Aorist vs Present

George Blaisdell maqhth at hotmail.com
Mon Sep 10 15:27:01 EDT 2001



George Blaisdell
Roslyn, WA

"Be not troubling of you the heart..."

>From: Kimmo Huovila
>Some off-the-cuff answers:

I had deleted Mark's post, wanting to respond, so I apologize for 
piggy-backing my way back onto the thread through you, Kimmo - My response 
will be equally off the cuff!

>Mark Wilson wrote:

> > Concerning Paul's use of the Present and Aorist, I would
> > like to ask for help in understanding how others understand
> > his use of a particular verb, primarily its Aspectual nature.

> > In Romans 12:1, we have the Aorist PARASTHSAI...

> > PARAKALW OUN hUMAS ADELFOI DIA TWN OIKTIRMWN TOU QEOU PARASTHSAI
> > TA SWMATA hUMWN QUSIA ZWSAN...

This would seem to be something that one does, and having done so, it 
remains in effect until revolked.  Much like a gift that is given, the 
infinitive PARASTHSAI is a decisional matter that is done once - It is 
consciously given, and remains given unless taken back.

> > Elsewhere in Romans, the Present tense is used, as in:

> > Romans 6:13

> > MHDE PARISTANETE TA MELH hUMWN...

The good part of this line for your issue is the following aorist imperative 
of the same verb, giving you a clear aspectual comparison:

ALLA PARASTHSATE hEAUTOUS TWi QEWi [6:13]

The first says "Do not be yielding your members..."

The second "...but yield yourselves to God..."

Aspectually, the present tense imperative has the force here of saying "Do 
not be allowing [some activity] to be happenning."  It carries the implicit 
message of an instruction to stop that activity should it begin.  This is a 
feature of the "ongoingness" aspect that was well understood then, but which 
we easily lose in English.

The aorist is the action taken as a whole, including the beginning, the 
ongoingness, and the end of it, seen as a single unit of thought.  It is the 
whole of the action, so that when the text translates "...but yield 
yourselves to God..." we could over-translate it by saying "...completely 
[whole-ly] yield yourselves to God..."

[The first references our ongoing struggles with sin, whereas the second 
references God's grace in those struggles, imho...]

> > 6:16

> > OUK OIDATE hOTI Wi PARISTANETE hEAUTOUS DOULOUS...

"Are you not understanding that to whom you are yielding yourselves [as] a 
slave unto obedience, a slave you are to whom you are obeying?"

With the idea that every time you slip into sin[s], you become a slave of 
un-righteousness - This from the present tenses being used.  And the present 
tense clearly references the ongoingness of the struggle, you see...

> > My question is trying to zero in on the Aspect of
> > the Present tense compared to the Aspect of the Aorist with
> > this verb in particular, since they both are being used
> > in the same letter.

You picked a good place to look!!

> > I am somewhat skeptical of the gloss "keep on..." for the
> > Present Aspect, especially because I would certainly think that
> > we ought to "keep on presenting our bodies a living sacrifice."

I would say that the Greek indicates that we need to present again our 
bodies as a living sacrifice whenever we fall away from having done so, but 
that the having done so is the permanent state of affairs proper to a 
Christian, and is not an ongoing activity, as is the war within our 
members...

>Hope this helps,

Mine too!  Again, sorry for piggy-backing on your response...

>Kimmo Huovila

George Blaisdell



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