[B-Greek] 4th Class Condition in 1 Peter 3:14

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 6 21:33:17 EDT 2007

ἀλλʼ εἰ καὶ πάσχοιτε διὰ δικαιοσύνην, μακάριοι

What Wallace says is
4. Fourth Class Condition (Less Probable Future)
a. Definition
The fourth class condition indicates a possible condition in the future, usually a remote possibility (such as if he could do something, if perhaps this should occur). The protasis involves εἰ [EI] + the optative mood. The optative is also used in the apodosis along with ἄν [AN] (to indicate contingency). Because of the increasing use of the subjunctive and decreasing use of the optative in Hellenistic Greek, it should come as no surprise that there are no complete fourth class conditions in the NT.
Sometimes the conditional clause is mixed, with a non-optative in the apodosis (e.g., Acts 24:19). On two other occasions, there is an apodosis, but a verbless one (1 Pet 3:14, 17). On other occasions, no apodosis is to be supplied, the protasis functioning as a sort of stereotyped parenthesis (e.g., 1 Cor 14:10; 15:37).

Daniel B. Wallace. (1999; 2002). Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics - Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (699). Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software.

What we have in 1 Pet 3.14 is a protasis without a complete apodosis since μακάριοι [MAKARIOI] is an adjective and the verb is an understood form of the copula.  The future less vivid has an optative in the apodosis as well as in the protasis so this is not technically a complete future less vivid condition but I'm inclined to think that it should nevertheless be considered as such.

Regarding future less vivid conditions and 1 Pet 3.13f Robertson states

The difference between the third and fourth classes is well illustrated in 1 Pet. 3:13 f. So Jesus draws a distinction in Lu. 22:67. The use of the opt. in both apodosis and protasis accents the remoteness of the hypothesis. And yet it is not in the category of unreality as in the second class. It floats in a mirage, but does not slip quite away. It is thus suitable not merely for real doubt, but it also fits well the polite temper of courteous address. It is evident that this condition will be comparatively infrequent. It is an ornament of the cultured class and was little used by the masses save in a few set phrases (or wishes). It is not strange, therefore, that no complete example of this fourth class condition appears in the LXX, the N. T. or the papyri so far as examined. 

Robertson, A. (1919; 2006). A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (1020). Logos.

I tend to think that Robertson is correct when he stresses that this is a cultured and polite form of address.  I don't think we can make any judgments regarding "the sporadic reality" of persecution at the time though there seems to have been no concerted attempt to persecute Christians -- not even under Domitian who seems to have gotten a bad rap from history due to the writings of his detractors who survived him.  As late as Trajan under whom Ignatius was cast to the beasts at Rome, Pliny the Younger, the governor of Bithynia, wrote to him asking for guidance since he knew little regarding how cases of Christians were to be handled; and Trajan replied that they were not to be actively pursued or to be prosecuted upon the basis of anonymous complaints though it was still considered a capital offense.

Therefore, O faithful Christian, search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.
- Jan Hus

----- Original Message ----
From: Calvin Lindstrom <pclindstrom at yahoo.com>
To: B-Greek <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, July 6, 2007 6:08:23 PM
Subject: [B-Greek] 4th Class Condition in 1 Peter 3:14

Daniel Wallace (p. 485) notes that 1 Peter 3:14 comes as close as any  
to a complete fourth class condition in the NT.

ei˙ kai« pa¿scoite dia» dikaiosu/nhn, maka¿rioi
is not perfect).

Wallace notes that this likely gives evidence that the readers of 1  
Peter had not yet experienced direct persecution for their faith.

Paul J. Achtemeier in his commentary states concerning this same  
verse, "To express such a sporadic reality [that is of the  
possibility of persecution], the author has employed the optative."  
Is this in the thinking of others on this list, a legitimate insight  
from the grammar? Any comments would be helpful.

Calvin Lindstrom
Church of Christian Liberty
Arlington Heights, IL
B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek
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