Vasile Stancu

New Testament Greek for Beginners

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


The Perfect Tense
Review of λύω

425. Vocabulary

ἀκήκοα perf. act. indic. of ἀκούω, I hear
βεβάπτισμαι perf. pass. indic. of βαπτίζω, I baptize
γέγονα perf. indic. of γίνομαι, I become. (γίνεται, it comes to pass, it happens )
γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι perf. act. and perf. pass, indic. of γράφω, I write
γεννάω I beget
ἐγγίζω I come near
ἐγήγερται perf. pass, indic., third pers. sing., of ἐγείρω, I raise up
ἔγνωκα perf. act. indic. of γινώσκω, I know
ἐλήλυθα perf. indic. of ἔρχομαι, I come, I go
ἐρρέθην aor. pass, indic. (aor. pass. part. ῥηθείς) of λέγω, I say
ἑώρακα perf. act. indic. of βλέπω (ὁράω), I see
θνήσκω I die (used only in the perfect, τέθνηκα, I am dead, and in the pluperfect. In other tenses ἀποθνήσκω is used)
μαρτυρέω I bear witness
Πετρος, ὁ Peter
πληρόω I fulfil

426. The perfect active indicative of λύω is as follows:

3λέλυκε(ν) λελύκασι (or λέλυκαν)

427. The perfect active infinitive of λύω is λελυκέναι.

The irregular accent should be noticed.

428. The perfect active participle of λύω is λελυκώς, λελθκθῖα, λελυκός.

The irregular accent should be noticed.

429. The forms given above constitute the perfect system, which is formed from the fourth of the principal parts, λέλυκα.

430. The perfect system is formed by adding κ (in the indicative κα) to the verb stem, and by prefixing the reduplication. The reduplication consists in the first consonant of the verb stem followed by ε.

431. The perfect, being a primary tense, might be expected to have primary personal endings. But in the indicative the endings are exactly like the (secondary) endings of the first aorist, except in the third person plural, and even in the third person plural λέλυκαν sometimes stands instead of λελύκασι(ν).

432. The perfect active subjunctive is so rare that it need not be learned.

433. The declension of the perfect active participle is as follows:

sg pl
m f n m f n
N λελυκώς λελυκυῖα λελυκός λελυκόντες λελυκυῖαι λελυκότα
G λελυκότος λελυκυίας λελυκότος λελυκόντων λελυκυιῶν λελυκότων
D λελυκότι λελυκυίᾳ λελυκότι λελυκόσι(ν) λελυκυίαις λελυκόσι(ν)
A λελυκότα λελυκυῖαν λελυκός λελυκότας λελυκυίας λελυκότα

434. It will be observed that the perfect active participle, like the other active, participles and like the aorist passive participle, is declined according to the third declension in the masculine and neuter and according to the first declension in the feminine.

Formation of the Perfect Stem in Various Verbs

435. If the verb stem begins with a vowel or diphthong, the reduplication consists in the lengthening of that vowel or diphthong. In this case the reduplication the augment.

Examples: The perfect active of ἐλπίζω is ἤλπικα, and of αἰτέω, ἤτηκα.

436. If the verb stem begins with two consonants the reduplication in certain cases (by no means always) consists in the prefixing of an (like the augment) instead of the repetition of the first consonant with ε.

Examples: ἤγνωκα is the perfect of γινώσκω. But γέγραφα is the perfect of γράφω.

437. Verb stems beginning with φ, θ or χ, are reduplicated with π, τ and κ , respectively.

Examples: πεφίληκα is the perfect of φιλέω; τέθνηκα, I am dead, is the perfect of θνέσκω (the present does not occur in the New Testament).

438. If the verb stem ends with a vowel that vowel is regularly lengthened before the κ of the perfect active, just as it is before the σ of the future and first aorist.

Examples: ἠγάπηκα from ἀγαπάω, πεφίληκα from φιλέω.

439. If the verb stem ends with τ, δ or θ, the τ, δ or θ is dropped before the κ of the perfect.

Example: ἤλπικα from ἐλπίζω (stem ἐλπίδ-).

440. Some verbs have a second perfect, which is conjugated like the first perfect except that there is no κ.

Examples: γέγραφα from γράφω ; ἀκήκοα from ἀκούω.

441. In general, the student should remember what was said in §159 about the variety in the formation of the tense systems of the Greek verb.

Perfect Middle and Passive

442. The perfect middle and passive indicative of λύω is as follows:


443. The perfect middle and passive infinitive of λύω is λελύσθαι.

The irregular accent should be noticed.

444. The perfect middle and passive participle of λύω is λελυμένος, -η, -ον, (declined like a regular adjective of the second and first declension).

The irregular accent should be noticed.

445. The forms given above constitute the perfect middle system, which is formed from the fifth of the principal parts, λέλυμαι.

446. The reduplication is the same as in the perfect active.

447. In the indicative, the primary middle endings (see §111) are added directly to the stem, without intervening variable vowel. They are not modified at all. So in the infinitive and participle -σθαι and -μενος are added directly to the stem.

448. If the verb stem ends with a vowel, that vowel is regularly lengthened before the endings in the perfect middle and passive,as before the tense suffixes in the future, first aorist, perfect active, and aorist passive.

Example: μεμαρτύρημαι from μαρτυρέω.

449. If the verb stem ends with a consonant, various changes occur when the endings of the perfect middle and passive are put on. These changes are best learned by observation in the individual verbs.

Example: γέγραμμαι (third person singular γέγραπται) from γράφω.

450. Pluperfect Tense

The pluperfect tense is so rare that its forms need not be learned. It is a secondary tense. The pluperfect active forms a part of the perfect system; and the pluperfect middle and passive, of the perfect middle system.

Use of the Perfect Tense

451. There is no English tense corresponding to the Greek perfect. The translations I have loosed for λέλνκα, I have loosed for myself for λέλυμαι (middle), and I have been loosed for λέλυμαι (passive) may often serve in the exercises. But they are makeshifts at the best. It has already been observed (see §169) that these same English expressions may often translate the aorist tense rather than the perfect.

452. The Greek perfect tense denotes the present state resultant upon a past action.


(1) Suppose someone asks an official, “What is your relation to that prisoner?”, and he replies, “I have released him”, the verb in this answer of the official would be λέλυκα. The perfect would express the present state of the official (with reference to the prisoner) resultant upon his past action of releasing. But if, on the other hand, someone should ask an official, “What is the history of your dealings with that prisoner?” and he should answer, “I have released the prisoner three times and imprisoned him again three times”, the first verb of this answer of the official would be ἔλυσα, not λέλυκα, because there is here no thought of the present state resultant upon the past action. Indeed the act of releasing had no result continuing into the present. But even if it had a permanent result the verb referring to it would be aorist,not perfect, unless the present result rather than merely the past action were specially in view. Thus even if, after the question, “What have you done?” the official said merely, “I have released the prisoner”, and even if as a matter of fact the releasing had a permanent result, still the aorist tense ἔλυσα might very well be used; for the point under consideration might be the history of the official’s dealings with the prisoner and not the official’s present relation to him. The distinction is often a fine one. But the perfect should not be used in the exercises unless we can see some clear reason for deserting the aorist.

(2) The perfect passive is often much easier to translate into English than the perfect active. Thus γέγραπται means it is written (in the Scriptures). Here the English it is written is not a present tense at all, but reproduces the Greek perfect very well; the meaning is it stands written. Both English and Greek here refer to a present state resultant upon an act of writing which took place long ago.

(3) The perfect passive participle can often be translated neatly by the simple English passive participle. Thus λογος γεγραμμένος means a written word, ἠγαπημένος means beloved, etc. But the Greek perfect active participle is very hard to translate. The student should carefully avoid thinking that having loosed is specially connected with the perfect. On the contrary, in the overwhelming majority of cases, having loosed is the literal translation of the aorist, not of the perfect - the participle having merely indicating that the action has taken place prior to the action of the main verb in the sentence. In general, it should be observed that the Greek aorist is vastly commoner than the perfect.

(4) ἐλήλυθα, the perfect of ἔρχομαι, means I am come, and γέγονα means I am become. It so happens that because of the peculiar nature of the verbs to come and to become in English we have a neat way of translating the Greek perfect of ἔρχομαι and γίνομαι.

Of course the student should not think that I am come has anything to do with the passive voice. It is not at all like I am loosed.

453. The conjugation of λύω has now been completed. The student should review it thoroughly as a whole, using the paradigm given in §589. The verb should be learned in columns, strictly in the order given. Thus “present-active” should form one idea in the student’s mind, and under it should be subsumed the various moods. It should be noticed particularly how the various parts of the verb are connected with the several principal parts.

454. Exercises


1. οὐδείς ἐστιν δίκαιος κατὰ τὸν νόμον εἰ μὴ ὁ ποιήσας πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τοῦ νόμου.
2. εὐηγγελίσατο παντὶ τῷ λαῷ λέγων ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν.
3. ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν λέγομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς πιστεύσητε εἰς τὸν Χριστόν.
4. καὶ ἐν τούτῳ γινώσκομεν ὅτι ἐγνώκαμεν αὐτόν, ἐὰν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ τηρῶμεν.
5. ὁ ἀγαπῶν τὸν γεννήσαντα ἀγαπᾷ τὸν γεγεννημένον ἐξ αὐτοῦ.
6. πᾶς γεγεννημένος ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ τηρεῖ αὐτόν.
7. τοῦτο γέγονεν, (*1) ὅτι οὕτως γέγραπται διὰ τοῦ προφήτου.

(*1) γίνομαι here means to take place, to come to pass, to happen.

8. τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τῆς σαρκός σάρξ ἐστιν, καὶ τὸ γεγεννημένον ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος πνεῦμά ἐστιν.
9. αὕτη δὲ ἐστιν ἡ κρίσις, ὅτι τὸ φῶς ἐλήλυθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὸ σκότος.
10. ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι τῷ τεθεραπευμένῳ Οὐκ ἔξεστιν ποιῆσαι τοῦτο.
11. ἐγὼ ἐλήλυθα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ οὐ δέχεσθέ με.
12. ἀλλ' εἶπον ὑμῖν ὅτι καὶ ἑωράκατέ με καὶ οὐ πιστεύετε.
13. ἐὰν μὴ φάγητε τὴν σάρκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ πίητε αὐτοῦ τὸ αἵμα, οὐκ ἔχετε ζωὴν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς.
14. τὰ ῥήματα ἃ ἐγὼ λελάληκα ὑμῖν πνεῦμά ἐστιν καὶ ζωή ἐστιν.
15. ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ Πέτρος Κύριε, πρὸς τίνα ἀπελευσόμεθα; ῥήματα ζωῆς ἔχεις, καὶ ἡμεῖς πεπιστεύκαμεν καὶ ἐγνώκαμεν ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ.
16. ταῦτα αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν.
17. γέγραπται ὅτι δύο ἀνθρώπων ἡ μαρτυρία ἀληθής ἐστιν.
18. ταῦτα εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς πεπιστευκότας εἰς αὐτὸν Ἰουδαίους.
19. νῦν δὲ ζητεῖτέ με ἀποκτεῖναι, ἄνθρωπον ὃς τὴν ἀλήθειαν ὑμῖν λελάληκα, (*2) ἣν ἤκουσα παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ.

(*2) The relative pronoun agrees with its antecedent in person as well as in gender and number. In this sentence, the antecedent of ὃς is ἄνθρωπον, which is first person because it is in apposition with the personal pronoun of the first person, με.

20. εὐλογημένος ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἐν ὀνόματι κυρίου.


1. Where is the priest? He is already come.
2. All the baptized disciples are in the small city.
3. The priests having been baptized came together into the same house.
4. Where is the multitude? It has already come near.
5. What is in thy heart? I have believed dn the Lord.
6. Art thou faithful? I have kept the faith.
7. It is written through the prophet that the Messiah is coming in these days, and we know that His kingdom is come near.
8. Children beloved by your Father, enter ye into the joy kept in heaven for those who have believed on Christ.
9. Who is this man? He is a child begotten by God.
10. Having been crucified by the soldiers the Lord died, but now He is risen.
11. Brethren beloved by all the disciples, why do ye not pity the little ones?
12. Those who are come out of the darkness into the light know that God will do all the things written in the Law and the prophets.
13. All the things written or spoken through this prophet are true.
14. This is come to pass in order that that which was said by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled.
15. If thou art already loosed, give thanks to Him who loosed you.
16. Where is the prophet whom the soldiers persecuted? He is become king of many cities.