Tag: Greek

The 7 bits of Greek you must have (but don’t need to know) to be a preacher (and why they mean you don’t need a detailed working knowledge of Greek)

Last week two of Aussie Christianity’s biggest brains Con Campbell and John Dickson came together to blow up the internet. These guys seem to belong to some super-human category; both polymaths who are successful at just about everything they apply themselves to; both with IQs that leave most of us in the shade; both incredible gifts to the church… but in this case, I think, both wrong about what life as the church requires of those who would ‘preach’ or even, as they’ve clarified, those who would be the preacher-teacher-pastor in a western church…

Con was giving a speech at the ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) conference in the US, John was in attendance (this already marks them out as different to the rest of us mere mortals and that’s ok; I’ve got a profound appreciation for the work ETS does, and these guys do, for the church). We don’t have all of Con’s presentation; just this bit from John’s Facebook post (I’ll bold the bits the subsequent discussions have focused on and it’s worth reading Stephen McAlpine’s two posts in response (1, 2):

Listening to Con Campbell putting the hard word on pastors, students, academics: If you want to be a preacher, you simply must have a detailed working knowledge of New Testament Greek. Undergraduate historians are expected to have decent Greek and Latin by third year. Doctors must know the inner workings of a cell. Mechanics are to understand all the working parts of a car. Preachers must know and use the language of their primary source.

I don’t think you need a detailed working knowledge of Greek to be a preacher; even of the kind Con and John say they mean. But this suggestion and the understanding of preaching and the ministry of a church underneath it is interesting and important; and as much as I’m able to challenge these two fine minds, and plenty of others, I’d like to offer some gentle pushback (but also a completely different paradigm for church) on the absolute nature of this statement; and on what ‘preaching’ is in the life of the church and thus who a preacher is, and what a preacher does.

I don’t think being a preacher means you personally “must” have a detailed working knowledge of Greek, I do think we need these 7 concepts, that have Greek words attached to them (and come from me at least knowing some Greek). I think preaching is the proclamation of the word of God; specifically the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah (the Gospel) as found in every word of Scripture; by the church (the body) for the church and the world. I think it’s ok to have a paid preaching pastor who primarily sees the church and their role in it as being about preaching not teaching (but in the life of the body we need teachers).

Here’s a cheeky seven Greek words and/or phrases that provide the building blocks for this understanding of what we’re on about as preachers (paid, or not); what a preacher is (and who), and why it’s important for the body to know Greek, but not necessarily every speaking part of the body…

1. θεός (Theos)

Definition: God

You actually don’t need to know that God is ‘theos’ in Greek, in order to be a preacher, but all preaching that is true starts with God (and finds its ‘end’ in God too). Preaching in the ‘reformed tradition’ I belong to is often understood as proclaiming the word of God; to the point that you are speaking God’s word to those listening, and so we need to know what this word is; the question is, do we need Greek to do that?

2. λόγος (Logos)

Definition: a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech

There are some questions about who this word it is proclaimed to and its ends aimed at; whether just to the church, just to the world, or both (and I’m going with both because, as I’ll argue, the same ‘word’ or λόγος is what both believers and non-believers need to hear to know God).

The aim of preaching is ‘theology’ (from θεό- λόγος); the understanding of God. Theology is much more of a ‘must’ for the preacher; because it’s ultimately what guides us in understanding the Bible (in a circular way, because the languages do help us understand God and the word of God). I’m not convinced you need Greek to do theology; some people need Greek in order for theology to happen, certainly, but to suggest that the original languages are essential to truly know God (which nobody is actually explicitly saying, but it’s an implication of the assertion that preachers in the church need Greek) is to rob a significant number of believers (the majority) of the ability to do ‘theology’; to attempt to ‘know God’; in a way that runs counter to the Reformation, and is theologically problematic to the extent that all true knowledge of the infinite and thus-totally-beyond-our-natural-comprehension God actually needs to come from God (via the Spirit as it applies his word to us) as an act of accommodation for our human limitations; putting the Bible in human language to begin with was an act of incarnation and accommodation where words that could only ever really be analogies for the being of God were used to help us understand, but if they’re words with no Spirit, they’re just dead letters, and I’m fairly certain the Holy Spirit speaks english and mandarin too; that, in some sense, is what drives the church to translate the word of God into the language of different peoples of the world in the first place; that they might know and be able to speak truth about God (or preach) via the Spirit working to bring these words to life in our dead hearts.

Paul does some interesting stuff with this; the idea that God can only be truly known (and thus preached) by the Spirit bringing words to life, in 2 Corinthians 3, where he talks about what those words on a page (in Hebrew) did for the Hebrew reading readers without the Spirit…

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Corinthians 3:13-18

Ultimately God’s word; the content of our preaching that helps us know God, isn’t simply found in a book originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; but in a person (and of course, the book is where we go to meet the person). But it’s this person who is the centre of our preaching as both the word of God and the one who helps us truly know God; who bridges that gap from the infinite to the finite. I’ll bold the bits where these Greek words feature…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.— John 1:1, 14

If preaching is making God known via his word, then what we’re proclaiming is Jesus; his word; the way he speaks to the world. We’re proclaiming a particular message about him though too. I think Greek can certainly help give us a rich understanding of the written words about the Word-made-flesh, but I’m not sure Greek is essential if we believe that God makes himself known by the Spirit through these written words. If Jesus is God’s definitive word into the world; what else would we preach? I’ll suggest below that any ‘teaching’ from the Bible that is truly about God needs to understand the telos of the Bible more than simply the language the Bible was written in and what a text might have meant in its context apart from God’s revelation of himself in Jesus (note: this Hebrews bit uses different Greek words for ‘word’ and ‘spoke’; but it does describe the substance of the speech of God…)

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. — Hebrews 1:1-3

When the writer of Hebrews does speak of λόγος, in what I think is an argument build from chapter 1 despite using some synonyms, they say:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12-13

3. κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (kurios Jesus Christos)

Definition: kurios: Lord, Iésous: Jesus or Joshua, the name of the Messiah, Christos: the Anointed One, Messiah, Christ,

The substance of the message we preach is caught up in these two words; Greek words that we transliterate (though Jesus is a transliteration of the Hebrew first); “Jesus Christ.” This isn’t simply a name, but what we proclaim; our preaching starts here and cascades into the implications of its truth for knowing things about God, and life in God’s world as part of his kingdom. Or as Peter puts it in Acts 2:

Seeing what was to come, [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah (Christ), that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”’

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” — Acts 2:31-36

That’s a pretty good summary of the Gospel from the first recorded sermon from a post-resurrection preacher. I don’t think you need to know Greek to pull it off… just how the Old Testament anticipates the New; and how the crucified and resurrected Jesus is the Lord who pours out the Spirit and invites us to share in the fruits of Jesus’ defeat of death as we join his kingdom. You don’t need to know the phrase ‘kurios Jesus Christos’; though according to Philippians 2:11 every tongue will one day declare this truth… but even knowing ‘Jesus Christ is Lord” involves knowing 2 must know Greek words that are essential for preaching; so good job.

4. ἁγίου πνεύματος (hagiou pneumatos)

Definition: hagiou: Holy, pneumatos: Spirit

This one has been covered above, but just to explicitly state it; you don’t need to know the Greek words for Holy Spirit to be a preacher of God’s word; but you do need to have the Holy Spirit making God’s word ring true for you, and allowing you to speak the message at the heart of true preaching; that Jesus is Lord and God. Let’s bold all these bits so far again to see just how much important, must-have, Greek we’ve got under the belt now…

Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. — 1 Corinthians 12:3

5. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον κηρύσσω (to euangelion ho kerusso)

Definition: The Gospel I preach: to: the, euangelion: good news/Gospel, ho: I, kerusso: to herald (proclaim); to preach (announce) a message publicly and with conviction (persuasion)

The controversial statement from Con and John, and much of my reaction to it, is caught up in the sense that Greek is a must in order to preach; that our faithfulness to the substantial message of our preaching somehow depends on our knowledge of Greek. I think Con, and then John, have used the wrong word; had they said ‘Bible teacher’ that might have not been quite so controversial… but even then I’d have disagreed with the imperative because of the above; and because of what the Bible’s central message that teaching ought to convey actually is; that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

There are lots of words translated as ‘preach’ in our english Bibles; but the most common (and the one that gives us the Greek for ‘preacher’ (kerux), is kerusso. A kerux carried the proclamation of a king and spoke with the authority of the king (which works with what the reformed tradition thinks preaching is); the message of the king, as I’ve suggested above is actually the proclamation of the arrival of a king, or the king’s victory over his enemies; when heralds were called kerux and they were people who did this kerusso thing; and their message was a message of a king’s great victory (ie in the Roman empire), the kerux spoke the euangelion; the good news. The kerux, when they did this, might also be called an ‘evangelist’ (when you say ‘evangelism’ you’re speaking Greek). When the word preaching is used in the New Testament it’s used of this sort of task; both when John announces the arrival of Jesus, in the words of Jesus himself, and in the task the church then takes up in our preaching ministry to the world. We’re to be heralds preaching the arrival of our king. I’m not sure that task requires Greek; there are certain types of teaching in the life of the church that might; but our central task is to speak the words of God, from the written word, pointing to the living Word; our Lord and King. If you need Greek for that then we should pack up and move to Athens and start a colonisation project; because somehow knowing the good news of the Gospel requires that…

This sort of preaching is what John the Baptist did as he heralded the arrival of Jesus and his kingdom:

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. — Luke 3:3

It’s what Jesus did as an outworking of the Spirit’s anointing, while making God known…

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. — Matthew 4:23

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” — Luke 4:18-19

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.— Matthew 9:35

It’s what Jesus said would happen in the ‘end times’ (the time from his crucifixion to his return) when the Gospel to go to all nations…

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.— Matthew 24:14

And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. — Mark 13:10-11

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” — Luke 24:45-49

That last one is interesting because it comes as Jesus both explains how the Old Testament points to the central good news of the Christ… so that ‘preaching’ is possible from the Scriptures (cause that’s what understanding them involves), and links preaching to the Holy Spirit. It explains why Biblical Theology is important, and why when you preach as though the Bible is centred on the arrival of Jesus as the messiah, every sermon should be ‘Gospel’ and should be ‘preaching’ even if it involves teaching, rebuking, correcting, encouraging, and careful instruction… but I’d suggest a sermon is ok; and the life of a church community will be ok, so long as the preaching is grounded in the Gospel and its implications for life as the body of Jesus in a world that desperately needs to hear the word of life. It’s also this proclaimed word; the Gospel; that should help us weigh up all other forms of speaking in church, be it teaching, prophecy, or exhortation.

This preaching of the Gospel is what Paul does (as he explains to the elders in Jerusalem, as described in Galatians…)

I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. — Galatians 2:2

And it’s what Paul tells Timothy to do… to take up this baton, and this activity…

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word (κήρυξον τὸν λόγον); be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. — 2 Timothy 4:1-5

The essence of the message we preach is the good news of Jesus; proclaiming that he is the Christ. It doesn’t take Greek to do that; it might take Greek to ‘teach’ (διδάσκαλος), and there are lots of speaking tasks Paul charges Timothy with… but not all preaching is teaching; and I’m not sure all preachers need to be teachers, or all senior pastors… Especially if good teachers exist who are able to teach both churches and pastors and share the task of proclaiming the Gospel as God’s word to both the church and the world. I suspect Paul gets Timothy to do this stuff because this is part of who God has made Timothy to be, where the ‘your calling’ is specifically a reflection of Timothy’s character, gifts, and the roles God has called him to within the church… I’m not sure all preachers need to be all of Timothy; nor do all people employed or appointed as overseers in the church. Paul, like Timothy, occupies several ‘roles’ that he sees as distinct (which are duplicated in Timothy, and are no doubt a useful combo when there’s an individual (like Con or John) who can preach and teach).

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.— 2 Timothy 1:11, 13-14

The priesthood of all believers involves, on one level, making all believers preachers; especially corporately as all believers are participants in the body. It’s also the Gospel that is the substance of Paul’s roles here; it’s not like he proclaims one thing and teaches another…

And here’s a bit of a problem borne out of Dickson’s Anglicanism; where the default model of ministry is to have the individual priest-as-overseer, as opposed to a congregational model (like the Presbyterians) where not all elders/presbyters ‘teach’ (or need to know Greek), but perhaps all preach. The implications of the imperative in John Dickson’s post are challenging in a system of church governance that sees elders as teachers, and preachers, but not as the pastor-teacher at the heart of Anglican churches.The quote may work better in that context (though it may also expose some limitations of that context). The Anglican Church in Sydney has a view of the function of the weekly gathering and sermon that seems to be largely, if not exclusively, oriented towards teaching believers (this is called the Knox-Robinson Ecclesiology); not to see it as the body gathered to preach the Gospel to itself (and thus encourage, equip and build up believers for their task as a priesthood of all believers), and to the lost.

If Con’s statement, in its natural reading, suggests that to proclaim the Gospel one must have a detailed working knowledge of Greek, then this is a problem. It’s even, I think, a problem if the argument is ‘to be the pastor of a local church one must have a detailed working knowledge of Greek,’ it might actually be a function of Anglican ecclesiology that their understanding of a preacher-teacher is such that the person occupying that office must have a detailed working knowledge of Greek to do what they are ordained to do; but that’s a fairly narrow theological context. There’s a couple more Greek words to know that’ll help wrap all this up…

6. ήθος (Ethos)

Definition: “character” that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterise a community, nation, or ideology.

I think beyond holding to the logos of the Gospel, and so the sense that we know things about God (theology) when by the Spirit we see the dead and raised Jesus Christ as Lord and Christ, and this as good news that we’re to believe; the ethos that the Gospel creates in us as the Spirit transforms us into the image of Jesus, is one of the only other real must for a preacher (and for a preacher-pastor, ie one we might appoint as an overseer/elder in our churches as the person with responsibility); and it’s a Greek word.

But it’s a weird one. Because the word ethos is only in the Bible once, and it’s in a quote from a Greek poet (“Bad company corrupts good character.” in 1 Corinthians 15)… but in proclamation or persuasive speech (which preaching is), ethos is all about the character of the speaker; and ethos really matters for preachers; it’s of fundamental importance, more important even than being able to preach (no matter how good your Greek is); if you don’t have the character of a preacher; one where you embody the virtues of your message; you’re disqualified no matter how good your preaching is, or how good your Greek is… When Paul is talking to the preacher-teacher-overseer types he’s trained, Timothy and Titus, and suggesting they go about training and appointing preacher-teacher-overseers as he has, his emphasis is on character; because our preaching lives and dies by our ethos (because our ethos is the demonstration of the Spirit’s work within us, and of us belonging to the kingdom we proclaim)…

Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. — 1 Timothy 3:2-7


The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. — Titus 1:5-8

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance…

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. — Titus 2:1-2, 6-8

It’s ethos that shapes the way our presentation of the Gospel is heard; and Paul often appeals to his, both his great love for the people he is speaking to, and his embodying of the way of the Cross (which is his message).

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. — 1 Thessalonians 2:3-9

These two bits from 2 Corinthians 4 (within a letter that is ultimately, in one sense, a defence of Paul’s ethos as more important than the impressive ‘pathos’ or ‘ethos’ the Corinthians are looking for, because his posture is shaped by the logos; the message of the crucified king.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God…

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. — 2 Corinthians 4:2. 7-12

7.σῶμα (soma)

Definition: Body. (also, as a bonus from the passage below in terms of how this body functions as one body, many parts: συμφέρω, to ‘carry with others,’ to help, be profitable, be expedient)

A lot of the weight on the shoulders of the ‘preacher’ as envisaged by Con’s imperative, and John’s defence of it, rest on just how big the body is that Paul is talking about here; whether we emphasise the universal church or the local church; and then how that plays out in how we appoint leaders in different communities. If each local church is a disconnected and largely autonomous body with one paid staff member; then sure, it makes sense to insist that staff member to not just be a generalist, but to specialise in the core bits of teaching, preaching, and overseeing. But I think that’s a big if; especially in the context of ministry within a body that has some oversight (a denomination, like the Anglicans or Presbyterians), where that body takes responsibility for training and appointing (or ordaining) the preacher-teacher, and especially in the context of a denomination where the oversight includes providing and policing a doctrinal framework. It’s really important that some people in these structures know Greek; some of them must. Especially those responsible for educating employed preachers (in theological colleges), and for making decisions or providing insight into doctrinal matters (but even then you need your doctrine experts and church history experts too). Preachers (all of us, and people employed as preacher-pastors) should know why Greek is profoundly important to our ministry (in whatever role we’re in) and that translations always involve some human interpretation; much as we should know why history and theology are important, and we should know who to turn to, in the wider body, for help in understanding and communicating God’s truth to the world; but as a preacher I don’t have to be the ‘body of Christ’ with all its giftings and doing all its roles by myself.

To be part of the church, both local, and universal, is to be part of the body of Jesus together; and so to work together in preaching the Gospel of Jesus to our world. To that end we are equipped, differently, by God so that each member of the body plays its part. The church must know Greek (and Hebrew) and retain that knowledge such that enough people know it to have educated and discerning discussions about the meaning of Greek words; but do preachers in individual churches need to know Greek? I don’t think so. I think to insist on that would be to sign both a missiological death knell, but also to undermine the richness of possible life together where we benefit from hearing one another’s voices… voices employed in the activity of preaching; voices that bring different gifts to the table and who can accommodate the message of the Gospel; thus making God known; for different types of people in our world. If all our churches and ministers are trained the same, to think the same, and preach the same, you’ve got the sort of franchise-like benefit that comes with being able to walk into any McDonalds in Australia and have roughly the same dining experience; but McDonalds isn’t feeding millions of Australians; there’s a quality control that comes from that, but no sense of imagination or adventure or ability to get good nourishing food into new communities. I’m thankful for Con’s voice, and for John’s voice, for precisely this reason; they bring something to the table that I (and most mere mortals) can’t; but for them to push a line that makes a particular gifting an imperative for what is a task for all believers (preaching); and for the body corporately; I think is a terrible and damaging mistake; much better to know just these 7 Greek words than to spend your time pursuing a narrow picture of what the church could be (and is called to be) for the world; much better to hold our gifts in common and find ways to hear many more voices than to narrow the field of voices worth listening to to those who’ve achieved proficiency in an ancient (but not unimportant) language.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good (συμφέρω). To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. — 1 Corinthians 12:4-12



“This is my son, he speaks Greek”: A millionaire father writes to his (not yet) billionaire son

Ted Turner is a billionaire, famous for inventing Captain Planet, and perhaps less notably, CNN.

When he was young he decided to study the Classics at university. His father, Billboard mogul, was less than impressed and wrote him this letter, now featured on Letters of Note.

Here are some highlights.

I am appalled, even horrified, that you have adopted Classics as a major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today. I suppose that I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the purpose of an education is to enable one to develop a community of interest with his fellow men, to learn to know them, and to learn how to get along with them. In order to do this, of course, he must learn what motivates them, and how to impel them to be pleased with his objectives and desires.

Ted Sr thinks the Classics are interesting, but largely useless.

I am a practical man, and for the life of me I cannot possibly understand why you should wish to speak Greek. With whom will you communicate in Greek? I have read, in recent years, the deliberations of Plato and Aristotle, and was interested to learn that the old bastards had minds which worked very similarly to the way our minds work today. I was amazed that they had so much time for deliberating and thinking, and was interested in the kind of civilization that would permit such useless deliberation. Then I got to thinking that it wasn’t so amazing—after all they thought like we did because my Hereford cows today are very similar to those ten or twenty generations ago…

…I suppose everybody has to be a snob of some sort, and I suppose you will feel that you are distinguishing yourself from the herd by becoming a Classical snob. I can see you drifting into a bar, belting down a few, turning around to the guy on the stool next to you—a contemporary billboard baron form Podunk, Iowa—and saying, “Well, what do you think about old Leonidas?” Your friend, the billboard baron, will turn to you and say, “Leonidas who?” You will turn to him and say, “Why Leonidas, the prominent Greek of the Twelfth Century.” He will, in turn, say to you, “Well, who in the hell was he?” You will say, “Oh, you don’t know about Leonidas?” and dismiss him, and not discuss anything else with him the rest of the evening. He will feel that he is a clodhopper from Podunk, Iowa. I suppose this will make you both happy, and as a result of it, you will wind up buying his billboard plant…

…”It isn’t really important what I think. It’s important what you wish to do with your life. I just wish I could feel that the influence of those oddball professors and the ivory towers were developing you into the kind of a man we can both be proud of. I am quite sure that we both will be pleased and delighted when I introduce you to some friend of mine and say, “This is my son. He speaks Greek.””

The bold bit pretty much sums up my thinking regarding the study of Greek. Though it turns out that Ted Jr was probably right. History favours the brave.

Things are better in κοινη

One of the great things about being a Bible college student is Bible college jokes make sense. Apologies to all my non Bible College readers for this one…

My friend Canadian Mitch sent me this. He has a photo blog, you should check it out.

Also. If you are a college student (particularly a first year at QTC) starting to stress about exams – check out my college resources page, I posted heaps of exam prep stuff last year.

What Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You

When it comes to the Greek Language (at QTC at least) David Allen Black wrote the book. Literally. We use his introduction to Biblical Greek as our textbook. So I enjoyed this post of things your Greek teacher won’t tell you. If you haven’t got a Greek teacher then they’re still interesting. Sort of.

I think there’s some sort of double negative going on here. The list is a mix of Greek fallacies, and truths that you might not have heard. Anyway.

Here’s one of my favourite things from Greek (and Hebrew) this year.

“Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)”

Online Greek Bible

Who needs fancy (and expensive) bible software when you can google “Greek New Testament” and come up with an absolutely gold site like greekbible.com in the first page of results. It parses every word with a hover and click.


It does require an internet connection though…

How to learn Greek and Hebrew on the Mac

Step one: Download Paradigmatic – a great resource for college students by a college student (now former college student).

I’ve only grabbed it today, but it comes highly recommended by people in the know.

Sam Freney, the whizz in question, has also produced a Greek lexicon for the iPhone available here, or via iTunes.

Two truly terrific resources. Grab them today. They’re probably worth getting a Mac for (if you’ve been trying to justify a purchase).

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Ten

Nouns of the Third Declension

Greek nouns, like the verbs, have a stem, a connecting vowel and an ending. The ending indicates case (and declension).

Third declension nouns have no stem vowel. They just whack the ending onto the noun’s root. The stem is easies to identify by removing the “ος” from the genitive. Third declension genitives receive an ος in every singular genitive and an ων in every plural genitive (regardless of gender).

Nominatives mostly either have just an ς or nothing, datives always end in ι (singular) or σι(ν) (plural), and accusative plurals always end in ς (either ας or ες).

Third declension nouns are categorised on the basis of whether the stem ends with a consonant or a vowel. Consonantal stems are split into categories based on the last phoneme of the stem.

The gender of third declension nouns is not readily apparent – in order to spot them in the wild we need to learn the nominative and genitive singular versions, and the article, as always, will be our greatest ally in figuring out what the noun is doing.

Because there is no stem vowel the dative plural σι(ν) often comes across letters that σ hates. So:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + σι(ν) = ψι(ν)
  • ψ, π, β, φ + σι(ν)  = ξι(ν)
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + σι(ν)  = σι(ν)

If the stem ends in αντ, εντ, or  οντ in the dative case the ντ drops out and the leftover vowel lengthens.

eg: αντ + σι(ν) = ασι(ν)

εντ + σι(ν) = εισι(ν)

Adjectives, pronouns and numerals of the First and Third Declension

πας (meaning all) has a sibilant stem, so it follows δοξα, the stem of the third declension is παντ (from παντος).

πας has four uses:

  1. In the predicate it means “all”
  2. In the attributive it means “whole”
  3. With a noun without an article it means “every”
  4. When it stands by itself it’s substantive.

πας can have many different meanings (sometimes full or pure).

εις, ουδεις, and μηδεις

εις (“heis” not eis (which is into)) is the nominative masculine form of one. μια is the feminine nominative, while εν (“hen”, not en (which is in)) is the neuter.

The declension of εις, ουδεις, and μηνδεις is as follows

  • N: εις
  • G: ενος
  • D: ενι
  • A: ενα
  • N: μια
  • G: μιας
  • D: μιᾳ
  • A: μιαν
  • N: εν
  • G: ενος
  • D: ενι
  • A: εν

εκαστος εισ means “each one” and occurs commonly.

Greek double negatives don’t cancel each other out. So ουδεις and μηνδεις (no-one, no-thing) can reinforce a negative .

ουδεις is used in the indicative mood. μηνδεις in the others.

πολυς, μεγας and αληθης

  • πολυς = much, many
  • μεγας = great
  • αληθης = true, and is declined using third declension end.

Comparison of Adjectives

Adjectives in Greek have three degrees – positive (normal) (beautiful, hard, good), comparitive (harder, more beautiful, better), and superlative (hardest, most beautiful, best).

Comparative adjectives take the forms: -τερος, -τατα, -τατον

Superlative adjectives take the forms: -τατος, -τατη, -τατον


δικαιος (positive), δικαιοτερος (comparitive), δικαιοτατος (superlative)

There are a bunch of irregular comparatives:

  • αγαθος (good) -> κρεισσων (better)
  • κακοσ (bad) -> χειρων (worse)
  • μεγας (great) -> μειζων (greater)
  • πολυς (much) -> πλειων (more)

Adjectives may be used to express a comparison. This happens in two ways:

  1. By placing the noun (or pronoun) to be compared in the genitive. This is called the genitive of comparison.
  2. By using the particle η (than) and nouns in the same case.

The comparative form is often used with a superlative function “but the greatest of these” or the elative sense “very great”…

The St. Eutychus Guide To First Year Greek – Part Nine

Now. If only I understood all of this regurgitated garbage…

Perfect Middle, and Passive Indicative

The perfect middle and passive indicative takes the same suffix as the present middle and passive, with a reduplicated first syllable and no connecting vowel.

  • First person singular = λελυμαι
  • Second person singular = λελυσαι
  • Third person singular = λελυται
  • First person plural = λελυμεθα
  • Second person plural = λελυσθε
  • Third person plural = λελυνται

The perfect middle and passive deals with a present state resulting from a completed action (O <à>). As a middle λελυμαι is “I have released myself” or “I have released for myself,” or “I myself have released”… these translations are approximate and sometimes for the sake of English clarity the simple past is chosen – “so Christ died (aorist) and was raised (perfect passive)” – but the “raised” – like Archimede’s Eureka – places the impact on the current risen state.

The Future Middle Indicative

The future middle indicative takes the same suffix, with the future time morpheme (σ), and a connecting vowel, added to the stem.

It also, like the present middle, has an irregularity in the second person singular. This can be explained. With the suffix and future morpheme in place this would be λυσεσαι, it would seem that in order to be less complicated the second σ drops out, and the ε and α combine into an η and the ι drops into the subscript position.

So, the future middle looks a little something like this:

  • First person singular = λυσομαι
  • Second person singular = λυσῃ
  • Third person singular = λυσεται
  • First person plural = λυσομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυσεσθε
  • Third person plural = λυσονται

The middle voice can be translated as: I will loose myself, I will loose for myself, I myself will loose…

The Future Indicative of ειμι

ειμι in future form takes the same endings as λυσομαι (except for a rogue ε). It uses ε as its stem.

  • First person singular = εσομαι
  • Second person singular = εσῃ
  • Third person singular = εσται
  • First person plural = εσομεθα
  • Second person plural = εσεσθε
  • Third person plural = εσονται


Adverbs qualify verbs (and adjectives, and other adverbs).

In Greek, adverbs are formed by substituting ς for an ν at the end of the genitive plural (eg καλων (good) becomes καλως (well)).

Most adverbs just need to be learned as vocab…

μεν and δε

The conjunctions μεν and δε are used to contrast two ideas – μεν means “on the one hand” while δε means “on the other hand.” In translation this often works best as “…, but…” – dropping the μεν and expressing the contrast with a conjunction.

In the plural the μεν…δε construct translates as “some… others…

Imperfect Middle and Passive

The past middle suffixes used for the imperfect middle and passive, the aorist middle, and the plu-perfect middle and passive.

The Imperfect Middle and Passive is formed by attaching the augment (past time morpheme ε), a connecting vowel, and the secondary middle suffixes (past, middle suffix)…

For λυω the Imperfect Middle Passive looks like this:

  • First person singular = ελυομην
  • Second person singular = ελυσο
  • Third person singular = ελυετο
  • First person plural = ελυομεθα
  • Second person plural = ελυεσθε
  • Third person plural = ελυοντο

ελυομεν translates in the imperfect middle to: “I was releasing myself,” “I was releasing for myself,” “I myself was releasing.” In the imperfect passive it’s “I was being released.”

In the second person singular the form ελυου comes from ελυεσο – the σ drops out and the vowels contract.

Again, which voice you use is determined by context.

First Aorist Middle

The First Aorist Middle is conjugated as:

  • First person singular = ελυσαμην
  • Second person singular = ελυσω
  • Third person singular = ελυσατο
  • First person plural = ελυσαμεθα
  • Second person plural = ελυσασθε
  • Third person plural = ελυσαντο

Instead of a connecting vowel it features the aoristic aspect morpheme.

The second person singular is irregular for the same reason as the Imperfect middle/passive – the σ of the suffix drops out, and the vowels contract.

Because the aorist tense deals with a completed action the middle aorist translates as “I released myself” or “I released for myself” or “I myself released”

Second Aorist Middle Indicative

The second aorist in middle indicative does pretty much the same as the second aorist active indicative. It drops a vowel form the stem.

The Pluperfect Middle and Passive Indicative

The pluperfect middle and passive feature reduplication of the consonant, the past time morpheme, the secondary middle suffixes (with no connecting vowel).


  • First person singular = ελελυμην
  • Second person singular = ελελυσο
  • Third person singular = ελελυτο
  • First person plural = ελελυμεθα
  • Second person plural = ελελυσθε
  • Third person plural = ελελυντο

It can be translated as: “I had released myself,” “I had released for myself,” “I myself had released,” as a passive it should be translated “I had been released.”

Aorist Passive Indicative

The first aorist passive indicative is obtained by adding the augment, the passive morpheme (θε or θη), and the secondary active endings.

  • First person singular = ελυθην
  • Second person singular = ελυθης
  • Third person singular = ελυθη
  • First person plural = ελυθημεν
  • Second person plural = ελυθτε
  • Third person plural = ελυθησαν

The first person singular aorist passive is translated “I was released.”

Second Aorist Passive Passive Indicative

Loses the θ from the morpheme. Keeps the same suffixes as the first aorist passive indicative.

Future Passive Indicative

Obtained by adding the passive morpheme, then the future time morpheme, and removing the final ν, and adding the primary middle endings


  • First person singular = λυθησομαι
  • Second person singular = λυθηςῃ
  • Third person singular = λυθησεται
  • First person plural = λυθησομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυθσεσθε
  • Third person plural = ελυθησονται

The first person singular translates “I will be released.”

Second Future Passive Indicative forms, like the second aorist, lose the θ from the morpheme.

Irregular Passive Forms

Chucking a θε (or θη) into a word causes trouble if the stem ends in a consonant. Mainly if the consonant is one of those ones that doesn’t really play nice with others.

This time the changes can be summarised as:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + θ = χθ
  • ψ, π, β, φ + θ = φθ
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + θ = σθ

Examples are:

  • αγω in the aorist is ηχθην and in the future passive is αχησομαι.
  • βαπτιζω in the aorist is εβαπτισθην and in the future passive is βαπτισθησομαι.
  • πειθω in the aorist is επεισθην and in the future passive is πεισθησομαι.

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Eight

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are like pointing at something. If there is a table in the room and I want to draw attention to it – I’d say “this table.” If, however, the table is outside the room I’d say “that table”… we all know the difference between this and that instinctively – but I hadn’t really analysed this instinct before in terms of proximity…

This in Greek is αυτος. At least in the masculine nominative singular. There are a couple of grounds for confusion in the below declensions because I’m not typing accents… αυτη is both the feminine nominative singular demonstrative pronoun this (woman – if used substantively) and the feminine nominative singular personal pronoun – the only difference is in the accenting.



  • N: ουτος
  • G: τουτου
  • D: τουτῳ
  • A: τουτον


  • N: ουτοι
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουτοις
  • A: τουτους



  • N: αυτη
  • G: ταυτης
  • D: ταυτῃ
  • A: ταυτην


  • N: αυται
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουταις
  • A: τουτας



  • N: τουτο
  • G: τουτου
  • D: τουτῳ
  • A: τουτο


  • N: ταυτα
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουτοις
  • A: ταυτα

The nominative singular and plural masculine and feminine all being with rough breathing.

For more remote objects the demonstrative pronoun is εκεινος (that). Its declension is identical to αυτος.



  • N: εκεινος
  • G: εκεινου
  • D: εκεινῳ
  • A: εκεινον


  • N: εκεινοι
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκεινοις
  • A: εκεινους



  • N: εκεινη
  • G: εκεινης
  • D: εκεινῃ
  • A: εκεινην


  • N: εκειναι
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκειναις
  • A: εκεινας



  • N: εκεινο
  • G: εκεινου
  • D: εκεινῳ
  • A: εκεινο


  • N: εκεινα
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκεινοις
  • A: εκεινα

Uses of the Demonstrative

There are three main uses of the demonstrative:

  1. To modify a noun. In this instance the pronoun agrees with the noun in gender, number, and case. The noun in this instance is always definite, and the pronoun sits in the predicate position. The syntax is therefore: pronoun + article + noun. λεγω τουτοις τοις ανθροποις is “I speak to these men.”
  2. Substantive Use – they carry their own noun based on case. So αυτος is “this man” or “this person” when there is no other noun to work with… eg ουτος βλασφημει = This man is blaspheming. If the noun is not definite (ie doesn’t have an article) the demonstrative does not modify the noun. So ουτος κλεπτης εστιν και λῃστης is “that man is a thief and a robber” not “that thief and a robber”
  3. Can function as personal pronouns if they immediately follow a proper noun – in which case they are translated he, she, or they.

Present Middle and Passive Indicative

All our verbs up until now have been active indicative – the subject has been doing the action. Greek has a middle voice – where the subject acts for its own interest, and a passive voice, where the subject receives the action of the verb.

So the passive of “I release” is “I am being released,” or “I am released.”

The forms of the passive and the middle are identical. And only context determines which one is used.

The forms of the present middle and passive indicative are:

  • First person singular = λυομαι
  • Second person singular = λυῃ
  • Third person singular = λυεται
  • First person plural = λυομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυεσθε
  • Third person plural = λυονται

The Middle Voice

The middle voice can be translated as “I am releasing myself,” or “I am releasing for myself,” or “I myself am releasing.

The middle has three uses:

  1. The reflexive middle – refers the result of the verb directly to the subject “Judas hanged himself” in the Greek does not have the word “himself.”
  2. The intensive middle – emphasises the agent’s role in the action – “he himself secured eternal redemption” – once again, the “himself” comes from the verb.
  3. The reciprocal middle – is the use of a plural subject engaged in an interchange of action. I don’t really get this one, but apparently it’s as rare as hen’s teeth.

Deponent Verbs

Deponent verbs are verbs that have middle or passive forms but that have lost their active form. The middle/passive verb has taken the active verb’s place, eg ερχομαι means “I go,” it is middle in form but active in meaning.

Deponent verbs tend to involve:

  1. Reciprocity – Describe situations that require two parties (eg I redeem, Ι welcome).
  2. Reflexivity – The verbal idea turns back on the subject (eg I imitate, I put on, I abstain).
  3. Self-involvement – Describe processes that only the subject can experience (eg I ponder, I consider, I go)

In some verbs the active form has one meaning and the deponent another – αρχω means “I rule” but αρχομαι means “I begin” – these are rare.

A lot of deponent verbs form compound verbs with prepositions.


A verb in the passive voice will often come with an agent – the person or thing producing the action.

  1. The direct agent (the agent by whom the action is performed) is expressed by υπο and a genitive noun.
  2. The intermediate agent (through whom the action is performed) is expressed by δια and the genitive
  3. Impersonal agency (an action being performed by or through a non-person) – is expressed by the dative case (sometimes with εν).
  4. The divine passive occurs when no agent is expressed to avoid naming God directly (eg “they will be comforted [by God]”)

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • εκεινος = (ekeinos) that
  • ουτος = (houtos) this
  • αμνος = (amnos) Lamb = An l-amnos is a little lamb
  • αρτος = (artos) bread = Good bread is art
  • διαβολος (diabolos) devil = El Diablos is the Spanish devil
  • εχθρος = (exthros) enemy =
  • ηλιος = (helios) sun = there used to be a heliocentric view of the world, the idea that the earth
  • θρονος = (thronos) throne = I sit my bottomos on the thronos
  • καιρος = (kairos) time = I’ve got nothing
  • καρπος = (karpos) fruit = karpos are not fish, but fruit
  • λαος = (laos) people = The people of laos are friendly people
  • ναος = (naos) temple = Jews say “temple” we say “naos”
  • ουρανος = (ouranos) heaven = Uranus is in the heavens.
  • οφθαλμος = (ophthalmos) eye = When my eyes aren’t working I go to see the ophthalmologist.
  • Πετρος = (Petros) Peter: The apostle.
  • σταυρος = (stauros) cross = The southern cross is four stars that make a stauros.
  • τοπος = (topos) place = If you win first place you’re on topos the world.
  • τυφλος = (tuphlos) blindman = If something pokes out your eyes it’s a tuph-los and you’ll be a blindman
  • φιλος = (filos) friend = Philos
  • φοβος = (phobos) = phobia.
  • χρονος = (chronos) time = Time passes chronoslogically.
  • βιβλιον = (biblion) books = Bibliographies are lists of books
  • δαιμονιον = (daimonion) demon = sounds like what it is
  • ιματιον = (Imation) cloak/garment = I wear my cloak Imation the latest fashions
  • μυστηριον = (musterion) mystery = It’s a musterion to me.
  • παιδιον = (paidion) child = You don’t paidion children very much to work
  • πλοιον = (ploion) boat = Pirates make their ploys on a boat.
  • σαββατον = (sabbaton) Sabbath = It sounds like what it is
  • σημειον = (semeion) sign = Apparently semantics is meant to remind you of signs…
  • αρχω = (arxo) I rule (takes a genitive) = Noah ruled the arxo
  • υπαρχω = (uparxo) I am, I exist = I have nothing…

Deponent Verbs (I can’t think of hooks for these yet)

  • δεχομαι = I welcome
  • λυτροομαι = I redeem
  • χαριζομαι = I forgive
  • ιαομαι = I heal
  • μαχομαι = I fight
  • ψευδομαι = I lie
  • ασπαζομαι = I greet
  • αποκρινομαι = I answer (takes the dative)
  • τυφλοομαι = I am conceited
  • επενδουμαι = I put on
  • μιμεομαι = I imitate
  • εκρατευομαι = I abstain
  • ερχομαι = I go
  • διαλογιζομαι = I ponder
  • ηγεομαι = I consider
  • οργιζομαι = I am angry
  • βουλομαι = I wish
  • λογιζομαι = I consider
  • αρχομαι = I begin
  • γινομαι = I become (takes a complement)
  • εκπορευομαι = I come out, I go out
  • εργαζομαι = I work
  • ευαγγελιζομαι = I preach the gospel
  • πορευομαι = I come
  • προσευχομαι = I pray
  • ερχομαι = I come

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Seven

Perfect Verbs

The perfect tense is exegetically significant. It comes in three forms – the perfect, the pluperfect and the future perfect. The perfect verb deals with a completed action, but makes some comment on its continued effect.

The Perfect Active Indicative

The Perfect Active Indicative tense gets a new morpheme – the perfective aspect morpheme. It’s a κα. It also gets a new augment – involving the reduplication of the stem’s consonant, and an ε. The perfect form of λυω (I release) is as follows:

  • First Person Singular: λελυκα
  • Second Person Singular: λελυκας
  • Third Person Singular: λελυκε(ν)
  • First Person Plural: λελυκαμεν
  • Second Person Plural: λελυκατε
  • Third Person Plural: λελυκασι(ν)

You’ll notice that the endings are similar to the secondary suffix (except in the third person plural), and that the first person singular’s form means the third person has to take an ε instead of an α.

The three steps to get to the perfect are:

  1. Add the κα
  2. Reduplicate the consonant with an ε
  3. Attach the secondary suffix

Because the Greek language hates you there are three tricks with reduplication. Two of these stem from the “double letters” – the ones we would transliterate into English with two English letters.

  1. The aspirated consontants – θ (th), φ (ph), and χ (ch), lose their aspiration in reduplication, so become τ, π and κ respectively.
  2. The “double consonants” ψ (ps), ζ (dz), ξ (ks), or any stem that begins with two consonants (except consonant + λ or ρ eg γραφω) just get an ε and no consonantal reduplication. They keep the κα to distinguish them from other past time verbs.
  3. If the stem begins with a vowel then the standard vowel mash up happens – without consonantal duplication. ετοιμαζω becomes ητοιμακα.

The letters τ, δ, and θ don’t play well with κα so they disappear before the perfective morpheme.

Second Perfects

There are also second perfects, which seem to have been invented to aid pronunciation but make learning Greek difficult. In second perfects the κα becomes α. They are the same as first perfects except for the missing κ.

The words with second perfect forms are:

  • γραφω = γεγραπφα, γεγραηας etc = I have written, you have written…
  • ακουω = εκηκοα = I have heard
  • πειθω = πεποιθα = I have trusted in
  • πεμπω = πεπομφα = I have sent
  • πασχω = πεπονθα = I have suffered

The Significance of the Perfect

The perfect tense refers to the state that results from a completed action. The temporal focus is more on the present than the past.

The difference between:

Acts 2:2

“A sound filled the whole house” (Aorist)


Acts 5:28

“You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching” (perfect)

When Archimedes ran around shouting ευρηκα it was the perfect tense – referring to the ongoing effect his discovery would have, and not the aorist ευρον.

The choice of the perfect over another tense is often the result of the subjective choice of the author (not necessarily the objective facts).

The Pluperfect

The “pluperfect” is the same as the past tense of the perfect. Instead of “I have released” it reads “I had released” – it has a past time morpheme added to the front of the consonantal duplication. And gets a κει instead of a κα…

  • First Person Singular: ελελυκειν
  • Second Person Singular: ελελυκεις
  • Third Person Singular: ελελυκει(ν)
  • First Person Plural: ελελυκειμεν
  • Second Person Plural: ελελυκειτε
  • Third Person Plural: ελελυκεισα(ν)

The pluperfect is rarely used in the New Testament, and the future perfect is even rarer. So rarely that it’s not dealt with in the textbook.

It emphasises the completion of the action.

Greek Verbs in ASCII art

O = completed action, a whole. A closed circle.
-> = ongoing action or state of being.
<> = emphasis

  • Present = either -> or O
  • Future = either -> or O
  • Imperfect Past = ->
  • Aorist = O
  • Pluperfect (past perfect) = <O>->
  • Perfect = O<->>
  • Future Perfect= <>O->

The verb οιδα

οιδα means “I know,” so does γινωσκω. It only has perfect and pluperfect forms, but they only have present and past meanings. For the purposes of translating they get treated as imperfect (past) and present.

Present Active Indicative

  • First person singular: οιδα
  • Second person singular: οιδας
  • Third person singular: οιδε(ν)
  • First person plural: οιδαμεν
  • Second person plural: οιδατε
  • Third person plural: οιδασιν

Imperfect Active Indicative

  • First person singular: ηδειν
  • Second person singular: ηδεις
  • Third person singular: ηδει
  • First person plural: ηδειμεν
  • Second person plural: ηδειτε
  • Third person plural: ηδεισαν

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • οιδα = (oida) I know = Oida hell should I know?

Perfect Indicative

  • ημαρτηκα = I have sinned
  • βεβληκα = I have thrown
  • εγνωκα = I have known
  • ητοιμακα = I have prepared
  • ευρηκα = I have found
  • εσχηκα = I have had
  • τεθεραπευκα = I have healed
  • ειρηκα = I have said
  • λελυκα = I have released
  • μεμαθηκα = I have learned
  • εωρακα = I have seen
  • πεπιστευκα = I have believed
  • σεσωκα = I have saved

2nd Perfect

  • ακηκοα = I have heard
  • γεγραφα = I have written
  • πεπονθα = I have suffered
  • πεποιθα = I have trusted in
  • πεπομφα = I have sent
  • πεφευγα = I have fled

Extra conjunction

  • οτι = (hoti) that, because = that stove is hoti, because it is on

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Six

Some unboring posts in the pipeline people. I promise.

Personal Pronouns

To recap some English grammar – a pronoun is a noun that stands in the place of a noun. Like “it” or “this.” A personal pronoun is a noun that stands in the place of a person.

The first person singular pronoun in English is “I,” in Greek it’s “εγω.” Fitting really.

Because we’re dealing with nouns we’re looking at the same four major cases (in fact, there are no vocatives in the first person, because you don’t talk to yourself in Greek land. That would be crazy.

So the first person pronouns look like this:


  • N εγω = I
  • G εμου or μου = my
  • D εμοι or μοι = to me
  • A εμε or με = me


  • N ημεις = we
  • G εμων = ours
  • D ημιν = to us
  • A ημας = us

εμου, εμοι and εμε are used to emphasise the pronoun.

The second person pronouns like this:


  • N συ = you
  • G σου or an accented σου = of you
  • D σοι or an accented σοι = to you
  • A σε or an accented σε = you


  • N υμεις = you
  • G υμνω = of you
  • D υμιν = to you
  • A υμας = you

The accented forms of the pronouns are used for emphasis. Accents are too hard to type consistently, so you’ll just have to imagine them all over the place here, and elsewhere.

A tip for differentiating the second person plural nominative and the first person plural nominative is to remember that “u” is the first letter of the second person, and the last letter of the English equivalent (you) while “e” is the first letter of the first person, and the last letter of the English equivalent (we). There has to be an easier way to express that…

And the third person like this (it has masculine, neuter and feminine versions, eg. he, she, and it):



  • N αυτος = He
  • G αυτου = of him
  • D αυτῳ = to him
  • A αυτον = him


  • N αυτοι
  • G αυτων
  • D αυτοις
  • A αυτους



  • N αυτη = she
  • G αυτης = of her
  • D αυτῃ= to her
  • A αυτην = her


  • N αυται
  • G αυτων
  • D αυταις
  • A αυτας



  • N αυτο = it
  • G αυτου = of it
  • D αυτῳ = to it
  • A αυτο = it


  • N αυτα
  • G αυτων
  • D αυτοις
  • A αυτα

There are no vocatives in the third person, and the declension, across the genders, is exactly the same as αγαθος (the adjective), except for the neuter nominative and accusative, which follow the declension of the definite article instead.

Characteristics of Pronouns

  1. Pronouns are used instead of nouns to avoid repetition.
  2. The noun the pronoun replaces is called the antecedent, the pronoun agrees with the antecedent in gender and number, but case will obviously vary based on the role the pronoun plays in the sentence – if the antecedent is the accusative and the pronoun is dative (eg. I see the Lord and believe in Him) then the case ending has to change to show that.
  3. Because verbs already have a built in pronoun based on the person-number suffix a pronoun is only used with a verb for the sake of emphasis. εγω λυω translates the same as λυω but the “I” is more emphatic when the pronoun is used.
  4. Personal pronouns in the genetive indicate possession. ο λογοσ μου translates to “my word” (literally “the word of me”).
  5. The emphatic version of pronouns (eg εμου) are normally used after prepositions eg απ εμου = from me, is more likely than απο μου.

Special Uses of αυτος

αυτος has two special uses.

  1. When used with the article (in the attributive position) it translates as “same” this is called the adjectival αυτος eg ο αυτος αποστολος is “the same apostle”
  2. When used without the article, in the predicate position, it translates as “self” eg “himself” – this use is called the intensive αυτος eg ο αποστολοσ αυτος is “the apostle himself.” The intensive can also be used with other pronouns to intensify the pronoun – so αυτος εγω λεγω is “I myself say” – this also works with the verb’s internal subject. So αυτος λεγω is also “I myself say”…

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Five

Verbs in the past tense (part one)

We’ve covered present and future tense already, where we learned that to futurify a verb you add an s after the stem (eg λυω=present, λυσω = future) Greek likes indicating changes with new letters. It’s much the same in past tense, though there are three past tense varieties to be mindful of. These are:

  1. The Imperfect = Ongoing action, occurring in the past (eg I was releasing)
  2. The Aorist = Completed action, with no comment on ramifications (eg I released)
  3. The Pluperfect = more complicated version of the imperfect, involves both a past action and the ramifications, but focuses on the action (I had released. We’ll deal with this one later.

These “secondary” (ie past) tenses receive a past time morpheme (called the augment) which usually appears as an ε, but there are rules about what happens when the ε meets other vowels. It can’t coexist.

They also get secondary suffixes (bits on the end of the word) that can vary slightly but are mostly:

  • First Person Singular: -ν
  • Second Person Singular: -ς
  • Third Person Singular: none (though sometimes an ν)
  • First Person Plural: -μεν
  • Second Person Plural: -τε
  • Third Person Plural: -ν or σαν

The Imperfect

The imperfect is formed by:

  1. Adding the past time morpheme to the stem
  2. Chucking a vowel on the end of the stem (an ο or ε)
  3. Adding the secondary suffixes


  • First Person Singular: ελυον  (I was releasing)
  • Second Person Singular: ελυες  (you were releasing)
  • Third Person Singular: ελυε(ν) (he was releasing)
  • First Person Plural: ελυομεν (we were releasing)
  • Second Person Plural: ελυετε (you(se) were releasing)
  • Third Person Plural: ελυον  (they were releasing)

The imperfect has four main uses:

  1. The progressive imperfect – deals with continuous actions in the past (I kept releasing).
  2. The customary imperfect – deals with habitual action in the past (I used to release).
  3. The conative imperfect – deals with actions attempted in the past (I tried to release).
  4. The inceptive imperfect – deals with the initiation of an action in the past (I began to release).

These uses are determined by context.

The Imperfect form of ειμι (I am)

  • First Person Singular: ημην  (I was)
  • Second Person Singular: ης  (you were)
  • Third Person Singular: ην (he was)
  • First Person Plural: ημεν (we were)
  • Second Person Plural: ητε (you(se) were)
  • Third Person Plural: ησαν (they were)

The Aorist

Aorists have a nice little “aspect morpheme” that makes spotting them in the wild a little easier. They get a σα that sticks on the stem. So to build an aorist verb you:

  1. Add the past time morpheme to the front of the stem
  2. Add the “σα” to the stem.
  3. Add the secondary suffixes.


  • First Person Singular: ελυσα  (I released)
  • Second Person Singular: ελυσας  (you released)
  • Third Person Singular: ελυσε(ν) (he released)
  • First Person Plural: ελυσαμεν (we released)
  • Second Person Plural: ελυσατε (you(se) released)
  • Third Person Plural: ελυσαν  (they released)

You’ll notice that in most cases the σα just takes the place of the connecting vowel from the Imperfect. Except in the first person and third person singular. The first person singular is called the “aorist active principal part” and because it breaks the rules, the third person has to as well. Otherwise it would be the same. So it gets an ε.

The aorist plays three roles:

  1. The constative aorist – views an action in its totality. It is holistic.
  2. The ingressive aorist – views an action, tough completed, with an emphasis on its beginning.
  3. The effective aorist – views the action with an emphasis on its conclusion.

The aorist is more common in the New Testament than the imperfect, so when an imperfect crops up we should ask “why is this imperfect and not aoristic?”

More amalgamation (this time in the aorist tense)

Remember that σ doesn’t play nice with other verbs (from when we were making future tense verbs). This crops up again when you bang a σα onto a stem that ends with a letter that σ doesn’t like.

To recap:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + σ = ξ
  • ψ, π, β, φ + σ = ψ
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + σ = σ

Some examples to watch out for:

  • κηρυσσω (I preach) – the stem is actually κηρυκ, so in the future tense it’s κηρυξω, while in the aorist it’s εκηρυξα.
  • βλεπω (I see) is βλεψω (I will see) in the future tense, and εβλεψα (I saw) in the aorist
  • πειθω (I trust in) Is πεισω (I will trust in) in the future and επεισα in the aorist (I trusted in).

The Complexities of the Augment

The ε is a bit like σ. It doesn’t play well with other letters. These rules obviously come about because of the pronunciation difficulties that would be presented if they didn’t… so εα is harder to say than η. When the augment comes across a stem that starts with a short vowel (ε, ο and sometimes α, ι, and υ) it lengthens to the corresponding long vowel (η, ω). For example, the imperfect form of ακουσω is ηκουν. If the verb already starts with a long vowel, or a dipthong, nothing changes. It has a zero morpheme augment. The pronunciation doesn’t change, but the suffix does. ειρηνευω (I make peace) becomes ειρηνευον (I was making peace).

Some verbs are special and take a double augment. These verbs start with a vowel and consonant, which are duplicated before the augment is added. So αγω (I lead) becomes αγαγ, and then the augment changes it to ηγαγ, and with the suffix ηγαγον (I was leading)

Second Aorists

This is one of those subsets of Greek that is designed to infuriate first years. Second Aorists look almost identical to the imperfect. They don’t take a σα, they just drop a cowel from within the stem. The best way to come to grips with this unusual change is to remember that English does it too. eg. I stink, I stank, I stunk.

ελειπον (I was leaving) becomes ελιπον.

Some other verbs are just confusing. λεγω means “I speak,” but ειπον means I spoke. This happened when two verbs that meant the same thing had other forms that fell out of use. An English example is “I go” and “I went” – one is the past tense of the other, but they have very different origins.

Here are some Second Aorist examples:

  • αμαρτανω (I sin) becomes ημαρτον (I sinned)
  • ευρισκω (I find) becomes ευρον (I found)
  • λαμβανω (I take) becomes ελαβον (I took)
  • πασχω (I suffer) becomes επαθον (I suffered)
  • φευγω (I flee) becomes εφυγον (I fled)

The stem of γινωσκω is γνο which is lengthened to γνω and in the second aorist becomes εγνων (I knew).

ειδον (I saw) is the second aorist of οραω (I see).

Second Aorist Vocab

  • ηγαγον = I led
  • ημαρτον = I sinned
  • εβαλον = I threw
  • εγνων = I knew
  • εφαγον = I ate
  • ευρον = I found
  • εσχον = I had
  • ελαβον = I took
  • ειπον = I said
  • ελιπον = I left
  • εμαθον = I suffered
  • ειδον = I saw
  • εφυγον = I fled
  • ηνεγκον = I bore

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αμαρτανω = I sin (I do αμαρτος)
  • βαλλω = I throw = I throw a ballo
  • εσθιω = I eat
  • ευρισκω = I find = “Eureka!”
  • λειπω = I leave = I leap over the barricade and get out of there
  • μανθανω = I learn = I need to learn manthano.
  • πασχω = I suffer = When I’m suffering I need an ice pasxo
  • φευγω = I flee = fugitives flee

These are just aorist versions of previously covered verbs:

  • ηκουσα = I heard
  • ημαρτησα = I sinned
  • εβαπισα = I baptised
  • εβλεψα = I saw
  • εγραψα = I wrote
  • εδιδαξα = I taught
  • εδοξασα = I glorified
  • ητοιμασα = I prepared
  • εθεραπευσα = I healed
  • εκηρυξα = I preached
  • ελυσα = I released
  • επεισα = I trusted in
  • επεμψα = I sent
  • επιστευσα = I believed
  • εσωσα = I saved
  • ενεγκα = I bore

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Four

Are you bored with this yet? Don’t worry. There are probably only five more of these posts to go, and then I’ll be on to Hebrew… Thanks for humouring me. Feel free to chime in if you have any suggested memory hooks, or if I’m in error. I know some of you read Greek…


Greek adjectives agree with their noun in gender, number and case. This means a feminine ending, plural, nominative adjective has to match up to a feminine ending, plural, nominative noun. They have endings just like the article.

Greek adjectives work in three different ways:

1. Attributively – describes the noun eg “The good man.” In this use the adjective either shares an article with the noun and comes between the article and the noun, or has its very own article and comes emphatically after the noun eg: “The Man, The good one” which you can simplify to “the good man.” In either use the article comes right before the adjective.

2. Predicatively – The adjective can be used to assert something about the noun – “The man is good” – it functions as a complement, or equals sign (like the verb “to be”). The predicate adjective comes either before the article or after the noun. So it literally reads “good the man” or “the man good,” there will not be an article before good, in both examples you supply an “is” to make the sentence read better. Most of the time in the New Testament, ειμι (or one of its conjugations) will be in the sentence too, as an extra clue.

3. Substantively – Sometimes the adjective will supply its own in built noun (based on the word ending) so “ο αγαθος” without a nominative noun will translate to “the good man” and “η αγαθη” will translate to “the good woman.”

Adjective endings don’t always completely match up – they don’t need to in order to agree in number, gender and case – because adjectives can be used with nouns from other declensions.

There’s a tricky adjectival use where the noun is not definite. In this case you have to use context to figure out if the adjective is being used attributively or predicatively.

More Prepositions

The first four prepositions (απο, εις, εν, εκ) only work with one noun case each.

  • απο + genitive = from
  • εις + accusative = into
  • εν + dative = in
  • εκ + genitive = out of

There are five more one case prepositions:

  • ανα + accusative = up
  • αντι + genitive = instead of, in place of
  • προ + genitive = before (prologue)
  • προσ + accusative = to, toward, with
  • συν + dative = with

There are six further prepositions that work with two noun cases each.

  • δια + Genitive =  through (frequently used with a passive verb as “by”)
  • δια + Accusative = because of
  • κατα + Genitive = against
  • κατα + Accusative = according to
  • μετα + Genitive = with
  • μετα + Accusative = after
  • περι + Genitive = about
  • περι + Accusative = around
  • υπερ + Genitive = for
  • υπερ + Accusative = above, over (hyperactive)
  • υπο + Genitive = by
  • υπο + Accusative = under (hypoactive)

And two more that have three cases:

  • επι + Genitive = upon
  • επι + Accusative = upon
  • επι + Dative = upon

The distinction between uses of επι has been lost.

  • παρα + Genitive = from
  • παρα + Accusative = beside
  • παρα + Dative = with

Prepositions before vowels and rough breathing…

Ancient Greeks obviously had troubles ending one word with a vowel and starting the next word with a vowel. So all of these prepositions except περι and προ drop their final vowel when preceding a word with a vowel. The vowel is replaced with a smooth breathing mark.

Compound Verbs

Sometimes the words get smashed together into compound verbs. If a vowel has dropped out this happens first. If a verb looks like it has a preposition mashed into it, it probably does.

Some translations are obvious eg. εκβαλλω is “out” plus “I throw” so it’s I throw out. Some have become idioms. αναγινωσκω means “I read” not “I know up”.

When a verb is in the past tense it gets an augment, a letter chucked on the front of the stem, when this happens to a compound verb, like εκβαλλω, the augment (normally an ε) goes in front of the stem. So εκβαλλω becomes εξεβαλλω. When a compound verb is used in the New Testament it is often supported by the preposition also being used with the noun.

Compound Verbs Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αναγινωσκω = (anaginosko) I read = I read my vocab again and again so I’ll know it.
  • ανοιγω = (anoigo) I open = I open the door, an-I-go out.
  • αποθνησκω = (apothnesko) I die = If I catch apothnesko, I’ll die
  • εκβαλλω = I throw out/I cast out

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγαθος = (agathos) good = Agatha Christie novels are good.
  • αγαπητος = (agapetos) beloved = love + to
  • αλλος = (allos) other = Allos the others
  • δυνατος = (dunatos) powerful, possible = Powerful Scotsmen dunatos the caber.
  • εκαστος = (ekastos) each, every = I get sick at the Ekka every time I go.
  • εσχατος = (eschatos) last = Eschatology
  • καινος = (kainos) new = The principal brought a new kainos to school.
  • κακος = (kakos) bad = kakos sounds like a word for excrement.
  • καλος = (kalos) beautiful = Kalostomy bags are not beautiful
  • μονος = (monos) only = monobrow=only brow
  • πιστος = (pistos) faithful = If I were a superhero I would call my faithful sidekick “Pistos”
  • πρωος = (protos) first = prototype.
  • σοφος = (sophos) wise = Wise people are so sophosticated.
  • τριτος = (tritos) third = Triceratops have a third horn.
  • αγιος = (agios) holy = I drank the Holy Water and had to hold on for agios.
  • αξιος = (aksios) worthy = People who say aks instead of ask are not worthy.
  • δευτερος = (deuteros) second = Deuteronomy is the “second” statement of the law (nomos).
  • δικαιος = (dikaios) righteous = I’m just going to have to remember this one too…
  • ετερος = (heteros) other, different = I am a heterosexual.
  • ισχυρος =  (isxuros) strong = I’ve got nothing.
  • μακαριος = (makarios) blessing = It will be a blessing to eat Maccas again.
  • μικρος = (mikros) small = mikroscopic
  • νεκρος = (nekros) dead  = with a bit of unnecessary Japanese thrown in, the only good cat (neko) is a dead cat (nekros)
  • νεος = (neos) new = neo-orthodox
  • πονηρος = (poneros) evil = Dr Evil is so pon(d)erous.
  • αδυνατος = (adunatos) = I’m not a powerful Scotsman so a-dunatos the caber, it is impossible.
  • αιωνιος = (aionios) eternal = Eternity goes on for aeons.
  • ακαθαρτος = (akathartos) unclean = It is not cathartic for an OCD person to have unclean hands.
  • απιστος = (apistos) unfaithful = the unfaithful friend apistos in your pocket.

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Three

More Nouns

The First Declension (which textbooks tend to deal with second) has a nice rule that helps with the tables. Or a couple of rules.

Feminine Nouns of the First Declension

It splits nouns into categories based on the final letter of the root (which is the noun’s stem). If the root of a word ends with ε, ι, or ρ then the endings go:

  • N: α
  • G: ας
  • D: ᾳ
  • A: αν
  • V: α

If it ends with a sibilant (ζ, σ, ψ, or ξ) then the α becomes an η in the genitive and dative cases – so:

  • N: α
  • G ης
  • D: ῃ
  • A: αν
  • V: α.

If the root ends with anything else then it gets an η and the same pattern, so:

  • N: η
  • G: ης
  • D: ῃ
  • A: ην
  • V: η.

Masculine Nouns

The masculine nouns are different.

They either end with an α or an η and follow the feminine pattern (except in the genitive). But they add an ς to the end of the last So:

  • N: ης, ας
  • G: ου
  • D: ῃ, ᾳ
  • V: ην, αν


All the first Declension nouns have the same plural endings.

  • N/V: αι
  • G: ων
  • D: αις
  • A: ας


Prepositions in Greek always come before the noun they describe.  Prepositions in Greek have a semantic range, and depending on the case of the noun they work with have different meanings.  Some prepositions only have one case though… These are:

  • απο: Genitive. From/of/away from
  • εις: Accusative. Into/to/for/in
  • εκ: Genitive. Out of/from/by
  • εν: Dative. In/within/by/with/among

When these prepositions are used with a noun of the same case they work together to form a prepositional phrase. So crowd in the dative case (“τῳ οχλῳ”) would normally be translated as “for the crowd”, when you chuck the preposition “εν” in front of “τῳ οχλῳ” it becomes “in the crowd”

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αληθεια = (aletheia) Truth = Aletheia will set you free
  • αμαρτια = (amartia) Sin = When children do bad things the other kids go “amar…tia”
  • βασιλεια = (basileia) Kingdom, reign = Basil Fawlty reigns over his kingdom
  • διακονια = (diakonia) Ministry, service =
  • εκκλησια = (ekklesia) Church = Ecclesiastes is an odd name because it doesn’t talk about church
  • εξουσια = (exsousia) authority/right = Obama is the president because he had the best exsousia.
  • επιθυμια = (epithumia) desire/lust = When you go to romantic lookouts in winter without jumpers you get epithumia (like hypothermia)
  • ημερα = (hemera) day = If you sit on the toilet for a day you’ll get hemera.
  • καρδια = (kardia) heart = Cardiac.
  • μαρτυρια = (marturia) testimony = You have to be maturia to give your testimony in a Baptist church
  • οικια = (oikia) house = Even the Greeks by homewares at Oikia.
  • παρρησια = (parresia) boldness = People from Paris are unfortunately not very bold, they are cheese eating surrender monkeys.
  • σοφια = (sophia) wisdom = You won’t get wise unless you get up off the sophia
  • σωτηρια = (soteria) salvation =
  • χαρα = (xara) joy = I’ve got that xara, xara, xara, down in my heart. Where?
  • ωρα = (hora) hour = Hours spent doing Greek vocab are horas of my life that I won’t get back
  • γλωσσα = (glossa) = I had to look up speaking in tongues in the Bible’s glossary.
  • δοξα = (doxa) glory = doxology. Again.
  • θαλασσα = (thallasa) sea = Trying to remember the sea with this hook is a thallasea
  • αγαπη = (agape) love = everyone knows this one.
  • αρχη = (arxe) beginning = Just after the beginning Noah went for a ride in the arxe
  • γη = (ge) earth = geology is the study of ge.
  • γραφη = (graphe) Scripture/writings = If you show me a graphe, I’ll take it as scripture.
  • διαθηκη = (diatheke) covenant = When my twoth ekes I make a covenant with my dentist.
  • διδαχη = (didaxe) teaching = didactic
  • δικαιοσυνη = (dikaiosune) righteousness = I’m just going to have to remember this one.
  • ειρηνη = (eirene) peace  = Apparently irenic means peaceful, that’s ironic when you think about Ireland, and Iran.
  • εντολη = (entole) commandment = When you drive on new roads you are commanded to pay the entole.
  • επιστολη = (epistole) epistle/letter = Easy.
  • ζωη = (zoe) life = I go to the zoo to see lots of life.
  • κεφαλη = (kephale) head = kephale, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
  • ογρη = (Ogre) Anger = Shrek is angry.
  • παραβολη = (parabole) parable = Speaks for itself.
  • περιτομη = (peritome) circumcision = a cut around the perimeter.
  • προσευχη = (proseuxe) prayer = Daniel didn’t pray so he got proseuxeted.
  • συναγογη = (sunagoge) synagogue = Speaks for itself.
  • υπομονη = (upomone) endurance = When Lance Armstrong took upomone he got more endurance.
  • φωνη = (phone) sound = You’re making too much sound on that phone.
  • ψυχη =  (psuxe) soul/life = Greek psuxe the life out of you
  • ματητης = The disciples were mathletes.
  • προφητης = (prophetes) prophets = Umm. I don’t know.
  • στρατιωτης = (stratiotes) Soldier = Soldiers are told to do strategic things.
  • τελωνης = (telones) Tax collector = The tax collectors want to get their telones into you.
  • υποκριτης = (hupokrites) hypocrites = Again. What’s with the English words.
  • Μεσσιας = (Messias) Messiah
  • νεανιας = (neanias) young man = When I play soccer against a young I want to kick him in the neanias.
  • απο = (apo) from/away from = apostasy is going away from the faith.
  • εις = (eis) into = I throw my ace into the mix.
  • εκ = (ek) out of = get me the ‘eck out of ‘ere
  • εν = (en) in = Enter in.

The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Two


A noun has four roles or functions within a sentence, aka cases, (and a fifth rare type): the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative. Each has a particular ending which represents the noun’s function in a sentence. They come in declensions (patterns) – each declension has a different set of endings. Nouns also indicate gender. A noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. Inanimate objects can be masculine or feminine.

If it is the subject of a sentence (the thing doing stuff) it’s nominative. If it is the object (the thing stuff gets done to) – it’s the accusative. If it in someway related to possession (eg if it is something from the nominative, or belonging to the nominative) it is genitive. If it is an indirect object it’s dative. For example in the sentence: “I give the ball to you”, I am the nominative, the ball is the accusative, and you are the dative, give is the verb.

The genitive can be used as the “ablatival genitive” which indicates the source of the thing (“I take the ball from the cupboard”), the dative can be used as a locative dative (in), the instrumental dative (by) and the dative of personal advantage (for). These uses are likely to come up in exam questions because they’ll trip you up if you’re not careful.

The declensions come in tables that you have to try to learn by rote. I hate learning by rote.

Nouns have stems too. They have case-number suffixes (like the verbs have person-number suffixes) that stick on the end to tell you what the word does in the sentence.

Neuter plural nouns are a bit like collective nouns in English. They take singular verbs.

Some nouns try to trick you by being cross-dressers or having special patterns (aka declensions). You can always tell what gender a noun is by the article (the) that comes before it. Greek has 24 words for “the”, or more correctly, four cases, with three genders and singular and plural options – there is some duplication across the grid (eg all the genitive plural articles are the same).


Sometimes a nominative cased verb will actually be playing the part of the accusative. This happens in a “complement” where you’re basically throwing an equal sign into the statement. You’ve just got to think of ειμι (I am) as an equals sign. It’ll come with a nominative noun, but you’ll need to supply the pronoun to complete the complement.


Greek, like every other language known to man, has conjunctions. They bring two clauses together.

  • δε means “now” or “but” – it’s a strong statement, and it’s postpositive. It never starts a sentence. It tells you that something new has been introduced.
  • και means and, it used twice in a sentence it means “both…and”
  • αλλα is “but” it marks a stark contrast between sentences.

Word Order

Because nouns have cases and verbs have all sorts of bells and whistles syntax is of reduced importance in Greek. You can jumble up the order and the meaning will still be determined by the endings. Normal word order for English is “subject verb object”, normal word order for Greek is “verb subject object” – changing the word order is normally a marker of some sort of significant emphasis.

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγγελος* = (angelos) = angel or messenger = self explanatory
  • αγρος = agros = field = like agriculture
  • αδελφος = (adelphos) = brother = like Philadelphia (brotherly love)
  • αλλα = (alla) = but = But alla the other guys get to watch TV.
  • αμαρτωλος = Sinner = (amartolos) Sinner = Amart-all-sports is actually where the rebels go.
  • ανθρωπος = (anthropos) man/person = anthropology
  • δε = but = but de other guy hit me first
  • διακονος = (diakonos) deacon = self explanatory
  • δουλος = (doulos) servant/slave = If I had a servant/slave they would δουλος for me.
  • δωρον = (doron) gift = Doron look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • εργον = (ergon) work = people who work at εργον don’t do any.
  • ερεμος = (eremos) wilderness = If your GPS takes you to the wilderness it’s made an ερεμος
  • ευαγγελιον = (euangelion) good news = like evangelism.
  • θανατος = (thanatos) death = Then Athos got stabbed, and he died.
  • ιερον = (eyeron) temple = the temple got i-roned out by the Romans
  • λαμβανω = (Lambano) I take = I take a lamb-an-o-pen up the oven.
  • λεγω = (lego) I speak = I would like to speak like the people on the Leggo’s ad
  • λιθος = (lithos) stone  =  lithographs are carved in stone.
  • λογος = (logos) word = Your logo is your business in a word.
  • νομος = (nomos) law = If you’re autonomous, you’re a law unto yourself.
  • οδος = (hodos) road/way = Hit the hodos Jack, and don’t you come back
  • οικος = (oikos) house = I had to write about οικος in an essay so I have not trouble with this one…
  • οχλος = (oxlos) crowd = There are big crowds at the bull fights to see the ox loss.
  • τεκνον = (teknon) child = Looking after children is tekn’on a big responsibility
  • υιος** = (wi-os) son = Your son ui-sed all over the floor
  • φερω = (phero) to bear = Apparently Christopher means “bearer of Christ”…

*γγ together is pronounced as ng.

** ui as in suite – which I sort of render as “wee”