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Emphatic First and Second Person Pronouns (Monday with Mounce 54)

Categories Mondays with Mounce

Monday With Mounce buttonLast week I
talked about the emphatic use of αυτος in the Beatitudes, and a related
question came in this week about the use of the emphatic form of εμου in Matt
10:18. The question specifically had to do with the word order and whether “on
account of me” is emphatic because of its unusual word order.

Unfortunately, I
do not have access right now to the commentators listed in the question so
perhaps some of you out there could check this out.

The verse reads, “and
you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake (ενεκεν εμου), to
bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (ESV).

There are really
two issues here. The first is word order, which is, roughly, “before governors
and kings you will be dragged for my sake.” This does not especially strike me
as unusual word order, the prepositional phrase following the verb it modifies.

But there is a
second issue here. The basic rule with the emphatic forms of εγω and συ is that
they are used for emphasis (either contrast or focus), but sometimes merely
redundantly. However, when the pronoun is in an oblique case, it is usually
anaphoric (i.e., referring back to its antecedent; see Wallace, 321-325). This
is the case in our verse.

But the real
issue is how personal pronouns behave with prepositions. As a general rule, the
emphatic forms of εγω and συ are used after prepositions. Why, I don’t know.
But if you look up all the uses of ενεκα (ενεκεν) in the New Testament, you
will find that of its 24 occurrences, 8 times it is followed by a personal
pronoun, and in every case the form is emphatic. 7 are examples with εμου and
once with σου (with an accent, Rom 8:36), although granted this is an editorial

I did a search in
Accordance for εις followed by a first or second person singular person
pronoun. There are 25 occurrences, and in 21 times the pronoun is emphatic, and
every example of the explicit first person pronoun (εμε) was emphatic. What
this tells us is that there truly is a preference for the emphatic form of the
pronoun when it is the object of the preposition as it is in our verse. A quick
survey of constructions like συν εμοι and εν εμοι confirms the pattern.

So back to the
question. Is there any significance in the order of the words in Matt 10:18? I
don’t think so (but I could be persuaded). Is there any significance of meaning
that the form is εμου and not μου? None.

So the lesson is
that grammar is complicated, and different principles are often overlapping.
Yes, there are cases in which the emphatic forms of εγω and συ are significant,
but when they are objects of prepositions, evidently not.

MounceWilliam D. [Bill] Mounce posts
every Monday about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at
Koinonia. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestselling
Basics of Biblical Greek (
third edition coming in 2009!), and general editor for Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words.
He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version
Bible translation. Learn more and visit Bill's blog (co-authored with
scholar and his father Bob Mounce) at

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