Hbr 12:1-2 keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God (NET)

In most translation ἀντί χαρά is translated to "for the joy" or "because of the joy" what suggests that joy was the reward and motivation for Jesus to endure the cross. However, greek word ἀντί may also mean instead

G473 ἀντί anti
1. opposite.
2. instead (of)
3. (commonly) for (retribution or replacement of).
4. because (of).

Therefore, in few polish Bibles it is translated like this (I haven't found english translation which translate this sentence this way so I'm trying to translate polish translation to english, sorry)

instead of the joy before him


he choose death on the cross instead of joy

what suggest that Jesus gave up or resigned his joy, and endured the cross.

What do you think about that? Which translation is correct for the joy or instead of the joy?


The entry for ἀντί in BDAG:

ἀντί prep. w. gen. (Hom.+; for lit. s. on ἀνά, beg.); orig. mng. local, ‘opposite’, then of various types of correspondence ranging from replacement to equivalence. A marker

① indicating that one person or thing is, or is to be, replaced by another, instead of, in place of ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου in place of his father Herod Mt 2:22 (cp. Hdt. 1, 108; X., An. 1, 1, 4; Appian, Mithrid, 7 §23 Νικομήδης ἀντὶ Προυσίου ἐβασίλευε, Syr. 69 §364; 3 Km 11:43; Tob 1:15, 21; 1 Macc 3:1; 9:31 al.; Jos., Ant. 15, 9). ἀ. ἰχθύος ὄφιν instead of a fish, a snake Lk 11:11 (Paroem. Gr.: Zenobius [Hadr.] 1, 88 ἀντὶ πέρκης σκορπίον, prob. from Attic comedy: Kock III 678 [Adesp.]; Paus. 9, 41, 3 Cronos receives ἀντὶ Διὸς πέτρον to swallow). ἀ. τῆς προκειμένης αὐτῷ χαρᾶς p 88 ὑπέμεινεν σταυρόν Hb 12:2 (cp. PHib 170 [247 B.C.] ἀντὶ φιλίας ἔχθραν; 3 Macc 4:6, 8); sense 3 is also prob., depending on the mng. of πρόκειμαι (q.v. 2 and 3). Cp. Hs 1:8; 9, 29, 4.

② indicating that one thing is equiv. to another, for, as, in place of (Diod S 3, 30, 3) κόμη ἀ. περιβολαίου hair as a covering 1 Cor 11:15. ὀφθαλμὸν ἀ. ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀ. ὀδόντος Mt 5:38 (Ex 21:24). κακὸν ἀ. κακοῦ ἀποδίδωμι (cp. Ael. Aristid. 38 p. 711 D.: ἴσα ἀντʼ ἴσων ἀποδ.; Pr 17:13; Mel., P. 72, 531 κακὰ ἀντὶ ἀγαθῶν [cp. Ps 34:12].—SIG 145, 9 τὰ κακὰ ἀντὶ τ. ἀγαθῶν) Ro 12:17; 1 Th 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9. λοιδορίαν ἀ. λοιδορίας ibid. (Dionys. Soph., Ep. 40 χάριν ἀντὶ χάριτοσ= gift in return for gift). Differently to be understood is χάριν ἀ. χάριτος grace after or upon grace (i.e. God’s favor comes in ever new streams; cp. Philo, Poster. Cain. 145 διὰ τὰς πρώτας χάριτας … ἑτέρας ἀντʼ ἐκείνων καὶ τρίτας ἀντὶ τ. δευτέρων καὶ ἀεὶ νέας ἀντὶ παλαιοτέρων … ἐπιδίδωσι. Theognis 344 ἀντʼ ἀνιῶν ἀνίας) J 1:16 (JBover, Biblica 6, 1925, 454–60; PJoüon, RSR 22, ’32, 206; WNewton, CBQ 1, ’39, 160–63).

③ indicating a process of intervention. Gen 44:33 shows how the sense ‘in place of’ can develop into in behalf of, for someone, so that ἀ. becomes =ὑπέρ (s. Rossberg [s.v. ἀνά] 18.—Diod S 20, 33, 7 αὐτὸν ἀντʼ ἐκείνου τὴν τιμωρίαν ὑπέχειν=he would have to take the punishment for him [i.e., his son]; Ael. Aristid. 51, 24 K.=27 p. 540 D.: Φιλουμένη ψυχὴν ἀντὶ ψυχῆς κ. σῶμα ἀντὶ σώματος ἀντέδωκεν, τὰ αὑτῆς ἀντὶ τῶν ἐμῶν) δοῦναι ἀ. ἐμοῦ καὶ σοῦ pay (it) for me and for yourself Mt 17:27. λύτρον ἀ. πολλῶν a ransom for many 20:28; Mk 10:45 (Appian, Syr. 60 §314 διδόναι τι ἀντὶ τῆς σωτηρίας, Bell. Civ. 5, 39 §166 ἐμοὶ ἀντὶ πάντων ὑμῶν καταχρήσασθαι=inflict punishment on me in place of all of you; Jos., Ant. 14, 107 τὴν δοκὸν αὐτῷ τὴν χρυσῆν λύτρον ἀ. πάντων ἔδωκεν; cp. Eur., Alc. 524). S. the lit. on λύτρον.—W. articular inf. (Ael. Aristid. 34 p. 654 D.; Jos., Ant. 16, 107) ἀ. τοῦ λέγειν ὑμᾶς instead of (your) saying Js 4:15 (B-D-F §403; Rob. 574; Mlt-Turner 258).—Replacing the gen. of price (even in Hdt. et al., s. Kühner-G. I 454; cp. Hdt. 3, 59 νῆσον ἀντὶ χρημάτων παρέλαβον; Pla., Rep. 371d; Jos., Ant. 4, 118) ἀ. βρώσεως μιᾶς ἀπέδοτο (in exchange) for a single meal Hb 12:16. So perh. also vs. 2 (s. 1 above).

④ indicating the reason for someth., because of, for the purpose of, ἀ. τούτου for this reason Eph 5:31. W. attraction of the rel. ἀνθʼ ὧν in return for which=because (Soph., Ant. 1068; X., An. 1, 3, 4; OGI 90, 35 [196 B.C.]; PLeid D I, 21; LXX; AscIs 2:14; Jos., Ant. 17, 201; SibOr 5, 68; B-D-F §294, 4) Lk 1:20; 19:44; Ac 12:23; 2 Th 2:10.
⑤ indicating result, w. implication of being a replacement for someth., wherefore, therefore, so then (Aeschyl., Prom. 31; Thu. 6, 83, 1; 4 Macc 18:3; Jdth 9:3; Jos., Ant. 4, 318) Lk 12:3.—DELG s.v. ἄντα. M-M. EDNT. TW.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 87–88). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • What is the Polish?
    – user33515
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 21:39
  • I added the entry from BDAG to your question. These are Mounce's comments where he basically defers to BDAG: zondervanacademic.com/blog/…
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 15, 2018 at 23:00
  • The Greek word anti is not like our English prefix 'anti' which means in contradiction or in apposition. My understanding of the Greek word anti is seen in antidikos which is the idea of a mirror image in the courtroom of prosecutor and defender. They are 'two sides of the same coin' as it were, both of whose existence is necessary to the other. It is a co-existence of mutual dependence. So anti is 'this against that'. Because of this, then that. Since this is the case, then that is the case.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 12:06
  • I disagree, @NigelJ - it IS like our English prefix. 'This against that' is more accurately because of this, then NOT that; or since this is NOT the case, then that IS the case. The mirror image in the courtroom is a temporary presentation of both sides, but only one is correct or true at any moment, a coin face-up, as it were - the other is negated, face-down. So it's not a co-existence of mutual dependence, but a momentary tension of opposing forces. Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 11:46

1 Answer 1


The mirrored image - replacing what is negated

I have had a look through all 22 occurrences of anti (ἀνθ’) or anth (ἀντὶ), and I would agree that the correct translation is 'instead of the joy', rather than 'because of the joy'.

In all instances where 'because of' or 'for this reason' has been applied as the translation for anth (ἀνθ’), something is offered as a replacement for a negated statement that either precedes or follows the term:

"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore (ἀνθ’) whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:2-3)

"And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because (ἀνθ’) you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” (Luke 1:20)

"For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, 44 and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because (ἀνθ’) you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:43-44)

"Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because (ἀνθ’) he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died." (Acts 12:23)

"And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because (ἀνθ’) they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2 Thessalonians 2:10)

Anti (ἀντὶ), on the other hand, is translated in 15 of the 17 occurrences as indicating a replacement in a mirrored image: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, evil for evil, one life as a ransom for many, Esau's birthright for a single meal, etc. Something is either given out in an attempt to negate something received (such as evil or violence), taken to replace something lost, or alternatively given up to be replaced by something else.

This is not, however, related to the value we may place on each thing described in the text. There is no suggestion of gainful reward for accepting a task in any of these occurrences. There is always a gain and a loss occurring within the text, regardless of how a reader may personally value what is gained or lost. When an eye is lost, an eye is taken; when evil is received, evil is given by the receiver to others; and when a life is given up, the lives of many are gained in its place.

Of the two occurrences remaining, one is Hebrews 12:2, and the other is from Ephesians:

"For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 'For this reason (ἀντὶ) a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'” (Ephesians 5:29-31)

Anti (ἀντὶ) here is translated 'because of' or 'for this reason' to indicate a replacement for the negated statement of the previous verses. The author directly quotes Jesus' words from Matthew 19:5, but in the original text the word used is not anti (ἀντὶ) but heneka (ἕνεκεν), even though the quote is otherwise the same. This change to the quoted text confirms that the use of anti (ἀντὶ) is related not to the value of what is gained or lost, but to the gain-loss relationship in the sentence structure.


This leaves Hebrews 12:2, which I would conclude can only be translated as 'because of' if it indicates a replacement for something that has been negated by the text. As this is not the case, it must be translated as indicating a replacement for something that is given up or lost - 'enduring the cross' as a replacement for 'the joy set out for him'. So the meaning would be 'instead of the joy', rather than 'because of the joy'.

  • There is good research here and agree that it is significant. Might the joy that he shunned be that of being treated royally on earth rather than being a servant?: [Heb 11:24-26 NKJV] (24) By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (25) choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, (26) esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 19:46
  • That certainly seems to be what the author is suggesting in the context. Although it could simply be the joy ‘set out’ for all of us in a ‘normal’ life: self esteem, financial stability, property, marriage, descendants, etc. - what we pursue and expect to be set out in our future, as the social reality of a human existence. Commented Dec 29, 2019 at 3:30

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