I want to know if the phrase "to be" can be traced back to an aspect of the verb "gave" because the words "to be" do not seem to be in the original text as words, so maybe they are to be derived from an aspect of the verb "" or the participle "me" that folows?

3 Answers 3


The verb "to be" in Eph 4:11 is not explicit in the Greek. It is supplied in various versions to smooth out the English translation in versions such as BSB, BLB, NKJV, HCSB, etc.

Here is my very literal translation of this verse:

And He gave some indeed apostles,, some now prophets, some now evangelists, some now shepherds and teachers

This is similar to the way some other versions render the verse such as NIV, ESV, KJV, etc.

The added words "to be" in some versions is simply to make the sense clearer. The earlier verb ἔδωκεν = "gave" is simply aorist indicative active (3rd person singular). There are other places where exactly the same verb in the same conjugation does not require such an addition such as Matt 10:1, 14:19, 21:23, 25:15, 26:27, 48, 27:10, 34, 28:12, 18, Mark 2:26, 2 Cor 9:9, etc, etc.

That is, each case must be treated individually.

  • Thank yo for additional examples of the exact same verb and conjgation. Really helpful. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 23:23

You are correct. The “to be” is not in the original, and in fact many widely used translations don’t include it.

It comes down to interpretation, the translators interpretation, and or (as is probable in this case) to assist or guide towards an interpretation.

This verse is a continuation of the statement Paul made in Ephesians 4:8. He went on to explain that the gifts Jesus gave to man were the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God gifted individuals with these callings and then gave these people to the body of Christ as gifts. These are not the only gifts God gave to mankind

There are two different ways people have interpreted this word “some.” There are those who think this is referring to some individuals receiving the gifts, and there are those who think this is referring to some churches who receive these ministry gifts.

The first interpretation would describe the individuals who were called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. God gave some people the gift of being an apostle, some people the gift of being a prophet, etc. The second view is saying that God gave some churches apostles, while He gave other churches prophets, others evangelists, and others pastors and teachers.

Whichever was clear in the mind(s) of those involved in translation may have lead to the inclusion of “to be.

  • Thanks! Really helpful. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 19:36

New King James Version Ephesians 4:11

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

Does the Greek in this verse point towards a translation that says "he gave some TO BE?

Not necessarily as other versions indicate:

Douay-Rheims Bible

And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors,

New American Standard Bible

And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers,

Let's see the Greek:

ἔδωκεν (edōken)
Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's 1325: To offer, give; I put, place. A prolonged form of a primary verb; to give.

τοὺς (tous)
Article - Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong's 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

[to be] apostles,
ἀποστόλους (apostolous)
Noun - Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong's 652: From apostello; a delegate; specially, an ambassador of the Gospel; officially a commissioner of Christ.

The Greek word for "apostles" is in the accusative form to serve as the direct object for the verb "gave".

To make sense of this in English, NKJV added "to be", Douay didn't add anything, and NASB added "as".

OP: the participle "me" that follows

The μὲν (G3303) means indeed or truly. It is not translated into English.

  • It seems like the accusative nouns of a/p/e/s/t would lend itself to an "as" or "to be" based on those nouns being the direct object of the verb "gave." In other words, he gives "apostles", hence implying it is "people" he is giving as opposed to giving gifts to people. Illustrated as - he gave plumbers vs he gave the gift of plumbing. Thoughts? Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 19:40
  • The context suggests that the different a/p/e/s/t people groups are the gifts. There is no need to make a distinction between people and gifts.
    – user35953
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 19:53

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