Where the world comes to study the Bible

The Participle

Select Bibliography

BDF, 174-75, 212-20 (§339, 411-25); J. L. Boyer, "The Classification of Participles: A Statistical Study," GTJ 5 (1984) 163-79; Brooks-Winbery, 126-38; Burton, Moods and Tenses, 53-72, 163-77 (§115-56, 418-63); Dana-Mantey, 220-33 (§196-203); K. L. McKay, A New Syntax of the Verb in New Testament Greek: An Aspectual Approach (New York: Peter Lang, 1994) 60-66; Moule, Idiom Book, 99-105; Moulton, Prolegomena, 221-32; Porter, Idioms, 181-93; Robertson, Grammar, 1095-1141; Turner, Syntax, 150-62; Young, Intermediate Greek, 147-63; Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 125-31 (§360-77).


A. The Difficulty with Participles

It is often said that mastery of the syntax of participles is mastery of Greek syntax. Why are participles so difficult to grasp? The reason is threefold: (1) usage-the participle can be used as a noun, adjective, adverb, or verb (and in any mood!); (2) word order-the participle is often thrown to the end of the sentence or elsewhere to an equally inconvenient location; and (3) locating the main verb-sometimes it is verses away; sometimes it is only implied; and sometimes it is not even implied! In short the participle is difficult to master because it is so versatile. But this very versatility makes it capable of a rich variety of nuances, as well as a rich variety of abuses.

B. The Relation of Participles to Exegesis

The context has more influence on participles than on any other area of Greek grammar. In other words, for most participles, one cannot simply look at the structure (the presence or absence of the article is, of course, the most vital structural feature) to determine what kind of participle it is. There will be some clues, however, and the student must master these if he/she is to see the genuine semantic possibilities a participle can have in a given context. One's exegetical skills get tested more with participles than with any other part of speech.

C. The Participle as a Verbal Adjective

The participle is a declinable verbal adjective. It derives from its verbal nature tense and voice; from its adjectival nature, gender, number and case. Like the infinitive, the participle's verbal nature is normally seen in a dependent manner. That is, it is normally adverbial (in a broad sense) rather than functioning independently as a verb. Its adjectival

side is seen in both substantival (independent) and adjectival (dependent) uses; both are frequent (though the substantival is far more so).

1. The Verbal Side of the Participle
a. Time

The time of the participle's verbal nature requires careful consideration. Generally speaking, the tenses behave just as they do in the indicative. The only difference is that now the point of reference is the controlling verb, not the speaker. Thus, time in participles is relative (or dependent), while in the indicative it is absolute (or independent).

Chart 80

Time in Participles

The aorist participle, for example, usually denotes antecedent time to that of the controlling verb.1 But if the main verb is also aorist, this participle may indicate contemporaneous time.2 The perfect participle also indicates antecedent time. The present participle is used for contemporaneous time. (This contemporaneity, however, is often quite broadly conceived, depending in particular on the tense of the main verb.) The future participle denotes subsequent time.3

This general analysis should help us in determining whether a participle can even belong to a certain adverbial usage. For example, participles of purpose are normally future, sometimes present, (almost) never aorist or perfect.4 Why? Because the purpose of the controlling verb is carried

out after the time of the main verb (or sometimes contemporaneously with it). Likewise, causal participles will not be in the future tense (though the perfect adverbial participle is routinely causal; the aorist often is and so is the present).5 Result participles are never in the perfect tense. Participles of means? These are normally present tense, though the aorist is also amply attested (especially when a progressive aspect is not in view). Many an exegete has gone awry by ignoring these simple guidelines.

b. Aspect

As for the participle's aspect, it still functions for the most part like its indicative counterparts. There are two basic influences that shape the participle's verbal side, however, which are almost constant factors in its Aktionsart.6 First, because the participle has embodied two natures, neither one acts completely independently of the other. Hence, the verbal nature of participles has a permanent grammatical intrusion from the adjectival nature. This tends to dilute the strength of the aspect. Many nouns in Hellenistic Greek, for instance, in a former life were participles (e.g., ἀρχιτέκτων , ἄρχων , γέρων , ἡγεμών , θεράπων , καύσων , τέκτων , χείμων ). The constant pressure from the adjectival side finally caved in any remnants of verbal aspect. This is not to say that no participles in the NT are aspectually robust-many of them are! But one must not assume this to be the case in every instance. In particular when a participle is substantival, its aspectual force is more susceptible to reduction in force.

Secondly, many substantival participles in the NT are used in generic utterances. The πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων (or ἀγαπῶν , ποιῶν , etc.) formula is always or almost always generic. As such it is expected to involve a gnomic idea.7 Most of these instances involve the present participle.8 But if they are already gnomic, we would be hard-pressed to make

something more out of them-such as a progressive idea.9 Thus, for example, in Matt 5:28, "everyone who looks at a woman" ( πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα ) with lust in his heart does not mean "continually looking" or "habitually looking," any more than four verses later "everyone who divorces his wife" ( πᾶς ὁ ἀπολύων τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ ) means "repeatedly divorces"! This is not to deny a habitual Aktionsart in such gnomic statements. But it is to say that caution must be exercised. In the least, we should be careful not to make statements such as, "The present participle βλέπων [in Matt 5:28] characterizes the man by his act of continued looking."10 This may well be the meaning of the evangelist, but the present participle, by itself, can hardly be forced into this mold.11

2. The Adjectival Nature of the Participle

As an adjective, a participle can function dependently or independently. That is, it can function like any ordinary adjective as an attributive or predicate. It also can act substantivally, as is the case with any adjective.

3. Summary

All participles fit one of two categories (in keeping with the fact that they are verbal adjectives): Every participle emphasizes either its verbal or its adjectival aspect. Within each of these emphases, every participle is either dependent or independent. If one can keep this simple grid in mind, he/she will have a broad, organizational understanding of the participle.

Chart 81

The Semantic Range of the Participle

Although every participle fits under either an adjectival emphasis or verbal emphasis and is either dependent or independent, I have not listed

one large category of participles (known as participles absolute). These will be treated separately from the above mentioned categories, even though they in fact fit under these categories. The reason for a separate treatment of the participle absolute is that it has particular structural clues (especially a specific case) that require further explanation.

Specific Uses

I. Adjectival Participles

This category involves both the dependent and independent adjectival participles (i.e., both the adjectival proper and substantival). For a structural clue, the student should note the article: If it stands before a participle and functions as a modifying article (normal use) then that participle must be adjectival. If the participle does not have the article, it may be adjectival. Therefore, the first question one needs to ask when attempting to determine the nuance of a particular participle is, Does it have the article? If the answer is yes, it is adjectival;12 if the answer is no, it may be adjectival or any other kind of participle (such as adverbial).

A. Adjectival Proper (Dependent)
1. Definition

The participle may function just like an adjective and either modify a substantive (attributive) or assert something about it (predicate). The attributive participle is common; the predicate participle is rare.13

2. Clarification/Key to Identification

The way in which one determines whether a participle is attributive or predicate is exactly the same as when he/she determines whether an adjective is attributive or predicate. The adjectival participle may occupy any of the three attributive positions and both predicate positions. You should normally translate the attributive participle as

though it were a relative clause (e.g., ὁ πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι ["your Father who sees in secret will reward you"] in Matt 6:4).

As a refinement, therefore, we should add that a predicate participle never has the article (only the attributive and substantival participles do).

3. Illustrations
a. Attributive Participles

Matt 2:7

τοῦ φαινομένου ἀστέρος


the shining star


    An example in the first attributive position.

John 4:11

τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν


the living water


    An example in the second attributive position. This is the most common construction for attributive participles.

John 4:25

Μεσσίας ... ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός


Messiah ... the one called Christ


    This is in the third attributive position-a frequent construction with participles, but not with adjectives. Cf. also Luke 7:32; John 4:5; 5:2; Acts 1:12; 1 Cor 2:7; 1 Pet 1:7, 21.

John 4:10

ὕδωρ ζῶν


living water


    A fourth attributive construction. Cf. also Mark 14:51.

Cf. also Matt 4:16; 6:18; 7:13; 16:16; 17:17; Mark 1:38; 3:22; 6:2; 11:10; Luke 3:7; 15:6; John 1:6; 5:23; Acts 7:55; 13:43; Rom 12:3; 1 Cor 3:7; 2 Cor 8:20; Gal 3:23; 1 Tim 1:10; Heb 6:18; Rev 12:9.

b. Predicate Participles

Acts 7:56

ἰδοὺ θεωρῶ τοὺς οὐρανοὺς διηνοιγμένους


Behold, I see heaven opened


    This is second predicate position. The perfect (passive) participle, as here, especially seems to function as a predicate participle.14

Heb 4:12

ζῶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ


the word of God is living


    This is an illustration of the first predicate position.

Rom 12:1

παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ


present your bodies [as] a sacrifice-alive, holy, [and] acceptable to God


    The word θυσίαν is a complement in an object-complement construction and hence a predicate accusative. But the question about ζῶσαν is whether it is attributive or predicate to θυσίαν , not σώματα . If attributive, it should be translated, "Present your bodies as a living


    sacrifice ...." The issue is difficult to decide. But since the trailing adjectives are most likely predicate, the participle's close connection with them suggests that it, too, is predicate. This makes the statement more emphatic than an attributive adjective would. Nevertheless, as Robertson points out, "It is not always easy to draw the line between the anarthrous attributive participle and the predicate participle of additional statement."15

Jas 2:15

ἐὰν ἀδελφὸς ἢ ἀδελφὴ γυμνοὶ ὑπάρχωσιν καὶ λειπόμενοι τῆς ἐφημέρου τροφῆς


if your brother or sister is naked and lacking [their] daily food


    The participle is obviously predicate since it is linked by καί to a predicate adjective.

Cf. also Matt 7:14; 21:9; 27:37; Mark 6:2; Luke 12:28; 16:14; Acts 19:37; 2 Cor 6:14; 1 Tim 5:13; Heb 7:3; 2 Pet 1:19.

B. Substantival (Independent)
1. Definition

This is the independent use of the adjectival participle (i.e., not related to a noun). It functions in the place of a substantive. As such, it can function in virtually any capacity that a noun can, such as subject, direct object, indirect object, apposition, etc.16 This category is found quite frequently in the NT.17

2. Key to Identification

First, of course, if the participle has the article it must be either adjectival (proper) or substantival. Second, if it is articular and is not related in a dependent fashion to any substantive in the sentence, then it is substantival. The translation is often the one who/the thing which with the participle then translated as a finite verb (e.g., ὁ ποιῶν is translated the one who does).

3. Clarification

The substantival participle may or may not be articular, although most are. Its case is determined just like any ordinary noun's case is determined, viz., by its function in the sentence.

4. Semantics

First, in relation to the infinitive, although participles and infinitives are often translated the same (especially when the infinitive is translated as a gerund), there is a distinct difference. "Whereas the infinitive is abstract, speaking of the act or fact of doing, the participle is concrete, speaking of the person who or thing which does."18

Second, with reference to its verbal nature: Just because a participle is adjectival or substantival, this does not mean that its verbal aspect is entirely diminished. Most substantival participles still retain something of their aspect. A general rule of thumb is that the more particular (as opposed to generic) the referent, the more of the verbal aspect is still seen. (See the introduction for detailed discussion.)

Third, the aspect of the present participle can be diminished if the particular context requires it.19 Thus, for example, ὁ βαπτίζων in Mark 1:4 does not mean "the one who continually baptizes" but simply "the baptizer."20 Indeed, it cannot mean this in Mark 6:14, for otherwise John would be baptizing without a head ("John the baptizer has been raised from the dead")!21 As well, it is probable that ᾿ I ησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης in 1 Thess 1:10 does not mean, "Jesus, the one continually delivering us... ," but "Jesus, our deliverer from the wrath that is coming," as is evident by the prepositional phrase that refers to a future time. On the other hand, this passage may be similar to Heb 7:25 in that it could indicate that which (or the one who) continually delivers us from the imminent day of God's wrath.

5. Illustrations

Mark 6:44

ἦσαν οἱ φαγόντες τοὺς ἄρτους πεντακισχίλιοι ἄνδρες


those who ate the loaves were five thousand men


    The same rules apply on subject-predicate nominative relations as when both substantives are nouns (viz., if one is articular, it is the subject).

Luke 1:45

μακαρία ἡ πιστεύσασα


blessed is she who believed

John 3:16

πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων


everyone who believes


    The idea seems to be both gnomic and continual: "everyone who continually believes." This is not due to the present tense only, but to the


    use of the present participle of πιστεύω , especially in soteriological contexts in the NT.22

John 4:13

πᾶς ὁ πίνων


everyone who drinks


    It may be that the evangelist does have a habitual idea in mind (as well as the gnomic). The present participle is contrasted with the aorist subjunctive of the following verse, as if to say "everyone who continually drinks, but whoever should taste... ."

John 6:39

τοῦτο δέ ἐστιν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με


now this is the will of the one who sent me


    This is an instance of a substantival participle functioning as a subjective gen. ("this is what the one who sent me wills").

Acts 1:16

᾿᾿Ιούδα ... ὁδηγοῦ τοῖς συλλαβοῦσιν ᾿Ιησοῦν


Judas ... a guide to those who arrested Jesus

2 Th 2:6-7

νῦν τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε ... ( 7 ) κατέχων


you know that which is presently restraining [him] ... (7) the one who is restraining

1 Tim 6:15

ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων


the King of those who are reigning and Lord of those who are lording it (over) [others]


    Contrast this with the nouns in Rev 17:14: "Lord of lords and King of kings."

Cf. also Matt 1:22; 5:10; 22:3; Mark 13:13; 14:69; Luke 2:18; 19:32; 20:17; John 1:22; 5:11; 7:33; 18:21; Acts 4:4; 21:20; 1 Cor 12:3; Gal 1:6; 2 Tim 2:4; Jas 5:4; 1 John 3:9; 2 John 1; Rev 22:19.

II. Verbal Participles

This category involves those participles that emphasize the verbal over the adjectival nuance. The category includes both independent and (far more commonly) dependent

verbal participles. By way of clarification, it should again be stated that the verbal element of any participle, whether it be adjectival or verbal in emphasis, is not usually absent (note the partial exceptions above in which the aspect is diminished, even though the voice still retains its force). However, when a participle is labeled as verbal, we simply indicate that its verbal nature is in the forefront.

A. Dependent Verbal Participles

This is far and away the larger of the two categories and includes the following subcategories: adverbial (or circumstantial), attendant circumstance, indirect discourse, complementary, periphrastic, and redundant.23

1. Adverbial (or Circumstantial)
a. Definition

The adverbial or circumstantial participle is grammatically subordinated to its controlling verb (usually the main verb of the clause). Like an ordinary adverb, the participle modifies the verb, answering the question, When? (temporal), How? (means, manner), Why? (purpose, cause), etc.

b. Terminology

Many grammars prefer to call this participle circumstantial. But that title is too vague.24 To call this participle adverbial communicates more clearly and fits the general idea better: Adverbial participles, like adverbs, are dependent on a verb. It has been suggested that this participle "is simply an adjective used to modify a verb, and hence may be appropriately called adverbial."25 But this is only partially true: The participle is a verbal adjective and hence its adverbial nature comes from the verbal side as well as the adjectival.26

c. Amplification and Key to Identification

First, as we have said earlier, the context plays a major role in determining the force of the Greek participle. This is especially so with the adverbial participle. "The varieties in adverbial use come, not from alterations in the essential function of the participle, but from variations in the relation of its noun to the main verb and the context."27

Second, since the subject of the participle is usually the subject of a finite verb, the participle will usually be in the nominative case (almost 70% of the time).28

Third, there is often a strong translational correspondence between the English participle and the Greek (much more so than for the respective infinitives). In this respect, the participle is not too difficult to master.

Fourth, related to this, the English participle is generally more ambiguous than the Greek. Greek participles for the most part follow carefully defined patterns (e.g., word order, tense of participle, tense of controlling verb), allowing us to limit our choices in a given text more than we could if we depended on the English alone. It is for this reason that the student is encouraged to translate the force of the participle with more than an -ing gloss.

d. Specific Nuances of the Adverbial Participle

Most adverbial participles belong to one of eight categories: temporal, manner, means, cause, condition, concession, purpose, or result.

          1) Temporal
            a) Definition

In relation to its controlling verb, the temporal participle answers the question, When? Three kinds of time are in view: antecedent, contemporaneous, and subsequent. The antecedent participle should be translated after doing, after he did, etc. The contemporaneous participle should normally be translated while doing. And the subsequent participle should be translated before doing, before he does, etc.29 This usage is common.

            b) Key to Identification

As we have said, the temporal participle answers the question, When? As well, if a particular adverbial participle is to be labeled as temporal, this should be the primary element the author wishes to stress (because almost all participles, whether adverbial or not, are temporal in at least a secondary sense).30

Therefore, once you have identified the temporal force of the participle, you should then go on and ask whether another, more specific semantic value is intended. (Although the temporal participle is commonly found, students tend to appeal to this category too often.) You should probe the participle's usage with questions such as, "Is the author only describing when this happened or is he also indicating why or how it happened?"

For example, Eph 1:19-20 speaks of the power of the resurrection in relation to the believer's sanctification: τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ , (20) ἥν ἐνήργησεν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ("the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of the strength of his might, which he exercised in Christ when he raised/by raising him from the dead"). A temporal participle would focus on the time when God exercised this power (at the resurrection); a participle of means would focus on how God exercised this power. Both are true and the participle conveys both notions. The issue at stake is which one is being emphasized.

            c) Amplification

        1] Aorist Participle

The aorist participle is normally, though by no means always, antecedent in time to the action of the main verb. But when the aorist participle is related to an aorist main verb, the participle will often be contemporaneous (or simultaneous) to the action of the main verb.

This can be seen in the frequently used redundant participle in the formula ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν ("answering, he said"). The answering does not occur before the saying-it is the speaking.31

We see this in the epistles, too. In Eph 1:8-9 we read ἐπερίσσευσεν [ τὴν χάριν ] εἰς ἡμᾶς ... γνωρίσας ἡμῖν ("He lavished [his grace] upon us ... making known to us"). It would be difficult to see God's action of making his grace known to us (thus, effectual) as other than contemporaneous with his lavishing such grace upon us.32

The NT is filled with theologically significant texts related to the temporal participle. Just within Eph 1, note the following: Eph 1:4-5 ( ἐξελέξατο ... προορίσας [are election and predestination simultaneous or sequential?]); 1:13-14 ( ἀκούσαντες ... πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε [does the Spirit seal believers after they believe the gospel, or when they believe?]);33 1:19-20 (although discussed earlier in another context, the issue here would be whether God's power was demonstrated after he raised Christ from the dead or when he raised him [ ἐνήργησεν... ἐγείρας ]).

With a present tense main verb, the aorist participle is usually antecedent in time.34

        2] Present Participle

The present participle is normally contemporaneous in time to the action of the main verb. This is especially so when it is related to a present tense main verb (often, in fact, it follows a present imperative as a participle of means). But this participle can be broadly antecedent to the time of the main verb, especially if it is

articular (and thus adjectival; cf. Mark 6:14; Eph 2:13). As well, the present participle is occasionally subsequent in a sense to the time of the main verb. This is so when the participle has a telic (purpose) or result flavor to it (cf. Eph 2:14). But as Robertson points out, "It is not strictly true that here the present participle means future or subsequent time. It is only that the purpose goes on coincident with the verb and beyond."35

        3] Future Participle

The future participle is always subsequent in time to the action of the main verb (cf. Matt 27:49; Acts 8:27).

        4] Perfect Participle

The perfect participle is almost always antecedent with reference to the main verb. When it is contemporaneous, such is due to either an intensive use of the perfect or to a present force of the perfect in its lexical nuance.36

The following chart notes the tenses normally used for the various temporal relations, especially as these relate to the other adverbial uses of the participle.

Chart 82

The Tenses of Adverbial Participles

            d) Illustrations

Matt 4:2

νηστεύσας... ὕστερον ἐπείνασεν


after he fasted... he then became hungry

Mark 2:14

παράγων εἶδεν Λευὶν τὸν τοῦ ᾿ Αλφαίου


while going on, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus

Mark 9:15

πᾶς ὁ ὄχλος ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐξεθαμβήθησαν


when all the crowd saw him, they were amazed

Eph 1:15-16

ἀκούσας τῆν καθ ᾿ ὑμᾶς πίστιν... ( ᾿6 ) οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν


After I heard of your faith ... (16) I have not ceased being thankful

Phil 1:3-4

εὐχαριστῶ... ( 4 ) τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος


I am thankful ... (4) when I pray

Rev 19:20

ζῶντες ἐβλήθησαν οἱ δύο εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρὸς


the two were thrown into the lake of fire while [still] alive

Cf. also Mark 1:19; 3:31; 5:22, 33; Luke 8:8; 10:33; 11:33; John 4:47; 9:1; Acts 1:4; 7:45; 8:40; 11:26; 14:18; Rom 5:10; 1 Cor 11:4; 2 Cor 10:1; Eph 4:8; Heb 1:3; 11:23; Rev 1:12.

          2) Manner [by + participle of emotion or attitude ]
            a) Definition

The participle indicates the manner in which the action of the finite verb is carried out.

            b) Key to Identification

First, there is much confusion between this participle and the participle of means. The reason is that both answer the question, How? However, beyond this initial question, there is usually little similarity. The participle of manner is relatively rare in comparison with the participle of means.37

Second, pragmatically, the participle of manner refers to the emotion (or sometimes attitude)38 that accompanies the main verb. In this sense, it "adds color" to the story. It could appropriately be called the participle of style. This contrasts with the participle of means, which defines the action of the main verb. The key question that must be asked is, Does this participle explain or define the action of the main verb (means), or does it merely add extra color to the action of the main verb (manner)?

            c) Illustrations

Matt 19:22

ἀπῆλθεν λυπούμενος


he went away grieving


    Notice that the participle does answer the question, "How?" but it does not define the mode of transportation. If we were to ask, "How did he go away?" grieving would be a participle of manner, while walking would be a participle of means.

Luke 8:47

τρέμουσα ἦλθεν


she came trembling

Acts 2:13

ἕτεροι δὲ διαχλευάζοντες ἔλεγον


but others mocking were saying

Acts 5:41

ἐπορεύοντο χαίροντες


they went on their way rejoicing


    This participle gives us quite a bit of the flavor of the narrative; since it adds flavor, it is a "color commentator." This is the function of the participle of manner.

Cf. also Luke 2:48; 7:38; John 20:11; Phil 3:18.

          3) Means [by means of]
            a) Definition

This participle indicates the means by which the action of a finite verb is accomplished. This means may be physical or mental. This usage is common.

            b) Key to Identification

First, as we pointed out above, both the participle of manner and the participle of means answer the question, How? Thus, there is some confusion between the two.

Second, one should supply by or by means of before the participle in translation. If this does not fit, it is not a participle of means.

Third, there are some further guidelines that the student should employ to distinguish between means and manner:

  • · The participle of means answers the question "How?" but here (as opposed to the participle of manner) it seems a more necessary and implicit question.39
  • · If the participle of means is absent (or removed), the point of the main verb is removed as well (this is not normally true with manner).
  • · In some sense, the participle of means almost always defines the action of the main verb; i.e., it makes more explicit what the author intended to convey with the main verb.

Fourth, the participle of means could be called an epexegetical participle in that it defines or explains the action of the controlling verb.

            c) Amplification and Significance

This participle is frequently used with vague, general, abstract, or metaphorical finite verbs. Further, it usually follows its verb.40 The reason for these two features (one lexical, the other structural) is that the participle explains the verb. If the verb needs explaining, then it is the vaguer term. For example, in Matt 27:4 Judas says, "I have sinned ( ἥμαρτον ) by betraying ( παραδούς ) innocent blood." The verb comes first and is general in its lexical range. This is followed by the participle of means, which defines more exactly what the verbal action is.

One should note as well that the participle of means is almost always contemporaneous with the time of the main verb. (This, of course, should be obvious, for if the participle of means defines how the action of the main verb is accomplished, then it accompanies it in time.41)

            d) Illustrations

Matt 27:4

ἥμαρτον παραδοὺς αἷμα ἀθῷον


I have sinned by betraying innocent blood

Acts 9:22

Σαῦλος ... συνέχυννεν τοὺς ᾿Ιουδαίους ... συμβιβάζων ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστός .


Saul ... confounded the Jews... by proving that [Jesus] was the Christ.

1 Cor 4:12

κοπιῶμεν ἐργαζόμενοι ταῖς ἰδίαις χερσίν


we labor, by working with our own hands

Eph 1:20

ἥν ἐνήργησεν ... ἐγείρας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν


which he exercised ... by raising him from the dead

Eph 2:14-15

ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἕν ... ( ᾿5 ) τὸν νόμον... καταργήσας


the one who made both [groups] one ... (15) by nullifying ... the law

Titus 1:11

οἵτινες ὅλους οἴκους ἀνατρέπουσιν διδάσκοντες ἃ μὴ δεῖ


who upset whole houses by teaching things that they should not

1 Pet 5:6-7

ταπεινώθητε ὑπὸ τὴν κραταιὰν χεῖρα τοῦ θεοῦ ... (7) πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιρίψαντες ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν , ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν .42


Humble yourselves43 under the mighty hand of God ... (7) by casting your cares on him, because he cares for you.


    Although treated as an independent command in several modern translations (e.g., RSV, NRSV, NIV), the participle should be connected with the verb of v 6, ταπεινώθητε . As such, it is not offering a new command, but is defining how believers are to humble themselves. Taking the participle as means enriches our understanding of both verbs: Humbling oneself is not a negative act of self-denial per se, but a positive one of active dependence on God for help.44

Phil 2:7

ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών


he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant


    This text satisfies the regular criteria for a participle of means: (1) The participle follows the verb; and (2) the verb is vague, almost begging to be defined. Taking it as a result participle is problematic, since it is aorist; leaving as temporal leaves the meaning of ἐκένωσεν unexplained (and such an act is not explained otherwise in the following verses). The biggest difficulty with seeing λαβών as means is that emptying is normally an act of subtraction, not addition. But the imagery should not be made to walk on all fours. As an early hymn, it would be expected to have a certain poetic license. Further, Paul seems to have hinted at this meaning in his instructions to the saints in v 3: "[Think] nothing from selfishness or conceit ( κενοδοξίαν )." The Philippians were told not to puff themselves up with "empty glory" ( κενοδοξίαν ), because Christ was an example of one who emptied his glory. If this connection is intentional, then the Carmen Christi has the following force:

Do not elevate yourselves on empty glory, but follow the example of Christ, who, though already elevated (on God's level), emptied his glory by veiling it in humanity.

Cf. also Matt 6:27; 28:19-20; Acts 9:8; 16:16; 27:38; Rom 12:20; Eph 4:28; Phil 1:30; 2:2-4; 1 Tim 1:6; 4:16; 2 Pet 2:15 (unless causal); 3:6.

          4) Cause [because]
            a) Definition

The causal participle indicates the cause or reason or ground of the action of the finite verb. This is a common usage.

            b) Key to Identification

This participle answers the question, Why? The thought of this participle can be brought out by since or because. (Because is normally preferable, however, in that since is often used of a temporal rather than a causal nuance.)

Two further clues (one on the tenses used, the other on word order) should be noted. (1) Aorist and perfect participles are amply represented, but the present participle is also frequently found here.45 (2) The causal participle normally precedes the verb it modifies. Thus, form follows function (i.e., the cause of an action precedes the action).46

            c) Illustrations

Matt 1:19

᾿Ιωσῆφ ... δίκαιος ὤν


Joseph ... because he was a righteous man

John 4:6

ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς κεκοπιακὼς ... ἐκαθέζετο


because Jesus was wearied ... he sat


    Adverbial perfect participles almost always belong to this category.47

John 11:38

᾿Ιησοῦς οὖν πάλιν ἐμβριμώμενος ... ἔρχεται εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον48


Then Jesus, because he was deeply moved ... came to the tomb.

Acts 7:9

οἱ πατριάρχαι ζηλώσαντες τὸν ᾿Ιωσὴφ ἀπέδοντο εἰς ᾿ Αἴγυπτον


because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him to Egypt

Acts 16:34

ἠγαλλιάσατο πανοικεὶ πεπιστευκὼς τῷ θεῷ


he rejoiced with his whole house because he had believed in God


    Although not frequent, causal participles can follow their controlling verbs, as here.

Phil 1:6

πεποιθὼς αὐτὸ τοῦτο


since I am confident of this very thing

Cf. also Luke 9:33; John 4:45; 12:6; 13:3; 18:10; Acts 2:30; Rom 6:6; Phil 1:25; 1 Thess 1:4; 2 Tim 3:14; Titus 3:11; 2 Pet 1:14.

          5) Condition [if]
            a) Definition

This participle implies a condition on which the fulfillment of the idea indicated by the main verb depends. Its force can be introduced by if in translation. This usage is fairly common.49

            b) Amplification

This participle is almost always equivalent to the third class condition (usually representing some sense of uncertainty) rather than to the first class condition.50 As well, this usage overlaps with the participle of means at times.

            c) Illustrations

        1] Clear Illustrations

Matt 21:22

πάντα ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσητε ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ πιστεύοντες λήμψεσθε .


Whatever you ask for in prayer, if you believe, you will receive it.

Luke 9:25

τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖται ἄνθρωπος κερδήσας τὸν κόσμον ὅλον ἑαυτὸν δὲ ἀπολέσας...51


For how does it benefit a person if he should gain the whole world but if he loses himself?

Gal 6:9

θερίσομεν μὴ ἐκλυόμενοι


we shall reap if we do not lose heart

1 Tim 4:4

οὐδὲν ἀπόβλητον μετὰ εὐχαριστίας λαμβανόμενον


nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanks

Cf. also Luke 15:4 (cf. Matt 18:12); Acts 15:29 (or means); 18:21 (gen. absolute); Rom 2:27; 7:3; 1 Cor 6:1; 8:10; 11:29;52 Col 2:20; 1 Tim 4:6 (or means); 6:8; Heb 2:3; 7:12; 10:26; 11:32; 1 Pet 3:6; 2 Pet 1:10 (or means).

        2] Debatable Texts

1 Tim 3:10

οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον , εἶτα διακονείτωσαν ἀνέγκλητοι ὄντες .


But let them be tested first, then, if they are blameless, let them serve as deacons.


    The English translation sounds as if deacons could be selected from a pool of qualified individuals. This reading of the text assumes that ὄντες is a conditional participle and that διακονείτωσαν is a permissive imperative. However, the participle might be substantival and the imperative more likely is a command: "Let them be tested first, then those who are blameless should become deacons." If so, then all those who qualified to become deacons would fill the office.

Heb 6:4-6

ἀδύνατον τοὺς ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας ... (6) καὶ παραπεσόντας , πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν


it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened ... (6) if they have fallen away


    παραπεσόντας is often construed as conditional (a tradition found in the KJV and repeated in most modern translations and by many commentators). But this is unwarranted. The construction of vv 4-6 approximates a Granville Sharp plural construction (the only difference being that with the second participle in the construction, γευσαμένους in v 4, the conjunction τε is used instead of καί : τοὺς φωτισθέντας γευσαμένους τε ... καὶ μετόχους γενηθέντας ... καὶ ... γευσαμένους ... καὶ παραπε-σόντας ).53 If this participle should be taken adverbially, then should we not take the preceding two or three participles the same way? The inconsistency has little basis. Instead, παραπεσόντας should be taken as adjectival, thus making a further and essential qualification of the entire group.54 A better translation, then, is "It is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened ... and have fallen away."

          6) Concession
            a) Definition

The concessive participle implies that the state or action of the main verb is true in spite of the state or action of the participle. Its force is usually best translated with although. This category is relatively common.

            b) Amplification

First, this is semantically the opposite of the causal participle, but structurally identical (i.e., it typically precedes the verb and fits the contours of a causal participle-i.e., antecedent time and thus aorist, perfect or sometimes present). Second, there are often particles that help to make the concessive idea more obvious (such as καίπερ , καίτοιγε , κτλ .).

            c) Illustrations

Mark 8:18

ὀφθαλμοὺς ἔχοντες οὐ βλέπετε καὶ ὦτα ἔχοντες οὐκ ἀκούετε...


Although you have eyes, do you not see? And although you have ears, do you not hear?

Rom 1:21

γνόντες τὸν θεὸν οὐχ ὡς θεὸν ἐδόξασαν


although they knew God, they did not honor him as God

Eph 2:1

ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκρούς


although you were dead

1 Pet 1:8

ὃν οὐκ ἰδόντες ἀγαπᾶτε55


although you have not seen him, you love him

Phil 2:6

ὅς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων


who, although he existed in the form of God


    The translation of this participle as concessive is not entirely clear upon a casual reading of the text. The two options are either causal or concessive.

    There are two interpretive problems in Phil 2:6-7 relevant to the treatment of this participle. First, of course, is the grammatical problem of whether this is concessive or causal. Second is the lexical problem of whether ἁρπαγμόν in v 6 means robbery or a thing to be grasped. The grammatical and the lexical inform one another and cannot be treated separately. Thus, if ὑπάρχων is causal, ἁρπαγμόν means robbery ("who, because he existed in God's form, did not consider equality with God as robbery"); if ὑπάρχων is concessive, then ἁρπαγμόν means a thing to be grasped ("who, although he existed in God's form, did not consider equality with God as a thing to be grasped"). As attractive as the first alternative might be theologically, it is not satisfactory. Ultimately, this


    verse cannot be interpreted in isolation, but must be seen in light of the positive statement in v 7-"but he emptied himself" (the participle ὑπάρχων equally depends on both ἡγήσατο and ἐκένωσεν ). Only the concessive idea for the participle and a thing to be grasped translation for ἁρπαγμόν fit well with v 7.56

Cf. also John 10:33; Acts 5:7; 2 Cor 11:23; Phil 3:4; Heb 5:8.

          7) Purpose (Telic)
            a) Definition

The participle of purpose indicates the purpose of the action of the finite verb. Unlike other participles, a simple "-ing" flavor will miss the point. Almost always this can (and usually should) be translated like an English infinitive. This usage is somewhat common.

            b) Key to Identification/Semantics

First, to clarify that a particular participle is telic (purpose), one can either translate it as though it were an infinitive, or simply add the phrase with the purpose of before the participle in translation.

Second, since purpose is accomplished as a result of the action of the main verb, perfect participles are excluded from this category

(since they are typically antecedent in time). The future adverbial participle always belongs here;57 the present participle frequently does. The aorist participle also has a representative or two, but this is unusual.58

Third, many present participles that fit this usage are lexically influenced. Verbs such as seek ( ζητέω ) or signify ( σημαίνω ), for example, involve the idea of purpose lexically.

Fourth, the telic participle almost always follows the controlling verb.59 Thus, the word order emulates what it depicts. Some participles, when following their controlling verbs, virtually demand to be taken as telic (e.g., πειράζω ).60

            c) Significance

This participle, like the participle of cause, answers the question, Why? But the participle of purpose looks forward, while the participle of cause looks back. As well, the difference between the participle of purpose and the infinitive of purpose is that the participle emphasizes the actor while the infinitive emphasizes the action.

            d) Illustrations

Matt 27:49

εἰ ἔρχεται ᾿ Ηλίας σώσων αὐτόν


if Elijah is going to come [with the purpose of] saving him

Luke 10:25

νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν λέγων· διδάσκαλε , τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω...


a certain lawyer stood up to test him, saying, "Teacher, what must I do to gain eternal life?"61

Luke 13:7

ἰδοὺ τρία ἔτη ἀφ᾿ οὗ ἔρχομαι ζητῶν καρπόν


behold, for the last three years I have come [for the purpose of] seeking fruit

John 12:33

τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ ἤμελλεν ἀποθνῄσκειν .


Now he said this to signify by what sort of death he would die.

Acts 3:26

ἀπέστειλεν αὐτὸν εὐλογοῦντα ὑμᾶς


he sent him [for the purpose of] blessing you

Cf. also Matt 16:1; 19:3; 22:35; 27:55; Mark 1:13; 8:11; 10:2; Luke 2:45; 4:2; 10:25; 11:16; John 6:6, 24; 18:32; 21:19; Acts 8:27; 22:5; 24:11, 17; 25:13; Rom 15:25; 1 Cor 4:14; 16:2.

          8) Result
            a) Definition

The participle of result is used to indicate the actual outcome or result of the action of the main verb.62 It is similar to the participle of purpose in that it views the end of the action of the main verb, but it is dissimilar in that the participle of purpose also indicates or emphasizes intention or design, while result emphasizes what the action of the main verb actually accomplishes. This usage is somewhat common.63

            b) Amplification and Semantics

First, the participle of result is not necessarily opposed to the participle of purpose. Indeed, many result participles describe the result of an action that was also intended. The difference between the two, therefore, is primarily one of emphasis. The relation between purpose and result might be visually represented thus.

Chart 83

The Semantic Overlap of Purpose and Result Participles

Second, there are two types of result participle:

  • · Internal or Logical Result: This indicates an implication of the action of the controlling verb. It is thus actually simultaneous, giving the logical outcome of the verb. Thus, John 5:18: "He was calling God his own Father, [with the result of] making ( ποιῶν ) himself equal to God."
  • · External or Temporal Result: This indicates the true result of the action of the controlling verb. It is subsequent, stating the chronological outcome of the verb. Thus, Mark 9:7: "a cloud came [with the result that it] covered ( ἐπισκιάζουσα ) them."
            c) Key to Identification

The result participle will be a present tense participle and will follow (in word order) the main verb. The student should insert the phrase with the result of before the participle in translation in order to see if the participle under examination is indeed a result participle.

            d) Illustrations

Mark 9:7

ἐγένετο νεφέλη ἐπισκιάζουσα αὐτοῖς


a cloud came [with the result that it] covered them

Luke 4:15

αὐτὸς ἐδίδασκεν ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν δοξαζόμενος ὑπὸ πάντων .


He taught in their synagogues, [with the result that he was] being glorified by all.

John 5:18

πατέρα ἴδιον ἔλεγεν τὸν θεὸν ἴσον ἑαυτὸν ποιῶν τῷ θεῷ .


He was calling God his own Father, [with the result of] making himself equal to God.

Eph 2:15

ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην


in order that he might create in himself the two into one new man, [with the result of] making peace

Eph 5:19-21

πληρούσθε ἐν πνεύματι ... (19) λαλοῦντες ... ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες ... (20) εὐχαριστοῦντες ... (21) ὑποτασσόμενοι


Be filled with the Spirit ... (19) [with the result of] speaking ... singing and making melody ... (20) being thankful ... (21) being submissive.


    In this text the five participles are debatable. Some have suggested means, manner, attendant circumstance, and even imperatival! As we have already seen, manner is not too likely if we follow the axiom that the idea of the main verb (in this case, πληροῦσθε in 5:18) would not be removed if these participles were absent. As we shall see later, attendant circumstance and imperatival participles are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text. Means fits well with the grammar of the passage (viz., the participle of means is often used in the present tense after a present imperative). But it may not fit well with the theology of the Pauline epistles64-i.e., it would be almost inconceivable to see this text suggesting that the way in which one is to be Spirit-filled is by a five-step, partially mechanical formula!65 Result may fit well both syntactically and exegetically: Result participles are invariably present participles that follow the main verb; as well, the idea of result here would suggest that the way in which one measures his/her success in fulfilling the command of 5:18 is by the participles that follow (notice the progressive difficulty: from speaking God's word to being thankful for all, to being submissive to one another; such progression would, of course, immediately suggest that this filling is not instantaneous and absolute but progressive and relative). There are other arguments for the idea of result in these participles that we will have to forego. Suffice it to say here that the issue is an important one in light of the popularity and abuse of the command in Eph 5:18 (especially in evangelical circles).

Cf. also Mark 7:13; Heb 12:3; Jas 1:4 (possible); 2:9; 1 Pet 3:5 (unless means); 2 Pet 2:1, 6.

e. Summary of the Adverbial Participle

As we have seen, there are eight kinds of adverbial participles: temporal, manner, means, cause, condition, concession, purpose, and result. Yet it should be stressed that the participle in itself means none of these ideas. The participle in Greek follows certain

contours. By observing the tense, word order, context, and lexemes of the verb and participle, you can usually narrow down its possibilities. Paying careful attention to the semantic situation of each adverbial participle is vital to sound exegesis.

2. Attendant Circumstance
a. Definition

The attendant circumstance participle is used to communicate an action that, in some sense, is coordinate with the finite verb. In this respect it is not dependent, for it is translated like a verb. Yet it is still dependent semantically, because it cannot exist without the main verb. It is translated as a finite verb connected to the main verb by and. The participle then, in effect, "piggy-backs" on the mood of the main verb. This usage is relatively common, but widely misunderstood.66

b. Clarification

First, we are treating this participle as a dependent verbal participle because it never stands alone. That is, an attendant circumstance will always be related to a finite verb. Although it is translated as a finite verb, it derives its "mood" (semantically, not syntactically) from that of the main verb.

Second, it is important to argue from sense rather than from translation. In order to see more clearly what the sense of a participle will be, we need to apply the following criterion: If a participle makes good sense when treated as an adverbial participle, we should not seek to treat it as attendant circumstance. This will reduce the instances to those that are undisputed. From that we can extrapolate a "profile" as it were of what this participle should look like.

Third, the confusion has arisen over a couple of things: loose translation67 and mixing the participle of result in with the attendant circumstance participle (see earlier discussion).

c. Validation

Is the attendant circumstance participle valid? Some grammarians deny its validity; others see it very frequently. In our view, it is both clearly valid and relatively frequent. It should be noted that

what is at stake is the interpretation of scores of passages. Hence, the discussion in this section is unusually long.

Consider, for example, Matt 2:13. The angel is speaking to Joseph and says: ἐγερθεὶς παράλαβε τὸ παιδίον καὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ καὶ φεῦγε ("Rise and take the child and his mother and flee!"). There is really only one good possibility for ἐγερθείς as an adverbial participle-temporal. (The others, as you can think through them for yourself, make little sense.) If temporal, then it is more than likely antecedent to the action of the main verbs (though in close proximity). But such an idea would not convey the urgency of the command ("After you have arisen, take ... and go ..."). Such a translation would suggest that the time when Joseph was to rise was an option; it was only that once he did rise, he was to obey the angelic command. The attendant circumstance participle fits far better here-the mood of the two main verbs is picked up by the participle ("Rise and take ... and go ..."). It is apparent that Joseph was commanded not only to take his family and flee, but also to rise immediately.

Matthew 2:13 illustrates several important criteria for the attendant circumstance participle: (1) The context made it clear that no adverbial participial category would do justice to the use of this participle; (2) the context made it equally clear that the true force of this participle (semantically) was that of an imperative-it was part of the command; and (3) the participle was related to an imperative. Finally, one should note that in Matt 2:14, we see Joseph's response: ἐγερθεὶς παρέλαβεν ... νυκτός (he rose and took ... during the night"). The evangelist uses νυκτός to emphasize immediate obedience to the angelic vision. In other words, the participle in both v 13 and v 14 is attendant circumstance. The difference between the verses is that the mood of the main verb has changed and therefore the "mood" of the participle changes, too.

In conclusion, we can say that Matt 2:13-14 is a clear passage in which the attendant circumstance participle is valid and is valid with both imperatives and indicatives as main verbs.68

d. Structure and Semantics
          1) Structure

In the NT (as well as other ancient Greek literature) certain structural patterns emerge regarding the attendant circumstance participle. These are not absolute. We might, however, say that they follow a "90% rule." That is to say, all five of the following features occur in at least 90% of the instances of

attendant circumstance. The conclusion from this is that if these five features are not present (or if one or two of them are not present), to label a participle as attendant circumstance needs strong corroborative evidence. It is not impossible, of course, but one should double-check the other possibilities before he/she so tags the participle. The five features are:

  • · The tense of the participle is usually aorist
  • · The tense of the main verb is usually aorist.69
  • · The mood of the main verb is usually imperative or indicative.70
  • · The participle will precede the main verb-both in word order and time of event (though usually there is a very close proximity).
  • · Attendant circumstance participles occur frequently in narrative literature, infrequently elsewhere.71

These criteria can be illustrated with our example from Matt 2:13-14. Verse 13 has an aorist participle ( ἐγερθεὶς ) followed by an aorist imperative ( παράλαβε ). Verse 14 has an aorist participle ( ἐγερθεὶς ) followed by an aorist indicative ( παρέλαβεν ).

          2) Semantics

Two things should be noted about the semantics of this participle. First, the attendant circumstance participle has something of an ingressive force to it. That is, it is often used to introduce a new action or a shift in the narrative. This contrasts with the adverbial participles and becomes a key for identifying this usage.

Second, the relative semantic weight in such constructions is that a greater emphasis is placed on

the action of the main verb than on the participle. That is, the participle is something of a prerequisite before the action of the main verb can occur. Joseph had to get up before he could take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. But the getting up was not the main event-it was leaving town that counted!72

e. Illustrations
          1) Clear Examples

Matt 9:13

πορευθέντες δὲ μαθέτε τί ἐστιν...


Now go and learn what this means...

Matt 9:18a

ἰδοὺ ἄρχων εἷς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ


Behold, a ruler came and bowed down before him


    This is an example of an aorist participle followed by an imperfect indicative. Such does occur rarely. Much more common is a historical present as the main verb.73

Matt 9:18b

ἡ θυγάτηρ μου ἄρτι ἐτελεύτησεν· ἀλλὰ ἐλθὼν ἐπίθες τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐπ᾿ αὐτήν , καὶ ζήσεται .


My daughter has just now died, but come and place your hand on her and she will live.


    As is almost always the case, the main idea is found in the main verb ("place [your hand on her]"); the coming is a necessary prerequisite, however.

Matt 28:7

ταχὺ πορευθεῖσαι εἴπατε τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἠγέρθη ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν


Go quickly and tell his disciples that [Jesus] has been raised from the dead.

Luke 5:11

ἀφέντες πάντα ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ


they left everything and followed him


    Had Luke used two indicatives there would have been more equal weight to them. With the attendant circumstance participle, however, the focus of the text is not on what the disciples left (such was necessary to follow an itinerant preacher), but on their following Jesus.

Luke 5:14

ἀπελθὼν δεῖξον σεαυτὸν τῷ ἱερεῖ


Go and show yourself to the priest

Luke 16:6

καθίσας ταχέως γράψον πεντήκοντα74


Sit down quickly and write fifty

Luke 17:19

ἀναστὰς πορεύου


Rise and go


    Here we have the infrequent structure of aorist participle with present imperative.

Acts 5:5

ἀκούων δὲ ὁ `Ανανίας τοὺς λόγους τούτους πεσὼν ἐξέψυξεν


but when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died


    The participle at the front of the clause is present and temporal; the following aorist participle is attendant circumstance. Again, the semantics here follow the normal contours of this participial usage: The main point was not that Ananias fell down but that he died.

Acts 10:13

ἀναστάς , Πέτρε , θῦσον καὶ φάγε .


Rise, Peter, and kill and eat.

Acts 16:9

διαβὰς εἰς Μακεδονίαν βοήθησον ἡμῖν


Come over to Macedonia and help us

Heb 12:1

ὄγκον ἀποθέμενοι πάντα... τρέχωμεν


let us lay aside every burden ... and run


    Notice that we see two of the five structural guidelines in this text (aorist participle preceding main verb). The three differences here are: (1) the tense of the main verb is present, (2) the mood of the main verb is subjunctive;75 and (3) this is not narrative. Nevertheless, the primary criterion for determining whether a particular participle is attendant circumstance is sense, not structure. And the sense fits well here: The participle derives its "mood" from that of the main verb (a hortatory subjunctive-which is nevertheless semantically equivalent to an imperative). No adverbial participial category does justice to this text.76

Cf. also Matt 2:8, 20; 9:6; 11:4; 17:7, 27; 21:2; 22:13; 28:7; Luke 4:40; 7:22; 13:32; 14:10; 17:7, 14; 19:5; 30; 22:8; Acts 1:24; 2:23; 5:6; 9:11; 10:20; 11:7.

          2) Disputed Examples

Eph 5:19-21

πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι... (19) λαλοῦντες... ᾄδοντες καὶ ψάλλοντες... (20) εὐχαριστοῦντες... (21) ὑποτασσόμενοι


be filled by the Spirit... (19) and speak... and sing and make melody ... (20) and be thankful ... (21) and be submissive


    Some exegetes take these participles to indicate attendant circumstance. But attendant circumstance participles are rarely, if ever, found in a construction such as the one in this text (not only are the participles following the verb, but both main verb and participles are present tense). A distinction needs to be made between result and attendant circumstance. Seeing no distinction between the two would make the participles coordinate commands, while taking them as result would


    regard them more as the overflow of one who is Spirit-filled (cf. Gal 5:22-23 for a similar idea).

Mt 28:19-20

πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη , βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος , (20) διδάσκοντες


Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching...


    Several observations are in order. First, notice that the first participle, πορευθέντες , fits the structural pattern for the attendant circumstance participle: aorist participle preceding an aorist main verb (in this case, imperative).

    Second, there is no good grammatical ground for giving the participle a mere temporal idea. To turn πορευθέντες into an adverbial participle is to turn the Great Commission into the Great Suggestion! Virtually all instances in narrative literature of aorist participle + aorist imperative involve an attendant circumstance participle. In Matthew, in particular, every other instance of the aorist participle of πορεύομαι followed by an aorist main verb (either indicative or imperative) is clearly attendant circumstance.77

    Third, we must first read this commission in its historical context, not from the perspective of a late twentieth-century reader. These apostles of the soon-to-be inaugurated church did not move from Jerusalem until after the martyrdom of Stephen. The reason for this reticence was due, in part at least, to their Jewish background. As Jews, they were ethnocentric in their evangelism (bringing prospective proselytes to Jerusalem); now as Christians, they were to be ektocentric, bringing the gospel to those who were non-Jews. In many ways, the book of Acts is a detailed account of how these apostles accomplished the command of Matt 28:19-20.78

    Finally, the other two participles ( βαπτίζοντες , διδάσκοντες ) should not be taken at attendant circumstance. First, they do not fit the normal pattern for attendant circumstance participles (they are present tense and follow the main verb). And second, they obviously make good sense as participles of means; i.e., the means by which the disciples were to make disciples was to baptize and then to teach.

3. Indirect Discourse
a. Definition

An anarthrous participle in the accusative case, in conjunction with an accusative noun or pronoun, sometimes indicates indirect discourse after a verb of perception or communication.79 This usage is fairly common (especially in Luke and Paul), but less so in Hellenistic than in classical Greek overall.

b. Amplification

As with the infinitive of indirect discourse, the participle of indirect discourse retains the tense of the direct discourse.80

c. Illustrations

Acts 7:12

ἀκούσας δὲ ᾿Ιακὼβ ὄντα σιτία εἰς Αἴγυπτον


when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt

Phil 2:3

ἀλλήλους ἡγούμενοι ὑπερέχοντας ἑαυτῶν


by regarding one another as more important than yourselves

2 John 7

ὁμολογοῦντες ᾿ Ιησοῦν Χριστὸν ἐρχόμενον ἐν σαρκί


confessing Jesus Christ coming in the flesh (or confessing Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh; or confessing that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh)

Cf. also Luke 14:18; John 4:39 (perhaps); Acts 7:12; 9:21; 17:16; 2 Cor 8:22; Rev 9:1.

4. Complementary
a. Definition

The complementary participle completes the thought of another verb. It is especially used in combination with a verb suggesting a consummative (e.g., "stop" [ παύω ]) or sometimes a progressive (e.g., "continue" [ ἐπιμένω ]) idea.81 The idiom is rare in the NT.

b. Illustrations

Matt 11:1

ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς διατάσσων


when Jesus finished teaching

Acts 5:42

οὐκ ἐπαύοντο διδάσκοντες καὶ εὐαγγελιζόμενοι τὸν χριστόν ᾿ Ιησοῦν


they did not cease teaching and proclaiming that the Messiah was Jesus

Acts 12:16

ὁ Πέτρος ἐπέμενεν κρούων


Peter kept on knocking

Eph 1:16

οὐ παύομαι εὐχαριστῶν


I do not cease being thankful

Cf. also Matt 6:16; Luke 5:4; John 8:7 (v.l.); Acts 6:13; 13:10; 20:31; 21:32; Gal 6:9; Col 1:9; 2 Thess 3:13; Heb 10:2.

5. Periphrastic
a. Definition

An anarthrous participle can be used with a verb of being (such as εἰμί or ὑπάρχω ) to form a finite verbal idea. This participle is called periphrastic because it is a round-about way of saying what could be expressed by a single verb. As such, it more naturally corresponds to English: ἦν ἐσθίων means he was eating, just as ἤσθιεν does. This usage is common with the present participle and perfect participle, but not with other tenses.82

b. Structure and Semantics

First, regarding semantics, in classical Greek this construction was used to highlight aspectual force. By the Hellenistic era, and particularly in the NT, such emphasis is often, if not usually, lost.83

Second, as to structure, the following should be noted. The participle is almost always nominative case and usually follows the verb.84 And, as Dana-Mantey succinctly stated long ago,

This mode of expression, common to all languages, is extensively employed in Greek. It occurs in all the voices and tenses, though rare in the aorist... . Certain tense forms in Greek were expressed exclusively by the periphrastic construction; namely, the perfect middle-passive subjunctive and optative. As the finite verb, εἰμί is generally used, though also γίνομαι and ὑπάρχω , and possibly ἔχω in the perfect (cf. Lk. 14:18; 19:20) and pluperfect (Lk. 13:6). The periphrastic imperfect is the form most common in the New Testament.85

Finally, various verb-participle combinations are used to constitute a single finite verb tense, as noted in the following table.


Finite Verb (of εἰμί )




Finite Tense Equivalent


























Table 11

The Forms of the Periphrastic Participle

c. Illustrations
          1) Present Periphrastic

2 Cor 9:12

ἡ διακονία ... ἐστὶν προσαναπληροῦσα τὰ ὑστερήματα τῶν ἁγίων


[this] ministry ... is supplying the needs of the saints

Col 1:6

καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ ἐστὶν καρποφορούμενον


just as in all the world it is bearing fruit

Cf. also Matt 5:25; Mark 5:41; Luke 19:17; John 1:41; Acts 4:36; 2 Cor 2:17; 6:14; 9:12; Col 2:23; Jas 1:17 (possible).86

          2) Imperfect Periphrastic

Matt 7:29

ἦν διδάσκων αὐτούς


he was teaching them

Mark 10:32

ἦσαν ... ἀναβαίνοντες ... καὶ ἦν προάγων αὐτοὺς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς


they were going up ... and Jesus was going before them

Cf. also Matt 19:22; Mark 1:22; 5:5; 9:4; Luke 4:20; 19:47; John 1:28; 13:23; Acts 1:10; 2:2; 8:1; 22:19; Gal 1:22.

          3) Future Periphrastic

Because of the combination of the future finite verb and the present participle, the aspect of this use of the future is progressive (unlike its simple tense-form counterpart). This category is rare.87

Mark 13:25

καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες ἔσονται... πίπτοντες88


and the stars will be falling

1 Cor 14:9

πῶς γνωσθήσεται τὸ λαλούμενον... ἔσεσθε γὰρ εἰς ἀέρα λαλοῦντες .


How will he know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.

Cf. also Matt 10:22; 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 1:20; 5:10; 21:17, 24; 22:69; Acts 6:4 (in D).

          4) Perfect Periphrastic

Luke 12:6

ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐκ ἔστιν ἐπιλελησμένον ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ .


Not one of [the sparrows] is forgotten before God.

2 Cor 4:3

εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν


But even if our gospel is veiled [or has become veiled]

Eph 2:8

τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι


For by grace you have been saved [or you are saved]89

Cf. also Luke 14:8; 20:6; 23:15; John 3:27; 6:31, 45; 12:14; 16:24; 17:23; Acts 21:33; Rom 7:14; Eph 2:5; Heb 4:2; Jas 5:15; 1 John 1:4.

          5) Pluperfect Periphrastic

Matt 9:36

ἦσαν ἐσκυλμένοι καὶ ἐρριμμένοι ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα


they were (or had become) weary and scattered, as sheep who do not have a shepherd

Acts 21:29

ἦσαν γὰρ προεωρακότες Τρόφιμον


for they had previously seen Trophimus

Cf. also Matt 26:43; Mark 15:46; Luke 2:26; 4:16; 5:17; 8:2; 9:45; 15:24; 23:53; John 3:24; 19:11, 19, 41; Acts 8:16; 13:48; Gal 4:3.90

6. Redundant (a.k.a. Pleonastic)
a. Definition

A verb of saying (or sometimes thinking) can be used with a participle with basically the same meaning (as in ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν ). Because such an idiom is foreign to English, many modern translations simply render the controlling verb.

b. Clarification

Some call this a pleonastic (=redundant) or appositional participle. In a sense, it is a subset of the participle of means, for it defines

the action of the main verb. For the most part, it is probably due to a Semitic idiom. It occurs almost exclusively in the Synoptic Gospels.

c. Illustrations

Luke 12:17

διελογίζετο ἐν ἑαυτῷ λέγων


he was thinking within himself, saying

Matt 11:25

ἀποκριθεὶς ᾿ Ιησοῦς εἶπεν


Jesus, answering, said


    The construction ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν "became to such an extent an empty formula that it is even sometimes used when there is nothing preceding to which an `answer' can be referred... ."91

Cf. also Matt 11:25; 12:38; 13:3, 11, 37; 15:22; 17:4; 26:23; 28:5; Mark 9:5; 11:14; Luke 5:22; 7:22; 13:2; 19:40.

B. Independent Verbal Participles

Included in this category are those participles that function as though they were finite verbs and are not dependent on any verb in the context for their mood (thus, distinct from attendant circumstance). The independent verbal participles may function as either indicatives or imperatives, though both of these are extremely rare.

_1. As an Imperative (Imperatival)
a. Definition

The participle may function just like an imperative. This use of the participle is not to be attached to any verb in the context, but is grammatically independent. The imperatival participle is quite rare.

b. Clarification and Exegetical Significance

"In general it may be said that no participle should be explained in this way that can properly be connected with a finite verb."92 This is an important point and one that more than one commentator has forgotten.

c. Illustrations
          1) Clear Examples

Rom 12:9

ἀποστυγοῦντες τὸ πονηρόν , κολλώμενοι τῷ ἀγαθῷ


hate the evil, cleave to the good

1 Pet 2:18

οἱ οἰκέται , ὑποτασσόμενοι... τοῖς δεσπόταις


Servants, submit yourselves... to your masters

Cf. also Rom 12:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19; 2 Cor 8:24; 1 Pet 3:7. It is to be noted that most of the NT instances of this phenomenon will be found in Rom 12 or 1 Peter.

          2) Doubtful Examples

Eph 5:19-21

λαλοῦντες... ᾄδοντες... ψάλλοντες... ( 20 ) εὐχαριστοῦντες... ( 2᾿ ) ὑποτασσόμενοι


speaking... singing... making melody... (20) being thankful... (21) be submissive


    Although most would consider the first four of these participles as adverbial (see previous discussions of this verse), many, including recent editions of the Greek NT, would consider the last participle as imperatival. Such is doubtful, especially since it too is a present anarthrous participle, as are the first four. The basic rule here is simply this: If a participle can be identified as dependent (i.e., if it can at all be attached to a verb), it should be so considered. Furthermore, it seems that there are two primary reasons why some have considered ὑποτασσόμενοι as imperatival here: (1) The original wording of 5:22 apparently lacked the imperative ὑποτάσσεσθε ,93 leaving the verb to be supplied from the preceding line and thus intrinsically connecting v 21 with the following section of material; and (2) it is separated by several words from the preceding participle, which fact seemingly connects it with the following paragraph rather than with the preceding.

    In response to this, note the following: (1) Although there is an obvious connection between vv 21 and 22, v 21 can just as easily function as a hinge between the two sections. The thought of vv 15-21 flows right into 5:22-6:9. This section on the (extended) family, whether it starts at v 21 or v 22, is the only major section in the body of Ephesians to begin without a conjunction. It is as if the instruction in the former section is meant to be "ringing in the ears" of the hearers as they turn to the issue of the family.94 Consequently, any dramatic break between the two is overdrawn. The participle belongs equally to both. (2) On a syntactical and stylistic level, this view does not take into account the semantic situation in which an imperatival participle is found (which, among other things, indicates that this is a very rare usage), nor the usage of dependent participles in this letter in particular (cf. Eph 1:13-14, for example, where several dependent participles are strung along). To view any of these participles as imperatival is to view the passage from the English point of view only, ignoring the Greek.

Eph 4:1-3

Παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς ... περιπατῆσαι ... ( 2 ) ἀνεχόμενοι ἀλλήλων ... ( 3 ) σπουδάζοντες τηρεῖν τὴν ἑνότητα


I urge you ... to walk ... (2) forbear one another ... (3) strive to maintain the unity


    Barth states categorically that "the imperative mood of the added verb `be' and of the word `bear' is suggested by the dominating term `I beseech you' and by the special character of the Greek participle `bearing'."95 He assumes "the imperative mood of the participle" in v 3.96 BDF and Robertson also consider these participles to be imperatival,97 in spite of their warning that such will not occur in contexts in which the participle can be linked dependently to a finite verbal form (such as παρακαλῶ ... περιπατῆσαι in v 1). Moule apparently takes these participles as imperatival because they are in the nom. case98-a reason probably assumed by the others who hold this view. Indeed, to see them as other than imperatival requires an explanation about their case: How can we say that these nominative participles are adverbial and dependent if they lack concord with ὑμᾶς ?

    These participles are, most likely, dependent. The reason for their being nom. is as follows. παρακαλῶ ὑμᾶς περιπατῆσαι is a complete verbal idea expressed by an indicative and infinitive. The infinitive is complementary, completing the thought of the main verb. It would be possible to express this same idea (though more forcefully, less politely) by a simple imperative: περιπατήσατε . Diagrammed, the two clauses would look like this:


( ἐγῶ )

παρακαλῶ περιπατῆσαι



( ὑμεῖς )



    Thus we have an instance of constructio ad sensum (construction according to sense rather than according to strict grammar "rules"). The participles in 4:2-3 are nominative because they agree with the sense of the "command," even though it is not syntactically expressed as an imperative. Consequently, these two participles are dependent and adverbial. More than likely they are participles of means (remember that present tense participles of means usually follow present or aorist imperatives; here, they follow the sense of an imperative): They define how the readers are to walk.

    The resultant idea in this passage, then, is as follows: The author sums up in οὖν (4:1) the indicatives of the faith and commands that some action be taken based on them. The action is "walk worthily of the calling... ." The means by which this command is to be carried is twofold: (1) negatively, by "forbearing one another in love"; and (2) positively, "by striving to maintain [not originate] the unity of the Spirit." Ephesians 4:1-3, then, gives us the author's sum of what this little epistle is all about.

Other passages often cited as having imperatival participles that should be seriously questioned include: Eph 3:17; 6:18; Col 2:2; 3:13, 16; 1 Pet 5:7; et al.99

2. As an Indicative (Independent Proper or Absolute)
a. Definition

The participle can stand alone in a declarative sense as the only verb in a clause or sentence. In such instances, the participle may be treated as an indicative verb. This use of the participle is quite rare.

b. Clarification and Amplification

This usage is apparently due to a Semitic influence, for such occurs in Hebrew100 and Aramaic.101 (Its occurrence in the Apocalypse is testimony to this view.) It is doubtful that it occurs in classical Greek.102

c. Illustrations

Rev 1:16

καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ χειρὶ αὐτου103


and he had in his right hand

Rev 19:12

ἔχων ὄνομα


he had a name

Cf. also Rom 5:11; 12:6; 2 Cor 4:8; 5:6; 9:11; Rev 4:7; 10:2; 11:1; 12:2; 17:5; 21:12, 14, 19 for some other possible examples.

By way of conclusion on the independent participle (both imperative and indicative), we wholeheartedly affirm the sober assessment by Brooks and Winbery: "Certainly no participle should be explained as an independent participle if there is any other way to explain it."104

III. The Participle Absolute

In this final section on participles, we will be dealing with participles that occur in particular case constructions (known as nominative absolute and genitive absolute). These participles do, however, fit under the above two broad categories (adjectival and verbal). They are treated here separately because they involve structural clues related to their cases and, to some degree, they express an additional nuance beyond what has been described in the above two major categories.

A. Nominative Absolute
1. Definition

The nominative absolute participle is in reality simply a substantival participle that fits the case description of nominativus pendens. Although it is called "nominative absolute," it is not to be confused with the case category of nominative absolute. (This label, which has been the cause of much confusion, probably is derived from the fact this participle has some affinity with the genitive absolute participle.) To refresh your memory, the nominativus pendens (pendent nominative) "consists in the enunciation of the logical (not grammatical) subject at the beginning of the sentence, followed by a sentence in which that subject is taken up by a pronoun in the case required by the syntax."105

2. Clarification

Although this participle has some affinity with the genitive absolute participle, the nominative absolute participle is always substantival while the genitive absolute participle is always adverbial or, at least, dependent-verbal.106

3. Illustrations

John 7:38

πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ ... ποταμοὶ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας αὐτοῦ ῥεύσουσιν


the one who believes in me ... rivers will flow out of his belly

Rev 3:21

νικῶν δώσω αὐτῷ καθίσαι


the one who conquers, to him I will give to sit

Cf. also Mark 7:19; 12:40; Rev 2:26; 3:12.

B. Genitive Absolute
1. Definition

In defining the genitive absolute participial construction, we have two options: We can define it structurally or we can definite it semantically. We shall in fact define it both ways in order that you might be able to identify the construction and, once identified, understand its semantic force.

a. Structure

Structurally, the genitive absolute consists of the following:

1) a noun or pronoun in the genitive case (though this is sometimes absent);

2) a genitive anarthrous participle (always);

3) the entire construction at the front of a sentence (usually).

b. Semantics

Semantically, there are again three items to notice, once the structure has been identified (note that the above stated structure is not limited to the genitive absolute construction):

1) This construction is unconnected with the rest of the sentence (i.e., its subject-the genitive noun or pronoun-is different from the subject of the main clause);

2) the participle is always adverbial (circumstantial) or, at least, dependent-verbal (i.e., it cannot be an adjectival or substantival participle);

3) the participle is normally (about 90% of the time) temporal,107 though it can on occasion express any of the adverbial ideas.108

2. Illustrations

Matt 9:18

ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος ... ἄρχων εἷς ἐλθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ


while he was saying these things, ... a certain ruler came and bowed down before him

Rom 7:3

ζῶντος τοῦ ἀνδρὸς ... γένηται ἀνδρὶ ἑτέρῳ


while her husband is still alive ... she becomes another man's [wife]


    This is a somewhat rare example in that it is found in the epistles (cf. also Eph 2:20). Most gen. absolutes are in the Gospels and Acts.

John 5:13

᾿Ιηοῦς ἐξένευσεν ὄχλου ὄντος ἐν τῷ τόπῳ


Jesus departed while a crowd was in that place


    This text is a little unusual in that the gen. absolute construction comes at the end of the sentence. ὄχλου , however, could be taken as a gen. of separation and ὄντος as adjectival: "from the crowd which was in that place."

Cf. also Matt 8:1, 5, 16, 28; 9:32, 33; 17:14, 22, 24, 26; 18:24, 25 (causal here); 20:29; 21:10, 23; 22:41; 24:3; Mark 5:2, 18, 21, 35; 15:33; Luke 11:14; 18:36, 40; John 4:50; Acts 13:2; 1 Pet 3:20.

1 We are speaking here principally with reference to adverbial (or circumstantial) participles.

2 Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 1112-13. From my cursory examination of the data, the aorist participle is more frequently contemporaneous in the epistles than in narrative literature. There is also such a thing as an aorist participle of subsequent action, though quite rare.

3 It would not be correct to say that the future participle represents future time, for often it is used in past-tense contexts. Thus, for example, John 6:64: "Jesus knew from the first ... who it is that would betray him" ( ᾔδει γὰρ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ... τίς ἐστιν ὁ παρα-δώσων αὐτόν ). Cf. also Luke 22:49 (substantival); Acts 8:27; 22:5; 24:11, 17 (adverbial).

4 Some have noted that the aorist participle can, on a rare occasion, have a telic force in Hellenistic Greek, because the future participle was not normally a viable choice in the conversational and vulgar dialect (so A. T. Robertson, "The Aorist Participle for Purpose in the Κοινή ," JTS 25 [1924] 286-89).

5 That the present participle could be causal may seem to deny its contemporaneity. But its contemporaneity in such cases is either broadly conceived or the participle functions as the logical cause though it may be chronologically simultaneous.

6 For a discussion of the difference between aspect and Aktionsart, see our introductory chapter on verb tenses.

7 See discussion under gnomic present.

8 The aorist is also sometimes used generically. Cf. Matt 10:39 ("the one who finds [ ὁ εὑρών ] his life ... the one who loses [ ὁ ἀπολέσας ] it"); 23:21, 22; 26:52; Mark 16:16 (a spurious text); Luke 8:12, 14; 20:18; John 5:25; 6:45; 16:2; Rom 10:5; 1 Cor 7:33; Gal 3:12; Jas 5:4, 11, 20. Boyer thus overstates his case when he writes that with the substantival aorist participle, "the identification seems always to be specific, not general" ("Participles," 166 [italics added]). Some examples could be taken either way (e.g., 1 Pet 4:1; 1 John 5:1).

9 To be sure, the present substantival participle, even when gnomic, can have a progressive force as well. (There is nothing prohibiting an author from speaking about "everyone who continually does.") This seems to be particularly the case with ὁ πιστεύων . See discussion at John 3:16 below.

10 Lenski, St. Matthew's Gospel, 226.

11 Note the following discussion (620-21, n. 22) on ὁ πιστεύων , in which the progressive notion is argued on the basis of several strands of evidence.

12 There is one seeming exception to this rule. When the construction is ὁ μέν + participle or ὁ δέ + participle, the article may be functioning like a personal pronoun. In such instances it is not modifying the participle but is the subject of the sentence. The participle will then be adverbial. Cf., e.g., Mark 1:45; 6:37, etc. There are over 100 such constructions in the NT (the vast bulk of which are in the Gospels and Acts). See the discussion of this phenomenon in "The Article, Part I."

13 Boyer knows of only 20 instances in the second predicate position ("Participles," 166, n. 4) and none in the first predicate position. But several of his examples should be explained otherwise (e.g., the participle in 1 Cor 8:12 is probably temporal; the one in 2 Cor 4:15, means), and he seems to have overlooked a few others.

14 Cf. also Matt 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9, 10; Luke 1:18, 42; 2:36; 18:40; Rom 15:16.

15 Robertson, Grammar, 1105.

16 There are, of course, certain substantival categories that are restricted to nouns. The substantival participle does not naturally fit into the adverbial use of nouns, for example, since the adverbial participle is at hand.

17 Boyer counts 1467 instances of the substantival participle ("Participles," 165, n. 3). It is far more frequent than the adjectival.

18 Williams, Grammar Notes, 50. Cf. also Robertson, Grammar, 1101-02.

19 This is not as common with the participles in other tenses. The reason seems to be that the present participle is well suited to a generic notion, lending itself to a gnomic tense use. The other tenses, however, are usually more specific in their application. For discussion, see Boyer, "Participles," 165-66.

20 Cf. N. Turner, Syntax, 151.

21 Cf. also Mark 5:15-16.

22 The aspectual force of the present ὁ πιστεύων seems to be in contrast with ὁ πιστεύσας . The aorist is used only eight times (plus two in the longer ending of Mark). The aorist is sometimes used to describe believers as such and thus has a generic force (cf. for the clearest example the v.l. at Mark 16:16; cf. also 2 Thess 1:10; Heb 4:3; perhaps John 7:39; also, negatively, of those who did not [ μή ] believe: 2 Thess 2:12; Jude 5). The present occurs six times as often (43 times), most often in soteriological contexts (cf. John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 18; 3:36; 6:35, 47, 64; 7:38; 11:25; 12:46; Acts 2:44; 10:43; 13:39; Rom 1:16; 3:22; 4:11, 24; 9:33; 10:4, 11; 1 Cor 1:21; 14:22 [bis]; Gal 3:22; Eph 1:19; 1 Thess 1:7; 2:10, 13; 1 Pet 2:6, 7; 1 John 5:1, 5, 10, 13). Thus, it seems that since the aorist participle was a live option to describe a "believer," it is unlikely that when the present was used, it was aspectually flat. The present was the tense of choice most likely because the NT writers by and large saw continual belief as a necessary condition of salvation. Along these lines, it seems significant that the promise of salvation is almost always given to ὁ πιστεύων (cf. several of the above-cited texts), almost never to ὁ πιστεύσας (apart from Mark 16:16, John 7:39 and Heb 4:3 come the closest [the present tense of πιστεύω never occurs in Hebrews]).

23 Broadly speaking, of course, all (verbal) dependent participles are adverbial.

24 The American Heritage Dictionary offers for its first two definitions of circumstantial: "1. Of, relating to, or dependent on circumstances; 2. Of no primary significance; incidental." Neither one of these definitions would be an apt description of this use of the participle. As well, labeling this participle circumstantial does not sufficiently distinguish it from attendant circumstance.

25 Dana-Mantey, 226.

26 There are, of course, drawbacks to calling this participle adverbial. On the one hand, it is too broad (unlike an adverb, the adverbial participle cannot modify an adjective or other adverb). On the other hand, it is too narrow (several other participles [such as attendant circumstance, indirect discourse, redundant] are also dependent on the verb and may in some sense be called adverbial).

27 Dana-Mantey, 226.

28 According to acCordance (with some adjustments made for mistaggings) there are 6674 participles in the NT. Of these, there are 4621 in the nominative case (69%), 957 accusative (14%), 743 genitive (11%), 353 dative (5%), and 1 vocative.

29 In reality, almost all subsequent participles fit some other category, especially purpose and result. Hence, before is not normally a viable translation.

30 Even if a participle is labeled as temporal, this does not necessarily mean that such is its only force. Often a secondary notion is present, such as means or cause. Thus, Heb 1:3, for example, should probably be rendered "when he made purification for sin, he sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high" ( καθαρισμὸν τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ποιησάμενος ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν ὑψηλοῖς ), even though ποιησάμενος is both temporal and causal. To sit down at God's right hand meant that the work was finished, and this could not take place until the sin-cleansing was accomplished.

31 Cf., e.g., Matt 13:37; 26:23; Mark 11:14; Luke 5:22; 7:22; 13:2; 19:40.

32 A few MSS, in fact, have the infinitive γνωρίσαι instead of γνωρίσας (so F G 1913).

33 Although it is certainly possible to translate this last text as "after hearing ... after believing you were sealed," both the grammatical possibility of contemporaneity and the overall context lead me to believe that the aorist participle is contemporaneous here. Contextually, the threefold praise to the Godhead is in the first two instances due to God's prior action (election, redemption). To be consistent, it should be this way for the third leg (in the least, sealing should not follow believing). Further, in the following context (2:1-10), this theme of God's saving grace is given greater articulation. The metaphor of death in that passage as the state from which the elect were delivered gives no confidence that conversion precedes regeneration.

34 A frequent exception to this is when the controlling verb is a historical present and the aorist participle is redundant. Cf. Mark 3:33; 5:7; 8:29; 9:5, 19; 10:24; 11:22, 33; 15:2; Luke 13:8; 17:37; John 21:19.

35 Robertson, Grammar, 1115.

36 For a more nuanced discussion, see the introduction to this chapter as well as the chapter on the perfect tense.

37 Most grammars and commentaries make either little distinction between these two or define manner in a way that is much closer to our definition of means. (Cf., e.g., Burton, Moods and Tenses, 172: "The participle expressing manner or means often denotes the same action as that of the principal verb, describing it from a different point of view.") However, there are usually clear semantic differences. What is at stake is for the most part a terminological issue, not a substantive one. When commentators speak of the "modal participle" (a term that fits both means and manner), it is best to regard most such identifications as participles of means.

38 The attitude, however, may be expressed by a participle of means-if it is an essential or defining characteristic of the main verb.

39 The participle of means gives the anticipated answer to the question How? while manner normally does not. Thus, to the question, "How did he go to the ballgame?" one could answer "by driving his car" (means) or "hoping for a victory" (manner).

40 But cf. Matt 6:27; 2 Pet 3:6.

41 Sometimes means blends imperceptibly into cause, especially with aorist participles. In such instances, the participle may be used for an action that is both antecedent and contemporaneous to the controlling verb. Cf., e.g., Eph 6:14: "stand, by having girded your loins with truth" ( στῆτε περιζωσάμενοι τὴν ὀσφὺν ὑμῶν ἐν ἀληθείᾳ ).

42 Some MSS, however, have the imperative ἐπιρίψατε for the participle (so Ì 25 0206vid 917 1874).

43 More accurately, "Allow yourselves to be humbled" (as a permissive passive). See chapter on "Moods: Passive Voice" for discussion.

44 Michaels, 1 Peter (WBC) 296.

45 The aorist also fits several other categories of usage, but the perfect adverbial participle almost always belongs here. The present causal participle may be conceived as broadly contemporaneous with the controlling verb, just as the customary present is broadly contemporaneous with present time. The NT knows of no future causal participles.

46 We have seen this form-following-function pattern to some degree with the participle of means. It is also true of the participles of result and purpose: These follow the controlling verb.

47 This is true even of perfects that are used as presents, such as οἶδα . Cf., e.g., Matt 12:25; 22:29; Mark 6:20; 12:24; Luke 8:53; 9:33; 11:17; John 4:45; 7:15; Acts 2:30; 16:34; Rom 5:3; 6:9; 13:11; 15:58; 2 Cor 1:7; 2:3; 4:14; 5:6, 11; Gal 2:16; Eph 3:17 (?); 6:8, 9; Phil 1:16, 25. This lends weight to taking the perfect participle πεφωτισμένους in Eph 1:18 as causal: "since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened."

But the perfect anarthrous participle often belongs to another category (especially periphrastic or predicate adjective), even though it may appear at first glance to be adverbial.

48 The perfect participle has several competing variants. Chief among them are ἐμβριμησάμενος in C* (K) X 892s 1241 1424 et pauci and ἐμβριμούμενος in a A V 296 429 1525 1933.

49 Thanks are due to Chai Kim for his work at Dallas Seminary in Advanced Greek Grammar, summer 1991, on the conditional participle.

50 Cf. Robertson, Grammar, 1129. Not only can this be established by sense, but also by Synoptic parallels to some degree. Note, for example, ἐὰν... κερδήσῃ in Matt 16:26 with κερδήσας in the parallel passage (Luke 9:25). (The problem with this illustration is that one could also show parallels in the Gospels between a first and third class condition, as in Matt 5:46-Luke 6:32.)

51 Instead of the participles, D* 047 have complementary infinitives ( κερδῆσαι , ἀπολέσαι ).

52 It is possible that this is the equivalent of a first class condition (so Robertson, Grammar, 1129).

53 See "The Article, Part II," for discussion of the Sharp construction.

54 See J. A. Sproule, " Παραπεσόντας in Hebrews 6:6," GTJ 2 (1981) 327-32.

55 Instead of ἰδόντες , Ì 72 a B C K L P 81 142 323 630 945 1241 1505 1739 2138 2464 Byz read εἰδότες .

56 Perhaps the largest issue of this text is the meaning of ἁρπαγμόν . Is it something to be grasped for or something to be retained? If the former, the idea would be that although Christ existed in God's form, he did not attempt to become equal to God. If the latter, the meaning would be that although Christ existed in God's form, he did not feel compelled to maintain his equality with God. Both views naturally fit with a concessive participle, though the relation of τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ to the μορφῇ θεοῦ hangs in the balance.

Appeal has been made to the article with the infinitive, as though it were anaphoric (so N. T. Wright, " ἁρπαγμός and the Meaning of Philippians 2:5-11," JTS, NS 37 [1986] 344). If so, then "form of God" means the same thing as "equality with God" and ἁρπαγμόν is something to be retained. But, as we have argued elsewhere (see chapters on the accusative and infinitive), the article more probably is used to indicate the object in an object-complement construction. The connection with "form of God" is thus left open. In light of the predominant usage of ἁρπαγμόν as something to be grasped for, I am inclined to see a difference between μορφῇ θεοῦ and τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ . This does not deny an affirmation of the deity of Christ in this text, just that such a notion is found in τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ . μορφῇ θεοῦ carries that weight by itself (inter alia, there is the contextual argument: If one denies that Christ was truly God, one must also deny that he was truly a servant [note μορφὴν δούλου in v 7]). What, then, is the meaning of the infinitive phrase? It seems to suggest hierarchy, not ontology.

Putting the interpretation of all the elements together yields the following. Although Christ was truly God ( μορφῇ θεοῦ ), two things resulted: (1) he did not attempt to "outrank" the Father, as it were (cf. John 14:28 for a similar thought: "The Father is greater than I am"); (2) instead, he submitted himself to the Father's will, even to the point of death on a cross. It was thus not Christ's deity that compelled his incarnation and passion, but his obedience.

57 There are only twelve future participles in the NT. Five are adverbial, all of which are telic in force. Cf. Matt 27:49; Acts 8:27; 22:5; 24:11, 17. The other seven are substantival (cf. Luke 22:49; John 6:64; Acts 20:22; 1 Cor 15:37; Heb 3:5; 13:17; 1 Pet 3:13).

58 The aorist participle can, on a rare occasion, have a telic force in Hellenistic Greek, because the future participle was not normally a viable choice in the conversational and vulgar dialect (so A. T. Robertson, "The Aorist Participle for Purpose in the Κοινή ," JTS 25 [1924] 286-89). Cf. Acts 25:13 (v.l. is a future participle, as would be expected).

59 1 Cor 4:14 is an unusual exception.

60 Almost every instance of an adverbial πειράζων in the present tense in the NT that follows the controlling verb suggests purpose (cf. Matt 16:1; 19:3; 22:35; Mark 1:13; 8:11; 10:2; Luke 4:2; 11:16; John 6:6 [8:6, though this text is spurious]). Hebrews 11:17 is the lone exception (temporal); Jas 1:13 has the participle before the verb. Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2 might also be exceptions (he was in "the wilderness for forty days, being tested by the devil"), but the relation of the testing in the wilderness to the leading of the Spirit seems to suggest that these, too, should be taken as telic. (Luke 4:1 makes sense if taken this way: "he was led by the Spirit (2) for forty days for the purpose of being tested." Note also Matt 4:1, where the simple infinitive of πειράζω is used to describe the Spirit's activity: ἀνήχθη εἰς τὴν ἔρημον ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος πειρασθῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου ).

61 The participle ποιήσας is conditional ("I shall inherit eternal life if I do what?"), but we have translated it like a hortatory/deliberative subjunctive for smoothness.

62 Thanks are due to Brian Ortner for his work in Advanced Greek Grammar (Dallas Seminary, spring 1994) on this topic.

63 Although most grammars do not include this as a separate category (contra Young, Intermediate Greek, who calls it "rather rare" and a "debated category" [157]), such is not due to linguistic principle. The result participle is usually mixed in with the attendant circumstance participle, following Burton's lead (Moods and Tenses, 173-74 [§449-51]). But that is looking at the matter purely from an English viewpoint. The two should be distinguished because of structural and semantic differences. See discussion under "Attendant Circumstance."

64 Regardless of what one thinks about the authorship of Ephesians-whether by Paul or a disciple of his-its theology may justifiably be labeled as "Pauline."

65 One of the remarkable currents of NT theology is a studied reserve on the method of sanctification. That is, the biblical authors speak positively about the ministry of the Spirit but typically refrain from telling how that ministry is to be implemented into the believer's life. Most likely, their theology is rooted in Jer 31:31, 34 (NRSV): "I will make a new covenant... . No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, `Know the LORD,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD." This new covenant mentality of what might be labeled a "soft mysticism" is prevalent in the NT.

66 Thanks are due to Clay Porr and Jeff Baldwin for their work in Advanced Greek Grammar at Dallas Seminary (spring 1990 and spring 1991, respectively) on the topic of the attendant circumstance participle.

67 The NIV is notorious for translating many participles as though they were attendant circumstance. This is undoubtedly due more to modern conversational English (on which level the NIV belongs) than to the translators' understanding of the Greek text.

68 Occasionally a particle is used to show the urgency of the whole construction (as in Luke 17:7: εὐθέως παρελθὼν ἀνάπεσε ["Come in right now and sit down (to eat)"]).

69 The historical present, however, does occur from time to time. See discussion and texts in note at Matt 9:18 below.

70 Although the subjunctive does sometimes occur, especially the hortatory subjunctive. (See discussion and examples at Heb 12:1.)

71 Some of the features are more central than others. Specifically, (1) all or almost all attendant circumstance participles are aorist; (2) almost all attendant circumstance participles come before the verb; (3) most aorist participle + aorist indicative constructions are adverbial, though many are attendant circumstance; (4) in narrative literature, in almost all of the aorist participle + aorist imperative constructions, the participle is attendant circumstance (but see Luke 22:32).

These first two features, of course, do not necessitate that a participle be attendant circumstance. But the fourth feature is stated to mean just this. In the least, since virtually all aorist participle + aorist imperative constructions involve attendant circumstance participles, this casts the most serious doubt on translations of πορευθέντες in Matt 28:19 as "having gone," or worse, "as you are going."

72 If an author wished to make both commands truly coordinate, he would normally join two imperatives with καί . This occurs 179 times in the NT.

73 Cf., e.g., Matt 15:12; Mark 5:40; 8:1; 10:1; 14:67; Luke 11:26; 14:32. This fact tends to support the view that the aspect collapses in historical presents.

74 καθίσας ταχέως is omitted in D.

75 For other examples of an attendant circumstance participle attached to a subjunctive, cf. Matt 2:8; 4:9; 13:28; 27:64; Mark 5:23; 6:37; 16:1; Luke 7:3. My colleague, Elliott Greene, is to be thanked for supplying these examples.

76 Although temporal might do this justice ("after laying aside every burden ... let us run"), since the participle introduces a new action into the discourse it is best taken as attendant circumstance.

77 Cf. Matt 2:8; 9:13; 11:4; 17:27; 21:6; 22:15; 25:16; 26:14; 27:66; 28:7.

78 For further information on the use of πορευθέντες here, cf. Cleon Rogers, "The Great Commission," BSac 130 (1973) 258-62.

79 Robertson, Grammar, 1123. Cf. also Williams, Grammar Notes, 57.

80 Robertson, Grammar, 1122.

81 In classical Greek an ingressive notion with ἄρχομαι + participle occurs. This idiom is not found in the NT.

82 Boyer ("Participles," 172) counts 153 present participles, 115 perfect participles, and possibly two aorist participles ("very doubtful") in the construction (in Luke 23:19 and 2 Cor 5:19).

83 Another issue related to the semantics has to do with distinguishing this participial use with the predicate adjective participle. This is particularly problematic with perfect passive participles (in which the simple adjectival idea seems more pronounced than with other participles). See Boyer, "Participles," 167-68, 172-73, for discussion of principles. Essentially he argues that context helps, in particular when the participle is thrown in with adjectives.

84 There are two examples in the accusative case and 28 instances in which it precedes the verb, according to Boyer, "Participles," 172.

85 Dana-Mantey, 231.

86 Jas 1:17 means either "every perfect gift is from above, coming down ..." or "every perfect gift from above is coming down" ( πᾶν δώρημα τέλειον ἄνωθέν ἐστιν καταβαῖνον ), the latter treating the participle as periphrastic.

87 Fanning (Verbal Aspect, 317-18) lists eleven legitimate future periphrastics (which use the future indicative of εἰμί and a present participle), one being a v.l. found in codex D (see references above). All of these have an internal aspect, but such is not due to the future per se, but to their combination with the present participles.

88 For πίπτοντες a few MSS read πεσοῦνται (so W Λ c 213 565 700).

89 See discussion of this text in the chapter on the perfect.

90 Especially (passive) pluperfect periphrastics can be confused with predicate adjective participles (e.g., Rev 17:4). Some of these examples might better fit the adjectival category.

91 Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 127.

92 Robertson, Grammar, 1134.

93 Although the only Greek witnesses to lack any verb are Ì 46 and B, the internal reasons are compelling for the omission.

94 Apparently the reason for no conjunction is that 5:22-6:9 does not advance the argument of the book, but is in fact a parenthesis to it. Without elaborating here, the argument of Ephesians appears to be framed by a chiasmus, focusing on chapter 2 and developing out from there. One implicit question deriving from 2:11-22 (the doctrinal heart of the book) remains to be answered: If there is now spiritual equality between Jew and Gentile in the body of Christ, are all social hierarchies eradicated? 5:22-6:9 answers that question with a resounding "No."

95 Barth, Ephesians (AB) 2.427.

96 Ibid., 428.

97 BDF, 245; Robertson, Grammar, 946.

98 Moule, Idiom Book, 105.

99 Cf. Smyth, Greek Grammar, 478, for more help on the imperatival participle.

100 GKC, 357-60.

101 Rosenthal, A Grammar of Biblical Aramaic, 55.

102 Smyth, Greek Grammar, 477.

103 Instead of the participle, a few MSS have the imperfect indicative εἶχεν (so a * 172 424 2018 2019 2344 et plu).

104 Brooks and Winbery, 138 (italics in original).

105 Zerwick, Biblical Greek, 9.

106 In light of this, it is somewhat puzzling to see grammarians such as Robertson (Grammar, 1130) and Funk (Beginning-Intermediate Grammar, 2:675) subsume this participle under the circumstantial participle, even though they recognize that it is never circumstantial!

107 Cf. Henry Anselm Scomp, "The Case Absolute in the New Testament," BSac (January 1902) 76-84; (April 1902) 325-40.

108 "All the varieties of the circumstantial participle can appear in the absolute participle" (Robertson, Grammar, 1130).

Related Topics: Grammar