Imperative Mood: Present vs. Aorist

Jim West jwest at Highland.Net
Fri Oct 23 11:42:22 EDT 1998

At 03:20 PM 10/23/98 +0000, you wrote:
>A friend put this to me: It seems to me that the present and aorist 
>imperatives in some cases are used interchangeably. Where I would expect a 
>single aorist I find a present, and visa versa. For example, in Matthew 
>5:24 why aren't "leave" your gift and "go" both aorists? Or, in Matthew 8:4 
>"go" and "show": "go" is present and "show" is aorist. Still further, in 
>Matthew 16:24 "deny" is aorist (I would expect a present), "take up" is 
>aorist followed by daily (making me expect it to be present, and "follow 
>me" is a present, which I expected. Also, in Ephesians 5:18 "Be not drunk 
>with wine but be filled with the Spirit", both verbs are present imperative 
>past. Any insights?

There is a very good discussion of the aorist imperative and the present
imperative in the Moulton/Turner Grammar- Vol 3, p. 74ff.

The conclusion of the opening paragraph is quite insightful- and I totally
agree with it-

"The problem of the Aktionsarten of the tenses is by no means solved as yet
for the NT, and possibly John gives a clue when he seems to vary the tense
according to the verb he is using".  (p. 75).

Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology
jwest at

de mortuis nihil nisi bonum

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