Rom. 12:15 infinitives

Mike Sangrey mike at
Fri Aug 6 17:27:25 EDT 1999

mike at said:
> Rom. 12:14-15 -

>  I guess my precise question is this, "How do the infinitives fit into
> the flow of Paul's thought here in Rom. 9-21?"  Why not just continue
> with the participles? 

I think I have the answer now.  (Although I'm not sure whether anyone
else does seeing how this thread has taken off--that's a joke, honest
:-) I've appreciated the responses I've gotten.

Rom 12:9-21 forms a chiastic discourse.

    Vs 9	Good vs Evil				vs 21
		(for lack of a better
		way to put it.)
    10		Initiate Love				20
    11		Slave relationship to God		19
    12		Proper response to circumstances	17-18
    13		Proper response to things		16

       14		Imperatives to bless others
       15		Imperative Infinitives to rejoice and weep.

Versus 14 & 15 form the CHI with CAIREIN META CAIRONTWN, KLAIEIN
META KLAIONTWN being the height of Paul's excitement; I can just
hear his emotion in those Greek infinitives.  "!!To rejoice with
those who rejoice!! !!To weep with those who weep!!"  The eloquence
is beautiful.

A couple of things I find really neat about this:

1) The substantive/adjective pairs that occur in verses 9-13.  This
is initially what muddled me regarding the infinitives.  It wasn't
till I diagrammed the entire passage in Greek that the chiastic nature
slowly came to the surface.  I couldn't accept Jim's explanation
of breaking the monotony; Paul had just used 11 adjectival words
(either adjectives or verbal adjectives), why would he change in
verse 15 to a verbal noun?  Now I understand.  Or at least think
I do. :-)

2) Verse 16 wasn't clear at all.  I kept bouncing back and forth
between the Greek and the ASV muttering, "What *is* he talking about?"


Again, it wasn't till I diagrammed the Greek and a went through a
process of elimination that I understood that verse 16 had to mirror
the thought in verse 13.  Then the words: AUTO, hUYHLA, TAPEINOIS,
and hEAUTOIS became clear.  At least I think they became clear. :-)
I think they simply refer to things.  High minded things, like
caviar, and lobster every Friday; lowly things like rice and chicken.
This mirrored the actions of KOINWNIA and FILOXENIA.  We are to
not be snooty with our things, but share.  At least that's how I
understand it.

3) It appears that after the elegant, beautifully simple build up of
11 substantive <--> adjective pairs to the apex of the infinitives,
Paul sort of runs out of steam.  Verses 16-21 are more complicated,
relatively speaking.  It's like Paul searches for a way to let his
hearers down easy after he has flown to close to the sun. There's a
couple of substantive <--> adjective pairs (verse 16) but nothing
like what goes before.  If I knew Greek better, perhaps I could
tell whether it is a clumsey landing or a smooth one.  Again, this
underscores for me the intensity of the infinitives.  No other part
of speech could carry this weight so succinctly.  It's just beautiful.

Being a Greek student of little mind (allusion to Winnie the Pooh
again), this is really exciting.  Also, if the above analysis is
way off base, please be gentle.  I feel like I just bit into a
whole pile o' honey.

I hope you guys don't mind me saying all this.  I was originally
hoping for a little pointer that would have sent me in this
direction.  I guess it pays to dig.  Again, I appreciated the
responses I got.

OK, you guys can go back to what you were talking about, whatever it
was. :-)  And thanks!!!

Mike Sangrey
mike at

More information about the B-Greek mailing list