I would like to preface this by saying that this can be a sensitive passage, and I do not want anyone to touch on where it be for or against certain theological inclinations (such as eternal/conditional security.) Those positions, assumedly, can have numerous other supporters (or contenders) elsewhere in the writ.

Now, I am not someone who knows much about Linguistics or especially Greek—like so many others, I do this on my own time at leisure. I don't think I even have a particularly competent understanding, though I do understand languages are not like perfect grammatical queues that always work the same in a cookie-cutter fashion. In other words, not all Languages are Latin, and not all languages are Lojban, and not all are Navajo.

Actual Passage

Just to summarise my understanding of the chapter as an isolate (and it is very bad to isolate things willy-nilly), I view the passage as a loving pastor attempting to comfort his flock before he is executed; not to condemn them, but to remind them of where they stand and to never surrender.

¹⁰ «διὸ μᾶλλον ἀδελφοί σπουδάσατε βεβαίαν ὑμῶν τὴν κλῆσιν καὶ ἐκλογὴν ποιεῖσθαι ταῦτα γὰρ ποιοῦντες οὐ μὴ πταίσητέ ποτε ¹¹ οὕτως γὰρ πλουσίως ἐπιχορηγηθήσεται ὑμῖν ἡ εἴσοδος εἰς τὴν αἰώνιον βασιλείαν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ»

Issue and My Understanding

Now, I have highlighted both verbs most people seems to link together: the subjunctive in the inferior verse and the indicative in the superior verse.

This is thought-for-thought, but this is my 'translation' of both verses:

Because of this (the fact that if you fall into evil habits and forget your salvation, that you become a bad person and fail to win people to the faith), be mindful to make y'all's invitation and election firm (in y'all's own minds and in practice), because if y'all are doing this, then y'all should never fall. Because, (regardless of whatever you do,) a spot in his Kingdom is prepared for y'all.

So my understanding is that in the first passage, the subjunctive is acting as it does in English: it is merely stating that if you do be mindful to keep good works and study to show yourself approved, then you will be profitable and not fall (go back into being barren and fruitless;) however, if you fail, then you will go back into being barren and fruitless. That said, the next passage, though, is not a conditional statement—it is a simple statement of fact. It is easy, in many English translations, to think that it is conditional, but the Greek does not indicate this to me. In otherwords, in immediate context, it does not matter if you 'make your calling and election sure' or not, either way, a place will be prepared for you. Thus, the «οὕτως γὰρ» is merely reinforcing the reasoning of the prior verse: because you have a place prepared, hey, make your calling and election sure.

Questions I Have

These are a bit broad, but let's see here:

  1. Can the indicative in Greek work like subjunctive does in English? is v. 11 conditional?

The NIV moves the word order and verb mood around, changing it to:

[...] For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The CSB, however, at least at first reading, seems to render it like how I understand it:

[...] because if you do these things you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

The NASB seems to be somewhere between both, though it leans more toward CSB:

[...] for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

  1. If the prior, then why? Languages are not cookie-cutter, but what might some other examples of this language be?
  • Welcome to BH.SE ! Excellent first question: well researched and very appropriate for BH.SE. Hope you will get quality answer and stick around. Dec 24, 2020 at 4:27
  • 1
    'Inferior' and 'superior' are not grammatical terms. They seem to be your own expressions and are stating your own preferences. Your 'translation' appears to be expressing a preference. Welcome to BH.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 24, 2020 at 7:33
  • @NigelJ No, inferior as former, and superior as post. Which position lies foremost and which lies afterwhile. Bottom and top—backward and forward—previous and superseding. Dec 24, 2020 at 7:38
  • 1
    In that case, the terms would be 'preceding' and 'succeeding', rather than give an impression of superiority and inferiority to the actual content of the text.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 24, 2020 at 7:40
  • @NigelJ Those are certainly choices, yes. Dec 24, 2020 at 7:41

2 Answers 2


The anarthrous ποιοῦντες (v. 10) is functioning as a circumstantial participle which can be translated into English in a variety of ways,1 including means2 (“by doing”) and condition3 (“if you do”). The majority of English translations apparently interpret it as a conditional.


        1 Smyth, pp. 456–459, §§ 2054–2069
        2 id., p. 458, § 2063
        3 id., p. 459, § 2067

The verb πταίσητέ in the phrase «οὐ μὴ πταίσητέ ποτε» is conjugated in the subjunctive mood because it is modified by the double negative οὐ μὴ. This double negative in Greek, joined with a verb conjugated in the subjunctive mood, is the most emphatic means of expressing a negative in Greek. It is similar to stating in English, “You shall certainly never stumble!” Although the verb is conjugated in the subjunctive mood, English readers must not interpret it as though it is expressing uncertainty (e.g., “You might never stumble.”).

Daniel B. Wallace writes,4

Emphatic negation is indicated by οὐ μή plus the aorist subjunctive or, less frequently, οὐ μή plus the future indicative... This is the strongest way to negate something in Greek.

One might think that the negative with the subjunctive could not be as strong as the negative with the indicative. However, while οὐ + the indicative denies a certainty, οὐ μή + the subjunctive denies a potentiality. The negative is not weaker; rather, the affirmation that is being negatived is less firm with the subjunctive. οὐ μή rules out even the idea as being a possibility: “οὐ μή is the most decisive way of negativing someth. in the future.”


        4 Wallace, p. 468

Per the original question,

In other words, in immediate context, it does not matter if you 'make your calling and election sure' or not, either way, a place will be prepared for you.

The Greek does not support that interpretation, and why would the apostle Peter even urge them to make their calling and election sure if it didn’t matter? Someone writing an epistle (letter) on expensive medium would write what was necessary and avoid superfluity.

The apostle’s point is quite clear: if his readers do these things (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5–1:7?), they will make their calling and election sure, and a place will be made for them in God’s kingdom. (This is likely a reference to the idea of obedience of faith; cf. Rom. 16:26.)


Smyth, Herbert Weir. A Greek Grammar for Colleges. New York: American Book, 1920.

Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar, Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

  • 1
    Up-voted +1. Precision and accuracy. Appreciated.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 24, 2020 at 7:26
  • Interesting. So the subjunctive is actually functioning as an express of desire and the indicative is more than likely expressing chance. Dec 24, 2020 at 7:27
  • 1
    @MatþewScarbrough Because οὐ μή modifies πταίσητέ, πταίσητέ must be conjugated in the subjunctive. It is not because there is an expression of desire, nor is there any uncertainty. “If you do these things, you shall certainly never stumble.” (There is no uncertainy suggested by the bold-faced clause.) Also, the indicative mood does not express chance; it expresses a statement of fact. Dec 24, 2020 at 22:40
  • @DerÜbermensch That is what I thought? Okay... let me explain what I mean... “subjunctive” expressing 'chance' that is, “if A, then B; if not B, then not A.” Where indicative is just stating a 'fact' “if A or B, then C. If not A or B, then C.” The only way that I can explain it more clearly is to say: “If I be good, then good shall come; if I be not not good, then good shall not come” (subjunctive). “If I be good, good will come; if I be not good, good will come” (Indicative). That is a very English example—Greek is not English, but it is my presupposition. Dec 26, 2020 at 5:47
  • 1
    Excellent answer (yet again!). Many thanks. +1
    – Dottard
    Jan 1, 2021 at 23:20

Wallace is certainly a scholarly source here, but the simple syntax tells you the subjunctive ptaisete here cannot be interpreted the way he says, as if the richly supplied entrance, and the never falling, is completely unconditional, not depending at all on the disciple’s actions. For each phrase (the one leading up to Ptaisete and the one to epichoregethesetai) have these little pesky stubborn conditions don’t they! “Tauta gar poiountes” (“doing these things”) condition ptaisete, and “houtos gar” conditions epichoregethesetai. So surely the developments are conditional. In fact Wallace’s correct argument about “ou me” being the strongest possible Greek emphatic negative, really amounts to saying that in this verse the strongest possible negation against falling happens as a direct result of “doing these things”.

  • 1
    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Jul 3, 2023 at 18:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.