Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

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


First Aorist Active and Middle Indicative
Constructions with πιστεύω

166. Vocabulary

ἀπολύω, ἀπολύσω, ἀπέλυσαI release
ἐκήρυξαI preached, I proclaimed, aor. of κηρύσσω
ἐπιστρέφω, ἐπιστρέψω, ἐπέστρεψαI turn, I return
ἑτοιμάζω, ἑτοιμάσω, ἡτοίμασα I prepare
ἤδηadv., already
θαυμάζω, θαυμάσω, ἐθαύμασαI wonder, I marvel, I wonder at
θεραπεύω, θεραπεύσω, ἐθεράπευσαI heal
πείθω, πείσω, ἔπεισαI persuade
πιστεύω, πιστεύσω, ἐπίστευσαI believe
ὑποστρέφω, ὑποστρέψω, ὑπέστρεψαI return

167. The first aorist is not a different tense from the second aorist, which will be studied in the next lesson, but first aorist and second aorist are merely two different ways of forming the same tense of a verb. Thus the English I loved is not a different tense from I threw, but the verb love and the verb throw form the "preterit" (simple past tense) in two different ways.

168. The aorist is like the imperfect in that it refers to past time. But the imperfect refers to continuous action in past time, while the aorist is the simple past tense. Thus the imperfect ἔλυον means I was loosing, while the aorist ἔλυσα means I loosed. It will be remembered that in present time this distinction between the simple assertion of the act and the assertion of continued (or repeated) action is not made in Greek (λύω, therefore, means either I loose or I am loosing). But in past time the distinction is very carefully made; the Greek language shows no tendency whatever to confuse the aorist with the imperfect.

169. It should be observed, however, that the aorist tense is often translated by the English perfect. ἔλυσα, therefore, may mean I have loosed as well as I loosed. The Greek perfect, which will be studied in Lesson XXIX, though it is indeed often to be translated by I have loosed, has a very different range from that of this English tense. Where the English I have loosed merely asserts that the action has taken place in past time without any implications as to its present results, it is translated by the Greek aorist.

Examples: ἠκούσατε τὴν φωνήν μου, ye have heard my voice. This sentence merely asserts that the action has taken place at some unspecified time in the past. But if a then were added, and thus the interval between the past action and the present time when the assertion is being made were clearly marked, the English would have the simple preterit. Thus τότε ἠκούσατε τὴν φωνήν μου would be translated then ye heard my voice.

170. The context will usually determine, quite clearly whether a Greek aorist is to be translated in English by the simple past tense (e.g. I loosed) or by the perfect tense (e.g. I have loosed). The former translation should be adopted in the exercises unless it is perfectly certain that the other is intended. What the student needs to understand first is that the aorist is the simple past tense.

171. The first aorist active indicative of λύω is as follows:

1ἔλυσα I loosedἐλύσαμεν we loosed
2ἔλυσας thou loosedst ἐλύσατε ye loosed
3ἔλυσε(ν)he loosedἔλυσανthey loosed

172. The aorist, being a secondary tense (like the imperfect), has the augment. The augment is the same for the aorist as it is for the imperfect (see §124-128).

173. The aorist, like the imperfect, has the secondary endings. It will be remembered (see §127) that these, in the active voice, are as follows:

3none-ν (or -σαν)

174. It should be observed that in the first aorist the ν is dropped in the first person singular.

175. Before these personal endings, there stands, in the aorist, not a variable vowel, but the tense suffix, σα, which is added to the stem of the verb. Thus, where the future has σο/ε, the first aorist has σα.

176. In the third person singular this σα is changed to σε. ἔλυσε(ν) may have the movable ν, like the ἔλυε(ν) of the imperfect.

177. The form ἐλύσαμεν - to take it as an example - may be divided as follows: ἐ / λύ / σα / μεν. is the augment, λύ is the stem of the verb, σα is the sign of the first aorist, and μεν is the secondary personal ending in the first person plural active.

178. The first aorist middle indicative of λύω is as follows:

1ἐλυσάμην I loosed for myself ἐλυσάμεθα we loosed for ourselves
2ἐλύσωthou loosedst for thyself ἐλύσασθε ye loosed for yourselves
3ἐλύσατο he loosed for for himselfἐλύσαντο they loosed for themselves

179. As in the future tense so in the aorist tense, the passive voice is entirely distinct in form from the middle. ἐλυσάμην, therefore, means I loosed for myself, but it does not mean I was loosed.

180. Like the aorist active, the aorist middle has the secondary personal endings. It will be remembered (see §139) that in the middle these secondary personal endings are as follows:


181. These are preceded, as in the active, by the tense suffix, σα. No changes occur except in the second person singular, where ἐλύσω is a shortened form for an original ἐλύσασο.

182. The form ελυσάμεθα - to take it as an example - is made up as follows: ἐ / λυ / σά / μεθα. is the augment, λυ is the stem of the verb, σά is the tense suffix, μεθα is the secondary personal ending in the first person plural middle.

183. The changes caused by the joining of the σα of the first aorist tense suffix to the stems of various verbs are like those caused by the σο/ε of the future. As in the case of the future, however, it cannot be predicted with certainty what the aorist of a Greek verb will be. Every verb must be looked up in the lexicon separately. For this purpose the student should use the general vocabulary at the end of the book in the manner described in §§161-163. Only, for the aorist active and middle, we shall be interested in the third of the principal parts, not in the second.

184. Constructions with πιστεύω

The verb πιστεύω takes the dative. Thus πιστεύω τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ means I believe the man.

The verb πιστεύω followed by εἰς with the accusative is to be translated by I believe in or on. Thus πιστεύω εἰς τὸν κύριον means I believe in the Lord or I believe on the Lord. It must not be supposed, however, that the preposition εἰς with the accusative here really means in like ἐν, with the dative. Rather is it to be said that the Greek language merely looks at the act of believing in a different way from the English; Greek thinks of putting one’s faith into some one.

185. Exercises


1. ἀπέλυσεν ὀ κύριος τὸν δοῦλον αὐτοῦ, ὁ δὲ δοῦλος οὐκ ἀπέλυσε τὸν ἄλλον.
2. ἤδη ἐπέστρεψαν οὗτοι πρὸς τὸν κύριον, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐπιστρέψουσιν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταῖς κακαῖς.
3. ἐπιστεύσαμεν εἰς τὸν κύριον καὶ σώζει ἡμᾶς.
4. καὶ ἐπίστευσας εἰς αὐτὸν καὶ πιστεύσεις.
5. ὑπέστρεψας πρὸς τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐδέξατό σε εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν αὐτοῦ.
6. ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις ἐπορεύεσθε ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς ταῖς κακαῖς.
7. ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν κύριον καὶ ἐθεράπευσεν ὑμᾶς.
8. ἐκεῖνοι πονηροί, ἀλλ' ἡμεῖς ἐπείσαμεν αὐτούς.
9. ἡτοίμασα ὑμῖν τόπον ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ.
10. ἐδεξάμην σε εἰς τὸν οἶκόν μου, ἀλλ' οὗτοι οἱ πονηροὶ οὐκ ἐδέξαντο.
11. ἀνέβλεψαν οἱ τυφλοί.
12. ἔσωσα ὑμᾶς ἐγώ, ὑμεῖς δὲ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἐδέξασθε εἰς τοὺς οἴκους ὑμῶν.
13. πονηροὶ ἦσαν αὐτοί, πονηροὺς δὲ ἔπεμψσαν εἰς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν.
14. ἐδίδαξάς με ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ.
15. τότε ἠκούσαμεν ταύτας τὰς ἐντολάς, ἄλλας δὲ ἀκούσομεν ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ.
16. ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐξελεύσονται ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, τότε δὲ ἐδέξαντο ἡμᾶς.
17. ἤκουσαν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐθαύμασαν.
18. ἐδέξω σὺ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, οὗτοι δὲ οὐ δέξονται αὐτό.
19. οὐδὲ ἠκούσαμεν τὸν κύριον οὐδὲ ἐπιστεύσαμεν εἰς αὐτόν.


1. We did not receive the gospel, because we did not hear the voice of the apostle.
2. In those days we were not believing in the Lord, but this disciple persuaded us.
3. The sinner turned unto the Lord, and already is being taught by Him.
4. The servants have prepared houses for you.
5. This blind man believed in the Lord.
6. The children wondered, and the disciples believed.
7. Thou didst not pray to the Lord, and on account of this He did not heal thee.
8. Those evil men pursued these women into the desert.
9. I have preached the gospel to them.
10. Ye persecuted me, but I did not persecute you.
11. These blind men glorified the Lord, because He had healed (*1) them.

(*1) The English pluperfect is often to be translated by the Greek aorist.

12. Through His disciples He proclaimed His gospel to the world.
13. The promises are good, and we received them.
14. Ye have received the same promises and believed on the same Lord.
15. He has not preached the gospel nor does he preach it now.
10. That woman has neither glorifled the Lord nor received the children.