[B-Greek] hESTHKA and KAQIZW as "I am" (was "hESTWTA" (Acts 7:55 + 56))

Tony Pope borikayaama_tekiri at sil.org
Sat May 16 07:13:09 EDT 2009

I'd like to mention a couple of other examples where hESTHKA may not mean standing on one's feet.

Matt 20.6b καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· Τί ὧδε ἑστήκατε ὅλην τὴν ἡμέραν ἀργοί;

It seems unlikely that these labourers hoping to be hired would have stayed on their feet even until 
5 p.m., whatever may be said about the same expression used in verse 3 of the same parable. J. 
Jeremias in "The Parables of Jesus" remarks already on verse 3 "ἑστῶτας ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ hESTWTAS EN THi 
AGORAi: ἑστῶτας hESTWTAS has here the weakened sense of  being present as in John 1.26; 18.18; Matt. 
13:2. No oriental will _stand_ for hours in the market-place.[fn] Hence they sit about idly 
gossiping in the market-place." (3rd ed. 1972, p. 136)
[fn] P. Joüon, L'Evangile de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ, Paris, 1930, p. 122.

I would hesitate to agree with Jeremias' other three references, but the Matt 20 ones look 
convincing to me.

John 3.29 ὁ δὲ φίλος τοῦ νυμφίου ὁ ἑστηκὼς καὶ ἀκούων αὐτοῦ χαρᾷ χαίρει διὰ τὴν φωνὴν τοῦ νυμφίου.

Alex. Pallis, Notes on St. John and the Apocalypse, p. 7, writes: "ὁ ἑστηκὼς καὶ ἀκούων αὐτοῦ. 
Exactly as in MGk ποῦ (=ὃς) στέκει καὶ τὸν ἀκούει POU (=hOS) STEKEI KAI TON AKOUEI, where στέκει 
STEKEI does not denote that the listener is actually standing, but it is added to show that the 
listening is done attentively and patiently, i.e. without any sign of the listener withdrawing or 
even moving."

This would give hESTHKA the sense of being at one's post (and not deserting it). It would be 
interesting to hear confirmation of Pallis' observation from another speaker of Greek.

As regards Acts 7.55-56, I do not wish to argue from the above two passages. Every case has to be 
looked at in its own context. However, though the commentators certainly have been able to produce 
explanations for why Jesus was standing at God's right hand rather than seated as normally 
portrayed, I do have the sneaking feeling that a lot of extra processing effort is being required. 
Doesn't the following context indicate that what angered Stephen's audience was that Jesus was 
alleged to be *at God's right hand*, not that he was about to welcome or assist Stephen? It seems 
odd that the author would choose an unusual verb when there are no other contextual clues unless it 
is intended in a more generic sense.

Tony Pope


Iver Larsen 14/5/09:

Hi, Mark,

I asked because I could not find any examples in the NT when I looked at all instances of this verb,
nor could I find support for it in BAGD. However, I cannot rule it out completely, and Liddell Scott
suggests it as a possibility for Classical Greek:

"B. Pass. and intr. tenses of Act. to be set or placed, to stand, Hom.:-often merely for EINAI, to
be there, Od., etc.; with an Adv. to be in a certain state or condition, hINA CREIAS ESTAMEN.. in
what a state of need we are, Soph., etc."


In Acts 7:55-56, the text says that Jesus is standing, and
there is no reason to speculate that he did anything but stand up. Whether God sat down in this
vision is not stated. Quite often angels or others stand around God sitting on the throne. (E.g. Rev
8:2, 2 Chron 18:18).

note says: "The picture of Jesus standing (rather than seated) probably indicates his rising to
receive his child."
Commentators have suggested various reasons for the standing, e.g. Bruce says among other things:
"Most probably Stephen's words should be taken closely along with Jesus' promise: "everyone who
acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God" (Luke
12:8; in Matt. 10:33 "the Son of Man" is replaced by "I"). That is to say, Jesus stands up as
witness or advocate in Stephen's defense. Stephen appeals from the adverse judgment of the earthly
court, and "in the heavenly court . this member of the Son of Man community is already being
vindicated by the head of that community - the Son of Man par excellence (C. F. D. Moule)."

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