Lesson 60: Adverbial Clauses/Comparative and Temporal Clauses


0865. As a subordinator, ὡς is used in the New Testament chiefly to introduce comparative and temporal clauses. Like its English counterpart, (just) as, ὡς is an extremely versatile particle. In its full classical powers, ὡς was used as a relative adverb to introduce comparative clauses and comparisons, as well as a subordinator to initiate declarative, final, causal, consecutive, and temporal clauses (Smyth §§2990ff.).

The versatility of as, as a means of introducing adverbial clauses of various types, may be illustrated by the following English sentences:

(i) He writes as fast as John (comparative)
(ii) He reads as he rides to work (temporal)
(iii) As I have no place to go, I will stay here (causal)
(iv) I breathed heavily as I ran (attendant circumstance)

Such adverbial clauses may be elliptical, i.e. the adverbial clause may be abbreviated:

(v) I used to speak as a child (is accustomed to speak)

Both as and ὡς have functions other than that of a subordinator. For the full range of ὡς in the literature covered by Bauer, see the entry in Bauer on ὡς. In this section, only ὡς as a subordinator introducing comparative and temporal clauses will be considered.

865. ὡς introducing comparative clauses. Comparative clauses are included sentences, which may be complete or elliptical (abbreviated). Such clauses may serve as constituent elements in various types of sentences. And ὡς may be correlated with καί and οὑτώς.

865.1 Full comparative clauses:

(1) ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι
ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν
Mt 5:48
You therefore must be perfect,
as your heavenly father is perfect
(2) καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν
Mt 6:12
And forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven our debtors

Cf. Mt 18:33.

865.2 ὡς is used parenthetically:

(3) οὐ γὰρ ὡς ὑπολαμβάνετε οὗτοι μεθύουσιν Acts 2:15
For these men are not drunk, as you suppose

865.3 Comparative clauses introduced by ὡς may serve as constituent elements in various types of sentences.

865.31 As object clause:

(4) ἐποίησεν ὡς προσέταξεν αὐτῷ ὁ ἄγγελος κυρίου Mt 1:24
He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him

865.32 As subject:

(5) ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι Mt 8:13
Let it be done to you as you believe

865.33 As the predicate in S-II (§507)

(6) οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται,
ἀλλ' εἰσὶιν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς
Mk 12:25
They neither marry nor are given in marriage,
but are like angels in heaven

865.4 The comparative clause may be abbreviated:

(7) ὅτε ἤμην νήπιος,
ἐλάλουν ὡς νήπιος,
ἐφρόνουν ὡς νήπιος,
ἐλογιζόμην ὡς νήπιος
1 Cor 13:11
When I was a child,
I spoke as a child (speaks),
I thought as a child (thinks),
I reasoned as a child (reasons)

In English such sentences may be taken as not elliptical and like substituted for as (Roberts, 1954: 239). Cf. Mk 10:15.

865.5 ὡς may be correlated with καί:

(8) ὡς προειρήκαμεν, καὶ ἄρτι πάλιν λέγω Gal 1:9
As we have said before, so now I say again

Cf. Mt 6:10.

865.6 ὡς is more frequently correlated with οὑτώς:

(9) ἕκαστον ὡς κέκληκεν ὁ θεός,
οὕτως περιπατείτω
1 Cor 7:17
As God has called each one,
let him so walk

Note that in (9) ὡς does not initiate the subordinate clause. In Greek, unlike English, subordinators occasionally do not initiate their clauses.

Cf. 2 Cor 7:14. One or the other of the clauses in this correlation may also be elliptical: 1 Thess 5:2, 2 Cor 1:7.

866. ὡς introducing temporal clauses. ὡς initiates temporal clauses with various tenses of the indicative; ὡς ἄv is followed by the subjunctive (cf. §868.2).

866.1 ὡς is most frequently followed by the aorist indicative:

(10) ὡς δὲ ἐγεύσατο ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος τὸ ὕδωρ
oἶvov γεγενημένον, ...
Jn 2:9
And when the steward of the feast tasted the
water now made wine
, ...

Cf. Jn 4:1, etc.

866.2 With the imperfect indicative:

(11) καὶ ὡς ἀτενίζοντες ἦσαν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν ... Acts 1:10
And while they were gazing into heaven ...

866.3 With the present indicative:

(12) ὡς ἔτι καιρὸν ἔχομεν εἰς θεὸν μετανοεῖν IgnSm 9:1
While we still have time to repent toward God

Cf. Jn 12:35f., Gal 6:10, 2 Clem 8:1, 9:7, IgnRom 2:2.

866.4 With ἄv and the subjunctive:

(13) ὡς ἂν πορεύωμαι εἰς τὴν Σπανίαν Rom 15:24
When I go to Spain

Cf. 1 Cor 11:34, Phil 2:23.


0867. A comparative clause compares an act or state quantitatively or qualitatively with the act or state denoted by the verb in the main clause.

Comparative clauses in the New Testament are most often introduced by ὡς (§865). They are introduced less frequently by καθώς, occasionally by ὥσπερ and καθάπερ, and rarely by καθό and καθότι.

Constructions with these subordinators do not require special comment; it is sufficient to illustrate them briefly.

867. Comparative clauses introduced by καθώς, ὥσπερ, καθάπερ.

867.1 καθώς:

(14) καὶ τοιαύταις παραβολαῖς πολλαῖς ἐλάλει αὐτοῖς
τὸν λόγον,
καθὼς ἠδύναντο ἀκούειν
Mk 4:33
With many such parables he used to speak the word to them,
as they were able to hear

Cf. Jn 8:28.

867.2 καθώς may be correlated with ὁμοίως or οὕτως (cf. ως, §865.5-6):

(15) καὶ καθὼς θέλετε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι,
ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς ὁμοίως
Lk 6:31
And just as you want men to do to you,
do to them likewise
(16) καὶ καθὼς Μωϋσῆς ὕψωσεν τὸν ὄφιν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ,
οὕτως ὑψωθῆναι δεῖ τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
Jn 3:14
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wiIderness
so it is necessary for the son of man to be lifted up

867.3 ὥσπερ:

(17) μὴ σαλπίσῃς ἔμπροσθέν σου,
ὥσπερ οἱ ὑποκριταὶ ποιοῦσιν
Mt 6:2
Sound no trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do

867.4 καθάπερ:

(18) μηδέ γογγύζετε,
καθάπερ τινὲς αὐτῶν ἐγόγγυσαν
1 Cor 10:10
But do not grumble,
as some of them did

8670. Comparative clauses are sometimes clauses of manner. Note (7), §865.4 and (17), §867.3 above, and cf. the circumstantial participle of manner (§846.4), especially when introduced by ὡς.


0868. A temporal clause refers to an act or state that occurs prior to, at the same time as, or subsequent to the act or state denoted by the verb in the main clause.

Temporal clauses with the indicative or subjunctive are introduced by a variety of subordinators, some of which are simple (ὅτε), some of which are complex (ἐν ᾧ). The principal temporal subordinators in the New Testament are ὅτε, ὅταν, ἕως. The infinitive introduced by πρίν (πρὶν ἤ) may also function as a temporal clause (§836), and the circumstantial participle is often the equivalent of a temporal clause (§846.1).

868.1 Temporal clauses may be either adjectival (rare) or adverbial (common). In adjectival temporal clauses, the time is specified by a noun (or equivalent) in the main clause; this noun is then further specified by an adjective clause:

(19) ἔρχεται ὥρα
ὅτε οὔτε ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ οὔτε ἐν
Ἰεροσολύμοις προσκυνήσετε τῷ πατρί
Jn 4:21
The hour is coming
when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem
will you worship the father

Adverbial temporal clauses modify the verb in the main clause. Compare (i) (adjectival) and (ii) (adverbial) below:

(i) He arrived on the day (when) he was due
(ii) He arrived when he was due

(i) has close affinities with a relative clause, as this simple modification makes clear:

(iii) He arrived on the day on which he was due

Cf. relative clauses, §§665-674.

Attention in this section will be focused on adverbial temporal clauses.

868.2 Adverbial temporal clauses, like relative clauses (§§671, 6740), are either definite or indefinite, depending on whether they refer to an event or events occurring at a definite time or times, or to an event or events occurring at unspecified times. For example,

(iv) I heard him when he spoke

is definite. The following are indefinite:

(v) I heard him whenever he spoke
(vi) I will hear him whenever he speaks

(v) and (vi) have affinities with conditional clauses (see §860.4 for discussion).

Definite temporal clauses take the indicative mood, as a rule. One may expect ἄν and the subjunctive to appear most often in indefinite temporal clauses.

869. Definite temporal clauses are initiated by ὅτε or ὡς and are followed by the indicative mood (aorist, imperfect, perfect, present, future, according to the circumstances), e.g.

(20) ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοὺς λόγους τούτους,
μετῆρεν ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας
Mt 19:1
When Jesus finished these sayings,
he went away from Galilee
(21) καὶ ὅτε ἐγγίζουσιν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα ...,
ἀποστέλλει δύο τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ
Mk 11:1
And when they draw near Jerusalem ...
he sends two of his disciples
(22) ἐλεύσονται ἡμέραι
ὅτε ἐπιθυμήσετε μίαν τῶν ἡμερῶν τοῦ
υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου
Lk 17:22
The days are coming
when you will desire to see one of the days of
the son of man

The future usually occurs with constructions like ἔρχεται, ὥρα, ἡμέρα, and thus in adjectival temporal clauses (§868.1). Bl-D §382.

For examples with ὡς, see §866.1-3.

870. Indefinite temporal clauses are introduced by ὅταν (= ὅτε + ἄν) or ὡς ἄν (ἐάν: §6740) followed by the subjunctive or an augmented tense of the indicative (repetition in past time, §§B1-D 367, 382(4)).

870.1 An augmented tense of the indicative with ἄν indicates repetition in past time:

(23) καὶ τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα
ὅταν αὐτὸν ἐθεώρουν
προσέπιπτον αὐτῷ
Mk 3:11
And the unclean spirits,
whenever they saw him,
fell down before him

870.2 The subjunctive with ἄν refers to future time:

(24) καὶ ὅταν προσεύχησθε,
οὐκ ἔσεσθε ὡς οἱ ὑποκριταί
Mt 6:5
And whenever you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites

Cf. Jn 4:25, Titus 3:12.

(25) τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ, ὡς ἂν ἔλθω,
1 Cor 11:34
About the other matters, I will give
instructions when I come

For other examples of ὡς ἄν with the subjunctive, see §866.4.

870.3 ὅταν is sometimes correlated with τότε, then:

(26) ὅταν ὑψώσητε τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου,
τότε γνώσεσθε ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι
Jn 8:28
When you lift up the son of man,
then you will know that I am he

871. Temporal clauses introduced by ἕως. Temporally speaking, ἕως meaning until introduces a verb denoting an act or state which marks the termination of an act (or state) denoted by the main verb, e.g.

(vii) Sit there until you finish your lesson

i.e. when you have finished your lesson, you need no longer sit there. ἕως meaning while introduces a verb denoting an act or state which is more or less coterminous with the act (or state) denoted by the main verb. When the one is precisely coterminous with the other, ἕως means as long as (while is simply less precise).

The two meanings of ἕως can be distinguished only in context.

Temporal clauses introduced by ἕως, like other temporal clauses, are either definite or indefinite (cf. §870). Definite temporal clauses with ἕως take the indicative (cf. §869); indefinite, iterative, or contingent clauses take the subjunctive with or without (Bl-D §383(2)) &v. Cf. Smyth §§2422ff.

871.1 ἕως, until, with the indicative (= definite clause):

(27) καὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν
ἕως ἦλθεν ὁ κατακλυσμός
Mt 24:39
And they did not know
until the flood came
(28) καὶ χαράκωσον αὐτόν,
ἕως ἔρχομαι
HermSim 5.2.2
And fence it,
until I come

871.2 ἕως, while, with the indicative (= definite clause):

(29) ἡμᾶς δεῖ ἐργάζεσθαι τὰ ἔργα τοῦ πέμψαντός με
ἕως ἡμέρα ἐστίν
Jn 9:4
It is necessary for us to do the works of the
one sending me
while it is day

Cf. 2 Clem 16:1.

871.3 ἕως, until, with ἄν and the subjunctive:

(30) ἕως ἂν παρέλθη ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ,
ἰῶτα ἓν ἡ μία κέραια οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου
ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται
Mt 5:18
Till heaven and earth pass away,
not one iota, not one dot, will pass from the law
until all is fulfilled

Both ἕως-clauses are contingent.

Cf. Mt 5:26, Mk 6:10 (indefinite), Mk 9:1.

Without ἄν:

(31) καὶ πορεύεται ἐπὶ τὸ ἀπολωλὸς
ἕως εὕρῃ αὐτό
Lk 15:4
And goes after the lost one,
until he finds it

871.4 ἕως, while, with the subjunctive:

(32) καὶ περιζωσάμενος διάκονει μοι
ἕως φάγω καὶ πίω
Lk 17:8
And gird yourself and serve me,
while I eat and drink

Cf. Mk 14:32. Both Lk 17:8 and Mk 14:32 could be interpreted to mean until (Burton: 127f.), and there are textual variants in both cases (Bl-D §383(2)).

872. Clauses introduced by ἕως οὗ, ἕως ὅτου, ἐν ᾧ, ἄχρι(ς), ἄχρις οὗ, μέχρι(ς), μέχρις οὗ in general take the same constructions as simple ἕως, except that they are rarely followed by ἄν (Bl-D §383). The following illustrate constructions with these subordinators.

(33) ἐν ᾧ δὲ ἔρχομαι ἐγὼ
ἄλλος πρὸ ἐμοῦ καταβαίνει
Jn 5:7
But while I am going,
another steps down before me
(34) οὐκ ἐπίστευσαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ...,
ἕως ὅτου ἐφώνησαν τοὺς γονεῖς αὐτοῦ
Jn 9:18
Therefore the Jews did not believe ...,
until they called his parents
(35) οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη
μέχρις οὗ ταῦτα πάντα γένηται
Mk 13:30
This generation will certainly not pass away,
until all these things take place

873. Other forms of temporal clauses.

873.1 Temporal clauses may be introduced by πρίν or πρὶν ἤ, before. When the main clause is affirmative, πρίν (ἤ) is followed by the infinitive (§836). When the main clause is negative, πριν (ἤ) takes the same constructions as ἕως (§871). In hellenistic Greek, however, the construction with the indicative, subjunctive, or optative has virtually disappeared. Cf. Lk 2:26, Acts 25:16, and Bl-D §383(3).

873.2 Certain prepositions may introduce clauses with the infinitive which are the equivalent of temporal clauses (§836).

873.3 The circumstantial participle is often the equivalent of a temporal clause (§846.1).