In English, it is idiomatic to have the word 'and' before the last item in a list, such as "I like coffee, tea, and beer" (with or without the last comma!).

In Ephesians 4:11, there is a "μέν ... δέ" construct but there is a trailing καὶ, and there is debate whether the final ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους refers to two groups or one.

What I'd like to know is whether a final καὶ is idiomatic koine, performing a similar function to the final 'and' in an English list — flagging up that the list is coming to an end. If the same construct with the καὶ is present in other lists in koine literature, that would lend weight to the idea that the groups are distinct.

I don't think there are any other possible examples in the Bible itself, unless 1 Cor 15:39-40 (though there are two καὶ's there).


Not 'idiomatic koine'

Four-item list, last item is a two-part list

  1. In Kittel's Eph 4:11 section under ποιμήν, he argues that this is a four-item list via "μέν... δέ" construct, with "ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους" basically meaning something along the lines of "shepherd-teacher" or "[one who possesses both the qualities] shepherd and teacher".

  2. Kittle's comments on ποιμένας also explain the strong reference to Jesus of Nazareth from any occurrence of "ποιμένας" (shepherd) in the NT and Early Church literature. So, I further conclude from Kittel's comments on this connotation from ποιμένας (sheperd), the word ποιμένας (shepherd) so overshadows this list, it might overpower all others if it were a five-item list. It seems they just wouldn't put ποιμένας in a five-item list like that, hence the employment of a separate "καὶ" listing construct to express another separate idea, or a list within a list.

  3. 1 Cor 15:39-40 which you mentioned, actually bolsters this four-item list view because "καὶ" does not appear in v39, which has a "μέν... δέ" construct strongly bolstered by "ἄλλη" before each "δέ". Then, v39 ends with a period. v40 starts a completely new sentence, so the multiple use of "καὶ" is completely unrelated to the "μέν... δέ" construct of v39. Therefore, v39 can be used as a hermeneutic to understand how Paul viewed the "μέν... δέ" construct. (Again, Bible interpreting Bible, as I often observe in my answers.) Being contiguous, these two constructs in these two immediate verses (vv39, 40) are clearly different listing syntaxes in the mind of Paul, the same author.


I've heard Larry Katz, ThM DTS (1965) state that the Greek context was connecting the two ποιμένας and διδασκάλους. He was my pastor for many years and a great Biblical Hermeneutics pastor and teacher he was. We were studying the gifts obviously, and he went into detail saying that this passage made in clear that in this particular list of gifts, pastor/teacher was one gift, and credited the kai was part of explaining that concept.

  • yes, that's the hypothesis behind the question that I'm asking about Mar 21 '21 at 10:15
  • He was a fine Greek scholar, graduating from a fine Greek seminary, and he strongly stated that it was his view that they were together, that the 'and' didn't have anything to do with a list, but rather just those two gifts combined into one. He may have supported it with a scholarly textual reference, I'm not sure. I, unfortunately, am not any of those. :) Just 2 yrs in college.
    – Jonathan
    Mar 21 '21 at 11:00

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