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Romans 11:36 has four propositions that provide a neat parallel structure:

ὅτι ἐξ αὐτοῦ καὶ δι’ αὐτοῦ καὶ εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα· αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν.

The ESV translation is fairly typical:

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

There don't seem to be many options for ἐξ (ex) or δι’ (dia), but εἰς (eis) is translated two different ways in this same verse:

  1. "to"

  2. "for"

Would a Greek reader have taken note of this repetition and linked the two uses?

Jonathan Edwards suggests yet another option:

Rom. 11:36. "For of him, and through him, and to him, or in him, are all things." The same in the Greek that is here rendered to him, is rendered in him, 1 Cor. 8:6.

His sermon turns on reading all things as in God and not merely to him. Is Edwards translation plausible or likely here?

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You should note that the sense (and thus its translation) of a preposition is going to be determined not only by the case of the object of the preposition (acc? gen? dat?), but also the class of the object of the preposition. By class, I mean, is the object of the preposition referring to a place, to time, etc. Being that αὐτὸν following the first εἰς refers to God (a person), but τοὺς αἰῶνας following the latter εἰς refers to an interval of time, one should not expect εἰς to be translated the same way. The class of noun is dissimilar. –  H3br3wHamm3r81 May 7 '13 at 8:30
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1 Answer

εἰς is part of an idiom here and can also be translated as "unto."

αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, ἀμήν

"(To) him (be) the glory unto the ages, amen."

The idiom is εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ("unto the ages") and means "forever."

Source: My years in Koine Greek classes, and I think I also read it in Porter's Idioms of the Greek New Testament.

I think Edwards does a valiant effort of attempting to figure out what would have been a very odd construction. However, I think that the simpler explanation of it being idiom repeated throughout the New Testament by multiple authors is preferable.

EDIT

The two occurrences of εἰς are cases in point for the flexibility of participles. Sometimes (usually) they're directional, but other times they're used as preverbs, and other times they're idiomatic.

David Allen Black illustrates the differences between the εἰς and en where en is more within, and εἰς is directional toward the containment ("into"). However, εἰς also allows for advantage and could render this "for" leading to "from" -> "through" -> "for."

It seems like the ESV committee chose to emphasize the directional properties of εἰς, dropping the "in" and opting for "to." Edwards seems to focus on the locative function, but that's generally a more common function of en (which would open a whole other realm of exegetical issues, since en can also often note instrumental means and could be rendered "by"). I tend to agree with the NIV interpretation and understand the first εἰς as advantage and the second as idiomatic.

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