Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace)

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Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace)

Postby Eric S. Weiss » January 20th, 2013, 11:25 am

Daniel Wallace in GGBB writes re: Ephesians 5:18

2. ἐν + Dative for Content
Rare is the usage of the simple dative to denote the content that is used by a verb of filling. For ἐν + the dative, this usage is debatable.
Normally, a verb of filling takes a genitive of content; rarely, a simple dative of content. However, we know of no clear examples in biblical Greek in which ἐν + the dative indicates content. We should, therefore, seek some other nuance in such instances, as in Eph 5:18 (discussed below ).
Eph 5:18 πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι
be filled [with, by, in] [the] Spirit
To see ἐν πνεύματι here as indicating content is grammatically suspect (even though it is, in many circles, the predominant view). Only if the flow of argument and/or the lack of other good possibilities strongly point in the direction of content would we be compelled to take it as such. There are no other examples in biblical Greek in which ἐν + the dative after πληρόω indicates content. Further, the parallel with οἴνῳ as well as the common grammatical category of means suggest that the idea intended is that believers are to be filled by means of the [Holy] Spirit. If so , there seems to be an unnamed agent.
The meaning of this text can only be fully appreciated in light of the πληρόω language in Ephesians. Always the term is used in connection with a member of the Trinity. Three considerations seem to be key: (1) In Eph 3:19 the “hinge” prayer introducing the last half of the letter makes a request that the believers “be filled with all the fullness of God” (πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ). The explicit content of πληρόω is thus God’s fullness (probably a reference to his moral attributes). (2) In 4:10 Christ is said to be the agent of filling (with v 11 adding the specifics of his giving spiritual gifts). (3) The author then brings his argument to a crescendo in 5:18: Believers are to be filled by Christ by means of the Spirit with the content of the fullness of God.


Though only one of my two examples below is "Biblical Greek" (if you consider the Apocrypha to be Biblical), could these be considered instances "in which ἐν + the dative indicates content"?

Ignatius to the Smyrneans, Salutation:
Ἰγνάτιος, ὁ καὶ Θεοφόρος, ἐκκλησίᾳ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ ἠγαπημένου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἠλεημένῃ ἐν παντὶ χαρίσματι, πεπληρωμένῃ ἐν πίστει καὶ ἀγάπῃ, ἀνυστερήτῳ οὔσῃ παντὸς χαρίσματος, θεοπρεπεστάτῃ καὶ ἁγιοφόρῳ, τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Σμύρνῃ τῆς Ἀσίας, ἐν ἀμώμῳ πνεύματι καὶ λόγῳ θεοῦ πλεῖστα χαίρειν.
Ignatius, who [is] also God-bearer, to the church of God the Father and of the beloved Jesus Christ, which has obtained mercy in every gift,, which has been filled with faith and love, not lacking in2 which is1 any gift, most worthy of God and bearing holy things, which is in Smyrna of Asia, in3 a blameless4 spirit5 and6 the word7 of God.8 abundant1 greetings2.
- Brannan, R. (2011). Apostolic Fathers Greek-English Interlinear. Logos Bible Software.

Sirach 26:2:
γυνὴ ἀνδρεία εὐφραίνει τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς, καὶ τὰ ἔτη αὐτοῦ πληρώσει ἐν εἰρήνῃ.
A loyal wife brings joy to her husband, and he will complete his years in peace. (NRSV)
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Re: Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace

Postby MAubrey » January 20th, 2013, 1:08 pm

I'd say that neither of those examples are ambiguous. They're clearly denote the content of the filling. I'd be curious as to what other ways one would express the content of the filling. I've found an instance of πληρόω taking a genitive. That looks like the more standard way of expressing content.
Philo, On Dreams 2.150 wrote:γλυκυπίκρου πληρουμένους ἡδονῆς
being filled with a bitter-sweet pleasure

In any case, my inclination would be to simply treat this instance as ambiguous. The instrumental dative is much more common in this era, but since both exist in available texts, I'm not sure there's any way of determining one way or the other. The context certainly doesn't help much here.
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Re: Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace

Postby Scott Lawson » January 20th, 2013, 2:59 pm

Doesn't the verb πληροω suggest that content is expected?
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Re: Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace

Postby Scott Lawson » January 20th, 2013, 3:17 pm

Be complete in spirit...singing spiritual songs...
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Re: Ephesians 5:18 and "filled with the Spirit" (re: Wallace

Postby MAubrey » January 20th, 2013, 3:45 pm

Scott Lawson wrote:Doesn't the verb πληροω suggest that content is expected?

Indeed and the medio-passive voice of the verb suggest that agent/instrumental is expected. Like I said, the context doesn't suggest one way or the other.
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