1. Question - Reference Request, and Textual Basis:

In 1 Corinthians 13:10 -

  • Why is " ἐκ | out of " left out of the translation?

  • Are there any period texts that also have similar constructions?

  • Could a consistent translation be derived from those examples?

2. The Issue / Claim:

HELPS Word-studies - 1537 ek (a preposition, written eks before a vowel) – properly, "out from and to" (the outcome); out from within. 1537 /ek ("out of") is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mis-translated) Greek propositions [sic] ...

3. Translation Examples:

1 Corinthians 12:27 - further, you are the body of Christ, and a limb | μέλη from a portion | ἐκ μέρους;

NASB, 1 Corinthians 13:9 - For we know in part | ἐκ μέρους and we prophesy in part;

NASB, 1 Corinthians 13:10 - but when the perfect | comes, the partial | τὸ ἐκ μέρους will be done away.

NASB, 1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know | γινώσκω in part | ἐκ μέρους, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

Personal Translation, 2 Corinthians 1:13-14 - For no other things we write to you, other than the things you all recognize and understand - and I hope that you all will understand completely, as you have been understanding | ἐπέγνωτε us to a degree | ἀπὸ μέρους: that we rejoice about you, even as you rejoice about us - in the day of our lord Jesus.

NASB, Ephesians 4:16 - the proper working of each individual part | ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους;

Closely Related:
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does Paul mean by "Completeness"?
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What does "The Perfect" Refer to?
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - Should "The Perfect" Be Interpreted in an Eschatological Sense?
- 1 Corinthians 13:10 - What Will Cease when "The Perfect" Comes?
- 1 Corinthians 13:8 - What is the Significance of the Intransitive verb "παύσονται"?
- 1 Corinthians 13:9-10 - What Does "ἐκ μέρους" Mean?

  • A.) Very, Very closely related to: What does ἐκ μέρους mean in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10? B.) However, this question is solely regarding the meaning of the construction: "verb + ἐκ + genitive" - as it can be derived from other textual examples; C.) Granted, an answer here could inform the theological answer of the other question. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 8:29
  • "proposition" is a typo for "preposition". That's BibleHub for you, or perhaps in this case "HELPS Word-studies". There are more reliable sources of information.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 10:46
  • @Davïd - I am still hoping to determine if there is any basis for that huge claim - in general. How would you do this - without looking for similar examples in parallel texts? Thanks! Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 10:56
  • @David - A.) The "Huge Claim": "is one of the most under-translated (and therefore mis-translated) Greek propositions ..."; B.) It seems here, that they are suggesting a high probability that traditional translations may be wrong; C.) AND - it seems they are suggesting that it should be translated in terms of, "out from" - rather than be left un-translated. Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:11
  • 1
    Ah, yes "under-translated (and therefore mis-translated)". Rubbish. :)
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


This isn't really a helpful way of thinking about prepositions, nor does it understand the syntax of ἐκ μέρους in this setting.

(1) Prepositions. They are "grammatical words" and don't bear typical semantic content. They indicate relationships between other elements in an utterance. Consider this comparison of English and German, all completing the part sentence, I'm going/Ich gehe...:

| to the cinema. | ins Kino.         |
| to Germany.    | nach Deutschland. |
| to the lake.   | an den See.       |
| to my parents. | zu meinen Eltern. |

English "to" in these sentences is realized by four different prepositions in German. That's simply how you say those things in German.

Thus the main question:

Generally, What does ἐκ mean - in this construction? . . .

when filled out by:

verb + ἐκ + genitive noun

isn't a sensible question, since the value of both verb and noun are required to know what the construction "means".

(2) The syntax of ἐκ μέρους. This is an adverbial phrase. It could also be translated "partially", which displays the adverbial function more clearly. Paul is saying that the "knowing" and "prophesying" is partial, and this is how (well, one of the ways) to say it in Koine Greek.

For reference, compare the μέρος entry in LSJ, section IV.2.b (where this verse is cited). See also the μέρος entry in Moulton & Milligan, section 6(b), which gives other examples of this construction from "non-literary" sources.

Since examples are requested, here are three from Eusebius, gleaned from an "ἐκ μέρους" search at Perseus, each from his Historia ecclesiastica = Ecclesiastical History:

  • III.v.8 ...ὡς ἂν ἐκ μέρους ἔχοιεν οἱ τῇδε τῇ γραφῇ ἐντυγχάνοντες εἰδέναι... = "that those who study this work may have some partial knowledge"
  • IV.xxii.8 ...ὧν ἐκ μέρους ἤδη πρότερον ἐμνημονεύσαμεν... = "from which we have already made some quotations"a
  • V.v.7 ...οὓς Τραϊανὸς ἐκ μέρους ἐξουθένησεν,... = "Trajan partially allowed them"

a Note that "from" here is required by the English, and doesn't reflect Greek ἐκ.

Each of these three examples from Eusebius uses ἐκ μέρους in the same way that Paul does in 1 Corinthians 13:9-10.

  • 1
    @elikakohen (please ignore if not helpful) The basic reason the prepositional phrase must be adverbial rather than adjectival (as you suggest, and as used in 12:27) is that there is no substantive for it to modify. Greek can do without by nominalizing the PP itself (ἡμεῖς γὰρ οἱ ἐκ μέρους γινώσκομεν....) but there's also no article to perform this function.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 16:55
  • @Davïd - A.) +1 for the updated answer, (and I removed the comments); This is what I am looking for, a textual basis; B.) I had not considered consulting theological works, from a later time; C.) I am familiar with Tertullian's and Augustine's stance on 1 Cor 13; BUT - Eusebius' text seems to be about a completely different topic; D.) I need to read through those references, and will look for more from that era too; Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 23:49

1. Question Restatement:

In 1 Corinthians 13, translations render "ἐκ μέρους" as an adverb: "to know partially", or "to know in part".

Are there any evidences from Ecumenical or Literary texts - that either support this translation - or support a different one?

2. What "ἐκ" Does Not Mean:

Neither in the Greek Septuagint, nor the New Testament1 2 - are there any bases to translate "ἐκ" as "in", when followed by "μέρους".

1. See List of Occurrences of "μέρους".
2. Also, "ἐκ" does not seem to be translated as "in" in ancient literary sources;

3. "ἐκ μέρους" and "ἀπὸ μέρους" Do not Mean the Same In Scripture :

ἐκ μέρους - A Part of a Whole:

In Ecumenical and Literary texts, μέρος seems to always be preserved as an indefinite noun.

Specifically, "ἐκ μέρους" takes on a sense it is indicating an actual part - of a larger whole :

LXX, 1 Kings 6:8, (1 Samuel) - ἐκ μέρους αὐτῆς, (lit. from a part of it). From the Hebrew, " מִצִּדּ֑וֹ ", (Hebrew Interlinear) - meaning, "beside it" - from the word " צַד ", (lit. the side of something, a hip, etc).

LXX, Numbers 8:2 - ... τοὺς λύχνους ἐκ μέρους κατὰ πρόσωπον, (lit. when you place ... the lamps from

LXX, Numbers 20:6 - πόλει ἐκ μέρους τῶν ὁρίων σου, (lit. a city from a part of your border). From the Hebrew, Numbers 20:16.

ἀπὸ μέρους - A Sense of Degree, or Measure:

On the other-hand, "ἀπὸ μέρους" takes on a sense of indicating "to what degree", or "maturity".

The Greek Septuagint and the New Testament3 writers never use "ἐκ μέρους" in the qualitative sense of "degree", ("In part") - rather, they consistently use "ἀπὸ μέρους" instead. 4 :

Personal Translation, 2 Corinthians 1:13-14 For no other things we write to you, other than the things you all recognize and understand - and I hope that you all will understand completely | ἕως τέλους5 - as you have been understanding us [only] to a degree | ἀπὸ μέρους: that we rejoice about you, even as you rejoice about us - in the day of our lord Jesus.

3. Also, "ἐκ" does not seem to denote as sense of "degree" or "measure" in literary sources as well.
4. "Knowing Partly" indicates a measure, or degree, perhaps even a sense of "maturity" - and is distinct from "Knowing from a Part" - which is a in view of a larger whole.
5. In 2 Corinthians 2:13 - It is important to note that "[τέλους][10]" is juxtaposed with "μέρους". "[τέλειον][11]", (from 1 Corinthians 13:10), is derived from "τέλος" and also juxtaposed with "μέρους" - affirming the terms are antonyms.

4. Examples in Ancient Greek Literature :

Translating Aristotle's Metaphysics Requires "From":

perseus.tufts.edu, Aristot. Met. 7.1034a - ... κινεῖσθαι δὲ δυναμένων αὐτῶν ὑπ᾽ ἄλλων οὐκ ἐχόντων τὴν τέχνην ἢ ἐκ μέρους ... ὅτι τρόπον τινὰ πάντα γίγνεται ἐξ ὁμωνύμου ... ἢ ἐκ μέρους ὁμωνύμου ... ἢ ἐκ μέρους ἢ ἔχοντός τι μέρος,

Personal Translation, Aristot. Met. 7.1034a - ... and can be moved themselves by other things not having the technique, or [can be moved] from a part .... so in a way, everything comes to be from its namesake (just as is natural), or from a part of itself ... or from a part, or from anything having a part.

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