I'm trying to understand the greek of Philippians 3:9 and here Paul uses this lone accusative article over and over. Can you help me understand what this means?

καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει

It seems to be associated with law, faith, and God, but in each case, the article is in the accusative form, but the noun (law/faith/God) is in the genitive, so they don't match. It seems like this might just be a function of the prepositions and the way he wants to use them to speak of the relationship of the faith of Christ to him. Can anyone bright light onto what these seemingly lone articles mean?

2 Answers 2


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δικαιοσύνην is omitted from the initial two occurrences of τὴν by ellipsis. The author is able to use an ellipsis (saving space on the papyrus) because the reader will understand that the feminine-gendered definite article could only be referring to one antecedent by anaphora: δικαιοσύνην. Hence, he has no need to repreat it two more times.

In the third occurrence of τὴν, δικαιοσύνην is not omitted. Instead, the author uses a sandwich clause τὴν...δικαιοσύνην with the prepositional phrase ἐκ θεοῦ intervening.

(My original answer overly-analyzed the syntax. This answer, in my opinion, explains all that is occurring in the verse with respect to τὴν.)

  • Daniel B Wallace (Beyond the Basics) says that the Greek article derives from the demonstrative pronoun so it is not surprising that we can often replace 'the' (in Greek) with 'that' . . . . 'that of the law. . . . 'that of the faith of Christ.' +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 19:07

The Greek article is an animal of great versatility to the point of being almost slippery! One of its uses is a short-hand pronoun - in Phil 3:9 it is used as a demonstrative pronoun. Let me translate this if I were being overly literal with the translation of the articles bolded:

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness [Noun Acc Fem Singular] that one [Acc fem singular] from the law , but that one [Acc fem singular] through faith from Christ, that one [Acc fem singular] of God's righteousness on the basis of faith.

Note that in all cases, the article highlighted refers back to "righteousness". Paul is discussing different kinds of righteousness:

  • That which arises from the law by works
  • That which arises from faith in God through grace

Thus, these articles are all anaphoric to "righteousness. For much more detail, see Daniel Wallace, "Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics", starting on page 206 but especially page 213 onwards.

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