Re: Jn 20.22

From: Steven Craig Miller (
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 12:59:51 EDT

To: Joe A. Friberg,

JAF: << Per Steven Miller's hypothetical situation, that is not the
language I would use to guests. To guests, I might suggest "Have some
grapes," while to my children, if I want to require them to sample some
grapes, I might demand "Take some grapes." This latter phrase would be
*intended to be* more effectual! It occurs to me that English may
*lexicalize* the aspectual distinction which is exhibited more often in
Greek by the aor./pres. morphology. >>

If you prefer to call it a command rather than a request, I have no
problems with that. But, as Daniel B. Wallace (1996:485) writes:

<< The imperative mood is the mood of 'intention.' It is the mood furthest
removed from certainty. (Those who have strong-willed children understand
this!) >>

It would seem that you haven't had any experience with strong-willed
children. <g> For a command is a far cry from "effectual reception" in my

JAF: << That is, the aorist puts the focus on the initial reception at a
point in time, whereas, had the pres. been used, it would emphasize the
ongoing possession of the Spirit. >>

Wallace goes on to write:

<< The basic force of the imperative of command involves somewhat different
nuances with each tense. With the 'aorist,' the force generally is to
'command the action as a whole,' without focusing on duration, repetition,
etc. In keeping with its aspectual force, the aorist puts forth a 'summary
command.' With the 'present,' the force generally is to 'command the action
as an ongoing process.' This is in keeping with the present's aspect, which
protrays an 'internal' perspective. >>

There is absolutely nothing about the imperative mood which implies

Back to the example of John 20:22, the statement by the Johannine Jesus,
"Receive the Holy Spirit" (NRSV), can be viewed as a command, or perhaps an
exhortation. One can assume that because these were Jesus' disciples, that
they did indeed receive the Holy Spirit (according to John's story), but
the command (in and of itself) does not imply reception.

-Steven Craig Miller (

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