Summers (Essentials, 51) notes that the word “deponent” comes from the Latin root “deponere,” meaning to “lay aside.” It is used for these verbs because they have “laid aside” (dropped) their active verb forms.
Those that see most middles as deponent take “deponent” verbs as middle in form but active in meaning. They have no active form and are easy to tell in vocabulary lists or a lexicon because they have the middle ending -omai (e.g., e@rxomai) rather than the normal -w (e.g., ba
Mounce notes that in the New Testament about 75 percent of the middle forms are “deponent” (Basics,149). Because of the deponent phenomenon, middle forms may frequently be translated as actives (three to one) or better yet translated active as true middles emphasizing the subject’s participation in the action of the verb.
Frequently Used “Deponent” Verbs
I answer (231)
I come in (194)
I come, go (634)
I go out (218)
I become (669)
I go (132)
Often with passives there is a need to express the agent, instrument, or means by which the subject is acted on.
This is accomplished by—
1. using u[po< or dia< with the genitive to express agency (e.g., Elliott was hit by Zach.), or
2. using the dative case to indicate means or instrument. The translation will use “with” or “by” (e.g., Elliott was hit by the ball).
3. Impersonal agency is expressed by e]n + dative (Porter, Idioms, 64, Stevens, 112).
As with other verbs, prepositions are often prefixed to “deponent” verbs to form a compound. This is a handy way to build vocabulary since you know the basic verb and the prepositions and thus you have a good clue for guessing the combined meaning, although often this combination may reflect an intensification of the original verbal idea. This leverages the vocabulary you already know.
I go, come
I go in, enter (ei]j prefix).
I go out, leave (e]k prefix).
I go through (dia< prefix).
o!ti e]gw> pro>j to>n patebecause I am going to the father (Jn. 14:12; deponent)
o[ ui[o>j tou? a]nqrw
the Son of Man comes (Mat. 24:44; deponent).
I tell you, there is joy . . . (Lk. 15:10; deponent)
kai> ei]j pu?r baand into a fire s/he is cast (Mat. 3:10; true passive)
eu[risko kai> yeudomabut we also are found [to be] false witnesses of God (1 Cor. 15:15; true passive)
For the future we say, “We will go to college.”
In the present tense in Greek, we have seen that aspect, not primarily time, is the focus. The future tense form in Greek specifies that the action of the verb takes place with a prospective viewpoint of expectation (Porter, Idioms, 43). Thus tense is probably not the best way to define this form. However, for our workbook sentences out of context we will generally use the English future to specify the expectation of this form. When reading in context remember the diverse options for this prospective looking expectational form. Here are three ways it is used:
1. expectation/prospective (e.g., “We will go”),
2. imperative/command (e.g., “You shall go”), or
3. deliberative, with rhetorical questions
(e.g., “To whom shall we go?”).
The future tense form is built by adding a s between the stem and the pronominal ending. Note that the future uses the primary endings you already have learned.
Note that the future active uses the primary endings that you already learned for the present active indicative. The middle uses the primary middle/passive endings you just learned for the present tense also. Yes, the future is easy, but watch out for the irregular forms. Its form and history connect with the subjunctive mood which we will look at later which also has an expectational aspect.