Matt 28:19 Particples & Imperatives

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Jan 6 22:45:08 EST 1999


Seems to me we've dealt with this not too long ago; nevertheless I think
the answer to this one is fairly clear-cut. No doubt I'll be proved wrong
very quickly!

At 1:22 PM +1000 1/7/99, Tim Duke wrote:
>I have a question about the translation of matt 28:19, relating to the
>relative strength/focus of the participle as opposed to the imperative:
>
>"POREUQENTES OUN MAQHTEUSATE PANTA TA EQNH "
>
>I am wondering whether this should be translated:
>1) "Go {to all nations} and make disciples of all nations..."
>or
>2) "As you go (ie to all nations, implying that they were already
>planning to go there anyway), make disciples of all nations..."
>or
>3) "As you go (ie where-ever you may go, whatever you may be doing),
>make disciples.."
>or
>4) something else!

I think only #1 is to be considered here; it's standard usage to indicate
prior action in a sequence of actions by putting that prior action into an
aorist participle. I think that's true here too, even if MAQHTEUSATE does
happen to be an aorist imperative: it is the accomplishment of the
"discipling" of all Gentiles that is bidden by the aorist imperative.
Moreover, I think that "as you go" would require a PRESENT participle. The
point of the sequence is, I think: don't wait for the Gentiles to come to
Zion but go out to them, and when you get to them, make them disciples.

>Can the range of meaning of POREUQENTES extend to "as you go about your
>business" ie with nothing particular in mind (leaving TA EQNH as only an
>object of MAQHTEUSATE); or is it more likely in this instance to be a
>particular command which also takes TA EQNH as a kind of implied object?

I don't see any way to consider TA EQNH as an object of POREUQENTES: it is
an intransitive verb; you'd need a preposition (PROS, PARA, or the like)
with it to mean "go TO the Gentiles." Nevertheless, I think the sequence
clearly does imply that the commission involves going to where TA EQNH are:
cf. Mt 24:14 KAI KHRUCQHSETAI TOUTO TO EUAGGELION THS BASILEIAS EN hOLHi
THi OIKOUMENHi EIS MARTURION PASIN TOIS EQNESIN ...

>If you have a series of imperatives, wouldn't it be natural to phrase
>one of them as a participle (tending towards 1), especially if the focus
>is on the one particular command?  Does the participle in this case
>simply indicate a prior imperative which is a necessary precursor to the
>main imperative?  Isn't it splitting hairs to insist that there is no
>command "to go" since this is a participle?

Yes.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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