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THE PRESENT INDICATIVE

8.THE PROGRESSIVE PRESENT.The Present Indicative is used of action in progress in present time. HA. 824; G. 1250, 1.

Matt. 25:8; ai` lampa,dej h`mw/n sbe,nnuntai, our lamps are going out.

Gal. 1:6; Qauma,zw o[ti ou[twj tace,wj metati,qesqe avpo. tou/ kale,santoj u`ma/j, I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you.

9. The most constant characteristic of the Present Indicative is that it denotes action in progress. It probably had originally no reference to present time (see Br. 156). But since, in the historical periods of the language, action in progress in past time is expressed by the Imperfect, and the Future is used both as a progressive and as an aoristic tense for future time, it results that the Present Indicative is chiefly used to express action in progress in present time. Hence in deciding upon the significance of any given instance of the Present Indicative in the New Testament as well as in classical Greek, the interpreter may consider that there is, at least in the majority of words, a certain presumption in favor of the Progressive Present rather than any of the other uses mentioned below.

10. The Progressive Present in Greek is not always best translated by what is commonly called in English the "Progressive Form." Some English verbs themselves suggest action in progress, and do not, except when there is strong emphasis on the progressive idea, use the progressive form. Thus the verb qauma,zw, in Gal. 1:6, is a Progressive Present, but is best translated I marvel, the verb itself sufficiently suggesting the idea of action in progress.

11. THE CONATIVE PRESENT. The Present Indicative is occasionally used of action attempted, but not accomplished. HA. 825; G. 1255. This use is, however, not to be regarded as a distinct function of the tense. The Conative Present is merely a species of the Progressive Present. A verb which of itself suggests effort, when used in a tense which implies action in progress, and hence incomplete, naturally suggests the idea of attempt. All the verb-forms of the Present system are equally, with the Present, capable of expressing attempted action, since they all denote action in progress. John 10:32, liqa,zete, and Gal. 5:4, dikaiou/sqe, illustrate this usage in the Present. Similar is the use of the Present in Rom. 2:4, a;gei, leadeth, i.e. such is its tendency.

For examples of the Imperfect see 23. Respecting the resultative force of such verbs in the Aorist see 42.

12. THE GENERAL OR GNOMIC PRESENT. The Present Indicative is used to express customary actions and general truths. HA. 824, a; G. 1253, 1291.

Matt. 7:17; ou[twj pa/n de,ndron avgaqo.n karpou.j kalou.j poiei/( to. de. sapro.n de,ndron karpou.j ponhrou.j poiei/, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.

2 Cor. 9:7; e[kastoj kaqw.j proh,|rhtai th/| kardi,a|( mh. evk lu,phj h' evx avna,gkhj\ i`laro.n ga.r do,thn avgapa/| o` qeo,j, for God loveth a cheerful giver.

13. THE AORISTIC PRESENT. The Present Indicative is sometimes used of an action or event coincident in time with the act of speaking, and conceived of as a simple event. Most frequently the action denoted by the verb is identical with the act of speaking itself, or takes place in that act.
Acts 16:18; paragge,llw soi evn ovno,mati VIhsou/ Cristou/, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ. See also Mark 2:5, avfi,entai; Acts 9:34, iva/tai; 26:1, evpitre,petai; Gal. 1:11, gnwri,zw and the numerous instances of le,gw in the gospels.
REM. This usage is a distinct departure from the prevailing use of the Present tense to denote action in progress (cf. 9). There being in the Indicative no tense which represents an event as a simple fact without at the same time assigning it either to the past or the future, the Present is used for those instances (rare as compared with the cases of the Progressive Present), in which an action of present time is conceived of without reference to its progress.

14. THE HISTORICAL PRESENT. The Present Indicative is used to describe vividly a past event in the presence of which the speaker conceives himself to be. HA. 828; G. 1252.

Mark 11:27; Kai. e;rcontai pa,lin eivj Ieroso,luma, and they come again to Jerusalem. See also Luke 8:49, e;rcetai; John 18:28, a;gousin. This use is very frequent in the gospels.
15. THE PRESENT FOR THE FUTURE . In a similar way the Present Indicative may be used to describe vividly a future event.
Mark 9:31; o` ui`o.j tou/ avnqrw,pou paradi,dotai eivj cei/raj avnqrw,pwn, the Son of man is delivered into the hands of men. See also Matt. 28:18, 7, poiw/; 27:63, evgei,romai; Luke 3:9, evkko,ptetai.
REM. The term "Present for Future" is sometimes objected to, but, without good reason. The arguments of Buttmann, pp. 203f., and Winer, WT. pp. 265 ff.; WM. pp. 331 ff., are valid only against the theory of an arbitrary interchange of tenses. It is indeed not to be supposed that Greek writers confused the Present and the Future tenses, or used them indiscriminately. But that the form which customarily denoted an act in progress at the time of speaking was sometimes, for the sake of vividness, used with reference to a fact still in the future, is recognized by all grammarians. See, e.g., J. 397; K. 382, 5; G.MT. 32. The whole force of the idiom is derived from the unusualness of the tense employed.

16. The Present form h[kw means I have come (John 2:4; 4:47; etc.). Similarly pa,reimi (I am present) sometimes means I have arrived (Acts 17:6; etc.). This, however, is not a Present for the Perfect of the same verb, but a Present equivalent to the Perfect of another verb. The use of avkou,w meaning I am informed (cf. similar use of English hear, see, learn) is more nearly a proper Present for Perfect (1 Cor. 11:18; 2 Thess. 3:11). Such use of the Present belongs to a very few verbs. HA. 827; G. 1256.

17. THE PRESENT OF PAST ACTION STILL IN PROGRESS. The Present Indicative, accompanied by an adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time, is sometimes used in Greek, as in German, to describe an action which, beginning in past time, is still in progress at the time of speaking. English idiom requires the use of the Perfect in such cases. HA. 826; G. 1258.

Acts 15:21; Mwu?sh/j ga.r evk genew/n avrcai,wn kata. po,lin tou.j khru,ssontaj auvto.n, for Moses from generations of old has had in every city them that preached him. See also Luke 13:7, e;rcomai, 15:29, douleu,w, John 5:6, e;cei; 2 Tim. 3:15, oi=daj. This Present is almost always incorrectly rendered in R.V.
REM. Cf. Br. 156, "Das Prasens in Verbindung mit pa,roj, pa,lai, pote, wurde seit Homer gebraucht, um eine Handlung auszudrucken, die sich durch die Vergangenheit bis zur Zeit des Sprechens hinzieht." In the New Testament examples definite expressions of past time occur in place of the adverbs pa,roj, etc.

18. The Aorist Indicative, limited by an expression meaning up to this time, may also be used of acts beginning in past time and continuing to the time of speaking. Matt. 27:8; 28:15. Cf. 46, and 52.

19. Verbs in indirect discourse retain the point of view, as respects time, of the original statement; a Progressive Present in indirect discourse accordingly denotes action going on at the time, not of the quotation of the words, but of the original utterance of them. English usage in indirect discourse is different, and from this difference it results that a Greek Present Indicative standing in indirect discourse after a verb of past time must often be rendered by a verb of past time.

These cases, however, involve no special use of the Greek tense, and should not be confused with those of the Historical Present. Cf. 351-356.

20. PERIPHRASTIC FORM OF THE PRESENT. One of the clearly marked peculiarities of the Greek of the New Testament is the frequency with which periphrastic forms composed of a Present or Perfect Participle (Luke 23:19 is quite exceptional in its use of the Aorist Participle; cf. Ev. Pet. 23), and the Present, Imperfect, or Future Indicative, or the Present Subjunctive, Imperative, Infinitive, and even participle, of the verb eivmi, (rarely also u`pa,rcw), are used instead of the usual simple forms. Cf. 431, and see the full discussion with examples in B. pp. 308-313, and the list (not quite complete) in S. pp. 131ff.

Instances of the periphrastic Present Indicative are, however, few. The clear instances belong under the head of the General Present.

Matt. 27:33; eivj to,pon lego,menon Golgoqa/( o[ evstin Krani,ou To,poj lego,menoj, unto a place called Golgotha, which is called Place of a Skull. See also Matt. 1:23; Mark 5:41; 2 Cor. 2:17; 9:12.


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