Re: 2 Thess. 3:10--MH + Present Imperative = Stop That?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Nov 25 1998 - 11:27:17 EST

<x-flowed>At 10:25 AM -0800 11/24/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
> ---"Carl W. Conrad" <> wrote:
>>At 7:32 PM -0600 11/23/98, Edgar Foster wrote:
>>Dear B-Greekers,
>>I am still wrestling with the significance of present imperatives.
> One such example is 2 Thess. 3:10:
>>Can this verse rightfully be translated as a command to stop doing a
> certain action? I.e., "if anyone isn't willing to work, let him STOP
> eating."<
>>I don't really see any alternative, unless you understand "he is not
> to continue eating" or "he is not to go on eating" to mean something
> different from "he is to stop eating." I rather think these all point
> to the same thing.<
> The ASV renders 2 Thess. 3:10: "If any will not work, neither let him
> eat." This translation doesn't seem to convey the thought that a
> command is being issued to cease a particular action. To the contrary,
> it seems to convey a general principle.

But as Michael Burer pointed out yesterday, we can hardly assume that the
hypothetical loafer has not been eating hitherto. Suppose we render the
MHDE ESQIETW as "he is not to be eating either" I think the context implies
that we're talking about those who have stopped working but go on eating,
not about those who have never worked and also never eaten.

> Two other examples of MH + Present Imperative = cease a particular
> ongoing action are Rev. 1:17; 5:5. In both of these passages, what
> alerts us to the fact that a command of cessation is occurring, is the
> context. In Rev. 1:17, John is clearly in fear when he is told to
> "stop being afraid." In Rev. 5:4, 5, the apostle is filled with tears
> when he is told to "stop crying." I don't know if one can say the same
> of 2 Thess. 3:10. I guess my question is, is 3:10 a general principle
> or a command regarding a specific ongoing action? Fanning has
> questioned the latter view, and I wonder if he has a point. I would
> appreciate any further input on the matter. I am also thankful for the
> information on the lexeme.

I rather think that it's the context in both these passages also that makes
clear--even clearer than the context of 2 Thess 3:20--that the person
addressed by the imperative has been engaged in the action which the
imperative enjoins. Whether MHDE ESQIETW is translated as "and is to stop
eating" or "and is not to be eating" or "and is not to go on eating" seems
to me to be a matter of translation strategy rather than of understanding
the Greek, which simply enjoins the continuous activity of eating.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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