1

1 Corinthians 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten (ἐγέννησα) you through the gospel.

Paul uses the aeorist form in this verse, is this that they are yet in the process of being begotten?

1

The aorist tense generally indicates an “action simply taking place in past time.”1 Therefore, it is generally translated in English by the simple past tense.2 Unless the grammar or context dictates otherwise, the verb conjugated in the aorist tense refers to a singular occurrence in the past. Typically, it is the perfect tense that generally indicates an action that occurred in the past, the effects of which continue in the present.3

However, due to the very definition of the verb γεννάω in this context, i.e., “to father, beget,” the effects of the verb are permanent although the aorist verb itself refers to a particular point in time (usually the past). That is to say, when someone fathers a child, the father never ceases being the father.

When the apostle Paul states that he begat (fathered) the Corinthians “by means of the gospel,” he may be referring to the Jewish maxim that “whoever teaches a friend’s child Torah—scripture considers it as though he begat him.”4 Since the Gospel is the new Law prophesied of by the prophet Isaiah,5 and Paul preached the Gospel to the Corinthians, Paul seems to apply that same maxim to the Corinthians.


Footnotes

1 Goodwin, p. 268, §1250
2 Burton, p. 24
3 cf. Eph. 2:8: “You are saved by grace.” («τῇ...χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι.»)
4 Babylonian Talmud, Order Nezikin, Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 2, Folio 19a, Gemara: כל המלמד בן חבירו תורה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו ילדו
5 cf. Isa. 2:3, 42:4, 51:4

References

Burton, Ernest DeWitt. Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek. 3rd ed. Edinburgh: Clark, 1898.

Goodwin, William Watson. A Greek Grammar. Boston: Ginn, 1895.

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