RE: 1 Pet 2:4

From: S. M. Baugh (
Date: Tue Apr 08 1997 - 13:20:10 EDT

Jamen McGranahan wrote:
>In I Peter 2:4, there is the participle PROSERCHOMENOI (literally
>meaning "coming"). Can this participle be used as an imperative--
>"Come"? It would make the translation a little smoother, but I
>want to be as accurate as I possibly can. Thanks for any input.

Hi Jamen,

Good question. You caught most people here in a fascinating friendly row
over aspect, and I fear your question may have been inadvertently missed
by the giants on the list. Too bad, because the present "tense" form of
this participle may be of special interest.

Peter frequently uses participles with imperative force, particularly
lead participles with a following imperative (e.g., 1 Pet 1:13, 2:1-2;
cf. Col. 3:13 following impv. in v. 12 or well-known Matt. 28:19-20.)
These are "parallel" with imperatives, and in this kind of situation,
the participle is a kind of chameleon, taking on the function of the
lead verb (i.e., "independent" verb). (Grammarians call this the
participle of "attendant circumstance." I just call it the "parallel
participle" when I can get away with it!) Remember that 1 in 20 words in
the NT is a participle; very flexible little beastie.

In 1 Pet. 2:4, however, the participle mirrors the *indicative* verb
OIKODOMEISQE in v. 5. Secondly, it would be unusual to have an
imperative notion following PROS hON. We would expect: PROSERCOMENOI
PROS AUTON or something. So, PROSERCOMENOI is the equivalent of an
indicative here: "To whom you are coming as (to) a living stone . . .
and you are yourselves, like living stones, being built as a spiritual
house. . . ."

Now, it *is* possible in some cases to read an indicative statement as
having imperative force. For instance, in English: "I *know* you're
going to study your Greek assignment today, aren't you?!" This is
indicative (and a question to boot). But we understand it to have
imperative force: "Study your Greek assignment!" (only more polite).
However, I don't see any imperative in 1 Pet. 2:4-5 itself, but the
underlying rational for other imperatives in 2:1-2.

What is interesting is that the participle was expressed in its present
"tense" form. I think it has a continuative notion here as does the
indicative: "To whom you are [in process of] coming. . . you are [in
process of] being built." The aspectiologists might differ, but that
leads to further reflection and learning!


S. M. Baugh
New Testament
Westminster Theological Seminary
1725 Bear Valley Parkway
Escondido, CA 92027

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:11 EDT