Notes on 1 Peter 1:3 (part 1)

Apostle_Peter_Georgian_mosaicΕὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν δι᾽ ἀναστάσεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν,


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has begotten us again into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

Grammatical, Lexical, and Syntactical Matters:

  1. Where is the verb in the main clause? In this verse, we do not find a verb in the main clause. 1 Peter 1:1-9 provides a few cases like this where a “to be” (εἰμί) verb form is implied. The translation above suggests that the supplied “to be” form should be imperative. If this is so, then what does this mean for the grammatical function of εὐλογητός and ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατήρ? Εὐλογητός becomes a predicate adjective; θεός and πατήρ are both subjects.
  1. Granville Sharp Rule. Note that ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατήρ provides an instance of an article before two nouns that are joined by καί. Both nouns are singular, refer to a person, and are not proper names. As a result, this is a good example of the Granville Sharp rule (see Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics). These two nouns both refer to one and the same person. Therefore the predicate adjective that modifies them is singular (εὐλογητός).
  1. Prepositional phrase between article and participle. Next comes a common feature of 1 Peter. The phrase ὁ κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος ἀναγεννήσας is not in the usual order, but provides an example of a common feature of the Greek of 1 Peter. The article comes first (ὁ), then the prepositional phrase (κατὰ τὸ πολὺ αὐτοῦ ἔλεος), and finally the participle that the article and prepositional phrase modify. Normally, one would expect an adverbial prepositional phrase to come last, after the article and participle. This effectively places the prepositional phrase in the first attributive position (article-adjective-noun).
  1. The participle ὁ ἀναγεννήσας. It is helpful to answer 6 questions about every participle (see participle handout under Greek resources). The first question is whether the participle is adjectival or adverbial. This participle must be adjectival, because it has an article. It could be an attributive adjective (one that modifies a nearby noun) or a substantival adjective (one that stands on its own without a nearby noun to modify). Which one is correct here? To answer this question, you need to look for a nearby noun that agrees with ἀναγεννήσας (nominative singular masculine) in case, number, and gender. Do you see it? This participle modifies both θεός and πατήρ. Now, look at ζῶσαν. It is a participle as well. Is it an attributive adjective or substantival adjective?

Coming Up: Theological notes on 1 Peter 1:3

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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