You can tell when a participle is being used adjectivally because, as an attributive adjective, it will modify a noun or pronoun. It will usually come with an article, and the context will show which noun or pronoun the participle modifies. When translating a Greek present participle, we may use a simple English participle, which is usually a word ending in “ing.”
In the phrase “the man speaking,” “speaking” modifies “man” and indicates which man is being referred to.
ou$to th>n o[do>n spareiThis is [the seed] that was sown along the path.
Notice the prepositional phrase inserted between the definite article and its participle (Wenham, Elements, 151).
A participle, like other adjectives, may be used as a substantive when it has the article and no modified noun or pronoun. In this case the participle acts as a noun. Often these will be translated with the helping words “the one (who is).”
o[ lethe one saying these things in the temple
Participle as Adverb
A participle may be used as an adverb modifying the verb in some way. It usually does not take an article (i.e., it is anarthrous). Often an adverbial participle will be translated as a temporal clause. It may also be taken as causative (“because of loosing”), concessive (“although loosing”), or instrumental (“by loosing”) as well. One should note also if a participle is anarthrous it still may be attributive if it is close and grammatically attaches to a noun, or it may be a predicate use of the participle as a verbal adjective. So when a form is anarthrous it is ambiguous and context must help sort out which usage is being employed.
If the present tense participle is used, it refers to something that happens at the same time as the main verb (e.g., “while walking”). If an aorist tense participle is used, the action of the participle was before the action of the main verb (e.g., “after walking”). There may be exceptions to this. If a perfect tense participle is used, its action was completed, with continuing results (e.g., “after having walked”).
There are only twelve future participles in the New Testament, and they indicate action that is expected or intended (e.g., “before walking”) (Mounce, Basics, 262f.).
The time of the participle is relative to the time of the main verb. In present participles, the action of the participle may be simultaneous, prior to or subsequent to the action of the main verb: “While walking, he saw the heron.” Generally we will use the simultaneous reading “while.” Porter generalizes that when the participle precedes the verb in the order of the sentence it is often antecedent action (“after loosing”). If the participle comes after the main verb it is usually simultaneous (“while loosing”) or subsequent action (“before loosing”)(Porter, Idioms, 188). Note that the participle action matches the past tense of the main verb: both happen at the same time. In aorist participles, the participial action takes place prior to the action of the main verb: “After walking, he saw the heron.” The aorist may describe attendant circumstances, with action taking place at the same time as the main verb, although this is rare. The time of the happening is not the point in the present participle form. Rather aspect is the main feature with the present being used to foreground, denote process, immediacy, with the aorist being more wholistic, complete background form and with the perfect being a frontgrounded state of being.
The adjectival participle will often be translated by using the English participle (“-ing”) with some connecting words such as “who,” “which,” or “the one who” (e.g., The one speaking to me wrote the book).
Adverbial participles will often be translated in a temporal clause by using “while,” “after,” or “before” (e.g., After speaking, the teacher prayed). Adverbial participles may also indicate purpose (e.g., He went in order to find his car), be causative (e.g., He went because of loosing his car), or express means (e.g., by going early, he found a seat). For our purposes here, we will translate adverbial participles as temporal, “while loosing” (Stevens, New Testament Greek, 297f.).
Greek Present Participle
We will be learning the present active, middle/passive, and future participles in this lesson. Active participles are used when the word the participle modifies is doing the action (e.g., The man skating by is a friend).
The middle/passive forms should generally be translated as passive (on deponents, see below). A passive participle is used where the word modified receives the action of the participle (e.g., The man being stung by the bees ran for cover).
Remember that a middle/passive participle should be translated active if it comes from a deponent verb (e.g., e@rxomai becomes a participle as e]rxo
Present Participle Forms
Present active participles are built from the present verb stem. In the masculine and neuter the sign of the participle (ont) is added, followed by the third declension noun endings:
lu + ont + oj = luThe present active feminine participle is formed by using ouj as the sign of the participle, to which the first declension endings are suffixed:
lu + ous + hj = luouMiddle/passive participles are formed using the present verb stem adding -omen as a middle/passive participle indicator and the second declension case endings for the masculine and neuter:
lu + omen + oj = luoThe feminine uses first declension endings:
lu + omen + h = luomeThe participial forms are fairly easily learned. The difficulty is in knowing how to translate them. Here is a chart about present participles that may help:
Adverbial participle has no Art.
[while, because of, by]
Adjectival attributive has Art. before noun it modifies.
Adjectival substantive has Art. but no noun/pronoun to modify.
Rather than memorize these large paradigms, it is better to learn the nominative and genitive forms. Once you have those two forms in mind, the rest follow suit according to the normal 3-1-3 or 2-1-2 pattern. In short, the following is what you should be able to chant through.
Present Active Participles
Present Middle/Passive Participles
The future participle occurs only twelve times in the New Testament. It is used in situations where something is “purposed, intended, or expected” and can be either punctiliar or durative (Mounce, 262) We will describe how it is formed so you will be able to recognize it, but there is no need to memorize a whole paradigm for it. We will translate it “will be loosing” or just simply “loosing”.
In forming the future participle, a s is added to the present verb stem, followed by the third declension participle endings for the masculine and neuter and by first declension participle endings for the feminine participles.
lu + s + ontoj = lu
lu + s + oushj = lusou
lu + s + omenoj = luso
lu + qhs + omenoj=luqhso
Present Active Participle of ei]mi<
Negating a Participle
ou] is used for negating indicative verb forms. Participles are not considered indicatives so mh< will be used to negate participles (e.g., The one who is not studying failed the test).
Adjectival (+ art. [usually])
Attributive—modifies a noun or pronoun
The girl sitting there went to Gordon.
Substantive—no noun to modify. Add “one,” “who,” or “which”
The one sitting there went to Gordon.
Adverbial (no art. [often]) Add “while,” “after,” or “after having”
Present: While sitting there, she dreamed of Greek.
Aorist: After sitting there, she dreamed of Greek.
Perfect: After having sat there, she dreamed of Greek.
Active: The one walking by is my friend (substantive).
Passive: The one being taken away is my friend (substantive).
After being seated, the owner came (adverbial).
T^? e]paun ]Ihsou?n e]rxoj au]to>n.
The next day he saw Jesus coming to him (Jn. 1:29).
o[ pisteun ou] kri mh> pisteuThe one believing in him is not judged; but the one not believing (Jn. 3:18)
kai> h#lqon ei]j Kafarnaou>m zhtou?ntej to>n ]Ihsou?n.
And they came to Capernaum seeking Jesus (Jn. 6:24).
Chant Present Active Participle (just be able to figure out the Mid./Pass.)
3 1 3HotwordStyle=BookDefault;
I follow (90)
sea, lake (91)
I sit (91)
and not, neither/nor (87)
I fall (90)
I come/go to (86)
I pray (85)
Memory Verse: Review + Mat. 6:13b
You will be able to—
1. understand how the participle works in English and Greek as a verbal attributive adjective, substantive adjective, and adverb;
4. gain more practice in translating and working with Greek; and
5. master ten more high-frequency vocabulary words.
In Greek, present participles are used in much the same way as they are in English. Present participles are formed in English by adding “-ing” to the verbal form (e.g., “walking”). A participle is a verbal adjective.
Aorist participles typically indicate action before the action of the main verb (see chap. 19). The aorist participles are also used for action as a complete whole. In such cases, the aorist is used merely to state that an action took place. It need not specify when (past, present, or future) the action actually took place.
Adjective or Adverb
A Greek participle may be translated adverbially or adjectivally. As an adverb the participle tells when, how, why, or in what circumstances the verb is functioning. The adverbial participle modifies and points to the verb. The aorist adverbial participle is usually translated with the temporal preposition “after” (e.g., After surfing the web, he found the information). The adverbial usage is usually anarthrous (does not have the article).
The adjectival use is usually marked with the article before the noun modified or before the substantival participle. The participle can function as an attributive adjective. Often connecting words like “who” or “which” will be used to translate these types of participles (e.g., The man who sat there is the chief). It can also be used like a substantive adjective (The one who sat there is the organizer). Or it can, when anarthrous, be used as a predicate adjective (The organizer is the one sitting there).