Abide – Greek Tenses related to “If you abide in me”

Abide – Greek Tenses

The verb form we are looking at is that of the verb translated “abide” in “if you abide in me” in John 8:31.

The verb is in what we call the aorist subjunctive in a construction known as a third class conditional. Ean meinēte does mean if you abide in me, but it means more than just the English translation conveys; it is placing a mild to moderate strain on your beyond you, to stand up straight and try to promise to abide. It’s giving you like a long look like my Jewish doctor did when I went to see him some months ago. This is all in the word meinēte, and yet none of this seems to come through in the translations.

The division is between the word as implying a lengthy dwelling in Jesus still to come, something in itself not to be taken on lightly, and reminding the hearers that successfully overcoming obstacles to continual abiding is by no means a foregone conclusion.

But, the verb-form seems to say, if you do manage to abide in me, there will come a time when you will know something which will change you forever.

And in the pay-off clause John chooses, from the whole plethora of tenses, aspects and moods available, to deploy the present active indicative, the C major of Greek tenses, which in his hands takes on a shine of eternal glory. He is saying, This is Jesus telling you it isn’t going to be easy, but you’ll make it, because we’ve already made it.

The sentence ends with two future tenses promising the one who continues to abide, the knowledge that will set him free. Present tense stands for eternal glory, future tense for glory still to come in time: all dependent on our faithful abiding in Christ now.


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