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Daniel Morris
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Greek Cross-Training
Paul's use of the word συν (with): in some ways, just as significant as the word εν (in) in showing our deep and profound union with Jesus.
Published September 28th, 2021; Updated September 28th, 2021
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Ephesians 2:5-6
Paul's use of the συν preposition in his letters This study was a search of all verbs and nouns with the prefix συν (also inflected as συσ, συγ, συμ), as well as the bare preposition συν plus another word like αυτω or Χριστω, in all the Pauline Epistles. In total, there were more than 230 instances of this usage in his letters, but I narrowed it down to about the most applicable roughly 180 words (some words like συνηδεισιs I feel are less directly applicable, though the first letters are the same) from Romans to Philemon. The narrowing down was done not with any one criteria, so some may have slightly fewer or greater than 180 instances. After making the initial list, I grouped the different types of verbal forms into their voices and moods etc. Then, I marked in red what I thought were "theologically significant" words. By this, I mean the spiritual realities we as believers have in Christ (all of us). It is true that marking which words are "theologically significant" words or not is obviously debatable, as there was not one criteria which I went by, but I felt that these words in red have the greater significance for Paul. It is not that the non-red words I thought insignificant, but rather that I wanted a sense of the different usages in Paul's writing, so I separated them into red and non-red words. I think (as I observe below) that the red-marked words really influence the so-called "normal" verbs. So that even though not every verb is "theologically significant"(as I consider), every word here has significance, and that is because I do believe that the preposition συν, just like the other preposition εν, has a special meaning for Paul. The list is presented below (there is no ranking within the list itself, only that I placed the "theological" words in red at the top). Though I put all the words in English, every word with reference has a συν prefixed to the beginning of the word (or prepositions are the bare preposition plus another word). Verbs Indicative Aorist Buried with (Ro 6:4) Crucified with (Ro 6:6) Glorified with (Ro 8:17) Made alive with (Eph 2:5) Raised with (Eph 2:6, Col 2:12, 3:1) Seated with (Eph 2:6) United with (1 Co 12:24) Die with (2 Tim 2:11 Proved (2 Co 7:11) Shut up with ( Ro 11:32 , Gal 3:22 ) Send with (2 Co 8:18, 8:22) Send together (2 Co 12:18) Hypocritical with ( Gal 2:12) Lead astray ( Gal 2:13) Work together with (Phil 4:2) Present Testifies with (Ro 8:16) Suffer with (Ro 8:17) Groan together (Ro 8:22) Suffer together (Ro 8:22, 1 Co 12:26) Assists with (Ro 8:26) Works with (Ro 8:28) Control-surround ( 2 Co 5:14 , Phil 1 ;23) Built together ( Eph 2:21 ) Mutually agree (Ro 1:32, 1 Co 7:12) Associate with (Ro 3:5, 5:8) Agree (Ro 7:16) Commend (Ro 16:1, 2 Co 5:12, 10:18, Gal 2:18) Have Advantage (1 Co 6:12, 10:23, 2 Co 8:10) Share with (1 Co 9:13) Come together (1 Co 11:17) Rejoice with (1 Co 12:26, 13:6) Rejoice with (Phil 2:17) Perfect Crucified with ( Gal 2:19 ) Commend, sustain ( Col 1:17 ) Know (1 Co 4:4) Future Will crush ( Ro 16:20 ) Advise with (1 Co 2:16) Imperfect Eat with (Gal 2:12) Infinitive Aorist To die with ( 2 Co 7:3 ) To be mutually encouraged (Ro 1:12) T contend with (Ro 15:30) Present To Associate with (1 Co 5:9, 11, 2 Th 3:14) To eat with (1 Co 5:11) To commend (2 Co 3:1, 12:11) Participles (not sorted into Aorist, Present etc) Joined together ( Eph 2:21 , 4:16 ) United together ( Eph 4:16 ) Striving together ( Phil 1:27 ) Buried with ( Col 2:12 ) Associating with (Ro 12:16, 2 Co 6:4) Interpreting with (1 Co 2:13) Gather together (1 Co 5:4) Wrapping up (1 Co 7:29) Coming together (1 Co 11:18,20, 32) Advantageous (1 Co 12:7, 2 Co 12:1) Work with (1 Co 16:16, 2 Co 6:1) Helping (with) (2 Co 1:11) Commending (2 Co 10:18) Take with ( Gal 2:1) Imprisoned with (Gal 3:23) Subjunctive Reign with ( 1 Co 4:8 ) Refreshed with (Ro 15:32) Come together (1 Co 11:32, 14:23, 26) Imperative (not sorted by aspect) Bend knee together with ( Ro 11:10 ) Be conformed with ( Ro 12:2 ) Not partake in (Eph 5:11) Rejoice with (Phil 2:17) Nouns or Adjectives “Planted with” people ( Ro 6:4 ) fellow heirs ( Ro 8:17 , Eph 3:6 ) Conformed to the same shape ( Ro 8:29 , Phil 3:21) Fellow participants ( Ro 11:17 , 1 Co 9:32) Fellow citizen ( Eph 2:19 ) Fellow body member (Eph 3:6) Co-partakers ( Eph 3:6 , 5:7 ), Partakers ( Phil 1:7 ) Bond ( Eph 3:18 , 4:3 , Col 2:19 , 3:14 ) Fellow counselor (Ro 11:32) Fellow worker (Ro 16:3, 1 Co 3:9, 2 Co 1:24, 2 Co 8:23, Phil 2:25, 4:2, Col 4:11,1 Th 3:2, Philemon 1) Harmony (1 Co 7:5) Fellow imitators (Phil 3:17) Concession (1 Co 7:5) Advantage (1 Co 7:35, 10:33) Anguish ( 2 Co 2:4) Recommendation (2 Co 3:1) Accord (2 Co 6:15) Agreement (2 Co 6:15) Traveling partner (2 Co 8:19) Contemporary ( Gal 1:14) Accord (Phil 2:2) Fellow servant (Col 1:7, 4:7) Fellow prisoner (Col 4:10, Philemon 23, 24) Detached Preposition + another word With Christ ( Ro 6:8 , Phil 1:23 , Col 2:20 , 3:3 ) With him ( Ro 8:32 , 2 Co 13:4 , Col 2:13 , 3:3 , 1 Th 4:14 , 5:10 ) With Jesus ( 2 Co 4:14 ) With them (Ro 16:14, 15, 1 Th 4:17) With all (1 Co 1:12, Eph 3:18) With the power (1 Co 5:4) With the trial (1 Co 10:13) (not) with the world (1 Co 11:32) With me (1 Co 15:10, 16:4, 2 Co 9:4, Gal 1:2, 2:3, Phil 2:22, 4:21) With those (1 Co 16:19) With the saints (2 Co 1:1) With you all (2 Co 1:21, 4:14, Col 2:5) With the grace (2 Co 8:19) With Abraham (Gal 3:22) With passions (Gal 5:24) With all malice (Eph 4:31) With overseers (Phil 1:1) With practices (Col 3:9) With Onesimus (Col 4:9) Some more observations Verb-related Observations Going into this word study-search, I assumed the "theology significant" verbs would mainly only be in Aorist-related verbs. This is not quite true at all. There are theologically significant verbs (those showing our spiritual status or position in Christ) equally in the Present Tense, in the Subjunctive, and in the Participles. So, "Theologically Significant verbs" are used in all kinds of contexts by Paul, and so this preposition really does have a comprehensive meaning in his letters Preposition-related Observations For "Theologically significant" prepositions+word (those marked in red) I found that the preposition συν+word, as opposed to the verb with συν , show the more general reality that we have in Christ, while the verbs elaborate in more detail the specific sides or aspects (the breadth and depth) of the General Reality of συν+ preposition. The preposition +word ( αυτω, Χριστω) do talk about "having died with Christ", and "being made alive with Christ", but they don't elaborate as much as the Prefix-based verbs. Regarding συν αυτω and συν Χριστω, they show up a combined 10x Noun-related Observations The theological realties that are in the verbs and in the prepositions trickle down into the noun-adjective groups as well. There are a number of, in my opinion, "theologically significant" nouns that are unique to Paul, such as "fellow citizen, fellow heir, fellow participant", which are really just another way of expressing the spiritual reality that are embedded in many of the verbs. So, the Nouns and Verbs are basically doing the same thing in many instances (though not all): showing specific aspects or sides of the realities that are sketched rather more broadly in the bare prepositions plus word (συν + αυτω for example) category. About the "Less" theological Verbs and Nouns There are certain nouns that seem like like mere earthly descriptions of Paul's associates and of other people: t"raveling partner, fellow servant, fellow prisoner, and fellow worker" etc. However, though these may be "less" theologically significant words, the background for who these associates are is the spiritual realities wrapped up in all these "theologically significant" συν verbs, nouns and prepositions. Particularly of interest is "fellow worker (συνεργοι)", which shows up 9x in total throughout the epistles. In the same way, "συν εμοι (with me)", a reference to Paul participating (in some activity or other) with his church members or fellow workers, shows up 7x. These two put together, the idea of "working together as workers of the gospel" must be deeply wrapped up, in Paul's mind, with the spiritual reality he knows of being "In Christ" (as are displayed in many of the verbs) About the verb "to commend" (συνιτσταω) (8x in total) This verb in a variety of forms shows up perhaps most frequently among all the συν-attached verbs. Perhaps this verb is at a kind of "intersection" between the spiritual reality that Paul knows and displays in the "theologically significant" verbs, and the more "earthly (not in a negative sense) verbs", perhaps acting as a bridge. That is, this verb "to commend" could be Paul's way of revealing to the rest of the world (both believing and unbelieving), what the spiritual realities are. So this verb is by no means just "commend (or recommend)" as used in normal earthly discussions. Of course, someone in the world would only commend to others his own earthly position (his or her credentials, talents, skills, personality traits etc.). But Paul and his συνεργοι (co-workers) are of a different strand altogether: they too work "in this (physical) world" as do the rest of the people in society, but they commend instead something far greater: the spiritual union and reality that is in Christ. Paul wants everybody to see this, and I think this verb has a special place in his attempt to make this a reality, even in this world. Final other notes : Although in terms of the word count for συν the Romans-1 Corinthians-2 Corinthians triad have the highest number of hits (instances) of , the highest concentration belongs to Philippians-Colossians, which have about twice as many references per chapter than thοse 3 long epistles. So, given that this preposition συν has a wide ranging, broad and comprehensive meaning for Paul (and I would argue, it is one of the major ways he expressed the reality of Union with Christ), I think next it would be great to examine all the uses of the preposition εν, which, along with συν, is the other major preposition that carries a lot of the "Union with Christ" meaning in his letters.
Ephesians 2:5-6
...even when we were dead in our trespasses, (he) made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.