Re: 3rd-person imperatives in the Lord's Prayer

From: Edgar Krentz (
Date: Mon Aug 18 1997 - 11:08:59 EDT

>> Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 19:05:32 -0500 (CDT)
>> From: Jeffrey Gibson <>
>> Moreover, what strikes me here is how well the "on earth as it is
>> in heaven" clause (another Matthean addition?) fits in with the
>> discussion raised by Ward Powers on binding and loosing in Matt.
>> 16. Perhaps all that is being asked for is not so much a
>> transformation of the earth, as guidance and help from God that the
>> community who prays this prayer conforms itself to God's will.
>Perhaps. But if so, wouldn't we expect Matthew and Luke to
>use present (imperfective) imperatives?
>Personally, I was actually surprised to see that all three
>imperatives (or both of them, in the case of Luke) turn out
>to be aorists. Matthew and Luke both seem to be expecting
>us to pray for an event rather than an ongoing process --
>in Rolf Furuli's terms, for something that has a recognizable
>beginning and ending. Praying for the community to conform
>itself to God's will, it seems to me, would be a prayer for ongoing
>rather than realized activity. Perhaps we are to pray for
>these events to be realized ultimately and eschatologically.

In response to the two statements above:

(1) The imperative mood is the mood of urgency, used regularly in prayer
and to express permission, not just to give commands. See Jesus' prayer in
Mark 14:36.

(2) Why be surprised by aorists? It is often the "tense" of preference in
non-indicative uses. That is certainly true of ELQEIN. Here is where a
concordance might be very instructive.

For GINOMAI cf. Matt 8:13, 9:23, 15:28. Luke 22:42 is an exception.

For hAGIAZW cr. John 17:17, the only other imperative form in the NT.

In short, I would be surprised if the present did occur in the LP!

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