[BACK]
74 75 76 77 78
79 80 81 82 83
84 85 86 87 88

THE PERFECT INDICATIVE.

74. The Perfect of Completed Action. In its most frequent use the Perfect Indicative represents an action as standing at the time of speaking complete. The reference of the tense is thus double; it implies a past action and affirms an existing result. HA. 847; G. 1250, 3.

Acts 5:28; peplhrw,kate th.n VIerousalh.m th/j didach/j u`mw/n, ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.

Romans 5:5; o[ti h` avga,ph tou/ qeou/ evkke,cutai evn tai/j kardi,aij h`mw/n, because the love of God has been poured forth in our hearts.

2 Tim. 4:7; to.n kalo.n avgw/na hvgw,nismai( to.n dro,mon tete,leka( th.n pi,stin teth,rhka, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

REM. On the use of the term complete as a grammatical term, see 85.  On the distinction between the Perfect and the Aorist, see 86.

75. The Perfect of Existing State. The Perfect is sometimes used when the attention is directed wholly to the present resulting state, the past action of which it is the result being left out of thought. This usage occurs most frequently in a few verbs which use the Perfect in this sense only. HA. 849; G. 1263.

Matt. 27:43; pe,poiqen evpi. to.n qeo,n, he trusteth on God.

1 Cor. 11:2; evpainw/ de. u`ma/j o[ti pa,nta mou me,mnhsqe, now I prase you that ye remember me in all things.

Luke 24:46; ou[twj ge,graptai, thus it is written, i.e. stands written. See also Rev. 19:13.

76. There is no sharp line of distinction between the Perfect of Completed Action and the Perfect of Existing State. To the latter head are to be assigned those instances in which the past act is practically dropped from thought, and the attention turned wholly to the existing result; while under the former head are to be placed those instances in which it is evident that the writer had in mind both the past act and the present result.

77. THE INTENSIVE PERFECT. The Perfect is sometimes used in classical Greek as an emphatic or intensive Present. It is possible that under this head should be placed certain Perfects of the New Testament more commonly assigned to one of the preceding uses. Thus pe,poiqa practically expresses the thought of pei,qomai intensified. Pepi,steuka is also clearly a stronger way of saying pisteu,w. John 6: 69; pepisteu,kamen kai. evgnw,kamen o[ti su. ei= o` a[gioj tou/ qeou/, we have believed and know that thom art the Holy One of God. See also 2 Cor. 1:10. Whether this usage is in the New Testament a survival of the ancient intensive use of the Perfect, regarded by some grammarians as an original function of the tense (Del. IV. 94 ff., Br. 162), or a later development from the Perfect of completed action, affirming the present existence of the result of a past act, need not, for the purpose of the interpreter, be decided.

78. Of the Historical Perfect in the sense of a Perfect which expresses a past completed action, the result of which the speaker conceives himself to be witnessing (as in the case of the Historical Present he conceives himself to be witnessing the action itself), there is no certain New Testament instance. Possible instances are Matt. 13:46; Luke 9:36; 2 Cor. 12:17; Jas. 1:24. Cf. Br. 162. This idiom is perhaps rather rhetorical than strictly grammatical.

Ke,kragen in John 1:15 is a Perfect expressing a past fact vividly conceived of as if present to the speaker. But since the Perfect of the verb had already in classical Greek come to be recognized as functionally a Present, it is from the point of view of the current usage a Historical Present rather than a Historical Perfect. Cf. L. and S. s.v.

79. The Perfect in 1 Cor. 7:39, de,detai, and in 1 John 2:6, tetelei,wtai, is probably Gnomic, referring to a state that is wont to exist. If in Jas. 1:24 is Gnomic, it is with nearly the force of a Gnomic Present or Aorist. G.MT. 164, 166.

80. THE AORISTIC PERFECT. The Perfect Indicative is sometimes used in the New Testament of a simple past fact where it is scarcely possible to suppose that the thought of existing result was in the writer's mind. See more fully under 88.

2 Cor. 2:13; ouvk e;schka a;nesin tw/| pneu,mati, mou tw/| mh. eu`rei/n me Ti,ton, I had no relief for my spirit because I found not Titus.

Rev. 8:5; kai. ei;lhfen o` a;ggeloj to.n libanwto.n kai. evge,misen auvto.n, the angel took the censer, and filled it. See also Matt. 25:6; 2 Cor. 1:9; 7:5; 11:25; Heb. 11:28; Rev. 7:14; 19:3.

81. The Perfect Indicative in indirect discourse after a verb of past time is regularly rendered into English by a Pluperfect. This involves, however, no special use of the tense, but results from the regular difference between English and Greek in the matter of indirect discourse. Cf. 353.

82. When the Perfect Indicative is used of a past event which is by reason of the context necessarily thought of as separated from the moment of speaking by an interval, it is impossible to render it into English adequately. English idiom forbids the use of the Perfect because of the interval (present in thought as well as existing in fact) between the act and the time of speaking, while the English Past tense fails to express the idea of existing result which the Greek Perfect conveys. In most of these cases R.V. has attempted to preserve the sense of the Greek at the expense of the English idiom.

Acts 7:35; Tou/ton to.n Mwu?sh/n( o]n hvrnh,santo eivpo,ntej( Ti,j se kate,sthsen a;rconta kai. dikasth,nÈ tou/ton o` qeo.j kai. a;rconta kai. lutrwth.n avpe,stalken su.n ceiri. avgge,lou tou/ ovfqe,ntoj auvtw/| evn th/| ba,tw|, him did God send [R.V. hath God sent] to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. See also instances cited by Weymouth in Theological Monthly, iv. 168 f.; Rom. 16:7, who also were [ge,gonan, R.V. have been] in Christ before me; John 6:25, R.V. correctly, when camest; [ge,gonaj] thou here? Heb. 7:6,9; 8:5.
These cases should not be confused with those treated under 80. Here the Greek tense has its normal force, though it cannot be well rendered by its usual English equivalent. There the use of the Greek tense is somewhat abnormal.

83. For the Perfect used proleptically, see 50.

84. PERIPHRASTIC FORM OF THE PERFECT. Periphrastic Perfects, formed by adding a Perfect Participle to the Present of the verb eivmi, are frequent in the New Testament, about forty instances occurring. In function these forms more frequently denote existing state, though clear instances of the Perfect denoting completed action occur. The former use is illustrated in Luke 20:6; John 2:17; Acts 2:13; 25:10; 2 Cor. 4:3, etc.; the latter in Luke 23:15; Acts 26:26; Heb. 4:2, etc. Cf. 431.

85. It is important to observe that the term "complete" or "completed" as a grammatical term does not mean ended, but accomplished, i.e. brought to its appropriate result, which result remains at the time denoted by the verb. "The Perfect, although it implies the performance of the action in past time, yet states only that it stands completed at the present time." G.MT. 44. "Das Perf. hatte zwei altuberkommene Funktionen. Einerseits hatte es intensiven, beziehentlich iterativen Sinn. . . . Anderseits bezeichnete es die Handlung im Zustand des Vollendet- und Fertigseins." Br. 162.

An action which has ceased may be expressed in Greek by the Aorist or the Imperfect quite as well as by the Perfect, provided only the action is thought of apart from any existing result of it. These tenses are indeed more frequently used of actions which are complete in the sense of having come to an end than is the Perfect. See, e.g., Gal. 4:8; to,te me.n . . . evdouleu,sate toi/j fu,sei mh. ou=sin qeoi/j, at that time . . . ye were in bondage to them which by nature are no god; and 2 Cor. 7:8; ouv metame,lomai\ eiv kai. metemelo,mhn, I do not regret it, although I did regret [was regretting] it. The Perfect, on the other hand, affirms the existence of the normal result of the action, and this even though the action itself is still in progress. See, e.g., the Perfect tethrh,ka, in 2 Tim. 4:7, quoted under 74.

86. Since the Aorist and the Perfect both involve reference to a past event, the Perfect affirming the existence of the result of the event, and the Aorist affirming the event itself, without either affirming or denying the existence of the result, it is evident that whenever the result of the past action does still exist, either tense may be used, according as the writer wishes either to affirm the result or merely the event. In many cases the reason of the choice of one tense rather than the other is very evident and the distinction clearly marked, even when in accordance with the principle of 82 both tenses must be translated by an English Past. See, e.g., 1 Cor. 15:4; o[ti evta,fh kai. o[ti evgh,gertai th/| h`me,ra| th/| tri,th|, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day. The burial is simply a past event. Of the resurrection there is an existing result, prominently before the mind.

But there are naturally other cases in which, though each tense retains its own proper force, the two approximate very closely, and are used side by side of what seem to be quite coordinate facts. Instances of this approximation of the two tenses are especially frequent in the writings of John. See John 5:36, 38; 1 John 1:1; 4:9, 10; cf. also Acts 6:11 and 15:24.

87. It might be supposed that the Resultative Aorist would be especially near in force to the Perfect. The distinction is, however, clearly marked. The Resultative Aorist affirms that an action attempted in past time was accomplished, saying nothing about the present result. The Perfect, on the other hand, belongs to all classes of verbs, not merely to those that imply attempt, and affirms the existence of the result of the past action, the occurrence of which it implies.

88. It should be observed that the aoristic use of the Perfect (80) is a distinct departure from the strict and proper sense of the tense in Greek. The beginnings of this departure are to be seen in classical Greek (G.MT. 46), and in Greek writers of a time later than the New Testament the tendency was still further developed, until the sense of difference between the tenses was lost.

Meantime there grew up a new form of the Perfect, made as is the English Perfect, of an auxiliary denoting possession (in Greek e;cw, as in English have) and a participle. This periphrastic Perfect, traces of which appear even in classical times (G.MT. 47), at length entirely displaced the simple Perfect for the expression of completed action, and the process by which the Perfect had become an Aorist in meaning and been succeeded in office as a Perfect tense by another form was complete. See Jebb in Vincent and Dickson, Modern Greek, pp. 326-330. In the New Testament we see the earlier stages of this process. The Perfect is still, with very few exceptions, a true Perfect, but it has begun to be an Aorist. In Latin this process was already complete so far as the assimilation of the Perfect and the Aorist was concerned; the new Perfect had not yet appeared. In modern English we see the process at a point midway between that represented by the Greek of the New Testament and that which appears in the Latin of about the same time. Modern German represents about the same stage as modern English, but a little further advanced.

It should be borne in mind that in determining whether a given Perfect form is a true Perfect in sense or not, the proper English translation is no certain criterion, since the functions of the Perfect tense in the two languages differ so widely. Cf. 52. The Perfect pepoi,hka in 2 Cor. 11:25 seems evidently aoristic; that it "goes quite naturally into English" (S. p. 104) does not at all show that it has the usual force of a Greek Perfect. Many Aorists even go quite naturally and correctly into English Perfects. Cf. 46. The Perfects in Luke 9:36; 2 Cor. 12:17; Heb. 7:13 (prose,schken); 9:18; 11:28; Rev. 3:3; 5:7 are probably also Aoristic Perfects, though it is possible that in all these cases the thought of an existing result is more or less clearly in mind and gives occasion to the use of the Perfect tense. The Perfect pe,praken in Matt. 13:46 must be either aoristic or historical, probably the former (see Sophocles, Glossary, etc., 82, 4). The evidence seems to show clearly that Matthew regularly used ge,gona in the sense of an Aorist; some of the instances cannot, without violence, be otherwise explained, and all are naturally so explained. Mark's use of the word is possibly the same, but the evidence is not decisive. All other writers of the New Testament use the form as a true Perfect.

Still other cases should perhaps be explained as Aoristic Perfects, but for the reasons mentioned in 86 it is impossible to decide with certainty. While there is clear evidence that the Perfect tense was in the New Testament sometimes an Aorist in force, yet it is to be observed that the New Testament writers had perfect command of the distinction between the Aorist and the Perfect. The instances of the Perfect in the sense of the Aorist are confined almost entirely to a few forms, e;schka, ei;lhfa, e`w,raka, ei;rhka, and ge,gona, and the use of each of these forms in the sense of an Aorist mainly to one or more writers whose use of it is apparently almost a personal idiosyncrasy. Thus the aoristic use of ge,gona belongs to Matt.; of ei;lhfa to John in Rev.; of  e;schka to Paul; but see also Heb. 7:13. The idiom is therefore confined within narrow limits in the New Testament. Cf. Ev. Pet. 23, 31.

2 Cor. 12:9 and 1 John 1:10 are probably true Perfects of Completed Action, the latter case being explained by v. 8. John 1:18; 5:37; 8:33; and Heb. 10:9 also probably convey the thought of existing result, though the use of an adverb of past time serves to give more prominence to the past action than is usually given by a Perfect tense.