The Greek text of 1 Tim. 5:20 according to the Textus Receptus states,

Κʹ τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας ἐνώπιον πάντων ἔλεγχε ἵνα καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ φόβον ἔχωσιν TR, 1550

Does the phrase «ἐνώπιον πάντων» (“before all”) modify (1) «τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας» (“those who sin”) or (2) «ἔλεγχε» (“rebuke!”)? A cursory review suggests that the majority of translations support the latter view, “Rebuke before all!” Is that the only valid translation, and contextually, which is more plausible?


While it is possible that the adverb ἐνώπιον could be associated to either the participle ἁμαρτάνοντας or the main verb ἔλεγχε (since they are both verbals), consider what the two meanings would then be:

  1. ἁμαρτάνοντας: "the ones sinning before all, rebuke that also the rest may have fear"
  2. ἔλεγχε: "the ones sinning, rebuke before all that also the rest may have fear"

If the rebuke does not come before the "all" (which #1 does not require), then what would be the grounds for "the rest" to fear, since they may not even be aware of the rebuke (only the sin)?

This fact then contextually indicates that the "cursory review" of the translations tying ἐνώπιον to ἔλεγχε is the better view, for it is in the public rebuke before all that "the rest" know of both the sin and the rebuke, and would then fear such rebuke themselves.

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