The passage of 1 Tim 3:6 reads as follows (KJV) -

Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

μὴ νεόφυτον, ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς εἰς κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου.

Is this reference to “the condemnation of the devil” instigated by the devil against the Christian (objective genitive)? Or is this reference to “the condemnation of the devil” that happened when he fell from heaven because of his own pride (subjective genitive)?


Daniel B Wallace in 'Beyond the Basics' states of the subjective and objective genitive :

Subjective Genitive -

Some constructions could be either Subjective or Objective Genitive; only context can tell. E.g. ‘love of God’ can mean either ‘loving God’ or ‘God loving us (or some other object)’.

Objective Genitive :

Can only occur with head nouns that imply a transitive verbal idea, thus having a direct ‘object’.

The EGNT translates κρίμα as the noun 'crime' which I think makes the meaning clearer. The 'crime' of the Diabolos is a transitive idea : 'he committed a crime' takes the word as a direct object.

Then, if so, he that is lifted up commits the same crime as did Diabolos and would be condemned with the same condemnation.

The KJV leaves the matter ambiguous (in my own view) and seems not to decide whether the 'Devil' will condemn the proud one or whether the proud one falls into a similar state as the 'Devil'.

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To my mind, leaving τοῦ διαβόλου at the end of the thought 'lest he fall into the condemnation' just naturally reads better as a subjective genitive ('so that he not become conceited, and suffer the same fate as the devil').

It would be my instinct to expect ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς εἰς κρίμα τοῦ διαβόλου ἐμπέσῃ if the objective was had in mind ('so that he not become conceited, and suffer at the hands of the devil').

But of course this could be mistaken.


I believe that this is actually a case of the genitive of quality - describing an attribute that would ordinarily be described by an adjective (see, e.g., Blass et al., A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, §165). I think this conforms to your definition of the "subjective" genitive. Another example is Luke 16:9:

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

Κἀγὼ ὑμῖν λέγω· ποιήσατε ἑαυτοῖς φίλους ἐκ τοῦ μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας, ἵνα, ὅταν ἐκλίπητε, δέξωνται ὑμᾶς εἰς τὰς αἰωνίους σκηνάς.

In the case of 1 Timothy 3:6, the meaning of ἵνα μὴ κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου would be something like "lest he fall into the sort of condemnation that the devil fell into."

This seems to be borne out in how the Greek Church Fathers understood the verse. John Chrysostom, a 4th century Byzantine Greek, for example, comments:

Do not immediately advance to a station of dignity a novice, that is, one of these new converts. For, if before he had well been a disciple, he should at once be made a Teacher, he would be lifted up into insolence. If before he had learned to be under rule, he should be appointed one of the rulers, he would be puffed up: therefore he adds, Lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil, that is, into the same condemnation which Satan incurred by his pride.

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