"Conjunction Junction! What's Your Function?"

If you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 1970’s, then you are familiar with the above title. Schoolhouse Rock was a popular Saturday morning “filler” between cartoon times that educated children on various school subjects: history, law, mathematics, grammar, and other subjects. One of my favorites was “Conjunction Junction.” This particular educational experience discussed the ins and outs of the English conjunctions: “and,” “or,” and “but.” These three conjunctions play a critical role in our language and they are all important, but many do not understand the importance of the word “and.”
In the Greek language, the two most common words that may be translated “and” are “KAI” and “DE.” Of the two words, “KAI” is the stronger conjunction. It signifies a strong logical connection, whereas “DE” is a weaker conjunction signifying more or less association and being adversative in nature. For example, in that long run of genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16 most of the “ands” in that passage are from the Greek word “DE.” In that same passage, “KAI” is used, but only when speaking of additional siblings begotten to the same father. For an example, look at Matthew 1:2. “And (DE) Abraham begat Isaac; and (DE) Isaac begat Jacob; and (DE) Jacob begat Judah and (KAI) his brethren.” The weak conjunction that is more or less grammatical association is represented by “DE,” but the strong logical conjunction is represented by “KAI.”
The logical force of the word “KAI” is to be understood as addition or supplement. A.T. Robertson says regarding the meaning of “KAI,” “The idea would then be ‘together with,’ ‘in addition to.'” (Grammar, p.1180). Thus one understands when seeing the word “KAI” that the two things conjoined are grammatically copulated. Grammatically, if they are joined together by “KAI,” they are an inseparable pair. “KAI” is only listed in Robertson’s grammar as a “copulative” conjunction, whereas “DE” is listed as both “copulative” and “adversative.” (Grammar, p.lxi) “KAI’s” business is to conjoin.
Now, the conjunction “KAI” may join nouns, verbs, phrases, clauses and sentences and when it does, we must pay attention to all parts of the conjunction. One such example may be found in Mark 16:16a. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” In English we have a simple sentence with a relative clause that describes who is saved, namely, those who believe and are baptized. In Greek however, the situation is different. The subject of the sentence is the conjunction of two aorist participles, PISTEUSAS and BAPTISQEIS. Translated into English we have: “the-one-who-believes-and-is-baptized.” To this subject is amended the predicate, “shall be saved.” Because these two participles are joined together with the Greek conjunction “KAI” we know that the action of the verb applies equally to the one subject, namely, “the-believing-and-baptized-one.” What is that action? Such a subject “shall be saved.” The subject is not just the one who believes but is not baptized. The subject is not just the one who is baptized without believing. The subject is the one who has both believed and been baptized. That subject is the only subject to which the predicate “shall be saved” applies. This must be true because of the strong connection in the Greek conjunction “KAI.”
What’s the function of the Greek conjunction “KAI”? It is to join strongly together different grammatical elements. When “KAI” is used, we understand those elements to be grammatically conjoined to one another in the sentence.

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Kevin Cauley

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