Should it be “should bow” or “will bow” in Philippians 2:10?


Philippians 2:10 says that every knee "should" bow. I have misquoted that several times and I have heard others do the same, by saying that every knee "will" bow. What, in your understanding, is the text teaching?


It is rendered "will bow" in the NASB, but reading my Greek books it looks like "should bow" is the better translation as the verb is in the subjunctive mood (expressing a probability or possibility).

Interestingly, this is a quote of Isaiah 45:23, which is also quoted in Romans 14:11, "For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God" " Here every translation uses "will" or "shall." In Romans 14:11, the verb is in the indicative mood (expressing certainty).

The difference is that In Romans 14:11, the passage is in the context of brethren standing before the throne. In Philippians 2:10, the context is all the world standing before the throne.

What may be influencing the translation of Philippians 2:10 is the verb "confess" in Philippians 2:11. Some texts have this verb in the subjunctive mood, but there are a good number of texts with it in the indicative mood (the difference is a single letter). The NASB picked "will" for both bow and confess. The NKJV picked "should for both verbs. Then NIV picked "should" for bow and avoided either for "confess."

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