I find it hard to understand the order of action of the verbs in two separate verses from Ephisians chapter 1 and 4:

Chapter 1 verses 17-18: ἵνα ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης δώῃ ὑμῖν πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς διανοίας ὑμῶν

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, The eyes of your understanding, being enlightened...

That God may give (δώῃ): Second Aorist, Active, Subjunctive

Being enlightened (πεφωτισμένους): Perfect, Passive, Participle

So, which verb precedes the other based on a grammatical standpoint: Would the eyes be enlightened as a result of God giving understading, or is the spirit of understanding dependent upon the enlightening of the mind? Or should the actions occure simultaneously?

Chapter 4 verses 17-18: μηκέτι ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καθὼς καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ἔθνη περιπατεῖ ἐν ματαιότητι τοῦ νοὸς αὐτῶν ἐσκοτισμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ

henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened...

We have here similar instance:

walk in the vanity of their mind (περιπατεῖ): Present, Active, Indicative

Having the understanding darkened (ἐσκοτισμένοι): Perfect, Passive, Participle

Again, which verb precedes the other in action: Do the gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind because of the darkening of the understanding, or has the vanity of there mind brought to the darkening of the understanding?

Please refer in your answer to the fact that both of the second verbs are of the same verb form (Perfect, Passive, Participle).

1 Answer 1


I have heard some over-zealous preachers make much of the order of some of these actions in order to fit their pet soteriology theory. Having looked at many of these type of texts, I am convinced that the Greek cannot be pressed too hard and is not nearly so punctilious as some preachers would like them to be. The very fact aorist is used so often prevents such dogmatic conclusions.

You quote several cases which we will examine separately.

Eph 1:17, 18 - the two verbs are δώῃ (dōē = "may give") Verb Aorist Subjunctive Active - 3rd Person Singular; and πεφωτισμένους (pephōtismenous = "having been enlightened") Verb Perfect Participle Middle or Passive Accusative Masculine Plural. On the basis of the tense of the verbs alone, this suggests that the person is enlightened so that we may know the hope of our calling; and that this somehow prepares for God's gift of wisdom and revelation.

In fact, it is difficult to imagine how these two processes could be separated - one enables the other both spiritually and mentally. The purpose of enlightening is have wisdom and revelation and vise versa.

Eph 4:17, 18 - the two verbs here are περιπατεῖν (peripatein = walk) Verb Present Infinitive Active; and ἐσκοτωμένοι (eskotōmenoi = darkened) Verb Perfect Participle Middle or Passive Nominative Masculine Plural. Again, the verb tense suggest that the second precedes the first, but the sense of causation is the opposite. Here we verge on legalism by suggesting that we must do something (not live as gentiles live/walk) so that our minds will not be darkened.

Again, these two effects feed on each other and can be seen as synonyms. (I do not subscribe to this idea). However, it is obvious that our daily walk/way of living affects our spiritual life and vise versa.

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