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In Mark 11:20-26 Jesus addresses Peter and the other disciples about the fig tree that he caused to wither earlier in Mark 11:13-14.

Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. - Mark 11:13-14 NASB

As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “ Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.[ But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” ] - Mark 11:20-26 NASB

I am particularly interested in vs. 24. I have provided it in some translations below.

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. - Mark 11:24 NASB

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - ESV

Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received them, and you will have them. - HCSB

From the English, it seems that the author follows an interesting if not strange pattern using the tenses.

  1. "whatever you ask in prayer" (ESV) - present tense.
  2. "you have received them" (NASB) - past tense
  3. "will be granted" (NASB)- future tense

Why does the author do this? Are there other examples of this in the NT?

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My notes on your question:

1: "whatever you ask in prayer" (ESV) - present tense - translation is clear in meaning and content.

  1. "you have received them" (NASB) - past tense - translation misses the mark. The Greek term πιστεύετε is ***not* **in the perfect tense (which is closest to English past tense). It is an indicative verb 2nd Aorist Active… and Aorist is a bit tricky. The implication of “received” is problematic to the Greek.****

However if we understand that when Jesus says. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe…” and the Greek verb translated as “believe” is an imperative... and the Greek term translated as “received” also would be validly rendered as “have or possess”, then it seems that what Jesus may be saying is (and this is a bit archaic and literal): “What things soever ye praying and requesting, believe that you have and it shall be for you.”

If you want to get into the weeds:

διὰ Through

τοῦτο this

λέγω I am saying (Present)

ὑμῖν to you

πάντα all

ὅσα connotes “no matter how much”

προσεύχεσθε praying for (present tense)

καὶ and

αἰτεῖσθε you are requesting (Present)

πιστεύετε be believing (Present)

ὅτι that

λαμβάνετέ you have (2nd Aorist)

καὶ and

ἔσται it shall be (Future)

ὑμῖν to/for you

With love,

Howard

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  • Thank you. So I guess then the closest answer to my question is that it's the aorist? Is there any significance for the combination of imperative and aorist the way it is used in Greek. That is, would a Greek speaker hear this and immediately be aware of something we are not? – WnGatRC456 Feb 24 '19 at 21:19
  • The Greek imperative adds a sense of urgency or forcefulness. See Mark 3:2 “Repent!” It is also an imperative and adds importance and urgency to the rest of the statement. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says ”Believe!” with the same intensity “believe and you will have” “Seek first the Kingdom...” Seek is an imperative in Matthew 6:33 too. Jesus is exhorting us, urging us… do we heed? – Howard Feb 24 '19 at 21:45
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This is a disputed place. The Textus Receptus has λαμβανετε, lambanete, which Bagster's Analytical Lexicon states is the 2nd person plural, present indicative and imperative active form. The lexical word is lambano of which Thayer gives a primary meaning : 'to take with the hand or to lay hold of'.

The place is translated as follows by Textus Receptus translations :

believe that ye receive - KJV

believe that ye receive - Young's Literal

believe that you receive - Green's Literal

believe that ye receive - Englishman's Greek New Testament

believe that ye receive - J N Darby

The Westcott & Hort text, according to Scrivener's comparative text (1881), has ελαβετε, elabete, which Bagster's Analytical Lexicon records as the 2nd person plural, aorist 2, indicative active.

Thus the W&H/NASB is supplying a Greek word which is the aorist past tense but the Textus Receptus supplies a word which is the present indicative.

The translations you refer to are all translated from the W&H/NASB Greek text.

My own view would be that that is the reason you have found some discord with what might have been expected. Something 'strange' as you say. It is a matter of the correct Greek word which Mark actually wrote down.

To me, 'believe that ye receive' is a matter of now - the present. In prayer, one is to believe that one is being answered and thus, at that moment, one's request is being received as one speaks the words.

And if the request is received, then the thing requested will automatically follow. For it is God who is hearing and answering.

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  • I'm asking why the author changed tenses in the way they did. Not quite sure how the TR plays a role in this? – WnGatRC456 Feb 24 '19 at 19:47
  • By 'author' do you mean Mark or do you mean the translator(s) ? If Mark did not write ελαβετε, elabete then we should not need to understand why he wrote it. – Nigel J Feb 24 '19 at 19:49
  • The author of the gospel of Mark. Yes if he didn't write that we shouldn't. But if the manuscript evidence suggests he did, then I want to know why. – WnGatRC456 Feb 24 '19 at 21:22
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Just a quick note that the Aorist is not past in aspect but undefined. In Mark 1:11 the aorist verb εὐδόκησα is translated as present tense: “I am well pleased”; John 13: 31 the aorist verb ἐδοξάσθη is translated as present tense: "Now is the Son of man glorified”. See also in John 15:8, Matthew 9:29 and others. The aorist is rendered as past most often, but also as present tense or future tense. Context is paramount.

πιστεύετε be believing (Present)//

ὅτι that//

λαμβάνετέ you have (2nd Aorist)//
is a valid rendering of the Greek

as is

πιστεύετε be believing (Present)//

ὅτι that//

ἐλάβετε you have (Present)//
is also a valid rendering of the Greek

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  • You could have added that to your original answer – WnGatRC456 Feb 26 '19 at 23:33

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