Mt 3:2, 4:17

Steven Craig Miller scmiller at
Mon Nov 29 08:16:36 EST 1999

To: David A Bielby,

<< In my further study of Matthew 4:17 some questions are coming up. I'm 
wondering what the force of the Perfect tense in the word HNGIKE in Mt 3:2, 
4:17 is, and how that impacts the rest of the sentence?  Why wouldn't 
Matthew use the Aorist here? What are the implications of the Perfect 
Active Indicative syntactically?   It seems to me that Jesus may be saying 
here that the kingdom has fully come near...or completely arrived.  Is this 
a correct reading?  Maybe He's saying: Because the kingdom of heaven is 
'right here in full measure or presence you must repent. >>

Normally the verb EGGIZW means "come near" and not "arrive." And putting 
this verb in the Perfect tense doesn't make it mean more the latter. And 
so, the NRSV translates HGGIKEN as "has come near" (at Mk 1:15; Mt 3:2; 4:17).

On the other hand, C. H. Dodd has argued, in his "The Parables of the 
Kingdom" (1935, 1936), that in the LXX the Greek verb EGGNIZW is sometimes 
used to translate a Hebrew verb which means "arrive." And so Dodd suggests 
that  HGGIKEN (at Mk 1:15; Mt 3:2; 4:17) could be translated as "has come."

Commenting on HGGIKEN at Mk 1:15, Burist M. Fanning, in his "Verbal Aspect 
in New Testament Greek" (1990), writes:

<< The latter perfect here [i.e., HGGIKEN and not PEPLHRWTAI] seems to mean 
'has drawn near' or 'is at hand,' rather than 'has arrived,' but such a 
difference is more lexical than aspectual >> (284n219).

As an aside, one might note that according to the Two-Source hypothesis, Mt 
4:17 derives from Mk 1:15; and Mt 3:2 appears to have been Matthew's 
attempt to make the preaching of John the Baptist parallel with Jesus' 

-Steven Craig Miller
Alton, Illinois (USA)
scmiller at

"O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this" 
(Shakespare, "Much Ado About Nothing", 4.2.60-61).

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