Re: Romans 3:22-23

From: Mike Adams (
Date: Wed Oct 04 1995 - 05:29:28 EDT

hi again!

You wrote:
>In Romans 3:23 what is the strength of the distinction between
>(aorist tense) and "coming short" (present tense), if any? Why not
>imperfect tense rather than the aorist? I realize the danger of
reading too
>much into this and that the larger context should always be kept in
> But this verse just doesn't make sense. If the aorist tense is
>as a one time completed action in the past, how could "all have
sinned." Is
>Paul perhaps taking some poetic license here?
>Am I trying to make too much out of the language? Or have I taken my
>instructors too seriously?

Well the toilet float got stuck again, so I got up at 2:00 AM to
unstick it. Your question was rattling around in my mind, so I thought
I'd quick write back a response to the bit about the aorist tense while
it was fresh in my mind.

I think your understanding of the aorist is a bit limited. It can be
described as a "one time completed action"; and in the indicative, that
would most almost always be in the past. But broaden your definition by
including "VIEWED AS a one time completed action." Take, for instance,
I John 2:6 (Not the best example, but one I know off the top of my
head.) Here, the writer states that the professor of faith ought to
walk "kathws ekeinos peripathse(n)". With the aorist the writer bundles
together some thirty plus years of walking about, and views it as a
single event.

Another example: One morning it rains. One person might say, "It rained
this morning, so now my hair is all frizzy."

Another might say, "I was raining all morning, and I had trouble
getting to my classes."

It is the same rainstorm, the same duration, yet one person is focusing
on it as an event, while another is focusing on its duration.
(Equivalent to Aorist verses Imperfect.) Also my first example includes
a present tense effect from the past occurance: my hair is frizzy.

We could also say, "In April it rained all the time." or "it was
raining all during my spring vacation." That is repeated action in the
past that can be bundled and discussed as a whole or else viewed as a

To me it makes perfect sense that the aorist would be used in this
verse in Romans, as the writer is concerned with the fact of occurance,
not its duration. The present tense in second part of the sentence is
also appropriate as it relates a present state.

Of course, it's always wise to double check the word of experts and
even more so that of amateurs. But maybe this will help.


Now I can get back to sleep.

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