Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

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


The Subjunctive Mood

268. Vocabulary

ἁμαρτάνω I sin
δικαιοσύνη, ἡ righteousness
ἐάν conditional particle, with subjunctive, if
εἰ with indicative, if
εὐαγγελίζομαι dep. with middle forms, I preach the gospel, I preach the gospel to (with acc. of the thing preached and either acc. or dat. of the person to whom it is preached)
ἵνα conj., with subjunctive, in order that
λαός, ὁ a people
λοιπός, -ή, -όν adj., remaining; οἱ λοιποί, the rest (= the remaining persons)
μακάριος, -α, -ον adj., blessed
μαρτυρία, ἡ a witnessing, a testimony, a witness
μηδέ and not, nor (with moods other than the indicative); μηδέ ... μηδέ neither … nor
μηκέτι no longer (with moods other than the indicative)
ὄχλος, ὁ a crowd, a multitude

269. The subjunctive mood occurs only in the present and aorist tenses (except for very rare occurrences of the perfect). It has primary personal endings throughout, even in the aorist (which, it will be remembered, is a secondary tense). The personal endings are preceded throughout by a long variable vowel ω/η instead of the short variable vowel ο/ε which occurs in the present indicative.

270. The present active subjunctive of λύω is as follows:


271. The present middle and passive subjunctive of λύω is as follows:

3λύηται λύωνται

272. It will be observed that these present subjunctive forms are like the present indicative forms except that a long vowel comes immediately after the stem, while in the indicative there is a short vowel - ω of the subjunctive standing instead of the ο of the indicative, and η of the subjunctive standing instead of the ε of the indicative. The only exceptions are (1) in the present active, third person plural, where ω in the subjunctive stands instead of ου in the indicative, and (2) in the present middle and passive, second person singular, where the indicative already has η (λύῃ).

273. The -ωσι(ν) of the third person plural active may have the movable (ν).

274. The aorist active subjunctive is as follows:

3 λύσῃλύσωσι(ν)

275. The aorist middle subjunctive is as follows:

1 λύσωμαιλυσώμεθα
2 λυσῃλύσησθε
3 λύσηταιλύσωνται

276. It will be observed that the endings (with variable vowel) are exactly the same in the aorist active and middle subjunctive as they are in the present active and middle subjunctive. But these endings (with variable vowel) are in the aorist added to the aorist stem, whereas in the present they are added to the present stem. The σ makes all the difference.

277. There is in the aorist subjunctive of course no augment (see §245).

278. The second aorist active and middle subjunctive is conjugated exactly like the first aorist subjunctive. Of course, however, it is formed on the second aorist stem.

279. The aorist passive subjunctive is as follows:


280. The aorist passive subjunctive, like the aorist passive indicative, has active personal endings. The endings (with the variable vowel) are exactly like those in the present active subjunctive. But the rule of verb accent seems to be violated - the accent does not seem to be recessive. This apparent irregularity is due to the fact that there has been contraction, the -θε of the aorist passive stem having been contracted with the following vowels in accordance with the rules which will be given in §316. But for present purposes the peculiarity of the accent may simply be learned without any further attention being given to the reason for it.

281. Before the aorist subjunctives can be formed from the principal parts given in the vocabulary, the augment must be dropped in the manner explained in §§251,252.

282. Present Subjunctive of εἰμί

Learn the present subjunctive of εἰμί in §602.

283. The Tenses in the Subjunctive

In the subjunctive mood there is absolutely no distinction of time between the tenses; the aorist tense does not refer to past time and the present subjunctive does not necessarily refer to present time. The distinction between the present and the aorist concerns merely the manner in which the action is regarded. The aorist subjunctive refers to the action without saying anything about its continuance or repetition, while the present subjunctive refers to it as continuing or as being repeated. Thus ἵνα λύσω means simply in order that I may loose, while ἵνα λύω means in order that I may be loosing, or the like. But ordinarily it is quite impossible to bring out the difference in an English translation. The present and the aorist subjunctive will usually have to be translated exactly alike. The student should use the aorist in the exercises unless he sees some reason for using the present, since the aorist presents the action in a simpler way, without any added thought of its duration.

284. The Negative of the Subjunctive

The negative of the subjunctive is μή, in accordance with the rule given in §256.

285. The Hortatory Subjunctive

The first person plural of the subjunctive is used in exhortations.

Example: πιστεύσωμεν εἰς τὸν κύριον, let us believe on the Lord.

286. The Subjunctive in Purpose Clauses

Purpose is expressed by ἵνα with the subjunctive.

Examples: (1) ἐρχόμεθα ἵνα ἴδωμεν αὐτόν, we come in order that we may see him. ( 2 ) ἤλθομεν ἵνα ἴδωμεν αὐτόν, we came in order that we might see him.

287. ἵνα, in order that, with the subjunctive, must be distinguished sharply from ὅτι, that, with the indicative. The latter introduces indirect discourse.

Example: Compare λέγουσιν ὅτι γινώσκουσι τὸν κύριον, they say that they know the Lord, with τοῦτο λέγουσιν ἵνα ἀκούωσιν οἱ μαθηταί, they say this in order that the disciples may hear.

The Subjunctive in Future Conditions

288. Future conditions are expressed by eav with the subjunctive; other conditions by el with the indicative. (*1)

(*1) This simple rule does not cover all of the facts. For example, it takes no account of “present general” conditions, which are expressed, like future conditions, by iav with the subjunctive. But present general conditions are closely allied to future conditions. In the sentence, if any one does wrong he suffers, which is a present general condition, the contemplated possibility of one’s doing wrong stretches out into the future; what is meant is that at any time when a man does wrong or shall do wrong he will suffer for it. It is perhaps unnecessary, therefore, to trouble the beginner with this additional category. In general, the simple rule given in the text will serve fairly well for New Testament Greek. The exceptions can be noted as they occur. Conditions contrary to fact will be treated in §551.


(1) ἐὰν εἰσέλθωμεν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν ὀψόμεθα τὸν κύριον, if we go into the house, we shall see the Lord. Here ἐὰν εἰσέλθωμεν clearly refers to the future. Compare εἰ μαθηταί ἐσμεν τοῦ κυρίου σωθησόμεθα, if we are disciples of the Lord, we shall be saved. Here the meaning is, if it is now a fact that we are disciples of the Lord, we shall he saved. Hence εἰ... ἐσμεν refers to present time.

(2) ἐὰν διδάσκητε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς πιστοί ἐστε διδάσκαλοι, if you teach the brethren, you are faithful teachers. Here the meaning is, if at any time you shall be engaged in teaching the brethren, you are faithful teachers, ἐὰν διδάσκητε here refers to an indefinite future. Compare εἰ διδάσκετε τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς πιστοί ἐστε διδάσκαλοι, if you are teaching the brethren, you are faithful teachers. Here the meaning is, if the work in which you are now engaged is that of teaching the brethren, you are faithful teachers. It should be observed that in order to distinguish εἰ with the indicative from ἐάν with the subjunctive, it is often advisable to choose the periphrastic present in English to translate the present indicative after εἰ. Thus if you are teaching is a present condition, while if you teach is usually a future condition.

289. The above examples will show that the difference between the two kinds of conditions here treated concerns only the protasis (the if-clause). Various moods and tenses can stand in the apodosis (the conclusion) after either kind of protasis. A hortatory subjunctive, for example, can stand after a simple present condition. For example, εἰ μαθηταί ἐσμεν τοῦ κυρίου διδάσκωμεν τοὺς ἀδελφούς, if we are disciples of the Lord [i. e., if that is now a fact], let us teach the brethren.

290. It should also be noticed that one cannot always tell from the mere form of the English sentence whether a condition is present or future. Thus in modern colloquial English we often use the present indicative to express a future condition. For example, in the sentence, if it rains to-morrow, we shall not go to the picnic, if it rains clearly refers to the future and would be ἐάν with the subjunctive in Greek. It is the meaning of the English sentence, then, and not the mere form, which should be noticed in determining what the Greek shall be.

291. Exercises


1. ἐὰν εὐαγγελισώμεθα ὑμᾶς, λήμψεσθε σωτηρίαν καὶ ἐλπίδα.
2. ἐὰν μὴ δέξησθε τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἡμῶν, οὐ σωθήσεσθε.
3. ἐὰν μὴ ἴδῃ οὗτος τὸν κύριον, οὐ πιστεύσει εἰς αὐτόν.
4. εἰ κηρύσσεται ἡμῖν ὅτι ἀγαθός ἐστιν ὁ κύριος, ἀγαθοὶ ὦμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἵνα διδάσκωμεν τοὺς λοιπούς.
5. εὐηγγελισάμην αὐτοὺς ἵνα σωθώσιν καὶ ἔχωσιν ζωήν.
6. μηκέτι ἁμαρτάνωμεν, ἵνα γενώμεθα μαθηταὶ πιστοί.
7. μακάριοί εἱσιν οἱ ὄχλοι, ἐὰν ἀκούσωσιν τὰ ῥήματά μου.
8. ἐὰν εἰσέλθωσιν εἰς ἐκείνην τὴν οἰκίαν οἱ πιστεύοντες εἰς τὸν κύριον, εὐαγγελισόμεθα αὐτοὺς ἐκεῖ.
9. ἐκηρύξαμεν τούτῳ τῷ λαῷ τὰ ῥήματα τῆς ζωῆς, ἵνα δέξωνται τὴν ἀλήθειαν καὶ σωθῶσιν.
10. προσέλθωμεν τῷ ἰδόντι τὸν κύριον, ἵνα διδάξῃ ἡμᾶς περὶ αὐτοῦ.
11. ταῦτα εἰπόντων αὐτῶν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ οἱ ἀκούσαντες ἐδέξαντο τὰ λεγόμενα, ἵνα κηρύξωσιν αὐτὰ καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς.
12. πιστεύσωμεν εἰς τὸν ἀποθανόντα ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἵνα γράψῃ τὰ ὀνόματα ἡμῶν εἰς τὸ βιβλίον τῆς ζωῆς.
13. ἐλεύσομαι πρὸς τὸν σώσαντά με, ἵνα μὴ λύω τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ μηδὲ πορεύωμαι ἐν ταῖς ὁδοῖς τοῦ θανάτου.
14. ταῦτα εἶπον ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, ἵνα οἱ ἀκούσαντες σωθώσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν καὶ ἔχωσιν τὴν δικαιοσύνην τοῦ θεοῦ.
15. εἰ εἴδετε ταῦτα ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ταῖς κακαῖς, ὄψεσθε τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ νῦν καὶ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
16. ἐὰν μὴ διδαχθῇς ὑπὸ τοῦ κυρίου, οὐ γνώσῃ αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.
17. ὁ λύων τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχει ἐλπίδα, ἐὰν μὴ ἐπιστρέψῃ πρὸς τὸν κύριον.
18. ταῦτα παρέλαβεν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀποθανόντος ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα παραλαβόντες αὐτὰ οἱ λοιποὶ σωθώσιν καὶ αὐτοί.
19. συνελθόντες εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν δεξώμεθα τὴν μαρτυρίαν τοῦ εὐαγγελισαμένου ἡμᾶς.
20. διωξάτων τῶν στρατιωτῶν τοὺς ἁγίους ἵνα μὴ πιστεύσωσιν εἰς τὸν σώσαντα αὐτούς, συνῆλθον οὗτοι εἰς τὴν συναγωγήν.


1. Let us receive the witness of these men, in order that we may be saved.
2. If we do not turn to the Lord, we shall not know Him.
3. If the Lord prepares a place for us, we shall enter into heaven.
4. If we received this commandment from the Lord, let us preach the gospel to the multitudes.
5. If these men are disciples of the Lord, they will not persecute the saints.
6. If these rulers persecute those who believed on the Lord, they will not come to the Lord in order that they-may be saved.
7. If he sees the woman who received the saints, he will take the little chiL dren from her.
8. When the disciples had said these things to the saints, they were taught by the Lord in order that they might sin no longer.
9. If the Son of Man came in order that He might save sinners, let us receive His witness.
10. If we know the Lord, let us not persecute His saints nor cast them out of the synagogue.
11. If the crowds who have heard the Lord see Him in that synagogue, they will come to Him in order that He may say to them words of hope.
12. Unless (*1) He says these things to the multitudes, they will not be saved.

(*1) The English word unless is another way of saying if not. It is to be translated, therefore, by εἰ μή with the indicative or by ἐὰν μή with the subjunctive. Which is correct here?

13. If thou seest in that night the one who saved thee, the ruler will persecute thee, in order that thou mayest not preach the gospel to the others.
14. The Lord came to us, in order that we might preach the gospel to you.
15. The faithful servants came, in order that they might bring to us those garments.