Passive Imperative

Jonathan Robie
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Re: Passive Imperative

Post by Jonathan Robie »

scottj7801 wrote: April 16th, 2017, 7:48 pm Hi, just stumbled on this forum question and wanted to inquire about your thoughts on the 2 Aorist Passive Imperative of 2 Cor 5:20? I would follow what Thayer's Lexicon says and translate like this "καταλλάγητε τῷ Θεῷ, allow yourselves to be reconciled to God; do not oppose your return into his favor, but lay hold of that favor now offered you, 2 Corinthians 5:20" ( ) I have had no formal training in Greek, my pastor teaches from the greek in almost every lesson.
First off, I suggest you read Carl's overview of middle and passive before reading what I write here.

Also, think about what an imperative is. An imperative tells you to do something. Even in English, a passive imperative like "be quiet" or "be brave" can definitely mean taking action.

Often, it is helpful to look at similar uses of the same word. This same word also occurs as a passive imperative one other time in the Greek New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 7:
1 Cor 7:11 wrote:τοῖς δὲ γεγαμηκόσιν παραγγέλλω, οὐκ ἐγὼ ἀλλὰ ὁ Κύριος, γυναῖκα ἀπὸ ἀνδρὸς μὴ χωρισθῆναι,— ἐὰν δὲ καὶ χωρισθῇ, μενέτω ἄγαμος ἢ τῷ ἀνδρὶ καταλλαγήτω,— καὶ ἄνδρα γυναῖκα μὴ ἀφιέναι.
However you translate this, "be reconciled to her husband" probably involves taking some kind of action. Wouldn't this have a middle sense rather than a passive sense? She is being told to either remain single or be reconciled to her husband. I think this usage is similar to another passive imperative for a similar verb in Matthew 5:
Matt.5.23 wrote:ἐὰν οὖν προσφέρῃς τὸ δῶρόν σου ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον κἀκεῖ μνησθῇς ὅτι ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔχει τι κατὰ σοῦ, ἄφες ἐκεῖ τὸ δῶρόν σου ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου καὶ ὕπαγε πρῶτον διαλλάγηθι τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου, καὶ τότε ἐλθὼν πρόσφερε τὸ δῶρόν σου.
In this verse, διαλλάγηθι is an aorist passive imperative - Go! First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your gift (on the altar). That's a very active thing to do, and often not an easy one. It's something you have to go and do.
scottj7801 wrote: April 16th, 2017, 7:48 pmWith this in view, the command "you be reconciled" seems contradictory to what really happened. There is in my understanding, nothing for anyone to do other than to simply grasp or not refuse the reconciliation God has offered the world.
Doesn't an imperative tell us to do something? If Paul wanted to tell us to grasp or accept something, there are good Greek verbs for these things.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: Passive Imperative

Post by MAubrey »

williamted wrote: April 17th, 2015, 12:12 am What about 1 Peter 2:17: 17 πάντας τιμήσατε, τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε, τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε.

Is that a middle as well? Cause yourself to fear God?
Yes, it is middle as well, but it isn't causative. Middles are semantically non-causative. It's just "Fear God."
Mike Aubrey, Linguist
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Re: Passive Imperative

Post by dlplife »

I am approving this post, but please contact a moderator about changing your screen name to your real name, per B-Greek policy. -- BH


One of the problems we have in NT Greek is that the study is done, too often, by people who are not bi-lingual, so they tend to be overly technical and often lack a basic understanding of language. If you have to function in any other language, other than your mother tongue, many language and grammar matters become clearer.

Passive imperatives occur all the time in common speech, for example when a parent tells a child, "Get your hair cut!" Clearly this is an imperative and means the individual, the child in this case, needs to take the steps necessary on his part to have his hair cut. No less than "Clean your room!" this is an imperative. It assumes that things are operative in their normal state of being that if we just take responsibility and put ourselves in the right position we do our part to get something done. It assumes that our willing participation is a necessary part of the process.

German does something similar to the English "let" with "lassen" and when someone says, "Lassen mir in Ruhe!" or "Leave me in peace!" as we would say in English, that is a passive command. The listener can only back away and leave the person. He cannot leave him "in peace" as peace is a state of mind and of being that is quite beyond one man to bestow upon another.

So the passive imperative "be filled with the Spirit," assumes that God is prepared to fill us with the Spirit and that we have an obligation to take the proper steps which put us in the path of this filling.
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