THN KLHSIN hUMWN in 1 Cor. 1:26

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Aug 12 07:57:53 EDT 2001

At 3:06 PM +0000 8/11/01, boyd at wrote:
>Dear B-greekers,
>I'm working through 1 Corinthians 1:18--2:5 and have hit a snag in
>my understanding at verse 26.
>1 Cor. 1:26
>My question deals with the words THN KLHSIN hUMWN.
>BDAG lists two meanings for KLHSIS:
>1) invitation to experience of special privilege and responsibility,
>call, calling, invitation;
>2) position that one holds, position, condition;***
>BDAG lists 1 Cor. 1:26 under meaning #1, giving the translation
>"consider your call i.e., what happened when it occurred."
>Based on these meanings here are two of my possible translations
>of the verse:
>Based on meaning #1: "For consider what happened when you
>were called, brothers, [namely] that not many wise, not many
>powerful, not many well-born [responded]."
>Based on meaning #2: "For consider your station in life, brothers,
>[namely] that not many [were] wise, not many [were] powerful, not
>many [were] well-born."
>I've always previously understood this verse to speak of their
>"position" or "station in life," but now I don't know.  Did I accurately
>reflect BDAG's meaning #1 in my first translation?  Any help would
>be much appreciated.
>Jonathan Boyd
>Huxley, IA
>*** Incidentally, Gordon Fee _The First Epistle to the Corinthians_
>(NICNT), says that BAGD's second meaning isn't supported by
>evidence.  But then he opts for an understanding similar to
>meaning #2.  Curious?

The problem here may lie less with the lexicography and more with the
context of the passage in question: the context, it seems to me,
underscores BOTH the worldly status of the Corinthian addressees AND the
fact that the gospel invitation came to them despite their generally
insignificant social status. For clarity's sake I think I might include
both dimensions in a somewhat amplified version: "For consider the status
you had when you were called, brothers ... " It does seem to me that it's
not so much a choice between EITHER meaning #1 OR meaning #2 but
discernment of how both senses of KLHSIS here play into each other.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at OR cwconrad at

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