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Romans 10:13 NIV 84

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται. [GNT] ἐπικαλέσηται

This question is about the aorist tense of “ἐπικαλέσηται” in Romans 10:13. I know this verb is Aorist-Middle-Subjunctive 3rd Person Singular. I am military and away from Mounce's Greek Beyond the Basics, and I do not have a tool to distinguish if this 'aorist' verb is inceptive, cumulative, or punctiliar.

I want to make sure I'm on track. I'm an ordained Methodist minister who knows some people who believe that the 'sacramental addition/baptism' is still required for conversion or the point one accesses grace. I re-studied Romans, especially Romans 10:13, and I have come to believe that conversion is instantaneous without requiring water baptism for conversion.

Am I okay to take Romans 10:13 and call/to call/shall call/ἐπικαλέσηται this way in preaching?

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  • Also keep in mind Phil 3:12 topics here on textual variant. Not already saved or justified. Present justification is a hope of the final justification by beginning the journey on the right path. Not the end. So we must not have a false sense of confidence and arrogance about salvation.
    – Michael16
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 4:06
  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your question. Please remember to take the tour (link below left) to better understand how this site works.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 6:30
  • @Gregory Norton I agree with what Dottard stated, "As long as it takes to decide to call upon the name of the Lord! With some people that takes almost a lifetime; with other, a few minutes." It can also be instantaneous. I'm reminded of the thief on the cross that technically did not really call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, but repented in his heart and Jesus told him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." Luke 23:43. Thank you for your service!
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 13:59
  • Mass verb tense issue? I can easily select an interpretation where saved only matters at the Great White Throne judgment.
    – Joshua
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 15:12

4 Answers 4

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As you well-mentioned, Gregory, the verb in “πᾶς γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου σωθήσεται” (Ῥωμαίους 10·13 THGNT-T) is aorist. However, in the subjunctive mood it is tied to the indefinite relative construction, "ⲟⲥ ⲁⲛ." So the verb points not as much to the particular aorist use as to the use in the construction itself. The point of the whole construction, "ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται" is to stress the universality of the statement: "whoever there might be who calls on..."

The verse simply states the fact that whosoever there is who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The question, "how is one able to call on the name of the Lord" and "when does one get saved" is not answered in that verse.

While your transparency in expressing that you are a Methodist is admirable, there is (at least ostensibly) on this site the intention to stay away from Dogmatic, interpretive explanations. So, for my own part, I do have some conclusions as to how and when a person is saved in the context of Romans 10. But I will refrain from listing them here, since they would quickly merge into the arena of Dogmatics.

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According to Ananias, baptism includes calling on the name of the Lord.

"And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on his name." Acts 22:16

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How long does it take to be saved? As long as it takes to decide to call upon the name of the Lord! With some people that takes almost a lifetime; with other, a few minutes.

Rom 10:13 also appears to allude to echo the following:

  • Joel 2:32 - And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has promised, among the remnant called by the LORD.
  • Acts 2:21 - And it shall be everyone who, if they shall call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved.' [Same verb form as Rom 10:13.]

The form of the verb (Aorist subjunctive middle voice] is simply required for this Greek construction. Note that Acts 2:21 makes it clearer with the conditional particle "if" (ἐὰν).

As the OP would be aware, the aorist tense is deliberately ambiguous with respect to verb aspect, but usually indicates (especially in the indicative mood) a past event, whether perfect, imperfect, punctiliar or continuous, etc.

In any case, the point of the conditional statement is rather uncomplicated - if one call on the name of the LORD, the person will be saved. note that "saved" is future tense as described in Heb 9:28 -

so also Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.

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  • This answer is not a hermeneutical one based on this specific verse. "decide to call upon" is a highly-biased response from a Dogmatic perspective. "decide to call upon" is nowhere mentioned in this verse. This is an agenda in the form of an answer.
    – Epimanes
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 8:51
  • You write, "Note that Acts 2:21 makes it clearer with the conditional particle "if" (ἐὰν)." But the same, exact, construction is used in Acts 2:21 as here: “ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται” (Acts 2:21 NA28-T). How is it clearer if it's the same wording as here?
    – Epimanes
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 9:15
  • @Epimanes - really?? To call on the name of the Lord one must make a decision to call on the name of the Lord. You find that provocative? See Josh 24:15, Joel 3:14.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 9:17
  • @Epimanes - sorry - ἐὰν is NOT ὃς ἂν. Thus, it is not the same construction.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 9:19
  • Again, please look at the verses: “ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται” (Ῥωμαίους 10·13 THGNT-T) = “ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται” (Πράξεις 2·21 THGNT-T)
    – Epimanes
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 9:23
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The OP states, “I re-studied Romans, especially Romans 10:13, and I have come to believe that conversion is instantaneous…” The idea of “instantaneous” can neither be supported nor ruled out from the aorist of ἐπικαλέσηται in Rom 10:13.

Romans 10:13 NKJ

For “whoever calls (ἐπικαλέσηται, Strong’s 1941, aorist subjunctive middle) on the name of the LORD shall be saved (σωθήσεται, Strong’s 4982, future indicative passive)”

Rather than conveying the amount of time it takes to complete an action, the aorist regards an action or event as a whole.

Greek Verbs: Aorist Tense

The aorist is said to be "simple occurrence" or "summary occurrence", without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the 'punctiliar' tense. 'Punctiliar' in this sense means 'viewed as a single, collective whole,' a "one-point-in-time" action, although it may actually take place over a period of time.

In Rom 10:13 ἐπικαλέσηται is part of a indefinite relative clause (“For whoever calls”) that functions as the subject to the main verb σωθήσεται (“shall be saved”). In this construction, the uncertainty that underlies the use of the subjunctive lies more with the person, reflected in the word “whoever,” than with the verb. Thus, while the verb ἐπικαλέσηται is in the subjunctive mood, it is commonly rendered with the indicative “calls.” (Indefinite Relative Clause).

Given the above discussion, the aorist of ἐπικαλέσηται in Rom 10:13 is understood to convey the simple fact of the action without addressing the exact time or duration. The sense of past time appears only in relation to the action of the main verb, σωθήσεται, which is in the future tense. The aorist of ἐπικαλέσηται in Rom 10:13 opens up a range of possibilities. Calling on the name of the Lord may be an act that is instantaneous or one that takes an entire lifetime to unfold and come to completion.

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