Bible Question:

As I understand Philippians 2:10, the Greek word translated “bow” is in the aorist active subjunctive, which “has the idea that something may happen at some point in time. ” Am I to understand, then, that this passage is NOT guaranteeing that every knee WILL bow to Jesus, but, rather, that every knee MIGHT bow to Jesus?

Bible Answer:

The Greek root word that is translated as “bow” in Philippians 2:10 is kampto. The word is an aorist active subjunctive verb. Here is the verse.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NASB) Philippians 2:9-11

The English phrase “will confess” is also an aorist middle subjunctive. The aorist refers to an event that occurs at some point in time. The Greek subjunctive typically expresses uncertainty about the action. But in this case, the Greek passage starts with hina. When hina is combined with a subjunctive verb, we have a purpose clause (“in order that”) and the purpose is realized [1].

The meaning of the passage is governed by hina and the subjunctive. God’s purpose is that every knee will bow to Jesus and every tongue will confess Him as Lord. And the purpose will be realized. There is not a maybe here.


Some day every knee will bow and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Savior, Prophet, King, Lord, and God. This is the purpose of the God the Father and His purpose will be realized.



1. Peter O’Brien. Philippians. The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eerdmans. 1991. p. 239

Suggested Links:

Did Jesus speak Greek? — The answer affects the meaning of the Gospels.
Do we need to know Greek and Hebrew to know the meaning of scripture?
Jesus Christ Is Highly Exalted