"The tense in Greek called perfect is really a present perfect. The
perfect presents the action of the verb in a completed state or condition.
When the action was completed the perfect tense does not tell. It is still
complete at the time of the use of the tense by the speaker or writer. The
perfect expresses the continuance of completed action. It is then a
combination of punctiliar action and durative action. This kind of action
expressed by the perfect tense is sometimes called 'perfective' action."
*Essentials of New Testament Greek* by Ray Summers, p. 103:
"The Greek perfect tense stands alone in its function; English has no
corresponding tense adequate for expressing the significance involved.…
This is the Greek tense of "completed action," i.e., it indicates a
completed action with a resulting state of being. The primary emphasis is
on the resulting state of being. Involved in the Greek perfect are three
ideas: an action in 'progress,' its coming to a point of 'culmination,'
its existing as a 'completed result.' Thus it implies a process but looks
upon the process as having reached a consummation and existing as a
*Grammar of New Testament Greek: Prolegomena* by J. H. Moulton, p. 109ff.
"The Perfect action is a variety by itself, denoting what began in the past
and still continues:" He goes on to show later that in isolated cases the
perfect may have only an aoristic force, or only a present force.
*A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research*
by A. T. Robertson, p. 803ff.
"…the perfect is both punctiliar and durative. The aorist (punctiliar)
represents an action as finished, the linear present as durative, but the
perfect presents a completed state or condition. When the action was
completed the perfect tense does not say. It is still complete at the time
of the use of the tense by speaker or writer.…
"The Intensive Present Perfect. Moulton calls these 'Perfects with Present
Force.' They are Perfecta Praesentia. In reality they are perfects where
the punctiliar force is dropped and only the durative remains.… These
almost purely durative perfects in the N. T. may be illustrated by eoika
(Jas. 1:6); anewga (2 Cor. 6:11); oida (Mt. 6:8); esthka (Rev. 3:20);
enesthka (2 Th. 2:2); pepoitha (Ph. 2:24); kekragen (Jo. 1:15)…"
So the conclusion is that the perfect tense does not always require a point
at which the current state began. As it is applied to 1 Cor. 7:27, context
will be critical. If you think the context revolves around the question of
whether a divorced person may remarry, you will probably say that the
punctiliar force is present, and in a circular way it will reinforce your
position. If you think the context ignores the question of whether a
divorced person may remarry, and if you take v. 11 seriously and
exegetically, then you will probably say that the durative force only is
present, and in a circular way it will reinforce your position.
Actually, I don't think this is completely circular. But I say that so as
to indicate that one's view on remarriage probably cannot hinge only upon
the perfect tense of 1 Cor. 7:27. At one time I was willing to go either
way, but a study of the context pointed me in the direction of the latter
view, i.e., the durative force only.
Arlie D. Rauch
Community Bible church