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Ephesians 5:1-2

"Therefore be imitators of God, as[hos] beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as [kathos] Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." ESV. My brackets and emphasis.

The first "as" looks like the second "as". What is the effect in the Greek of changing from "hos"[v1] to "kathos" [v2]?

4 Answers 4

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Kαθώς (kathōs) is a contraction of the words κατά (kata) and ὡς (hōs). Kατά means according to, as in

Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith [κατὰ τὴν πίστιν] be it done to you” (Matthew 9:29)


ᾨς τέκνα ἀγαπητά in Ephesians 5:1 is a sort of simile: "Be followers of God as [if you were] dear children"

Kαθώς ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς in Ephesians 5:2 means more like "according to the way that Christ loved us", or perhaps "even as Christ loved us".

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  • +1. Good answer.
    – Dottard
    May 19, 2023 at 23:03
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Kathos has to do with taking concrete examples or instantiations of an idea or principle that one is discussing (or here, recommending Christ's example). It's formed from kata (according to) and hos (like). Whereas hos is used to denote simple similitude (something is like something else).

There really isn't much more to it than this.

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According to Thayer’s Lexicon, the word hós as used in Eph 5:1 refers to a quality which belongs to a person or thing (Strong’s 5613). The word hós in Eph 5:1 appears to function as a sentential adverb, describing an entire clause rather than an individual verb. As such it is "closely related to conjunctions" (unfoldingWord). In Eph 5:1, hós implies that the quality of our being imitators of God is or should be characterized by our being his beloved children.

The word kathos (Strong’s 2513) is an adverb meaning “according to the manner in which, in the degree that, just as, as.” In Eph 5:2, kathos implies that we should love one another in the manner that Christ loved us.

In context, the word “hós” in Eph 5:1 is actually situated between two “kathos”, one in Eph 4:32 and the other in Eph 5:2. The change from kathos (4:32) to hós (5:1) and back to kathos (5:2) again suggests a chiastic structure. I’ve arranged the words to show that structure as follows:

just as (kathos) God in Christ also has forgiven you. 
   Therefore be imitators of God, 
      as (hós) beloved children; 
   and walk in love, 
just as (kathos) Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us. 

– Eph 4:32 to 5:2 NASB

From this arrangement, we can see how the reality of our being God’s beloved children is key. In other words, God’s love for us is the source and center (cf 1 Jn 4:7, 19). To be imitators of God then is to walk in love. In other words, we are called to imitate God’s love for us. Furthermore, God’s example of love has two distinct aspects: 1) the love of God in forgiving us in Christ and 2) the love of Christ in offering himself as a sacrifice for us to God (cf Lk 6:36, Jn 13:34). The chiastic structure serves to bring these two aspects and everything in between together as one.

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In the phrase μιμηταὶ τοῦ Θεοῦ ὡς τέκνα ἀγαπητά; e.g., imitators of the God as children beloved (EPH 5:1), ὡς (hos) is a c͟o͟n͟j͟u͟n͟c͟t͟i͟o͟n. But in the phrase ἀγάπῃ καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν; e.g., love as the Christ (messiah) loved (EPH 5:2), καθὼς (kathōs) is an a͟d͟v͟e͟r͟b.

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    Disagree. Both instances are adverbs. May 19, 2023 at 22:44
  • Conjunction connects two Clauses but adverb is for comparison. Both (as, just as) are adverbs macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/as_1
    – Michael16
    May 20, 2023 at 5:14
  • In EPH 5:2, and in the MacMillan Dictionary of American English, καθὼς (kathōs) is an adverb. But, in Koine Greek at 𝔓46, 𝔓49, and in codices 01, 02 & 03 at EPH 5:1, ὡς (hos) is a conjunction. May 23, 2023 at 14:19

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