[B-Greek] Future Perfect

John Sanders john.franklin.sanders at gmail.com
Tue Nov 11 09:41:18 EST 2008

If I may answer Ken Litwak's question,

According to Smyth, section 584, page 180 and deducing from the data
presented, the future perfect is constructed in general by adding the future
phoneme, -σ, (-S) plus the primary endings to the perfect stem.  Since, in
general, the perfect stem ends in –κ, (-K), then the future perfect phoneme
will be –ξ (-X or Xi) plus the primary endings.

Smyth gives two examples:

εστηξω (hESTHXW), from  εστηκα (hESTHKA),  from   ιστημι  (hISTHMI)

τεθνηξω (TEQNHXW), from  τεθνηκα (TEQNHKA), from   θνησκω (QNHSKW)

John Sanders

Suzhou, China

Ken erwthse


Black's beginning grammar lists the Future Perfect as a verb tense.

In looking into this, I found a web site that said the Future Perfect is

always formed in the NT by a periphrastic though it did not say

what that was. I'd guess future of EIMI + perfect participle.

However, Smyth, according to the search engine on Perseus,

mentions this tense just once, giving a single form of it.

I couldn't find a discussion of it in Smyth online otherwise.

So I'm uncertain. Is the Future Perfect a tense with its own forms

that I should at least mention to beginning students, or is it in the

NT only a periphrastic and therefore should be ignored because

it is an intermediate topic?  When did the actual tense get basically

replaced by the periphrastic construction?

Ken Litwak


The future perfect is very marginal and can be covered by

ESOMAI + perfect participle (MEOTXH PARAKEIMENH).

 there is a "real one" in Hebrews 8:11,

EIDHSOYSIN (Ionic-->Koine?).

The "normal" form was EISONTAI. Philo uses this latter

quite a bit.

and when they occur they are usually verbs that like to have

the 'present' (you do believe in the present tense?) with the

PARAKEIMENOS perfect like

EIDENAI -> EISESQAI '(in order) to know',

MEMNHSQAI -> MEMNHSESQAI '(in order) to remember'

The only one that we give our students in the SXOLH

(we now have "J-terms", too, Jan 09--shameless plug)



EISONTAI  "I ... will know". It might be considered "Attic" but

it is also literary Koine. [[It is a good one to know since the

other form EIDHSW is self evident in reading, while

EISOMAI could easily be mixed up with OISW 'I will bring'

or EISIW "I would be entering" or

Homeric EISOMAI "I will enter".]]

Slightly more common are

a few frozen perfect subjunctives without using the 'be' verb.

However, it has exegetical significance in places like Matt 16:19

and 18:18. Where the question hinges on a

differential reading of the Greek possibilities.

ESTAI LELYMENA 'will be loosed' or 'will be having-been-loosed'?

The simple reading could have been accomplished by

LYQHSETAI 'will be loosed'.

So some would argue that the participle must be intended to

be fully explained EXHGHMENH 'exegeted', since the simple

future passive was not used.

However, some have noticed that

LELYMENON and DEDEMENON correspond to technical terms

in Hebrew ???? mutar and ???? asur. Having the status of

technical terms would explain why the compound structure

would be used: it would preserve the technical term as distinct.

As a Hebrew speaker, I can't read 16:19 and 18:18 above without

hearing the tech term. I am pretty sure that that is Matthew's

intention. Certainly Jesus', since he took the idiom for granted

and did not add explanation.




More information about the B-Greek mailing list