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ἀποκαλυφθῆναι Is the aorist and would be translated as “was revealed”

Does μέλλουσαν (present tense) “is about to be” somehow change the aorist ἀποκαλυφθῆναι to the future tense?

Can someone explain how this aorist is translated as a future tense based on the rules of Greek grammar?

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    I will only observe that it works the same way in English grammar. In the expression "about to be revealed", the word "revealed" is a past participle. That is, the event will be a "past event" once it has happened. Feb 26, 2023 at 16:47
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  • See Young's Literal with the glory about to be revealed in us;
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3 Answers 3

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The operative verb in Rom 8:18 is ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (= "to be revealed") which is Aorist Infinitive Passive. Thus, it has no tense at all. Such verbs are always accompanied by another verb somewhere close by to give the tense. Thus we might have:

  • was to be revealed = past
  • was to have been revealed = past perfect
  • is to be revealed = present
  • yet to be revealed = future
  • etc.

[Note that English does not have an aorist infinitive and so it cannot be accurately translated except by the phrase (in this case) "to be revealed".]

In the case of Rom 8:18, we have the near-by "coming glory" which shows that Paul intends the aorist infinitive is to be understood as a future tense. Thus, it is correctly translated by modern versions.

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The words πρὸς τὴν μέλλουσαν in front of δόξαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι gives the sense of immediate future, about to be; going to be. Paul expressed the impending nature of μέλλουσαν as a present participle, and the not yet nature of ἀποκαλυφθῆναι as the aorist passive participle. Note how much the future active indicative ἀποκαλύψω looks like the aorist active indicative ἀπεκάλυψα. Also note that for many verbs the future indicative and aorist subjunctive forms are identical.

μέλλω ... ① to take place at a future point of time and so to be subsequent to another event, be about to, ... ② to be inevitable, be destined, inevitable ... ③ The ptc. is used abs. in the mng. (in the) future, to come ... ④ delay -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 627-628). University of Chicago Press.

πρός prep. ... ③ w. acc. ... ⓔ to indicate a connection by marking a point of reference, with reference/regard to ... δ. in accordance with ... In comparison with, to be compared to ... Ro 8:18 -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 875). University of Chicago Press.

The key to this [Complementary (Supplementary)] infinitive use is the helper verb. The most common verbs that take a complementary infinitive are ἄρχομαι, βούλομαι, δύναμαι (the most commonly used helper verb), ἐπιτρέπω, ζητέω, θέλω, μέλλω, and ὀφείλω. The infinitive itself is the simple infinitive. -- Wallace, D. B. (1996). Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (p. 598). Zondervan.

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In Greek, the future tense can be formed in several ways, one of which is by using the auxiliary verb μέλλω (mello) followed by the infinitive of the main verb.

So, when μέλλουσαν (mellousan) "is about to" is combined with the aorist infinitive ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (apokalyphthenai) "to be revealed," it creates a periphrastic construction that expresses the future tense: μέλλουσαν ἀποκαλυφθῆναι (mellousan apokalyphthenai) can be translated as "is about to be revealed."

This type of periphrastic construction is common in Greek and is used to express future actions or events. It is important to note that this periphrastic construction does not change the tense of the aorist infinitive itself, but rather creates a future tense meaning through the use of an auxiliary verb.

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