Lesson 62: The Cases


0885. The discussion of the cases and summary of their syntactical function, found in the Introduction to the Nominal System, §§1051-1140, is presupposed in the following detailed sketch of the function of the cases. The earlier discussion and summary serves as an introduction; the following catalogue is intended primarily for reference.


885. The nominative is the naming case. It is used most commonly, therefore, as the subject of the sentence. In closely related ways it is used also for predicates, appositives (adjuncts to the subject, but also loosely to other cases), absolutely (in titles and the like), and as vocative.

8850. It is to be remembered that the personal endings attached to the verb constitute the real subject of the verb (§542). Strictly speaking, a subject added in the nominative case is in apposition to the subject contained in the personal ending. Nouns and nominals so used define the subject more closely, so to speak. Originally, personal pronouns used with the finite verb were emphatic, but the extent to which this nuance is retained in hellenistic Greek is uncertain (cf. §722.3 and Bl-D §277).

886. Functions of the nominative.

886.1 The nominative signals the subject (§533.2):

(1) ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος Jn 1:1
In the beginning was the word

886.2The predicate noun or equivalent in S-II takes the nominative case, if it is declinable (§507):

(2) ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων Jn 1:4
The life was the light of men

Note: The predicate is nominative if the subject is nominative; the two must agree.

886.3The nominative is used for words and the head terms of word groups in apposition to a noun or equivalent in the nominative case:

(3) Ἠσαΐας ὁ προφήτης Jn 1:23
Isaiah the prophet

886.4The nominative is used absolutely (i.e. not as a part of a larger grammatical structure) in titles, headings, inside addresses in letters, and the like:

(4) Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ Rom 1:1
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus

886.5The nominative is also used for the vocative (the two case-forms are often identical, §205):

(5) ἡ παῖς, ἔγειρε Lk 8:54
ChiId, arise

886.50The nominative as vocative is usually preceded by the article (Bl-D §147(3)).


0887.The vocative is the ease of address. It is not a case in the formal sense, since it signals no relationship to other words and word groups in the sentence and has no real endings. In form it is often identical with the nominative.

887.The vocative may be used with or without the interjection ὦ:

887.1With emotion:

(6) ὦ ἄνθρωπε Rom 2:1
O man

887.2Without emotion:

(7) ὦ Θεόφιλε Acts 1:1
O Theophilus

887.3Simple vocative:

(8) ἄνδρες Ἰουδαῖοι Acts 2:14
Men of Judea

Note also §§886.5 and 886.50. Bl-D §§146f.


0888.The genitive is the limiting of specifying case and is used to circumscribe the meaning of substantives, adjectives, adverbs, and less often verbs. The genitive has absorbed the ablative case in Greek (distinct in Latin) and so embraces the idea of origin or separation as well.

The precise relation expressed by a genitive has to be determined by the meaning of the words involved and the larger context. English of and from will most often cover the meaning of the genitive.

The relation of object to verb is normally expressed by the accusative, less often by the genitive (and dative).

The following classifications are in part arbitrary, since the various relationships expressed by the genitive overlap at numerous points. The sketch is intended only as a guide to the major functions of the case.

Adnominal Genitive

888.The adnominal genitive is the genitive with the function of an adjective and hence its use with substantives.

888.1The genitive is used to denote possession, origin, or relationship:

(9) μὴ ποιεῖτε τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου
οἶκον ὲμπορίου
Jn 2:16
Do not make my father's house a house of trade

The three genitives in this sentence are: possession (father's), relationship (my), description (of trade).

(10) Σίμων ὁ υἱὸς Ἰωάννου Jn 1:42
Simon the son of John
(11) Ἰάκωβον τὸν τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου Mk 1:19
James the son of Zebedee

Bl-D §162.

888.2Subjective and objective genitives. When the noun in the genitive is the subject of the action, emotion, etc. expressed by the noun to which it is related, it is called the subjective genitive.

(12) ἡ γὰρ ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ συνέχει ἡμᾶς 2 Cor 5:14
For the love of Christ controls us

The context makes it clear that Christ is the subject of the love involved; in another context the same genitive might refer to love directed toward Christ.

When the noun in the genitive is the object of the action, emotion, etc. expressed by the noun to which it is related, it is called the objective genitive.

(13) διὰ τὸν φόβον τῶν Ἰουδαίων Jn 7:13
on account of the fear of the Jews

The Jews in (13) are the object of fear. Bl-D §163.

888.3The partitive genitive. The genitive denotes the whole, a part of which is designated by the noun it limits. The partitive genitive is especially common after words denoting a part or fraction, e.g. εἷς, one; τις, someone, some; ἕκαστος, each; oἱ λοιποί, the rest, the remainder. The use of the prepositions ἐκ, ἀπό, ἐν in an ablative sense has greatly reduced the use of the simple case in hellenistic Greek. Bl-D §164.

(14) εἷς τῶν προφητῶν Mk 6:15
one of the prophets

Compare with preposition:

(15) εἷς ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ Jn 6:8
one of his disciples

Without preposition:

(16) είς τοὺς πτωχοὺς τῶν ἁγίων Rom 15:26
to the poor among the saints

888.31The land within which a city, etc. lies stands in the genitive (chorographic genitive):

(17) ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας Mk 1:9
from Nazareth of Galilee

Bl-D §164.

888.4The genitive of quality or attributive genitive:

(18) ἐκ τοῦ μαμωνᾷ τῆς ἀδικίας Lk 16:9
by means of mammon of unrighteousness

The genitive in (18) is paralleled by an attributive adjective in the same context:

(19) ὲν τῷ ἀδίκῳ μαμωνᾷ Lk 16:11
in the unrighteous mammon

The attributive genitive may also be used as a predicate in S-II:

(20) ἦv γὰρ ἐτῶν δώδεκα Mk 5:42
For she was of twelve years (i.e. twelve years old)

Bl-D §165.

888.5The appositive genitive or genitive of explanation in some cases is really a noun in apposition:

(21) καὶ σημεῖον ἔλαβεν περιτομῆς Rom 4:11
And he received a sign of circumcision

i.e. he received a sign, namely circumcision. Bl-D §167.

888.6The genitive of material or content indicates the material of which something is made, or that with which it is filled.

(22) ποτήριον ὕδατος Mk 9:41
cup of water

Cf. Rev 6:6. Bl-D §167.

888.7The genitive is used to indicate the price, value, or measure of something.

(23) διακοσίων δηναρίων ἄρτοι οὐκ ἀρκοῦσιν αὐτοῖς Jn 6:7
two hundred denarii worth of bread would
not be enough for them

888.8The genitive may also be used to express direction or purpose.

(24) συνεργοί ἐσμεν τῆς χαρᾶς ὑμῶν 2 Cor 1:24
We are co-laborers for your joy
(25) εἰς ὁδὸν ἐθνῶν μὴ ἀπέλθητε Mt 10:5
Do not go (on the way) to Gentiles

Bl-D §166.

Adverbial Genitive

0889.The adverbial genitive is used to mark the object of certain verbs (cf. §§594-596) when the object is related to the nominal idea of the verb, e.g.

(26) Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας Mt 2:22
Archelaus rules the Jews (= is king of)

or when the verb expresses a relationship to its object which corresponds to a function of the genitive, e.g. partitive, material, context, separation.

0889.1Prepositions are often used to supplement the simple case in the hellenistic period.

0889.2The genitive is sometimes dependent to a certain extent on the preposition in compound verbs (Bl-D §181).

0889.3The distinction between the genitive and accusative with verbs cannot always be pressed owing to the inroads of the accusative on the genitive in the hellenistic period.

889.1The partitive genitive is used with verbs (Bl-D §§169ff.) if only a part of the object is affected; if the object as a whole is involved, the accusative is appropriate.

(27) ἥψατο τοῦ ἱματίου αὐτοῦ Mk 5:27
she touched his garment
(28) μετελάμβανον τροφῆς Acts 2:46
They partook of food

889.2The genitive is used with some verbs of perception:

(29) ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ Mk 9:7
listen to him

This genitive is perhaps a genitive of source.

889.3The genitive of content is used with verbs meaning fill (cf. §888.6):

(30) γεμίσατε τὰς ὑδρίας ὕδατος Jn 2:7
Fill the jars with water

This construction takes the genitive of the filler, the accusative of the thing filled.

889.4The genitive of price or value is used with verbs meaning buy or sell:

(31) ἐγὼ πολλοῦ κεφαλαίου τὴν πολυτείαν
ταύτην ἐκτησάμην
Acts 22:28
I bought this citizenship for a large sum

889.5The genitive of separation is also found with certain verbs.

(32) ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίας 1 Pet 4:1
The one who has suffered in the flesh has
ceased from sin

Other Uses of the Genitive

890.1The genitive is used with adjectives and adverbs which call for a genitive relationship, e.g.

(33) ποιήσατε οὖν καρπὸν ἄξιον τῆς μετανοίας Mt 3:8
Therefore produce fruit worthy of repentance

Bl-D §182.

890.2The genitive is used to mark the standard or point of departure from which a comparison is made (i.e. a genitive of separation).

(34) μείζω τούτων ὄψῃ Jn 1:50
You shall see greater (things) than these
(35) τὸ μωρὸν τοῦ θεοῦ σοφώτερον τῶν ἀνθρώπων
1 Cor 1:25
The foolishness of God is wiser than men

Bl-D §185.

890.3The genitive of time expresses the time within which something takes place (the accusative expresses extent of time = time during which, while the dative expresses point of time = time at which, whether a particular moment or a longer period conceived as a unit).

(36) οὗτος ἦλθεν πρὸς αὐτὸν νυκτός Jn 3:2
That one came to him at night

Bl-D §186.


0891.The single case-form (dative) serves for three distinct cases: dative, instrumental, and locative. The relationships expressed by the single case-form may therefore be divided into three subcategories.

The Dative

891.The dative is the ease of personal interest; it marks that to or for which something is done. It will be focused, consequently, on persons (or personifications), to whom something is favorable (advantage) or unfavorable (disadvantage).

891.1The dative may mark the indirect object with a transitive verb (S-IV, §§509-510).

(37) ταῦτα γράφω ὑμῖν 1 Jn 2:1
I write these things to you

With verb to be supplied:

(38) Παῦλος ἀπόστολος ... ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Γαλατίας Gal 1:1f.
Paul an apostle ... to the churches of Galatia

891.2The dative signals the sole object with many verbs denoting a personal relationship (cf. §§591-593), e.g.

(39) καὶ oἱ ἄγγέλοι διηκόνουν αὐτῷ Mk 1:13
And the angels ministered to him
(40) ἤ ζητῶ ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκειν; Gal 1:10
Or do I seek to please men?

Bl-D §187.

891.3The dative of advantage and disadvantage. The dative may denote the person or persons to whose advantage something is done:

(41) εἴτε γὰρ ἐξέστημεν, θεῷ
εἴτε σωφρονοῦμεν, ὑμῖν
2 Cor 5:13
For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God;
if we are in our right mind, it is for you

Or, to whose disadvantage something is performed:

(42) ὥστε μαρτυρεῖτε ἑαυτοῖς Mt 23:31
Thus you witness against yourselves

i.e. to yourselves, to your disadvantage.

Bl-D §188.

891.4The dative of possession is closely related to the dative of advantage. Simple possession is expressed by the genitive (§888.1); the one for whom something exists (i.e. in his or her interest) is put in the dative:

(43) διότι οὐκ ἦv αὺτοῖς τόπος ἐν τῷ καταλύματι Lk 2:7
Because there was no place for them in the inn
(44) ὄνομα αὐτῷ Ἰωάννης Jn 1:6
His name was John

Bl-D §189.

891.5The dative is also used with adjectives, many of which are related in meaning to the verbs referred to in §891.2:

(45) ἀρκετὸν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἡ κακία αὐτῆς Mt 6:34
Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof
(46) ἱκανὸν τῷ τοιούτῳ ἡ ἐπιτιμία αὕτη 2 Cor 2:6
For such a one this punishment is sufficient

Bl-D §187.

The Instrumental

0892.The instrumental denotes that by which or with which something is done. It may thus express either means or instrument, or association or accompaniment.

892.1The associative instrumental is used with verbs denoting friendly or hostile association or accompaniment (cf. §§591-593).

(47) ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ Mk 1:18
They followed him
(48) ἐπὶ σάββατα τρία διελέξατο αὐτοῖς Acts 17:2
For three sabbaths he discussed with them

Bl-D §193.

892.2The instrumental proper is often supplemented in the New Testament by ἐν (in imitation of Hebrew, Bl-D §195).

(49) ἀνεῖλεν δὲ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν
Ἰωάννου μαχαίρη
Acts 12:2
He killed James the brother of John with the sword

Cf. with ἐν:

(50) πάντες γὰρ oἱ λαβόντες μάχαιραν ἐν μαχαίρῃ ἀττολοῦνται Mt 26:52
For all who take the sword shall perish by
the sword

892.3The dative of means is closely related to the instrumental dative:

(51) ὥστε καὶ Βαρναβᾶς συναττήχθη ἀυτῶν
τῇ ὑποκρίσει
Gal 2:13
So that even Barnabas was carried away by
their hypocrisy

892.4The dative of cause denotes the occasion or basis:

(52) μόνον ἵνα τῷ σταυρῷ τοῦ Χριστοῦ
μὴ διώκωνται
Gal 6:12
only in order that they not be persecuted for
the cross of Christ
(53) τὸ αὐταις γὰρ θυσίαις εὐαρεστεῖται ὁ θεός Heb 13:16
For with such sacrifices God is pleased

Bl-D §196.

892.5The dative of respect (or relation) is used to denote the standard or person to which the assertion is limited (cf. the accusative of specification or respect, which is sometimes the virtual equivalent of the dative of respect, §894.6).

(54) ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι Gal 2:15
We who are Jews by nature
(55) ἐὰν μὴ περιτιμηθῆτε τῷ ἔθει τῷ Μωϋσέως, ... Acts 15:1
Unless you are circumcised according to the
custom of Moses, ...
(56) ἥμην δὲ ἀγνοούμενος τῷ προσώπῳ
ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῆς Ἰουδαίας
Gal 1:22
And I was unknown by sight to the churches
of Judea

Example (56) provides the basis for comparing respect (τῷ προσώπῳ, by face) and relation (ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις, to the churches) : The former refers to that with respect to which the assertion holds, the latter denotes the person with respect to whom the assertion holds. Cf. Bl-D §197, Smyth §§1495, 1512, 1516.

892.6The associative dative is used to indicate accompanying circumstances and manner:

(57) εἰ ἐγὼ χάριτι μετέχω, ... 1 Cor 10:30
If I partake with thankfulness, ...
(58) εἰ σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστός,
εἰπὲ ἡμῖν παρρησίᾳ
Jn 10:24
If you are the Christ,
tell us plainly

The dative of manner may be replaced by a preposition with the genitive:

(59) καὶ ἐλάλουν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ μετὰ
Acts 4:31
And they spoke the word of God with boldness

The accompanying circumstance is put in the dative:

(60) πᾶσα δὲ γυνὴ προσευχομένη ἣ προφητεύουσα
ἀκατακαλύπτῳ τῇ κεφαλῇ ... 1 Cor 11:5
But every woman who prays or prophesies
with her head uncovered ...

Bl-D §198.

The Locative

893The locative indicates location in space or time. In English the locative is represented by the prepositions in and at, also by on, among, beside, upon, etc.

893.1The locative of place is rare in the New Testament without a preposition (ἐν, ἐπί, παρά, πρός).

(61) τῇ δεξιᾷ οὖν τοῦ θεοῦ ὑψωθεὶς ... Acts 2:33
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God ...

is probably locative. Bl-D §199.

893.2 The locative of time is fairly common. It is often supplemented by the preposition ἐν.

(62) τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ Mt 16:21
on the third day
(63) αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ Lk 2:38
at that very hour
(64) τῇ ἐπαύριον Jn 1:29
on the morrow
(65) μὴ ... χειμῶνος μηδὲ σαββάτῳ Mt 24:20
not during winter or on the sabbath

In (65) note the genitive of time within which (§890.3) alongside a temporal locative. Bl-D §200.


0894The root idea expressed by the accusative is extension: it answers the question, how far? (Robertson-Davis: 215). As with the other cases, the relationship expressed is often indeterminate and must be supplied from the context. It is the case of the direct object of the verb (the direct object indicates the extent to which the action of the verb is effective). It is used with verbs of motion and specifies the goal (usually accompanied by a preposition). It also denotes extent of space and time.

8994.1The accusative marks the direct object (in S-III, §508 and S-IV, §§509-510) or the object affected:

(66) ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον Jn 3:16
God loved the world

894.2The accusative may denote the content with transitive verbs or object effected (also called cognate accusative). This accusative may be cognate with the verb (etymologically related) or of kindred meaning.

(67) ἐχάρησαν χαρὰν μεγάλην σφόδρα Mt 2:10
They rejoiced with exceeding great joy
(68) εἶδον ἐν ἐκστάσει ὅραμα Acts 11:5
In a trance I saw a vision

Bl-D §153.

894.3A verb may take two accusatives in S-V (§521):

(69) τὴν ψυχὴν λέγει τὸ ἔσω
τὸ δε ἔξω τὸ σῶμα λέγει
2 Clem 12:4
He calls the inside the soul,
and he calls the outside the body
(70) ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ἣν ἠγάπησάς με ἐν αὐτοῖς ᾖ Jn 17:26
in order that the love with which you loved me
may be in them

Note: (69) contains an accusative of the object affected and an object complement; (70) has an accusative of content and an accusative of the object affected.

894.4A verb may take two accusatives in S-VI (§523):

(71) πάλιν χρείαν ἔχετε τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς
τινὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα
Heb 5:12
You have need for someone to teach you
again the elementary things

894.5An accusative of the thing is sometimes retained in the passive form of S-VI (§523):

(72) τὰς παραδόσεις ἅς ἐδιδάχθητε 2 Thess 2:15
The traditions which you were taught

Bl-D §159.

894.6The accusative of specification or respect is used to limit or define:

(73) ἀνέπεσαν οὖν οἱ ἂνδρες τὸν ἀριθμὸν
ὡς πεντακισχίλιοι
Jn 6:10
The men then sat down, in number about 5,000

Compare: κάμνω τὴν κεφαλήν, I have a pain with respect to my head, i.e. a headache. Bl-D §160.

894.7The adverbial accusative is the adverbial counterpart of the accusative of respect.

(74) καὶ προβὰς ὁλίγον ... Mk 1:19
And going on a little farther ...

Bl-D §160.

894.8The accusative may denote the extent of space or time.

(75) ἐληλακότες οὖν ὡς σταδίους εἴκοσι πέντε
ἤ τριάκοντα ...
Jn 6:19
When they had rowed twenty-five or thirty stadia
(76) καὶ ἦv ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας Mk 1:13
And he was in the wilderness forty days

Bl-D §161.

894.9The terminal accusative, denoting goal, with verbs of motion is found in the New Testament only with prepositions (εἰς, ἐπί, παρά, πρός).

894.10The accusative subject of an infinitive: since the infinitive does not have personal endings (being an "infinite" form) with which to express a subject, the subject with reference to which the action is predicated is put in the accusative:

(77) μετὰ δὲ τὸ παραδοθῆναι τὸν Ἰωάννην ... Mk 1:14
After John was put in prison ...

This accusative is really an accusative of specification or respect (§894.6), i.e. After the to be imprisoned with respect to John.