Mar 24

Koine Greek Grammer BooksI have been doing some research into how the present participle and present tense affect Koine Greek verbs. I have been getting some help from Leslie McFall.

Here is a quote from Mr. McFall’s response to one of the questions I emailed him.

“Regarding the difference between the present participle and the present tense, there is a distinct difference. When a writer uses the participle he does not envisage the termination of the action. It will go on and on indefinitely, or be repeated continuously, if it is a punctilear action… the present tense is used the writer sees the action as going on to be completed. It is not an open-ended action, the way that the participle is.

1 John 3:8 uses the participle, not the tense, so that its meaning is: “he that goes-on-sinning is of the devil.” It refers to a habitual action. If John had used the present tense, then he would have been referring to a particular situation, a one-off situation, and mean: “he that sins [in this particular instance] is of the devil.” The one-off situation could be an action proposed by some professing Christian leader to allow a man to divorce his wife.

John would be totally opposed to such an action taking place. So the use of the present tense, in this instance, would be a strong warning to the Church leader not to go ahead with his proposed, one-off action. So in using the present tense, the writer is always thinking of a specific action in the present time (or near future). If he used the participle then he would be saying that if the Church leader goes-on-divorcing [i.e., open-endedly] Christian couples, as a habit or policy, then he is of the devil.”
– Leslie McFall

The reason I have been doing this research is to address the view that many people seem to hold; that whenever a Koine Greek verb is in the present tense this means continuous or habitual action.

Following are some example verses in the New Testament showing the use of the Present Participle and Present Tense.

Present Participle — Continuous or Habitual Action:
Joh 14:21 “He who hath my commandments and [Present Active Participle = repeated continuously] keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

1Jn 3:24 “And he that [Present Active Participle = repeated continuously] keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

Present Tense — Punctilear Action:
1Jn 4:20 “If a man say, I love God, and [Present Active Indicative = punctilear action] hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

This article is a work in progress, and I plan on adding examples and more information as I research this issue.

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3 Responses to “Koine Greek: Present Tense & Present Participle”

  1. 1. cony Says:

    Thank you

  2. 2. KenJ Says:

    Isn’t the “present active” also known as the imperfect tense? And what is being called “present -punctilear” the same as the aorist?

  3. 3. Tim Way Says:


    Thanks for sending this info my way. I enjoyed reading it.

    Tim Way

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