Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

(Based on the book with the same title by Gresham Machen, The MacMillan Company, 1923)


The Article
Adjectives of the First and Second Declension
Use of the Article
Attributive and Predicate Positions of Adjectives
Substantive Use of Adjectives

60. Vocabulary (audio)

ἀγαθός, -ή, -όν adj., good
ἄλλος, -η, -ο adj., other
δίκαιος, -α, -ον adj., righteous
ἐγείρω I raise up
ἔρημος, ἡ a desert
ἔσχατος, -η, -ον adj., last
κακός, -ή, -όν adj., bad
καλός, -ή, -όν adj., good, beautiful
κύριος, ὁ a lord, the Lord
μικρός, -ά, -όν adj., small, little
νεκρός, -ά, -όν adj., dead
ὁ, ἡ, τό art., the
ὁδός, ἡ a road, a way
πιστός, -ή, -όν adj., faithful
πρῶτος, -η, -ον adj., first

It will be observed that ἔρημος and ὁδός are feminine, though nearly all nouns of the second declension ending in -ος are masculine.

61. The declension of the adjective ἀγαθός, good (audio), is as follows:


This declension, like all declensions of adjectives, and of the article, etc., is to be learned across and not in vertical columns - that is, the nominative singular is to be given in all three genders before the genitive is given, and the genitive singular is to be given in all three genders before the dative is given, and so on.

It will be observed that the masculine of the adjective ἀγαθός is declined exactly like a masculine noun of the second declension, the feminine exactly like a feminine noun in η of the first declension, and the neuter exactly like a neuter noun of the second declension.

62. Learn the declension of μικρός, small, and of δίκαιος, righteous (in §569, §570). Note that long α not η stands in the feminine of these adjectives when the preceding letter is ρ or a vowel (compare §55). The accent in the genitive plural feminine of all adjectives of the second and first declension follows the regular noun rule and not the special rule for nouns of the first declension (§51).

63. The declension of the article (audio) is as follows:


64. The forms , , οἱ, αἱ are proclitics. A proclitic is a word that goes so closely with the following word as to have no accent of its own.

65. Note that except for (1) these irregular proclitic forms, (2) the form τό in the nominative and accusative singular (instead of τόν), and (3) the absence of the vocative, the article is declined like the adjective ἀγαθός.

66. Agreement

Adjectives, including the article, agree with the nouns that they modify, in gender, number, and case.

Examples: (audio)

1. ὁ λόγος, τοῦ λόγου, τῷ λόγῷ, βλέπω τὸν λόγον, οἱ λόγοι, τῶν λόγων, τοῖς λόγοις, βλέπω τοὺς λόγους.
2. τό δῶρον, τοῦ δώρου, etc.
3. ἡ ὥρα, τῆς ὥρας, τῇ ὥρᾳ, βλέπω τὴν ὥραν, αἱ ὥραι, etc.
4. ἡ ὁδός (see §60 above), τῆς ὁδοῦ, τῇ ὁδῷ, βλέπω τὴν ὁδόν, αἱ ὁδοί, τῶν ὁδῶν, ταῖς ὁδοῖς, βλέπω τὰς ὁδούς.
5. καλὸς λόγος etc., καλὴ ὥρα, καλὴ ὁδός etc.

67. Use of the Article

The use of the article in Greek corresponds roughly to the use of the definite article in English. Thus λόγος means a word; ὁ λόγος means the word; λόγοι means words; οἱ λόγοι means the words. The differences between the Greek and the English use of the article must be learned by observation, as they occur. For the present, the presence or absence of the Greek article should always be carefully indicated in the English translation.

Attributive and Predicate Use of Adjectives

68. Adjectives are used in two distinct ways: (1) attributively, (2) predicatively.

In the phrase the good word, the adjective good is an attributive adjective; it tells what word we are mentioning. We are not mentioning all words or any word, but only the good word.

In the sentence, the word is good, the adjective good is a predicate adjective; with the verb is it makes an assertion about the subject, the word.

69. In Greek, the distinction between the attributive and the predicate adjective is of vastly more importance than in English; indeed, as will be observed later, some of the most important and characteristic parts of Greek grammar are based upon this distinction.

70. The good word can be expressed in two common ways in Greek - either by ὁ ἀγαθός λόγος or by ὁ λόγος ὁ ἀγαθός. It will be observed that what is characteristic about this attributive position of the Greek adjective is that the adjective comes immediately after the article. The former of the two alternatives, ὁ ἀγαθός λόγος, is just like English; it has the order (1) article, (2) attributive adjective, (3) noun, and is a literal translation of the good word. The latter of the two alternatives, ὁ λόγος ὁ ἀγαθός, means literally the word - namely the good one. But it is of course vastly commoner than this cumbersome usage is in English, and like ὁ ἀγαθός λόγος should be translated simply the good word.

71. The word is good can be expressed in two ways in Greek - either by ὁ λόγος ἀγαθός or by ἀγαθπὸς ὁ λόγος (the simple copula, meaning is, can be omitted). What is characteristic about this predicate position of the adjective in Greek is that the adjective does not come immediately after the article.

72. The matter can be summarized as follows (audio):

Attributive Position of the Adjective

ὁ ἀγαθὸς λόγοςthe good word
ὁ λόγος ὁ ἀγαθός

Predicate Position of the Adjective

ὁ λόγος ἀγαθόςthe word is good
ἀγαθὸς ὁ λόγος

73. The student should fix this distinction in his mind by thoughtful reading aloud of the above and similar phrases, until ἀγαθὸς ὁ λόγος, for example, comes to mean to him, even without conscious translation, good (is) the word, and comes to be dissociated entirely from the idea the good word. If this advice be heeded, a solid foundation will have been laid for the mastery of a large part of Greek syntax.

74. It should be observed that the distinction between the attributive and the predicate position of the adjective can be made in Greek only when the noun has the article. ἀγαθὸς λόγος or λόγος ἀγαθός (the noun here not having the article) may mean either a good word (attributive) or a word is good (predicate).

75. Substantive Use of the Adjective

The adjective may be used as a noun, especially with the article.

1) ἀγαθός may mean a good man; ἀγαθή a good woman; ἀγαθόν, a good thing; ἀγαθοί, good men; ἀγαθαί, good women; ἀγαθά, good things.
(2) ὁ ἀγαθός means the good man; ἡ ἀγαθή, the good woman; τὸ ἀγαθόν, the good thing; οἱ ἀγαθοί, the good men; αἱ ἀγαθαί, the good women; τὰ ἀγαθά, the good things.

Sometimes, in the plural masculine, the English language, like Greek, can use the adjective as a noun without adding the word men. Thus οἱ ἀγαθοί may be translated the good meaning the good men or the good people; οἱ νεκροί, the dead, meaning the dead people, etc.

76. Exercises


1. ἀγαθὴ ἡ ἐκκλησία καὶ ἡ βασιλεία κακή.
2. ἡ κακὴ καρδία τῶν ἀνθρώπων γινώσκει θάνατον.
3. οἱ ἀπόστολοι βλέπουσι τοὺς μικροὺς οἴκους καὶ τὰς κακὰς ὁδούς.
4. οἱ δοῦλοι οἱ κακοὶ λύουσι (*1) τὸν οἶκον τοῦ ἀποστόλου.

(*1) λύω sometime means I destroy.

5. οἱ κακοὶ λύουσι τὸ ἱερόν.
6. ὁ κύριος τῆς ζωῆς (*2) ἐγείρει τούς νεκρούς.

(*2) Abstract nouns, and nouns such as ζωή, often have the article where it is omitted in English.

7. οἱ λόγοι τῆς ἀληθείας διδάσκουσι τοὺς ἄλλους ἀποστόλους.
8. οἱ δίκαιοι λαμβάνουσι τὰ δῶρα τοῦ κυρίου τὰ καλά.
9. ὁ κακὸς βλέπει τὴν ἔρημον καὶ τοὺς ἐσχάτους οἴκους.
10. πρῶτοι οἱ δοῦλοι· ἔσχατοι οἱ κακοί.
11. τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τῇ μικρᾷ γράφει ὁ κύριος λόγον ἀγαθόν.
12. τοὺς πιστοὺς βλέπει ὁ πιστός.
13. ἔσχατοι οἱ δοῦλοι οἱ κακοί· πρῶτοι οἱ υἱοὶ οἱ ἀγαθοί.
14. ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἐσχάτου ἀδελφοῦ βλέπει τὰς καλὰς ἐκκλησίας τοῦ κυρίου.
15. ἄλλην παραβολὴν λέγομεν τῇ κακῇ βασιλείᾳ.
16. πρώτη ἡ ἐκκλησία· ἐσχάτη ἡ ἄλλη βασιλεία.
17. ταῖς πισταῖς λέγει ὁ κύριος παραβολὴν καλὴν καὶ τοῖς πιστοῖς.
18. ὁ ἀγαθὸς γράφει ἀγαθά· ὁ κακὸς κακά.
19. ἀγαθὸς ὁ δοῦλος καὶ λέγει καλά.
20. ἡ ἀλήθεια πιστὴ καὶ ἡ ὥρα κακή.

Answer Key


1. To the first church the Lord writes the first parable.
2. The good woman sees the ways of the desert.
3. The good things are first and the bad things last.
4. Death is bad and life is good.
5. The Lord of the kingdom raises up the faithful men and the faithful women.
6. The good know the bad, and the bad the good.
7. The good words we say to the Church, and the bad words we write to the brethren.
8. Thou seest the good days of the Lord of life.
9. The roads are good and the men bad.
10. The first gift is last and the last (gift) first.
11. The good servants know the truth and the glory of the Lord.
12. The last day takes the bad servants.
13, The men are destroying the beautiful temples and the small houses.
14. The righteous have another house.
15. The church is taking the other house.
16. I know the other ways.
17. The Lord is saying the other parable to the first church.

Answer Key