Notes on 1 Peter 1:7 (part 1)

Apostle_Peter_Georgian_mosaic

ἵνα τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως πολυτιμότερον χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου, εὑρεθῇ εἰς ἔπαινον καὶ δόξαν καὶ τιμὴν ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Translation:

so that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold (which is perishable but tested with fire), might be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

 Some Grammatical, Lexical, and Syntactical Notes:

 1. πολυτιμότερον. The word is a comparative adjective (see the -τερ suffix). How is this adjective used here? This is probably a case where an adjectival participle of εἰμί (τὸ ὂν with or without an article) is implied (see NAU and NKJV of 1 Pet 1:7; see also Greek of Luke 2:5, 2 Cor 11:31, John 12:17 [with articles]; see Acts 17:16, 24:24 [no article with participle] and 2 Peter 2:11 [potentially, see translations], 1:18 and BibleWorks). As a result, πολυτιμότερον becomes a predicate adjective that modifies δοκίμιον, which it agrees with in case, number, and gender. See also Dubis(1 Peter, 13), who points to Gal 1:4.

Explaining the grammar of 1 Peter 1:7 provides a good example of the usefulness of Bible software. I know that it is common in Greek, and in 1 Peter, to leave out εἰμί forms. As a result, an εἰμί can be implied and should be supplied by the reader/interpreter. In order to see if that is what might be occurring in 1 Peter 1:7, I did a search on εἰμί participles and adjectives that agree with them (both immediately before and immediately after the participle). On the basis of that search, I was able to see that there are indeed examples of εἰμί constructions like the one that I was using to account for the use of πολυτιμότερον in 1 Peter 1:7 (see list above). Since parallel constructions exist with an εἰμί present, it seems possible to conclude that an implied εἰμί could be a way to explain the use of πολυτιμότερον in 1 Peter 1:7.

2. χρυσίου. This is a good example of a genitive of comparison.

3. τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου διὰ πυρὸς δὲ δοκιμαζομένου. The participles are both governed by the same article. They are both adjectival to χρυσίου (note the case, number, and gender agreement). They are good examples of adjectival participles in the third attributive position (noun-article-adjective), which sometimes occurs with adjectival participles.

4. εὑρεθῇ. The key to the second part of the sentence is to see that the subject of εὑρεθῇ is δοκίμιον, back at the beginning. As a result, πολυτιμότερον is the beginning of a digression.

5. ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Ἰησοῦ is probably a subjective genitive with Jesus Christ as subject of the passive verbal idea (“is revealed”) that is implicit in the head noun, ἀποκαλύψει (see NIV, NET, 1 Peter 1:5, 5:1; Luke 17:30; 2 Thess 1:7). Compare the similar uses of ἀποκαλύψει in 1 Peter 1:13 and 4:13. But it could be an objective genitive if the verbal idea that is implicit in the head noun is assumed to be active instead of passive. Then, God would be the implied subject (see handbooks by Dubis and Forbes).

 Coming Up: Theological notes on 1 Peter 1:7

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This post is part of a series of posts on 1 Peter. To read the other posts in the series, click here.

Related Resources:

1 Peter: A Handbook on the Greek Text
Mark Dubis, 1 Peter: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Baylor Handbook of the Greek New Testament)
1 Peter: A Handbook on the Greek Text
Greg Forbes, 1 Peter (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament)
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