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and stayed there until the death of Herod, with the result that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled, saying, Out of Egypt I called my son.a

a[15]
Quoted from Hosea 11:1.

Quoted from Hosea 11:1.

“stayed there.” See commentary on Matthew 2:13 for “stay.”.

“with the result that...” In English there are several ways to communicate purpose or intention, just as there are several ways to indicate the results of an action. To communicate purpose we might say, “I read the Bible to grow closer to God,” using the word “to” to show our intention of growing closer to God by reading scripture. To communicate our emphasis on results we might use a participle, as the word “falling,” in the phrase, “he tripped, falling into the mud.”

There are also several ways Greek grammar communicates purpose and result clauses, and one such way is with the particle hina (#2443 ἵνα) occurring in conjunction with a verb in the subjunctive mood. When hina, usually translated, “that,” “so that,” or “in order that,” is used with a verb in the subjunctive mood, it can express either purpose, result, or purpose and result simultaneously. Furthermore, hina with a verb in the subjunctive mood can be used in command clauses (as well as substantival, epexegetical, and complementary clauses, which we will not cover here [Wallace, Greek Grammar, p. 471]). Since the Greek construction is the same for all these kinds of clauses, it is up to the translator or interpreter to discover the meaning of the phrase from the context and scope of Scripture. In what follows we will give examples showing how hina with a verb in the subjunctive mood can form a purpose clause, result clause, or purpose-result clause. After some discussion we will also consider command clauses.

These first three clauses all consist of a main verb, the particle hina, and a verb in the subjunctive. The explanations have the main verb underlined, the hina translation in italics, and the subjunctive verb in bold.

(1) A purpose clause expresses the intention of the main verb, so in these cases hina should be translated in order that, with the purpose that.

(2) A result clause expresses the resulting consequences of the main verb when the result is not intended to be the consequence of the main verb. In other words, this expresses when a person does something, or an event occurs, resulting in consequences that were not intended. The hina should be translated so that; with the result that.

(3) A Purpose-result clause expresses that the subjunctive verb is both the intention and result of the main verb. The hina should be translated, so that.

In the REV we have attempted to remain as consistent as possible in the translation of the hina in these clauses. For purpose clauses we say, “in order that”; for result clauses, “with the result that”; and for purpose-result clauses, “so that.” The English translation “in order that” clearly indicates purpose; likewise, for result clauses, what could be more clear than, “with the result that?” “So that,” on the other hand is the best translation for a purpose-result clause precisely because it is ambiguous; it can be read to indicate either purpose or result. For example, the phrase, “he fell back into the snow so that an imprint was left,” could be read to mean he fell “so that” (purpose) he could make an imprint of himself, or it could be read to mean he just happened to fall “so that” (result) an imprint was left on the ground. The context would have to determine whether the “so that” speaks of purpose, result, or purpose-result. When we felt the biblical context demands a purpose-result clause we have rendered the hina “so that.”

That having been said, when reading the REV one must be careful not to assume every instance of “so that,” “in order that,” or “with the result that” is a hina with a verb in the subjunctive clause. For there are also uses of hina by itself that warrant the “so that” translation; likewise there are several other ways Greek can indicate purpose, hence, “in order that” could be due to another of these forms. The same can be said of the phrase, “with the result that,” which is often just a translation of eis (#1519 εἰς) or hoste (#5620 ὥστε) (Dana and Mantey, Grammar, pp. 282-86). The reader must consult the Greek text, or the commentary to ensure the translation represents the hina with a verb in the subjunctive construction.

Identifying these clauses correctly is of fundamental importance for properly understanding and translating the Bible. Thankfully, in a majority of instances, the type of clause is abundantly clear from the context or the scope of scripture. Nevertheless, the danger of misidentification is always present, because the Greek form of each construction is precisely the same. This means that in the hina with a verb in the subjunctive form, a purpose, result, and purpose-result clause looks exactly the same in the Greek. If one calls a “purpose” or “purpose-result clause” what is actually a result clause, he attributes intention when God only meant to speak of what resulted, not what was purposed to happen. On the other hand, if one categorizes a passage as a “result clause,” when it is really a purpose clause, then he has missed the intention that is underlying the action.

For example, the first part of Romans 5:20 is often translated as though it were a purpose clause: “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase” (NASB). This translation ascribes the intention of increasing man’s transgression to the introduction of the law. But surely this is misguided. Can it really be that God introduced the law for the purpose of increasing sin? Why would God want sin to increase? This seems to go against Galatians 3:19-24 which indicates that the law came in precisely because there were already many transgressions (See also Rom. 3:19-20). Hence, this verse seems much better suited as a result clause: “But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied” (NRSV). In other words, God gave the Law to help mankind, but people disobeyed with the result that sin increased.

1 John 2:19 is another example of how translating a result clause as though purpose were intended can cause confusion. Speaking of the exodus of false believers from the Church, versions such as the HCSB and NASB translate the verse, “They went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.” It seems clear that false believers did not leave the Christian fellowship “so that” it would be clear they were not true to the Faith. In contrast, seeing the hina clause as a result clause makes sense of the passage: “Their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (NIV).

Lastly, we must also consider how hina with the subjunctive can form a command clause. It is vital to properly distinguish purpose clauses from command clauses. A purpose clause indicates why something happened, it shows the intention behind the action: e.g., “Children were being brought to him in order that he might lay [Greek=hina with a verb in the subjunctive] his hands on them and pray” (Matt. 19:13). A command clause, on the other hand, issues an order or command: e.g., “Come and lay [Greek=hina with a verb in the subjunctive] your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live” (Mark 5:23).

Because the same Greek form of hina with the subjunctive can be a purpose, result, or command clause, people sometimes disagree as to which is meant. This disagreement shows up in the varying translations of Mark 5:12 for instance, when the demons plead to go into the herd of swine. Some versions translate the second part of their plea as purpose, “Send us into the pigs so that we may enter them” (cp. NASB; HCSB; KJV; ASV), while most modern versions translate it as a command: “Send us into the pigs. Let us enter them” (cp. ESV; NIV; NRSV; NET; NAB; NJB). Interestingly, we see precisely the same split between the translations with regard to Titus 3:13, “see that they lack nothing” (command: ESV; NIV; NRSV; NET; NAB; NJB) as opposed to “so that they lack nothing (purpose-result: NASB; HCSB; KJV; ASV). (See also Revelation 14:13 for similar disagreement between translations).

Understanding how the hina construction can indicate a command becomes important for passages such as John 9:3, about the man born blind. Because this verse has hina with the subjunctive, we must ask whether it is meant to be a purpose or command clause. It is rendered as a purpose clause in most translations, “He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” (NRSV); however, this translation has serious consequences to the meaning of the text because the way it is worded means that the man’s blindness was intentional, so that he could not see for the better part of his life, simply for the purpose of being healed this day—that “God’s works” may be manifest by his healing. Such an interpretation goes against the teaching of scripture, that God is love (1 John 4:16), has plans not to harm us (Jer. 29:11), and that it is Satan who is our enemy, the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4) who has the power of death (Heb. 2:14). Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8), his ministry was to heal those oppressed by Satan (Acts 10:38). The Gospels nowhere portray Jesus going around healing people oppressed by God (See Boyd, God at War, pp. 231-34).

Accordingly, a number of scholars agree that John 9:3 should be read as a command clause, “But let the works of God be revealed in him.” (cp. Boyd, God at War, pp.231-34; Boyd also notes M. Zerwick, Biblical Greek, trans. J. Smith (Rome: Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1963), pp. 141-42; C.F.D. Moule, An Idiom-Book of New Testament Greek, pp. 144-45; Nigel Turner, Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1965), p. 145ff.

In this way, the Greek in Matthew 2:15 is understood just like Ephesians 5:33, which has the same construction: “let [Greek=hina with a verb in the subjunctive] the wife see that she respects her husband.” [For more on hina with a verb in the subjunctive mood command clauses wrongly identified as purpose clauses, see commentary on John 9:3, 13:18].


Commentary for: Matthew 2:15