What tense in the Greek is "emptied" (Himself) in Philippians 2:7?

Discussion in 'Exegetical Forum' started by Trinity Apologetics, Jan 28, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Trinity Apologetics

    Trinity Apologetics Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi brothers in Christ. I'm a young apologist for the Trinity but my Greek needs a lot of work and I don't have any good sources to know the answer to my question. What is the tense of the word "emptied" (kenoō) in Philippians 2:7? Past tense? Present tense? Future tense? Another tense? This is important for my exegesis of the passage when defending the Trinity.

    Also, regarding John 1:1, is saying that John 1:1b "literally" is rendered as "towards the God" exaggerated or inaccurate or wrong Greek wise?

    I want to be as accurate as possible in my apologetics and future debates.

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Jonny.

    Jonny. Puritan Board Freshman

    ἐκενωσεν - it's aorist, which is generally past tense.
  3. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore

    In addition to what Jonny said re: Phil 2:7 in relation to John 1:1 I would say the translation 'towards the God' is only one of a number of possible translations and probably one of the least likely in my opinion. προς το θεον i.e. the proposition with the accusative has a range of possible meaning one of which is indeed 'towards' i.e spatial. However another possibility is 'with'. The full phrase is ην προς το θεον - was with God....i.e a stative verb (to be - imperfect) followed by our prepositional phrase. This heavily weighs us towards a the translation 'was with God'.

    I would point you to Daniel B. Wallace's Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, page 359ff. He discusses this verse and how the stative verb with the transitive preposition becomes generally stative in force. He writes,

    "προς is not the only preposition whose forces is overridden by a verb. Virtually all instances of stative verbs with prepositions of motion go in this direction........Stative verbs override the transitive force of prepositions, Almost always, when a stative verb is used with a transitive preposition, the preposition's natural force is neutralized; all that remains is a stative idea."

    He gives list in a footnote of a good number of examples of this, mostly using προς.
  4. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I'm confused about what you're trying to note here. Where is this preposition you're referrring to and how does this relate to Phi 2:7?
  5. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Where's the head slap icon?! Gotcha.

    Back to the Original Question:

    To the issue of Philippians 4:7, and the "tense" of the verb, it's a bit more complicated than figuring out that a verb is in the past tense. The aorist carries more to its meaning than determining that it happened in the past. Wallace:

    Specifically, I believe it is this type of Aorist:
  6. Trinity Apologetics

    Trinity Apologetics Puritan Board Freshman

    Is there any parallel between pros in John 1:1 and pros in John 1:29 (where it means towards): "The next day he saw Jesus coming to [pros] him"? Is pros in John 1:29 in the accusative?
  7. JP Wallace

    JP Wallace Puritan Board Sophomore


    In John 1:29 the governing verb is transitive not stative, not a state of being, but a motion - ερχομενον προς αυτον, thus, a more normal use of προς is observed - 'towards'.
  8. Jonny.

    Jonny. Puritan Board Freshman

    Ethan, you said yourself in your first post that your Greek “needs a lot of work”. What exactly do you mean by that?

    Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “A little Greek can be a dangerous thing”. In my experience this has been true. I’ve met people who think that all one needs to do is open a lexicon and look up each individual word. They allow what they have read in the lexicon to completely override how the language actually works and make claims that are unwarranted.

    I think the other posters have shown that exegeting a passage involves more than just parsing the tense or case of a word. There are difficult judgements to be made and often there is no obvious “correct answer”. That is one of the reasons why new translations involve committees; there can be genuine disagreement over exactly how to translate a given phrase.

    I’m fairly fresh out of seminary, where we sat quite an intensive Greek course, and even though it’s fresh, I feel totally out of my depth when I read discussions about the finer details of the language.

    Honestly, I’m not intending to be nasty here, but your Greek does “need work”. If you’re asking these questions to aid your own understanding of the passage then fine. However, if you’re planning to make apologetic arguments based on the text of John, I think it would be unwise to build those arguments on the Greek language, at least until you have a stronger grasp of it.
  9. Trinity Apologetics

    Trinity Apologetics Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes I understand that :) Thank you for the advice. I really want to be 100% accurate in the future and never misuse any Greek.
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would second what Jonny says. Not being a linguist myself, it is best to stay away from discussions of Greek and Hebrew until such a time as you know what you are talking about. If you are interested in apologetic discussions, and I am glad you are as apologetics is a neglected field, then focus on using aspects of apologetics where you have a good grasp of the material/arguments. In the short term, you would probably be best reading works of systematic theology and or reliable commentaries that deal with this passage and its bearing on the Kenotic theory.

    Edit: I see your major targets are the Oneness Pentecostals, who are a good group to go after. I once had a conversation with someone who was friends with a Oneness Pentecostal. This person, despite attending a Reformed church, thought that the Oneness Pentecostal's religion was "the same" as ours, just except for the Trinity. Seriously, just because someone uses evangelical terminology about being "saved" and "born again", they can preach Unitarianism and other evangelicals think it is okay.
  11. Trinity Apologetics

    Trinity Apologetics Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you brother for your true and kind response. Yes my focus is against Oneness Pentecostalism (right now). My Youtube videos focus against them the most. I've had one moderated debate so far (I'm 22 years old). Perhaps my second one will be in April. Yes Modalism is a big problem and it's quite popular in the world today and is often "accidentally" believed in, in "evangelical" churches. The major problem (aside from their false view of salvation) is their belief that the Son is a temporary role of God: a finite/created manifestation of the Father and not equal. This dishonors the Son but they don't see it. They say "Jesus" is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but "Son" cannot be divorced from the humanity side. Therefore they have a created Son just like Arians and Socinians.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page