GREEK VERBS

Verbs are "action" words ("John BAPTIZED in the Jordan"). All main verbs have Voice, Tense and Mood.

 VOICE

This describes the relation of the verb to the subject.

  1. Active Voice.

The subject produces the action of the verb ("Jesus ARRIVED from Galilee").

2. Middle Voice.

  1. Passive Voice.

The subject receives the action of the verb ("By grace you HAVE BEEN SAVED" - Ephesians 2:8). 

MOOD

Mood shows how the action is related to reality. It is the relationship of the action to reality.

1. Indicative Mood.

This is the declarative mood. It is the mood of certainty. It is a statement of fact which assumes reality. It describes a thing as being fact.

Example: Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you HAVE BEEN SAVED through faith..."

Romans 5:6 "...Christ DIED for the ungodly."

John 3:16 "For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son..."

John 1:1 "In the beginning WAS the Word..."

The future indicative can be used to express a command (James 2:8 - "You shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself").

2. Imperative Mood.

This is the mood of command or entreaty. It addresses the volition and the will. It makes a demand upon the will of the reader to obey the command.

Example: John 15:4 "ABIDE in me..."

Ephesians 5:18 "...BE FILLED with the Spirit."

1 Thessalonians 4:18 "Therefore COMFORT one another with these words."

Matthew 5:44 "LOVE your enemies..."

3. Subjunctive Mood.

This is the mood of probability. It implies some doubt as to the reality of the action. It expresses and uncertainty of an action which may or may not happen. This mood is also used for strong suggestions or "polite" commands (Matthew 6:13 - "LEAD us not into temptation...").

Example: John 3:16 "...He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in Him should not PERISH..." In this example, it is uncertain whether the individual will believe and participate in either perishing or in eternal life.

4. Optative Mood.

This is the mood of possibility. While the indicative say, "It IS..." And the subjunctive says, "It MIGHT BE..." The optative says, "It COULD BE." It is very rare in the Greek New Testament. It can be used to express a wish.

Example: 2 Thessalonians 3:5 "And may the Lord DIRECT your hearts..." In this case, Paul hopes that this will be the case.

TENSE

When we think of tense, we usually think only in terms of the TIME of the action: Past, present, and future.

While the Greek language has these distinctions, there is also an equal emphasis on the TYPE of action and whether it is viewed as continuously happening or as happening in a single point of time.

The technical terms for these are "punctiliar action" (point action) and "linear action" (continuous or line action).

1. PRESENT TENSE.

This generally indicates continuous action in the present time (If we are continually confessing our sin... - 1 John 1:9).

It is the linear tense.

Jesus uses the present tense when he says "Before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). The emphasis here is that He is continually existing - there is no beginning or end of His existence in view. There are other uses of the present tense.

Some other examples of the present tense being used to describe that which is yet future are seen at:

Matthew 26:2. "You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man IS DELIVERED UP for crucifixion."

John 14:3. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I COME AGAIN, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

In both these instances, the NAS chose to translate the Greek present with an English future.

2. IMPERFECT TENSE.

This tense is also linear. It describes continuous action in the PAST. It is used three times in John 1:1...

"In the beginning CONTINUALLY WAS the Word, and the Word CONTINUALLY WAS with God, and the Word CONTINUALLY WAS God."

3. FUTURE TENSE.

The future tense in Greek is essentially the same as in English. It describes action planned for the future. The difference is that the Bible often speaks authoritatively about the future - not merely what is planned, but what shall actually come to pass (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

The future tense can also be used in the sense of a command ("You shall call His name Jesus" - Matthew 1:21).

4. AORIST TENSE.

The point of the aorist is that it does not have a point it sees the action as a whole, without regard to the time element. This means it can and often is used of something that took place in the past, but it does not need to be limited in such a way. Charles Smith describes it this way:

In the matter of 'aspect' the purpose of the aorist is to be invisible. The term means "no boundary," "without horizon," "non- specific," "noncommittal," "indefinite," etc. The whole point of the aorist is to refrain from saying anything about the nature of the action. As Chamberlain said, the word means "I do not define. (Grace Theological Journal 2.2, Fall 1981, pg 206).

One use of the aorist is the classic punctiliar action. This use sees action as a whole, taking place in a point in time. This might be a very large point.

"For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son..." (John 3:16).

When the aorist is used with a participle, the action of the aorist participle generally PRECEDES the action of the main verb. Thus, the aorist participle "having been justified by faith" can be seen to take place BEFORE the main verb "we have peace with God" (Romans 5:1).

5. PERFECT TENSE.

This tense is like the aorist in that it also sees the action as taking place in a point in time. The difference is that the perfect also emphasizes continuing results. It denotes completed action in the past with finished results in the present.

"For by grace YOU WERE SAVED IN THE PAST WITH CONTINUING RESULTS through faith, and that not of yourselves" (Ephesians 2:8).

6. PLUPERFECT TENSE.

This is the perfect tense of the past. It describes action that took place in a point in past time and which had results that continued for a time, but which then ceased.

"His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews HAD ALREADY AGREED, that if anyone should confess Him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." (John 9:22).

"And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing STOOD beside them" (Acts 1:10).

The use of the pluperfect is fairly rare in the Greek New Testament.

7. COMMANDS.

a. Positive Commands.

(1) Present imperative.

When the present imperative is used in a command, it signifies a command to repeated or continuous action.

And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax office, and He said to him, "KEEP ON FOLLOWING Me!" And he rose, and followed Him. (Matthew 9:9).

(2) Aorist imperative.

The use of the aorist imperative in a command is to denote either instantaneous action or action that is to begin at once.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let Him DENY himself [aorist], and take up his cross [aorist], and follow Me [present]." (Matthew 16:24).

b. Negative Commands.

(1) Present imperative.

When a negative command, request or exhortation is given in the present imperative, it indicates one of two possibilities:

(a) A command to STOP doing an action already begun.

"STOP JUDGING lest you be judged." (Matthew 7:1). Evidently, Jesus was speaking to those who were already having a problem in being judgmental.

And to those who were selling the doves, He said, "Take these things away; STOP MAKING My Father's house a house of merchandise." (John 2:16).

Jesus said to her, "STOP CLINGING to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father..." (John 20:17).

(b) A command against a continuing or habitual action.

Therefore do not let sin CONTINUALLY REIGN in your mortal bodies... (Romans 6:12).

(2) Aorist subjunctive.

When a negative command, request or exhortation is given in the aorist subjunctive, it also indicates one of two things.

(a) A command or warning against doing a thing not yet begun.

And they said to one another, "Let us NOT TEAR it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be..." (John 19:24).

(b) A command or exhortation or plea against ever doing a certain thing.

"...and lead us not into temptation." (Luke 11:4). Here the idea is that we pray that the Lord not EVER lead us into temptation.

 PERSON & NUMBER

There are three elements of "person."

 

Singular

Plural

1st Person

I

We

2nd Person

You

You all

3rd Person

He, She

They

Number is reckoned as either singular or plural. In Greek this is ALWAYS a part of the verb.

 

OTHER VERBAL FORMS

1. Infinitive: Used to express purpose or result.

2. Participle: Describes its subject as a doer of the action denoted by the verb.

Mood of the Question

Assumption

Indicative

Assumes there is an answer

Subjunctive

Assumes there might be an answer

Optative

Assumes there is no answer

However, the action of the aorist participle CAN take place at the same time (Matthew 22:1) or even after the action of the main verb (Hebrews 9:12).

QUESTIONS

Questions can be asked in either the indicative, the subjunctive or the optative moods. Each mood places a slightly different range of possibilities upon the question.

 

 

 


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