNT are sufficient to indicate that the verb is used in both the active and the middle in much the same senses. What then, if any, is the difference. I draw here on our friend Steve Runge's ad nauseam dictum, "difference implies choice." My guess is that when the author uses the middle, he/she intends to underscore the subject's helplessness or deficiency.

Thus, when Paul writes in Rom 3:23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, he might say, were he speaking American English, "Everybody has blown the opportunity; we're all of us missing the boat that should take us to heaven." My own take on this is that if Paul had written ὑστεροῦσι τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, he'd be noting the fact of their failure; by writing ὑστεροῦνται he emphasizes the tragedy of their failure. He could have made the verb active or middle-passive and the fundamental sense would, I think, have been the same. His choice of the middle-passive, it seems to me, marks a distinct nuance of difference.
I get what you mean, but is it possible that the middle-passive may mean "be caused to lack" / "be caused to come short", since for at least the occurrences in the new testament and the Septuagint there is something that causes the deficiency, even if not quite actively? I notice LSJ on Perseus also has: ὑστερηθεὶς τῆς ὁράσεως having lost his sight, PLond.5.1708.85 (vi A. D.).
0 x
δαυιδ λιμ

cwconrad
Posts: 2110
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: What does this text mean? Romans 3:23

Post by cwconrad » July 14th, 2011, 8:58 am

David Lim wrote:I get what you mean, but is it possible that the middle-passive may mean "be caused to lack" / "be caused to come short", since for at least the occurrences in the new testament and the Septuagint there is something that causes the deficiency, even if not quite actively? I notice LSJ on Perseus also has: ὑστερηθεὶς τῆς ὁράσεως having lost his sight, PLond.5.1708.85 (vi A. D.).
No, I don't think there's a chance in the world that it could mean "be caused to lack." Even the active form ὑστερῶ is intransitive; I don't see any instances in LSJ or BDAG of usage of this verb with an accusative direct object (the one accusative complement -- Mt. 19.20 τί ἔτι ὑστερῶ; -- appears to be an accusative of respect rather than an object; cf. BDAG s.v. ὑστερέω, 5.a.). ὑστερηθεὶς is middle in meaning -- it's the aorist nom. sg. m. participial form of ὑστεροῦμαι. English "having lost" is certainly not a passive participial form, but it does accurately render ὑστερηθεὶς.
0 x
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Post Reply

Return to “New Testament”