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In Acts 16:34, what verb does the adverb "πανοικεί" ("with the entire household/family") modify and how are we to make such a determination?


Some translation, such as the ESV, have πανοικεί modify the verb ἠγαλλιάσατο ("he rejoiced"):

Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. - ESV

While others, such as the NET, seem to indicate that πανοικεί modifies the verb πεπιστευκὼς ("having believed"):

The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household. - NET

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The literal rendering of Acts 16:34 is (BLB)

And having brought them into the house, he laid a table [for them] and rejoiced with all [his] household, having believed in God.

It is true that the adverb, πανοικεὶ (= all-house) could modify either:

  • ἠγαλλιάσατο = rejoiced (the word before the adverb), or,
  • πεπιστευκὼς = having believed (the word after the adverb)

Either is grammatically possible. The answer is actually given by the surrounding verses, V31-34

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. 33 At that hour of the night, the jailer took them and washed their wounds. And without delay, he and all his household were baptized. 34 Then he brought them into his home and set a meal before them. So he and all his household rejoiced that they had come to believe in God.

Thus, we observe that:

  • the entire household believed
  • the entire household was baptized
  • the entire household rejoiced

Why? because they all believed in God and rejoiced their salvation. (Compare Isa 25:9).

The other possibility is untenable. If the rejoicing modifies the believing, then V34 only has the man rejoicing.

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  • thanks. It seems like you're advocating for the adverb to modify the verb for "rejoiced," but how is it that you have transformed "having believed" to be plural when it is singular and you have already chosen to apply the inclusive adverb to the word for "rejoiced." Do you think it is justifiable for the single adverb to apply to both verbs in question? If so this would seem to be an option C.
    – Austin
    Mar 15, 2022 at 3:36
  • @Austin - the singular comes from the singular household.
    – Dottard
    Mar 15, 2022 at 6:56
  • doesn't the Greek participle for "having believed", πεπιστευκὼς, modify the same subject as the verb for "he rejoiced", ἠγαλλιάσατο, so that if the subject for "he rejoiced" is the jailer than the subject for "having believed" is also the jailer.
    – Austin
    Mar 17, 2022 at 8:33

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