Notes on 1 Peter 1:6 (part 1b)
ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, ὀλίγον ἄρτι εἰ δέον ἐστὶν λυπηθέντες ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς,
In which you will be rejoicing greatly, although now for a short time, if it is necessary, you are afflicted with trials of various kinds,
Some Grammatical, Lexical, and Syntactical Notes:
Note: The most significant point to notice below is the contrast between the perfective aspect of λυπηθέντες and the imperfective aspect of the verb that if modifies (ἀγαλλιᾶσθε).
1. ὀλίγον ἄρτι. Both of these words act as adverbs and modify λυπηθέντες. The first word, ὀλίγον, is an accusative of measure or extent of time (“for a short time”) that modifies λυπηθέντες.
2. λυπηθέντες. This is a concessive adverbial participle that modifies ἀγαλλιᾶσθε. A concessive adverbial participle is generally translated into English with a clause that starts with “although” or “though.” It is aorist, but need not refer to suffering that began in the past, as is implied in many translations. Note its modifiers, namely, “now” and “if it is necessary.” Rather the perfective aspect of the participle means that the reader is supposed to look upon the affliction as a whole and as having a definite end point (“for a short time”). The perfective aspect participle is in sharp contrast to the imperfective aspect main verb (ἀγαλλιᾶσθε). The affliction (λυπηθέντες) is limited by “now,” “for a short time,” and “if it is necessary,” while the rejoicing (ἀγαλλιᾶσθε) refers to an ongoing action in the future (“in which” or “in the last time”). In terms of time, then, the suffering precedes the rejoicing, since it belongs to now. The temporary suffering of the present time will eventually give way to the ongoing rejoicing of the future (“in the last time”).
3. εἰ δέον ἐστὶν. Εἰ introduces a first class conditional clause, which differs from the third class condition in that its use of the indicative tends to indicate a condition that is presented as a real possibility that is closer to reflecting reality than a third class condition. Even so, εἰ should not be translated “since” here (see Wallace’s Greek Grammar beyond the Basics on first class conditions). BDAG says that εἰ is used with a “condition, existing in fact or hypothetical” and adds that it is used “to express a condition thought of as real or to denote assumptions relating to what has already happened” (see entry on εἰ in BDAG). The δέον is a present active participle form of δεῖ.
4. λυπηθέντας. Text variant: In Nestle Aland edition 28 (NA 28), λυπηθέντες becomes λυπηθέντας. One can see how λυπηθέντες could be the correction (nominative vs. accusative) (see Sinaiticus and its corrector). The question is whether the more difficult (accusative) reading really is the original reading or not. NA 28 also sets off the conditional clause with commas. Unlike NA 28, Michaels thinks that λυπηθέντας (accusative form) would link the participle more closely to εἰ δέον ἐστὶν (that is, “[if] it is necessary [for you] to be afflicted”) (1 Peter, 25), but I have trouble seeing how λυπηθέντας would make sense here. Does a form of δεῖ followed by a participle occur elsewhere in a construction like this?
I think that the comments made on 1 Peter 1:6 by Michaels (1 Peter, 27-28) are more helpful than the ones in the handbooks on the Greek of 1 Peter by Dubis and Forbes. See also the article by Troy Martin (“The Present Indicative in the Eschatological Statements of 1 Peter 1:6, 8,” Journal of Biblical Literature 111 : 307-14). Michaels and Martin discuss the possible time elements of the verbs and participles, but do not factor verbal aspect into their discussion. One can find a good introduction to verbal aspect in the first chapter of Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament.
Coming Up: Theological notes on 1 Peter 1:6
Note on helpful sources: On 1 Peter 1:6, see the commentary by Michaels that is referred to above.
Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter.