Hebrews 3:12 Plural imperatives

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Oct 26 06:57:12 EST 1998


At 20:46pm -0600 10/25/98, Timothy Duke wrote:
>"BLEPETE, ADELPHOI, MHPOTE ESTAI EN TINI hUMWN..."
>
>When I have heard sermons on this verse, the preacher often makes a point
>that this verse commands a <<corporate>> obligation to keep each other
>accountable.  ie the author is NOT saying: each of you should check your
>own heart; but rather as a group you should keep watch over each
>individual.  The reason they give for this interpretation is that the
>plural imperative is followed by a singular object.  Many commentaries also
>refer to this & draw the same conclusion.
>
>My question is this: is this grammatically correct at all; or is it merely
>a preferred option etc etc. ? If so, just how far should we prefer it over
>the other?

I think that the following verse makes clear that it is a corporate charge
regarding individuals: ALLA PARAKALEITE hEAUTOUS KAQ' hEKASTHN hHMERAN,
ACRIS hOU TO SHMERON KALEITAI, hINA MH SKLHRUNQHi TIS EX hUMWN APATHi THS
hAMARTIAS.

>If the corporate version is the only way to go, how would you construct the
> non-corporate version?

An approach that starts with the individual but is still concerned with the
integrity of the church is Mt 18:15ff., but if what is looked for in this
question is how self-examination is exhorted, try Mt 6:22f. and its
parallels. If, on the other hand, the question is how Heb 3:12 might be
phrased if its concern were strictly with self-exmination by each
individual, you might have simply BLEPETE hEKASTOS hEAUTON, MHPOTE ESTAI EN
TINI hUMWN ....

An exhortation in the plural regarding self-governance might be seen in 1
Thess 4:2f.: OIDATE GAR TINAS PARAAGGELIAS AEDWKAMEN hUMIN DIA TOU KURIOU
IHSOU. TOUTO GAR ESTIN QELHMA TOU QEOU, hO hAGIASMOS hUMWN, APECESQAI hUMAW
APO THS PORNEIAS, EIDENAI hEKASTON hUMWN TO hEAUTOU SKEUOS KTASQAI EN
hAGIAASMWi KAI TIMHi ...

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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