[B-Greek] Eph 4:22: time of "being corrupted"

Harold Holmyard hholmyard3 at earthlink.net
Thu May 8 16:20:51 EDT 2008


Dear Carl,

Almost every English translation in Eph 4:22 takes TON FQEIROMENON as 
something like "which is being corrupted." However, my understanding is 
that the temporal force of a participle is governed by the time of the 
main verb. Here is an online statement of that principle from a website 
teaching NT Greek:
http://www.ntgreek.net/lesson31.htm

To the extent that the tense of a participle indicates time, it will 
indicate time only relative to the main verb. Present tense participles 
usually indicate action coincident with the time of the main verb.

The main verb of the clause in which TON FQEIROMENON occurs is 
understood by most to be EDIDACQHTE in v. 21. This aorist verb refers 
back to the time the Ephesians learned Christ (v. 20), that is, to the 
time they were saved. So it refers to a past event. Is there any reason 
why it would not be possible to translate the participle as "which was 
being corrupted"? I will transcribe the passage from verse 20 through 23:

hUMEIS DE OUC hOUTWS EMAQETE TON CRISTON, EI GE AUTON HKOUSATE KAI EN 
AUTWi EDIDACQHTE, KAQWS ESTIN ALHQEIA EN TWi INSOU, APOQESQAI hUMAS KATA 
THN PROTERAN ANASTROFHN TON PALAION ANQRWPON TON FQEIROMENON KATA TAS 
EPIQUMIAS THS APATHS, ANANEOUSQAI DE TWi PNEUMATI TOU NOOS hUMWN

But you did not thus learn Christ, if indeed you heard about him and in 
him were taught, just as truth is in Jesus, that you should put off, 
according to the former conduct, the old man which was being corrupted 
according to the lusts of deceit, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

If it is possible, is there any grammatical reason why the present would 
be preferable, or even justified?

The infinitive APOQESQAI (to put off) is an aorist imperative (in 
contrast with a subsequent present infinitive ANANEOUSQAI [to be 
renewed]). Most interpreters take this contrast to suggest a 
once-and-for-all commitment to put off the old man that is undertaken 
when one is saved.

If putting off the old man was a once-for-all commitment with ongoing 
implications made in the past, couldn't it be appropriate to think of 
the old man's corruption as something that was happening back then?

Yours,
Harold Holmyard  





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