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I'm having some problems understanding and translating Ephesians 5:33.

33 πλὴν καὶ ὑμεῖς οἱ καθ’ ἕνα, ἕκαστος τὴν ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα οὕτως ἀγαπάτω ὡς ἑαυτόν, ἡ δὲ γυνὴ ἵνα φοβῆται τὸν ἄνδρα.

33 but ye also, every one in particular -- let each his own wife so love as himself, and the wife -- that she may reverence the husband. (YLT)

(bolding mine)

How do you make sense, grammatically, of the phrase οἱ καθ’ ἕνα? It confuses me because I don't see how the definite article οἱ is being used here, and also what καθ’ ἕνα might mean.

Is it something like "but you also, down to each one"? That's my best guess. Perhaps it is idiomatic in Koine yet hard to translate literally into English.

  • Possibly related: ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1309 – Ruminator Jun 24 '18 at 0:07
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    καθ ενα is an idiom 'one by one' see also I Cor 14:31. Prefixing the plural, masculine article, οι καθ ενα, is applying it to the whole company, inclusively. So 'everyone' [EGNT] 'every one in particular' [YLT] 'every one of you' [KJV]. – Nigel J Jun 24 '18 at 22:46
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καθ ενα is an idiom 'one by one' see also I Cor 14:31 :

δυνασθε ...γαρ .. καθ ενα .... παντες ..προφητευειν [Stephens 1550]

Ye can ... for ... one by one ... all ... prophesy [EGNT literal]

Prefixing the plural, masculine article, οι καθ ενα, is applying it to the whole company, inclusively.

So - in Ephesians 5:33 the translations are, for example :

'everyone' [EGNT] 'every one in particular' [YLT] 'every one of you' [KJV].

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The article οἱ is being used here "to nominalize a prepositional phrase" 1 καθ’ ἕνα. The preposition κατά indicates, among other things, a "marker of division of a greater whole into individual parts", i.e., a distributive use, and ἕνα is "a numerical term" (from εἷς). So, καθʼ ἕνα can be translated as "singly" and "ὑμεῖς οἱ καθʼ ἕνα ἕκαστος" as "each one of you". 2

James Gregory mentions in his blog post 3 the following:

Paul starts with the group, transitions focus to the individual, and then instructs every individual. If we were to translate this phrase literally, it would be given this way: “. . . you, the ones individually, let each one . . .” But this translation is awkward. If we understand the phrase idiomatically with a special emphasis on the group, we can translate it with these words: “. . . let each one of you . . .” The subject of the text is in fact the group, but Paul is singling out every individual in that group all at once with the same instruction.


Notes

  1. Daniel B. Wallace. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. p. 236.
  2. A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature Third Edition (BDAG).
  3. Also in his book, The Letter to the Ephesians.
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Contextually speaking, οἱ καθ’ ἕνα ("each indvidual"—salvishly literally perhaps the 'each ones' i.e. within the whole mentioned in the prior verse) contrasts with the Church as Bride of Christ as a whole, since the verse prior says, "This mystery is a great one—that is, of Christ and the Church—" but he continues, "nevertheless you also, as individuals, let each [man] love his wife as his very own self, and the wife [likewise]: so that the wife will respect [her] husband."

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