Both Ephesians 5:31 and Matthew 19:5 quote Genesis 2:24:

'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'

However in Matthew Jesus uses the Greek word heneka, whereas in Ephesians the word anti is used instead.

There appears to be no difference in the English translations, and the change seems inconsequential to an understanding of the English text. Considering it is a direct quote, there doesn't appear to be a reason to change the word at all, and yet it was changed.

Is there a reason, possibly related to grammar, syntax or dialect, governing the use of a different Greek word (anti) for this phrase in Paul's direct quotation of scripture that was not present either in the original text or in Matthew (or vice versa)?


Gen 2:24  ἕνεκεν τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν. The Septuagint (LXX), edited by Alfred Rahlfs. Published in 1935; public domain.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Matthew 19:5 καὶ εἶπεν Ἕνεκα τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ κολληθήσεται τῇ γυναικὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν;

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Ephesian 5:31 ἀντὶ τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν.

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    Thanks @Ruminator for correctly referencing the original text as Genesis. Jun 5, 2018 at 13:53
  • "However in Matthew Jesus uses the Greek word heneka, whereas in Ephesians the word anti is used instead." How did you come to the conclusion that Jesus spoke in Greek? Do you believe that all the books in the NT were originally written in Greek rather than being translated at some point?
    – Dieter
    Apr 17, 2020 at 5:12
  • @Dieter No, of course not. I’m referring to the character’s quote in the Greek translation of the text. It makes no difference to this question whether or not the character Jesus was even a real person. Apr 18, 2020 at 9:33
  • It makes a huge difference to me, my friend! :-) Having worked both professionally and personally with numerous translators, most of whom were very conscientious in their work, I've found that their word choices are important and revealing. So, I treat the Biblical text not as magical, but as a sincere expression of the translator's understanding of the inspired meaning behind the text. As you well know, the quality of the NT Greek varies significantly, Sometimes I'm deeply puzzled, but other times the translation is very revealing. There are things to be discovered!
    – Dieter
    Apr 19, 2020 at 15:01

5 Answers 5


The purpose of the quotation is different in Paul's case to the original words of Adam (recorded by Moses in Genesis) and the quotation by Jesus (recorded by Matthew).

In both Adam's original saying and Jesus' quotation of Adam, one thing is seen and then a consequence of that thing is noted. Because male and female were created thus, as a consequence a man shall do this. Marriage is seen as a consequence of the way in which male and female were made.

So Adam's setting forth of the ordinance of marriage and Jesus' correction of the improper cessation of marriage both relate to marriage itself, which is a consequence of the creation of male and female.

But Paul is expressing the figure of marriage. He is making a comparison of marriage with that which marriage sets forth in figure. The reason male and female were created in the first place, was a created demonstration of God's ultimate purpose in creation - the bringing in of a further New Creation in Christ.

Both my one-thousand page 1854 American Edition of Liddell & Scott (not available online so I cannot link) and Thayer give 'over against' as their primary translations of αντι anti (Strong 473).

Liddell & Scott (1854) give 'on account of' for ενεκα eneka, and Thayer gives 'for this cause' (Strong 1752).

The biblehub link I usually use for Thayer does not, in this case, give a Thayer quote, only quoting Strong whom although I respect is not accurate enough a lexicographer for this purpose so I am quoting my own 1896 American edition (Hendrickson) in this case.

'On account of/for this cause' are both a matter of consequence.

'Over against' is a matter of comparing one thing against another.

I believe this is the reason for the subtle difference in Paul's choice of conjunction.

  • The definitions I found described 'over against' to be not just comparing, but distinctly preferring one over the other. I think this detail is important, but I don't think you've covered it here. Jun 7, 2018 at 1:12
  • Your assessment seems to fall fall way short of the complete "type" in that Paul typifies the first Adam, who was clearly created as ONE complex spirit compared to Christ who was always One complex Spirit with God, and in fact was God. Plain reading of the text in Eph. chapter 5 demands that even as the woman who would be the man's wife was taken out of man to become a member of his body; of his flesh,, and of his bones for man to "love", so also are we become members of Jesus' now resurrected body. of His flesh, of His bones to "love" us--AND HE DOES.. Apr 16, 2020 at 14:42
  • @BillPorter There are no scriptures which support your supposition regarding 'complex spirit' 'the first Adam .. one complex spirit'. There are no words of Paul, the Apostle, which justify such an hypothesis.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 16:11

Since the scriptures do not say "The reason Paul uses anti..." one can only infer, and "infer" is one of my least favorite words. However, possible reasons might be:

  • he had a different version of the LXX
  • he was translating ad hoc from memory from the Hebrew and this was simply a stylistic preference
  • he was highlighting a nuance available in the Hebrew by selecting a different Greek word

I suspect the latter but I'm not versed in Greek literature to appreciate what that might be. If I were pressed to ignorantly guess I would wildly speculate that the anti reading would have a slight sense of a choice being made. That is, some sense of "preferring this, a man will leave...". If this completely indefensible intuition turns out to be on point then it can be linked to the idea that a man does so because it is a good choice (presumably because of the "no one ever hates his own flesh" idea).

For an introduction to the issues around the word "anti" please see this related question:

Hebrews 12:2 "for the joy" or "instead of the joy"?

  • Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Ephesians 5:31 ἀντὶ τούτου καταλείψει ἄνθρωπος τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν μητέρα καὶ προσκολληθήσεται πρὸς τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἔσονται οἱ δύο εἰς σάρκα μίαν. Jun 5, 2018 at 13:32
  • Thanks @Ruminator. I am hoping someone more familiar with the Greek language, particularly outside of bible study, could help shed some light on this. Jun 7, 2018 at 1:17
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    @Possibility There are things you can't learn about a language just from learning the rules; you have to be immersed in the literature. The way people really speak is very different from the text books. I know some greek rules but for the nuance here one would need to see actual contexts. I think you can sense that, hence the question.
    – Ruminator
    Jun 7, 2018 at 1:23
  • 1
    I agree. There is more to this occurrence of 'anti' than the translation 'for this reason' implies. All translations of 'anti' I can find outside of biblical text imply replacement, instead of, against, etc. It's hard to just accept 'for this reason' in light of all other interpretations, despite the translation of this original quote. It wouldn't matter except that it allows for conflicting interpretations of Hebrews 12:2 - hence the question. FWIW I don't think a sense of choice can be 'slight' with the word 'anti', as much as we would like to play it down. Jun 7, 2018 at 2:52

Translation can be tricky.

First of all, Jesus quoted Genesis from Hebrew (עַל־כֵּן֙, upon thus) or Aramaic rather than in Greek. However, Matthew in writing or translating into Greek likely used the popular LXX to translate the quote from Genesis (ἕνεκεν, because of, on account of) just as Luke did. We know that Luke also used the LXX because he uses the Greek word Rhomphaia for sword in Luke 2:35, a weapon which is distinguished from other types of swords only in the LXX, but not in the Hebrew, which uses only a generic word for sword (חָ֫רֶב).

On the other hand, we know that Paul was schooled using the Hebrew scriptures and he used his own translation of the Hebrew into Greek as ἀντὶ, against or instead of or opposite, or in return based on context rather than the word used in the LXX.

  • I disagree that Jesus quoted from Hebrew, and I can show why. In Matt 19:5 he specifically quoted the LXX, which differs from the Hebrew by saying that οἱ δύο "the two" will become one flesh. He pulls out that quote in verse 6 where he says, they are no longer "δύο"--from LXX--but are now "σὰρξ μία" one flesh. Jesus not only quoted the LXX, he emphasized the fact that he did so. Apr 16, 2020 at 1:24

My understanding is simpler. ἕνεκα τούτου is older language, found more often in LXX. ἀντὶ τούτου as I understand it has the same meaning, but may just be more contemporary to Paul. Don't think it changes the meaning one bit.

  • This is well below the standard expected of this website.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 13:27

Genesis, chapter 2 did not describe the creating of man, rather the "making" of first the man, and, after that the woman.

Chapter 1 described only the creating with the plan to have an immediately later "making". The creating produced only the invisible "spirit" of man as a single, complex--"male and female"--"spirit"--in the image of and after the likeness of God--'Elohiym--plural. The creation of this "complex" spirit having more than one operative capacity, is clearly described in Genesis 5:1:

This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (My emphasis)

Accordingly, Adam was a single invisible spirit (in the image of the invisible spirit of God), and after the plural; God's likeness (more than one operative capacity--the "us" of the plural 'Elohiym). Notice, above, that God called THEIR name "Adam"--not Adam and Eve.

That same day, Gen 2:7 reveals the making and forming of Adam, again not Adam and Eve--only Adam"

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

LATER--AFTER Adam was created, made, and formed, then, and only then, did God "form" the woman from one of the man's ribs, described in Gen 2:21-22:

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

So Adam was formed before Eve which was evidenced by naming her the woman, as highlighted in 1 Ti 2:13:

For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

Even as the woman was flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bones, therefore was to be sanctified unto her husband in marriage, so also have we--the church--been "made" parts of the body of Christ--his flesh and his bones--and should be joined to Him in marriage.

This is clearly the mystery referred to by the term, "for this cause." Paul was cementing man's marriage as being made the type of the relationship of Christ and the church--the bride of Christ. Christ--the last Adam--was first a complex spirit, then was "made" flesh, and after that, His bride was made from Him, just like the first Adam was first a plural complex spirit before he was made, then after that his bride was "made from him.

  • There is absolutely nothing in the text of scripture that supports the idea of Adam ever being 'an invisible spirit'. Nor is there any support for the existence of a 'complex' 'spirit' of male-female.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 13:26
  • @Nigel j, The verses I cited as well as the intent described by them overrule your claim that is no difference between "creating" and "making" of man as your assessment clearly reveals. Read the "WORD" Apr 16, 2020 at 14:30
  • Neither scripture itself, nor any of the Church Fathers, nor any credible voice in Church history make any such claims as these.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 16, 2020 at 16:12
  • LXX uses distinctly different words for "created", "made", "formed", and "established". See Isaiah 45:18 and 43:7. Many Church Fathers since the inspired writers of the New Testament have failed to recognize this fact, but rather have become word twiddlers who refuse to recognize that God's WORD knows exactly just what He is saying--and why. If anyone attempts to say otherwise, you have the option to check out these four word's meanings, then "try" the scriptures for their validity. I'll stick with the WORD of God. Apr 17, 2020 at 15:13

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