Notes on Greek Tenses, Moods, and Prepositions.

1877 377 In 1 Peter ii. 23, 24, anenegken is an aorist, the three preceding verbs imperfects, these referring to what Christ was during His life, that to what He did once for all on the cross.

But the imperfect is not simply a continuous doing. In English we have really more accuracy as to this than the Greek. "He read," "did read," "was reading," are all different, yet all used for the imperfect; only "read" is also aorist, the historic fact, and really an aorist, though used for Greek imperfect when the fact or "what" is denoted without specific note of time. But it is so far imperfect as "ein abgeschlossenes," doing, not done. "Was" is need while present continuous time is going on, that is, present doing of something else, then going on though now past; as What was John doing when I came in? He was writing. So even in Greek en didaskon, more positively continuous in Greek than in English, where it may be only that the act was doing. But, where the fact, rather than its continuity is to be noted, I say, "read," not "was reading." Then if I introduce time, I must have the time at which specified by another word to give it a time, as He read the scriptures to us of an evening. Aorist in Greek is only historic or moral (the latter in English with "has"), a single act. Angels came (proselthon) and ministered (imperfect): this was not a single act, but what they did; in English not "were ministering" but "ministered," because, "were ministering" being a continuous act in past time, the time when must be specified. It was present when the time alluded to in "were" was so. But in "ministered" there is the simple fact of what they were doing, the what. In Greek it is the imperfect. For this "was" or "were" does not suit in English, but the imperfect when only a fact characterising what they did without specified time, is in English the same as the aorist, or is one; "was," affirms present existence at a past time, but the time must be specified or understood. But in Greek it is not a simple act as aorist, but what characterised the action at a given time. This is in English the simple imperfect or aorist, not present participle and perfect auxiliary: that fixes the mind on time, so far as the tense goes; "did do" marks the thing to be over. "Came and ministered"  — after coming they did that: continuance here is only from the sense of the word. I would say, Came in, and fell down dead: it is a true historic aorist. Imperfect is properly a present continuing fact in past time.

But the imperfect in Greek constantly is rightly represented in English, not by "was," etc., but by what is an aorist, if you please to call it so: "taught in their cities," "angels ministered to him," when the act is meant, or what is in the mind, not the continuance of time, marked by another word involving "while." It is only rightly used in English where time is not the special point, but what he did. "Was" is always at a specific time: "as I came in, he was," etc. The Greek aorist is one specific point of past time: "he came;" the imperfect is what he was doing at a certain period. "Did" emphasises; the act may, or may not, last. But "was," etc., does not habitually represent the imperfect in Greek; it is never a past abgeschlossenes thing, but, I repeat, what the person did as one looked at as present in a past time or continuous, so that it is really characteristic. "Angels ministered" may have been in one act; but it is looked as doing, not done; not abgeschlossenes when spoken of; "came" is. "The virgins grew drowsy," an abgeschlossenes thing, and "slept" their state, here continuous, but what state they were in; imperfect in Greek if continuous; and in English aorist, because it only states "what" with no specific note of when. 'What' is imperfect in Greek, is in such case preterite or aorist in English, still imperfect as not a closed act. The enustax is evidently passed, nodding drowsy, for they then were actually asleep; they grew drowsy and slept. So 1 Corinthians iii. 6: the acts of Paul and Apollos, aorist; God gave, imperfect, not "was giving" as a period of time; but characteristic. The increase was from God, not from Paul or Apollos. It was when or at least that occasion. Here therefore there may be a question in English, because the mind may rest on who gave it as a fact or on the occasion when. On the whole I prefer "gave," though there is partially a when, because the fact who gave is the main point of the passage. If I say, "We read, while we worked," it is a characteristic fact, what he did an aoristic imperfect, perhaps habitual. "He was reading while we were working" is a specified time as to which this is asserted. He was doing that at a given time. In result the simple or aoristic imperfect is characteristic, what was done; the compound imperfect, a fact at a given time. In 1 Peter ii. 23, 24, imperfects are clearly characteristic (what He did), the aorist one actual finished fact. In English the present is an unabgeschlossenes aorist, the same as imperfect, only of course not past time: he eats, does eat, is eating. The difference is the same as in the imperfect. "Is eating" is specific as to time, and so on; "eats," what he does; and "does eat" is emphatic.

Thus the aorist expresses an act, the imperfect characterises it, and indeed so in English. What was he doing? Writing. "He wrote" is the fact. Hence it, the imperfect, may be continuous, because it is the character which abides while the act abides; but constantly it simply characterises. Thus "angels came," which is the simple fact, "and were ministering to him." This characterises what they did when they had come, and hence implies continuance as characterising. Hence one may often use either: Matthew xix. 13 (aorist), His disciples rebuked them. This was the fact that happened, epetimesan. In Mark x. 13 it is epetimon. This is the character of what they did. In fact the duration is just the same, the conception of the writer is different. But when we reflect on it, character supposes something abiding. Again, Hebrews xi. 17, in the same verse Abraham offered, it is the fact, and what is peculiar, the perfect; then prosepheren, here not the fact but the character of it. He who had the promises and this only-begotten Son in whom they were, did that. I suspect that prosphero is used because he was not in fact sacrificed (anaphero); but in Abraham's mind by faith he had wholly offered and given him up to God (prosenenochen), and in this case never withdrawn. It was a complete surrender.

But I think the aorist has also this characterising sense, of course the fact being stated. "He has written the letter," gives a more moral effect than, "He wrote the letter." "He brought Greeks into the temple" is not as just as "he hath brought Greeks into the temple." The last implies more moral character in the act. The fact was suggested in the participle (didaskon) as a questionable fact, and then he was affirmed to be guilty of it, or to have done what was wicked. "He brought" is merely the fact.

So, in Romans iii. 23, the historical tense (or preterite) in English would not do at all, that is, all sinned. "All have sinned" gives the fact with its moral character; it is what all have done. The affirmation is in "have," the fact. Then I say, "have" what? Sinned. If I say, "all sinned," I am relating a history. So 1 Corinthians vii. 28.

On the whole I am fully convinced that the English tenses do not correspond. The aorist is peculiar; it states the fact to have occurred; the various uses of it are because no one tense answers to it. It is perfect, or historical tense, or pluperfect; but all this is only because other elements in the sentence give it this force, to which in another language the time of the verb must be adapted. Thus, "when they had accomplished all things [aorist], they returned" [also aorist]; but in English I must say "had," because the relative time of "returned" requires it. In Greek both are mere facts; in English I must have historical order to make sense. In Matthew xiv. 3, 4, 5, the preterite would be just as good as the pluperfect, as historically relating the fact. So John vi. 22; John xi. 30: either "met him," quite as good, the aoristic fact, not the relative time. Chapter xviii. 4 is history only; exelthon supposes the act done, which we may express by the present aorist, "going forth spake," for that expresses the past as regards eipen. Unless emphasis is to be laid on it, the present aorist is never in English, because it has no time, but a fact on which the verb is dependent, hence morally antecedent. I have shown elsewhere there are no proper tenses in English: only an abgeschlossenes and an unabgeschlossenes aorist. eudokesa is the fact of having found His good pleasure in the object spoken of with tini, en, eis. All the fulness was pleased to dwell in Him. (Compare Col. ii. 9.) It may be delight or sovereign good pleasure, or even human satisfaction, as 2 Corinthians 5:6. But as to the tense it is the simple fact affirmed that He has found His good pleasure. See Matt. iii. 17; Matt. xii. 18; 2 Peter i. 17; Hebrews x. 6; Luke xii. 32; 1 Corinthians i. 21.

I doubt the reference of 2 Peter i. 14, to John xxi. 18, 19, though often thought of on account of tachine, and then "has showed me" is the right English, not the historic preterite. The imperfect is anything doing at a given point of time, but here, save in rare cases, we have not the accuracy of the English. "Was doing" is a present, act going on, doing, at a past time, "was," which the rest of the sentence states. "Was" is an historical preterite. He was, but he is not. He wrote a letter — a past historical fact. "Was writing," is the historical preterite, with a present act in activity. But in English we often have to use the preterite which gives the fact, its time appearing from the sentence. "John forbade Him." "John was forbidding Him" would in English put the forbidding before Christ's coming to the baptism: that gives the point of time when John was already forbidding Him: the forbidding was going on when Jesus came up. Here in Greek the imperfect is the moral attitude of John when Christ came to be baptized. Romans viii. 30 puts itself at the close of God's ways and dealings to give the whole and security of them, and then gives all as fact and history, His plan laid out as facts, sure in every case, and so viewed as accomplished.

John xiii. 31 is the single fact of the cross looked at as accomplished, as just exactly from the beginning of the chapter, the Lord does. He had been Son of God, Son of David, to take the place of Son of man. He must die. (John xi., xii.) In this the hour was come that He should depart out of the world to the Father who had now put all things into His hand. Then, when Judas went out, it all was settled: he was to do it quickly; and now the Son of man's true glory began in the cross. God was glorified in Him, and all Christ's glory as man came about by the cross where He glorified God, and which was the Son of man's glory, as indeed it was. Comparing in English "he wrote," "he has written," in themselves, the first is history of a past fact, and, as it is a past fact, may be set aside, but says nothing about it. "Has taken" is a past fact "taken," a present one in "has;" that is, it affirms at the present time the past fact. But in English it is often necessary to employ it for the aorist, because the aorist does not say, that the thing is past and gone, only affirms the fact; whereas English, having so accurate an expression as the auxiliary verb gives the preterite, being historical in English contrasted with this, implies in general, though it does not say, that it does not still continue, at least it often does. I admit that this is not always and necessarily the case, but often it would mislead.

Still in English we have a positively accurate way of putting a by-gone past act or thing, that is, the past participle and auxiliary. "He was pleased." Here I state it only of the past fact formally. I avoid the present time, and fix the statement on the past. Only occasionally the past participle implies an abiding state. Thus if I say, "This is my beloved Son in whom I found my pleasure," it is a by-gone thing, a historical preterite. "I have found my pleasure" is the fact simply. "He has found His pleasure in Him." "This is my beloved Son," makes me know that it is a constant and subsisting thing, but "found" would make it a by-gone thing. "Have found" is of no time: only it was already true.

In Mark iii. 26, "Rose up," will not do therefore; it is a past by-gone thing, too much of an historical past. It takes the fact as an aorist does regularly as a happened fact, not as a past history, which tends to put it out of present time. The preterite is essentially an historical tense in English of a by-gone fact, and very commonly implies that the thing is not true now. "He wrote the history." It results in this that the English preterite is more preterite past (abgeschlossene Sache) than the aorist, which is past, present, and, in spite of Winer, future in sense as governed in sense by the phrase. The pretence of translating the aorist uniformly by an English tense which answers to it is absurd. There are cases where the verb substantive and past participle best express it, or the auxiliary "have" with it. "If Satan rose up..." (Mark iii. 26) is pretty nearly nonsense. He is mixing up historical fact and moral bearing, "has risen," or "be risen," for the Lord is occupied with a present fact, whose moral bearing He is discussing. So in passive: "if once (Luke xiii. 25) the master of the house be risen, (have risen up) and have shut to the door, and ye begin estanai (perfect present) . . . anoixon, "have it open." So often, where the aorist and present imperative go together, and the first must be done for the other to take place. The very name, "aorist" shows the time is not determined; the fact is affirmed, the context if needed, shows the time and whether supposed still to exist. "Many took in hand," Luke i. 11, would be absurd. "It hath seemed good:" he had not changed his mind, but that was not the question. The treatise was then the proof he had had that mind and involves the present effect. But "it seemed good" would be just as good sense and grammar; one is historic "seemed;" "has" brings it down to present thought about it. And that is the real difference. Preterite states the fact historically, the auxiliary and participle give the speaker's present estimate of or acquaintance with it. "He wrote a letter" is historical fact; "he has written a letter" is my present acquaintance with, and recognition of, the fact; for "has" is present, my present affirmative. In Matthew xxiii. 2, "have seated themselves" is alone right.

It seems to me that the different moods and tenses with me, hina, etc. are, by reason of the transient shade of thought, in the writer's mind; or the character of the thing spoken of is in question, not the purpose it should be. Thus pote with future makes it a present when the time of pote is arrived; with the present, the thing spoken of being there, it is character, not purpose of or the contrary. Luke xi. 35: take heed that the light that is in thee be not of that character; and Galatians iv. 11, lest as a present fact the labour should be in vain. There is no future purpose. He fears as to the character of labour already bestowed.

The perfect is the present of past labour. The subj. by itself is always, I think, the idea of how, if a question as usually (perhaps always), thus represented by "should" (so there). Query as to its force with ou me, where it takes clearly a future force? If we examine the use of the subj. aorist with ou me, we shall find I think, (though "will in no wise, never," is practically the sense in English because we speak from the present time), yet its real force is "will have," "never have," "shall not have;" and it is constantly a long period looked at. "I shall not have drunk at all of it, till." So with eis ton aiana often. "There shall not have been left one stone upon another which shall not have been cast down." It is a future perfect or past in thought. With the future indicative it is not so, it is intention as to anything at the time of speaking. The aorist always supposes a past period to which the negatived word refers, and denies the subject of the verb during that period,: ou me exeltheis heos an till. Thou wilt have stood in all that time. ou me pio heos hotan. Future indicative: hileos soi, kurie . ou me estai soi touto. There is no period. It is simply a thing that, as Peter trusted, would never happen.

Such a passage as en autoi ektisthe brings the operative power into the person himself, that which created was in Christ, so He casteth out devils, en toi archonti ton daimonion. The power that operated was inherent in Beelzebub. It is more intimate and immediate, as peirasmon en tais epiboulais. Were it dia ton, the peirasmos might be some things else than the lying in wait, whereas the temptation and trial was in the lying in wait itself. It is not the means by which, but that in which, the power of the thing resides. dia is the means or instrument, and eis the intention. Thus God created dia autou by Him as an instrument, and eis as an end. (John i. 3, 10; Heb. i. 3; 1 Cor. viii. 6.)

Note here, by the bye, pros, with acc., supposes the thing to be "arrived at," (but the accusative supposes direction towards). eis is only the objective direction it may reach, of course. pros is not going towards the thing spoken of, but is at that which is governed by it. The Word was pros ton theon, He did not go towards. eis would not do, being in the mind of the agent as an object; pros, with or at, but distinct from the object it governs. (See Mark xi. 1.) Hence the gifts were pros ton katartismon, they operated to that. While they were working, this effect was being produced — was there. But they were given with a view to (eis) the work of the ministry, and to the edifying of the body of Christ.

As to en, further, egeto en toi pneumatic, elthen en toi pneumati it was the working in which He went, not an instrument which led Him, as a means distinct from Himself. hegiastai ho aner en tei gunaiki, dia would be actual sanctification, an effect produced. Here, as we have seen, it characterises things in the nature and spirit of them, en pneumati, en aletheiai, en doloi, etc.It is never the means, but the power and state of the agent, or what characterises the subject.

This is fully confirmed in pros (with acc.), the action of that which is pros always reaches to that which pros governs. You speak pros, this is the object of what is pros. It is not motion to, but something which reaches to, and so often is" with" or "by." In cases of time, pros hesperan, the force, to my mind, is the time they were in reached to the evening; so James iv. 14, our life, is pros oligon, reaches only to the end of a very short period. In other cases it is simpler, prayer pros ton theon, sickness pros thanaton. Various derivative meanings are found, but all having this as the literal and material. So prosopon pros prosopon, stoma pros stoma, lalein pros to hous. The action is at, or reaches to the word governed. It is used for the ground of a thing or cause, but still having the same etymological force — pros ten sklerokardian humon. It was addressed to that; that hardness being there, such permission was given, "in the cage of;" so pros tous aggelous, in the case of the angels. The word addressed itself to the case they were in; it was adapted to, reached, their state and circumstances, as we say, touching them, or such or such a thing. In Luke xviii. 1. His parable reached to, or touched, this point. It was its object, and applied to it as the result, short of which it did not stop.

So we have seen Ephesians iv. 12. It was for that, and dealt with it. The secret of eis and pros, I suspect to be: eis has the mind and intention of the moving person in view; pros the goal or object which anything is to (pros). eis is the object or aim of what moves; pros carries the mind with what is to or prostou kartismon, the present proper effect, but with a view to the two other things: only eis is not the object of katartismon,but of the gifts. So Luke xiv., in the matter or case of these things He spoke of, so as to meet them. This is common, as Romans viii. 31, so as to be really up to them; the answer reached to, comprehends, touches this matter. So pros, according to; that was what one reached to, it was its measure. (Cf. Gal. ii. 19.) So the sufferings do not reach to the coming glory. This explains James iv. 5: epipothei pros, reaches to this. This, however, suffices to show its force. With a dative it does not reach to, but is actually at, pros toi orei. eis does suppose motion towards, while it consequently, if not hindered, gets there, or if it be that which has capacity, into. We say in English, What are you at, or about? This is pros. We have pros, and eis in Romans xiv. 2, eis to agathon pros oikodomen, the present effect reached, the characteristic effect of the seeking to please him. It was not to please him, to get his goodwill, but for his edification, the effect being that which was good.