In English, verb tenses generally denote the time of action. Factors such as context, specific verb forms and modifiers like adverbs, conjunctions and phrases further determine the time of action as well as the beginning, duration and end of that action.

In New Testament Greek, verb tenses generally denote the kind of action. Factors such as context, specific verb forms and modifiers like adverbs, conjunctions and phrases further determine the time of action as well as the beginning, duration and end of that action.

Although there are distinct differences between the languages of the world and ancient koine New Testament Greek, there are sufficient devices in the languages of the world, including 21st Century American English, to accurately reflect what is portrayed by the writers of the New Testament books of the Bible. If this were not so, then God's Word could only be accurately available to those who are fluent in the ancient, archaic koine Greek, which no one uses today as a primary or secondary language. But this has certainly not been the case with so many reliable translations around the world for generations. Modern American English translations have proven to be extremely reliable. So one need not consult the original languages except to provide corroborating evidence of a good translation with occasional correction or refinement as no translation is perfect.


Greek grammar books often stipulate that present tense expresses progressive or linear action but then they add the proviso that such action is more specifically defined by context and modifiers such as adverbs, phrases and conjunctions - often to the extent that it is neither progressive nor linear.

[Compare A. T. Robertson, "A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 864, 879]:

"It is not wise therefore to define the present indicative as denoting 'action in progress' like the imperfect as Burton does, for he has to take it back on p. 9 in the discussion of the 'Aoristic Present,' which he calls a 'distinct departure from the prevailing use of the present tense to denote action in progress.' In sooth, it is no 'departure' at all. The idiom is as old as the tense itself...

It has already been seen that the durative sense does not monopolize the 'present' tense, though it more frequently denotes linear action. The verb and the context must decide."

So the key common denominator relative to present tense verb usage is that the action is to be viewed as internal as opposed to external wherein the former has in view action from within as it occurs, and the latter has in view action which is completed or action which has not yet occurred.

An examination of the various present tenses used in the New Testament Books will corroborate and clarify this:

[From: "Syntax of New Testament Greek" in {} brackets, Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 82-90]:


This category is sometimes referred to as the progressive present of description. This use of the present describes what is now actually taking place. It might even be called the pictorial present. It depicts an action in progress.}

a) [Compare Mt 8:24-25]:

(v. 24) "Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

(v. 25) The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

"We're going to drown" = "apollumetha" = lit., "we are perishing", (i.e., going to drown), ..................................................................present, indicative

Notice that the context indicates that one is approaching the point of perishing in the water during the ongoing storm. But they are not yet in the water, nor drowning as yet. But the possibility of drowning is imminent. So the context is dictating the action of the verb "apollumetha" = "we are perishing" which is not a literal continuous scenario of perishing in the water as yet, i.e., continuous action is not in view here.

b) [Compare 1 Jn 2:8]:

"The darkness is passing away and the true light already is shining."

"is passing away" = "paragetai" = present, indicative mood

"is shining" = "phainei" = present, indicative mood

Notice that continuous action is in view here - but an end is in sight as the context indicates, i.e., when the light is completely shining.


Some grammarians call this the progressive present. An action or a state of being which began in the past is described as continuing until the present. The past and the present are gathered up in a single affirmation. An adverb of time is often used with this kind of present, but a verb alone is sometimes sufficient as in the final example given below. This use of the Greek present is usually translated by the English present perfect. Although impractical to bring out in English translation, the full meaning is that something has been and still is.}

a) [Compare Luke 13:7]:

"Behold, I have been coming for three years seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I have found none."

"I have been coming" = "erchomai" = lit., "am coming", present, indicative

"I have found none" = "ouch heuriskO" = lit., "am finding", present, indicative

Note that context establishes that the action portrayed is not absolutely continuous to the extent that when it has begun, it is unceasing; but it is an action which is nevertheless ongoing in a repetitive manner - He comes one time, ends, and then another and another comes, goes and then it comes again.

b) [Compare 2 Cor 12:7-9]:

(v. 7)"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

(v. 8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

(v. 9) He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness."

"is sufficient" = "arkei" = present, indicative

"is made perfect" = "teleitai" = present, indicative

Notice that the context indicates continuous action which began in the past and continues in the present - very similar to the perfect tense.


The iterative present depicts an action which is repeated at various intervals. It might be illustrated by a series of dots (....) rather than a straight line (_______). Sometimes the repetition takes the form of a local, as opposed to universal, custom or practice. It is necessary to distinguish this use from those statements of universal truth called 'gnomic'...}

a) [Compare 1 Cor 11:26]:

"As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord."

"you proclaim" = "kataggellete" = present, indicative

[Notice that the context established by "as often as you eat and drink" establishes the repetitive action of "you proclaim" which is distinctly not continuous]

b) [Compare Mt 17:15]:

"Lord, have mercy on my son," he said. "He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water."

The verb "falls"is present, active, indicative. Notice the word "often" which is part of the context that points to a repeated action which is not continuous. Each incident of falling is repeated again and again.


The present tense is sometimes used to indicate an action being contemplated, or proposed, or attempted but which has not actually taken place. The name is derived from the intention to produce the desired result. Other grammarians call this the conative present or the inchoative present. An auxiliary verb such as 'attempt,' 'try,' 'go,' or 'begin' may be used in the translation.}

a) [Compare Gal 5:2-4]:

(v. 2) "Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

(v. 3) Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

(v. 4) You who are trying to be justified by law [i.e., works of righteousness such as circumcision] have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

"are trying to be justified" = "dikaiousthe" = lit., "are being justified", present, indicative.

Note: continuous action in the present of attempting to be justified is in view as a result of the context indicating that one cannot be justified by law = ongoing works of the Law.


The gnomic present is used to express a universal truth, a maxim, a commonly accepted fact, a state or condition which perpetually exists, and a very widespread practice or custom. The time element is remote even in the indicative mood because the action or state or truth is true for all time - the past and future as well as the present. Such words as 'always,' 'ever,' and 'never' are often used in the translation.

In attempting to determine whether a present which depicts a custom or practice is iterative or gnomic, the following should be taken into consideration. If the custom or practice is local in nature and/or is confined to a comparatively brief period, the present is iterative. If the custom or practice is widespread and/or extends over a comparatively long period of time the present is gnomic. It should also be remembered that the iterative present expresses linear action, the gnomic punctiliar action.}

a) [Compare Matt. 7:17]:

"Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."

"bears" = "polei" = present, indicative

Note: The action indicated by "polei" is not continuous in the sense that it is unceasing in the present moment. When the good tree produces fruit, it is produced in season, in the present moment - the length and quality of that production being indeterminate except that it produces good fruit as opposed to bad fruit - each season, every time - but not without ceasing.

b) [Compare Jn 7:52]:

"They replied, "Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee."

[Note again that the action of coming out of some 'home area' is obviously not continuous]


For the sake of vividness or dramatic effect a writer sometimes imagines that he and/or his readers are present and are witnessing a past event. He narrates the past event as though it were actually taking place. The present tense is used for this purpose. The historical present is frequently found in Mark and John. It is ordinarily translated into English by the simple past tense}

a) [Compare Mt 3:1]:

"In those days John the Baptist appeared. [lit. arrives, appears]"

"appeared" = "paraginetai" = lit., "appears", present, indicative

b) [Compare Mt 13:44 NKJV]:

"Again the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

["Buys" is rendered from "agorazei", present, active, indicative as are "goes", sells" and "has." The action, however, occurred in the past tense: the man paid the money, took possession, and the deed was done]

c) [Compare Mt 13:45-46]:

(v. 45) "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.

(v. 46) When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."

[Mt 13:45-46 parallels v. 44 with the verb "bought" in v. 46 rendered from "Egorasen", aorist, active, indicative = past tense to portray past tense events.

The Historic Present occurs frequently in narrative, especially in the gospels. Often the verb rendered "to say" occurs in present form even though it is describing past action. In these cases, the kind of action is not necessarily durative. The idiom is similar to the English colloquial speech which is demonstrated as follows:

"So the fat guy says to the skinny guy, 'You're a wimp'.

Then the skinny guy gets up and jumps on the fat guy's head."

The verbs "says,", "gets", and "jumps" are all present in form, even though they are describing past action.

It is obvious that these verbs cannot be considered continuous actions.

This mode of speech, relating a past incident using present tense verbs, makes the narrative vivid by transporting the hearer to the time of the action. Or it could be said the incident being described is transported to the time of the narration. By this means, the speaker recreates the incident as if it is happening at the moment. He puts the scene before himself and his audience and they imagine the events unfolding before their eyes. They are imagining themselves as being in the midst of the time of the action]


The present tense is sometimes used for confident assertions about what is going to take place in the future. The event, although it has not yet occurred, is looked upon as so certain that it is thought of as already occurring. The futuristic present is often used in prophecies. A test for this use is the ability to translate the Greek present with an English future, though the future, will not always be used in the translation.}

a) [Compare Jn 14:1-3]:

(v. 1) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

(v. 2) In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

"I will come" = "erchomai" = lit., "am coming", present, indicative.

Notice that the context indicates not a present continuous action but a future action.


What is here called the aoristic present and what some grammarians call the specific or effective present involves a simple expression of undefined action in the present time without any of the more developed implications of the gnomic, historical, or futuristic presents. The aoristic present presents the action as a simple event or as a present fact without any reference to its progress. By the nature of the case the verb "eimi" is often an aoristic present.}

a) [Compare Mk 2:3-5]:

(v. 3) "Some men came, bringing to Him [Jesus] a paralytic, carried by four of them.

(v. 4) Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.

(v. 5) When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' "

"are forgiven" = "aphientai" = lit. "are forgiven", present, indicative

Notice that there is an action in the present tense established by the context as not continuous but simply a moment in the present.


Present tense in NT koine Greek provides an internal view of action as it is occuring. Factors such as context, specific verb forms and modifiers like adverbs, conjunctions and phrases further determine the time of action as well as the beginning, duration and end of that action.

So the Greek present tense by itself does not automatically convey continuous action - nor does the English equivalent. It may or may not be continuous - depending upon the context and/or the presence of qualifying words.

No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as 'continue to believe' without the necessary additional qualifiers to the present tense.

1) [Compare Hebrews 13:15]:

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."

"anapherOmen ..thusian .aineseOs diapantos"

"we should offer sacrifice of praise continually"

Notice that "anapherOmen" = "we should offer" is present tense. Yet in order to emphasize continual action the word "diapantos" = "continually" must be inserted.

2) [Compare 1 Thes 2:13]:

"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. "

"hEmeis eucharistoumen tO theO .....adialeiptOs" =

"we .......give thanks .............to God ..unceasingly"

Notice that "eucharistoumen" = "give thanks" is present tense, indicative mood. Yet in order to emphasize unceasing activity the word "adialeiptOs" = "unceasingly" must be inserted to picture unceasing action.

3) [Compare 1 Thes 5:16-18]:

(v. 16) "Be joyful always;

(v. 17) pray unceasingly;

(v. 18) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

"adialeiptOs proseuchesthe" =

"unceasingly pray"

Notice that "proseuchesthe" = "pray" is present tense, imperative mood. Yet in order to emphasize unceasing activity the word "adialeiptOs" = "unceasingly" must be inserted to picture unceasing action.

4) [Compare Jn 3:16]:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

"whoever believes in Him" = "pas ho pisteuon" = lit, whoever [is] the believer, nominative particple, i.e., a noun

"should have eternal life" = "all echE zOEn aiOnion" = present tense verb (echE)

If the present tense were the verb in the original Greek text of John 3:16, "whoever believes" - and it is not, it is the noun, 'pas ho pisteuon' = whoever [is] the believer', then a special context and/or additional words such as "diapantos" = continually and the future tense 'will have eternal life' instead of 'have eternal life', must be inserted into the text in order to convey the idea of continuous believing in order to have eternal life.

If the present tense were the verb in the original Greek text of John 3:16, "whoever believes" - and it is not, it is the noun, 'pas ho pisteuon' = whoever [is] the believer', then a special context and/or additional words such as "diapantos" = continually and the future tense 'will have eternal life' instead of present tense 'have eternal life', must be inserted into the text in order to convey the idea of continuous believing in order to eventually secure eternal life. If possession of eternal life is secured in the present moment of believing, (and it is), then it is secured forever, being eternal by definition.

Consider the individuals who are found guilty of various offenses before a magistrate in a court in the times of the ancient Roman Empire - New Testament times. The magistrate declares before the group of guilty people in koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, in a statement that directly parallels the second half of Jn 3:16, 'Whoever pays his fine shall not perish in jail, but have freedom to go, with his life.' Does the present tense of 'Whoever pays' demand continuous - uninterrupted payment of the fine in order for an individual to "have freedom to go, with his life?" The answer is obvious, the present tense does not always demand continuous uninterrupted action in the present.

Just as the payment of the Magistrate's fine was done once in present time such that it results in freedom - the payment not having to be continuous;

so the believing in Christ as Savior, when it begins in present time, immediately results in the aorist completed action of never perishing and the present tense reception of eternal life such that the believing need not continue in order to keep the result of never perishing and possession of eternal life continuous because the never perishing is a completed action and the eternal life by its very nature once received is continuously eternal.

In addition to this, the appeal to force the simple present tense to mean continuous action would lead to havoc in many passages in the New Testament. For example, 1 John 1:8 reads, "If we [born again believers] say that we have no sin [="ouk echomen" = present tense] we deceive ourselves". If this verse is rendered in the continuous mode, it would be read, "If we say that we do not continuously have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." This indicates that in spite of becoming born again believers there is no time in the believer's life that he can claim not to be living a lifestyle of continuous, unadulterated sin - no time for anything else!!!


[SYNTAX OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, James A. Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery, University Press of America, Lanham, Md., 1988, pp. 98, 118-120, 111-112]:

[p. 98]

"The aorist tense expresses punctiliar action. Indeed the word aoristos [aorist] means without limit, unqualified, undefined - which of course is the significance of punticiliar action. Only in the indicative mood [as in both verbs in Jn 3:16 main clause] does the aorist also indicate past time."

It often corresponds to the English perfect (I have loosed).

So the aorist is said to be "simple occurrence" or "summary occurrence", without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the 'punctiliar' tense. 'Punctiliar' in this sense means 'viewed as a single, collective whole,' a "one-point-in-time" action in which from an external point of view the action is completed - no longer requiring further time to elapse, although it may actually have taken place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.


1) [Eph 2:8 cont.]:

(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -"

a) "you have been saved.." = "este sesosmenoi..."

"este" = "are", 2 pers. pl. pres., active voice, indicative mood = statement of fact

"sesosmenoi" = saved, participle, perfect tense passive voice.

[SYNTAX OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, James A. Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery, University Press of America, Lanham, Md., 1988, pp. 104-5]:

"The perfect tense expresses perfective action. Perfective action involves a present state which has resulted from a past action. The present state is a continuing state; the past action is a completed action.

Intensive Perfect

Remember that the perfect conveys the idea of a present state resulting from a past action. This use of the perfect emphasizes the present state of being, the continuing result, the finished product, the fact that a thing is..."

[The Language of the New Testament, Eugene Van Ness Goetchius, Chas. Scribner's Sons, N.Y., 1965, p. 293]:

"The Greek perfect differs from the Greek aorist in that it emphasizes the continuing result of the action which was completed in past time...

b) [Compare 1 Cor 15:12]:

"...He [Christ] as been raised" = "egegertai", perfect, passive, lit., "he has been raised" which points to the results of the resurrection which were completed in past time with continuing results.]

...Paul says (1 Corinthians 9:1), "Iesoun...eoraka" = "I have seen....Jesus" ("eoraka" is perfect active of "orao"); hence he [Paul] is an Apostle [having seen Jesus as a requirement for being an Apostle], as a continuing result..."

Notice that if objectors insist on one not being permanently saved as a result of the perfect tense in Eph 2:8 then Christ could not have been permanently resurrected from the dead nor Paul permanently an Apostle as a result of the perfect tenses in either of those passages.

Furthermore, the additional verb form "este" of the verb to be in the present tense is added to the perfect participle "sesosmenoi" = "you have been saved" to doubly emphasize ongoing present results of being completely saved in the past.

Objectors who insist that this passage does not guarantee future results must override the context of such emphasis in the text on continuing and permanent results of eternal life by the Holy Spirit's choice of verb forms and furthermore they must contradict the concept in reality that the experiencing of ongoing results of eternal life in the present secures eternal life into the future otherwise it could not be ongoing in the present - which the present tense of the additional verb "este" and the force of the perfect tense combine emphatically to portray. In other words since according to Eph 2:8 we are completely saved unto eternal life in the past, which by its very nature is eternal; and since we are to expect ongoing results of being saved in the present, and since we always live in the present; then we can assuredly know that salvation is guaranteed for the future. If not then there will be moments of not having an ongoing experience of salvation in the present sooner or later which would contradict what God the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to say in Eph 2:8.

[Kenneth S. Wuest, 'Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament', Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, Mich, 1963, 66-67]:

"Now comes the interjection...

["by grace you have been saved:]

...We have here in the Greek what is called a periphrastic construction...

[Paul deliberately uses a periphrastic construction, lit. in English: you are saved having been completely saved in the past with ongoing results in the present. Paul uses an auxiliary verb = "este" = "you are saved, 2nd pers., plur., pres. active voice, indicative mood, (statement of fact) along with "sesosmenoi" = saved, participle, perfect tense passive voice rather than the normative inflected form of the verb to be saved in the past tense in order to stress the point of permanency]

..This [periphrastic construction] is used when the writer cannot get all of the details of action from one verbal form. So he uses two, a finite verb ("este" are saved) and a participle. The participle here is in the perfect tense, which tense speaks of an action that took place in past time and was completed in past time, having results existent in present time.

The translation reads [more accurately] 'By grace have you been completely saved, with the present result that you are in a saved state of being'. The perfect tense speaks of the existence of finished results in present time. But Paul is not satisfied with showing the existence of finished results in present time. He wants to show the persistence of results through present time. So he uses the verb 'to be' in the present tense ["este"] which gives durative force to the finished results. Thus, the full translation is, "By grace you have been saved in past time completely, with the result that you are in a state of salvation which persists through present time.' The unending state of the believer in salvation could not have been put in stronger or clearer language. The finished results of the past act of salvation are always present with the reader. His present state of salvation is dependent upon one thing and one thing only, his past appropriation of the Lord Jesus as Saviour. His initial act of faith brought him salvation in its three aspects, justification, the removal of the guilt and penalty of sin and the impartation of a positive righteousness, Jesus Christ Himself, an act which occurs at the moment of believing, and a position that remains static for time and eternity [cp. Ro 3:21-28]; sanctification, positional, the act of the Holy Spirit taking the believing sinner out of the first Adam with his (Adam's) sin and death, and placing him in the Last Adam (Jesus Christ) with His righteousness and life, an act that occurs at the moment of believing [cp. Ro 5:15-19]; [and sanctification] progressive, the process by which the Holy Spirit eliminates sin from the experience of the believer and produces His fruit, gradually conforming him into the image of the Lord Jesus [cp. Ro 8:29], a process that goes on all through the life of a Christian and continues all through eternity, and which never is completed, for a finite creature can never equal an infinite one in any quality; and glorification, the act of the Holy Spirit, transforming the mortal bodies of believers into glorified, perfect bodies at the Rapture of the Church [cp. 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:52-53]. The believer has had his justification, he is having his sanctification, and he is yet to have his glorification. The earnest of the Spirit guarantees to him his glorification [cp. Eph 1:13-14]."


[From: "Syntax of New Testament Greek" in {} brackets, Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 82-90]:

The imperfect tense appears only in the indicative mood and always expresses linear action. In all but a few instances such action takes place in the past time. The imperfect is one of three tenses which have an augment in the indicative mood, and the augment itself indicates past time. The imperfect is closely related to the present. This relationship is seen in the fact that both are built upon the first principal part, both express linear action - the imperfect always, the present usually - and both have certain syntactical usages in common. On the other hand, the imperfect also has something in common with the aorist indicative in that both usually refer to past time in the indicative mood, and both are sometimes translated in the same way. The imperfect has the following uses.


This use of the imperfect describes what was actually taking place at some point in the past. The action is described as having been in progress...

Gal 1:13 "I was persecuting the church of God and attempting to destroy it."

Lk 7:6 "Jesus was going with them"

Mt 8:24 "But he himself was sleeping"

Mt 26:63 "Jesus was silent"

Lk 17:27 "They were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were giving in marriage until the day Noah entered into the ark."


The imperfect of prolonged action, the simultaneous imperfect, and the progressive imperfect of duration. An act which began in the past is depicted as having continued over a period of time up to some undefined point. Presumably the action has been completed, else the present tense would have been used. The term simultaneous imperfect is helpful because this use of the imperfect often refers to a parallel event, to an event which took place at the same time as some other event in the context. The progressive form of the English present perfect (has/have been _______ing) may be used to translate this idiom. But the word in the imperfect may also denote an action which preceded the other action in the context. In such a case the progressive form of the English past perfect (had been ________ing) may be used in the translation. The emphasis is upon the fact that the action endured through a period of time. Often words will be used which indicate a period of time...

Lk 2:49 "Why have you been seeking me?"

Note: Jesus's parents sought him over a period of three days - thus the appropriateness of the term durative imperfect. And they sought him at the same time he was discoursing with the doctors of the Law - thus the appropriateness of the term simultaneous imperfect.

1 Cor 3:6 "I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow."

1 Jn 2:7 "I am not writing a new commandment to you but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning"

Ro 15:22 "Many times I have been hindered from coming to you."

Mt 25:5 "While the bridegroom was tarrying all fell asleep and kept on sleeping."


This imperfect emphasizes the repetition of the action. Sometimes the repetition takes the form of a practice or custom. Such expressions as 'kept on' and 'used to' may be used in the translation...

Mk 15:6 "At the feast he used to make a practice of releasing one prisoner to them."

1 Cor 10:4 "They used to drink from a spiritual rock which followed (them)."

Jn 4:31 "In the meantime His disciples repeatedly asked him..."

Jn 19:3 "They kept on coming to Him and kept on saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews."

Acts 3:2 "A certain man who was lame from his mother's womb, used to be carried (and) placed each day at the gate of the temple."


The action is presented as having been attempted but not having been accomplished. Thus the action is incomplete or interrupted. The words 'was/ were going,' 'was / were trying,' 'endeavor,' or 'attempt' may be used in the translation.

Mt 3:14 "John was attempting to prevent him."

Acts 7:26 "The next day he appeared to them who had been fighting and attempted to reconcile them."

Acts 26:11 "I attempted to compel them to blaspheme."

Heb 11:17 "The one who had received the promise was going to sacrifice his only son."

Mk 15:23 "They were trying to give spiced wine to him, but he would not take (it)."


It expresses a present desire, wish, or disposition. The imperfect rather than the present is used when there is a need to express the desire as politely and inoffensively as possible or when there is a certain amount o f hesitation due to the fact that the desire is impractical or impossible. Inasmuch as both imply a lack of realization, some grammarians combine this category with the tendential imperfect. Admittedly, those who attempt to do something... desire that it be done.

Ro 9:3 "I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ on behalf of my brothers."

Gal 4:20 "I could wish that I were present with you right now."

Phm 13 "whom I would prefer to keep with me."

Mt 18:33 "Should you not have had mercy upon your fellow servant?"

Mt 26:9 "This (ointment) could have been sold for much money and given to the poor."


Empasis is placed on the beginning of the action. The word 'began' is frequently used in the translation. Since both emphasize the beginning of the action some gramarians combing this category with the tendential imperfect.

Mk 5:32 "He began to look around to see the woman who had done this."

Acts 3:8 "When he had leaped up he stood and began to walk."

Mt 4:11 "Behold angels came and began to minister to him."

Mk 1:21 "When he entered into the synagogue he bagan to teach."

Acts 26:1 "Then Paul when he had stretched out his hand began to defend himself."


[Syntax of New Testament Greek, James A Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 2-64]:

Case is that aspect of a substantive [noun] which indicates its grammatical relationship to the verb and/or other elements in the sentence. The Greek substantive appears in four, or in some instances five, case forms which are often referred to as the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth inflected forms. Grammarians are divided as to whether case is determined by form or use. If the former, there are five cases which correspond to the five inflected forms: the nominative, the genitive, the dative, the accusative, and the vocative. If the latter, there are eight cases. The nominative employs the first inflected form; the genitive and ablative the second; the dative, locative, and instrumental the third; the accusative the fourth; and the vocative the fifth. (If there is no fifth inflected form the vocative also employs the first inflected from in both the five- and eight-case systems.) This book will employ the eight-case system but will provide cross references to the five-case system.



The basic function of the genitive is to describe and define. It does so by attributing a quality or relationship to a substantive. It limits the meaning and application of a substantive. It does so by answering the question, What kind? Therefore the genitive functions very much like an adjective.