ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν…καὶ θεραπεύων…

On my post of Matthew 10:1-4, I hit “post” before a final comment I intended to make. By comment, I simply mean that I had something I wanted to research and then comment on what I found – not that I had a clear understanding that needed to be shared.

The initial thought was based on an end note in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Volume 8 ) p. 240, which referring to Matthew 10:1 states:

The construction ὥστε (hōste, “so that”) plus an infinitive to indicate purpose is extraordinary (cf. BDF, par. 390[3]; Zerwick, par. 352) but cannot be easily taken any other way.

To be honest, I simply didn’t look at this construction carefully enough. Checking Greek, An Intensive Course pp.269-270, I found the following:

A result clause gives a result or consequence of the action of the main verb of the sentence and is introduced by the conjunction ὥστε, “so as, so that, with the result that.” The main clause introducing the subordinate result clause will often contain a demonstrative such as the demonstrative adverb οὕτω(ς).

Clauses of result are of two types:
(1) clauses of actual result, which have their verbs in the indicative mood.
(2) clauses of natural result, which have their verbs in the infinitive.

(2) Clauses of natural result state that one action (or state of being) tends to follow naturally upon another action. Clauses of natural result do not state that any action is actually occurring, has occurred, or will occur; instead, they describe the natural, usual, or expected consequence of the action of the main verb of the sentence…

So how should we read the statement of Jesus in Matthew 10:1? Can it be taken in a way other than a purpose clause? I think so. We might word it something like this:

And calling his twelve disciples, he gave them authority over unclean spirits so that they might cast them out and heal every sickness and weakness. [bold mine]

This treats both casting out and healing as natural results, not purposed results. One thing that this reading might make much clearer is that disease and sickness are not wholly distinct from the unclean spiritual influence. Healing sickness is not an additional command of Jesus, it is a natural action and outcome for those given authority over the unclean spirits.

Also, Jesus is not so much presented as commanding them to go and cast out unclean spirits as giving them the authority to do so, and then sending them out in such a way that they will encounter these unclean spiritual forces. This will either lead to utter failure, or a natural faith and action as they complete the work Christ has empowered them for. Jesus offers potential and a probability of success. And the expectation is that given authority over the unclean spirits, the natural result will be their removal by the disciples.

Or should we stick to “in order to” to translate ὥστε?

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About George

I'm interested in theology, languages, translation and various sorts of fermentation.
This entry was posted in Books, Doctrinal Topics, Greek, Matthew. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν…καὶ θεραπεύων…

  1. Mike Aubrey says:

    I’m with you. I don’t understand why Carson wouldn’t recognize that…

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