Great Stuff Found on the Web — Wild Boar from the Forest on “Grammar Corner”

Another great post by Wild Boar from the Forest:



In the Epistle Reading appointed for this Sunday (Col 3:12-17), you hear the following :

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts… Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

In Greek, it is a little bit different. “Rule” and “Dwell” are 3rd person imperatives. What does that mean?

There are three persons to which a sentence can refer. It can refer to myself (I: first person), the person to whom I speak (you: second person) or another party outside of the conversation (he-she-it: third person).

An imperative verb is a command. In the sentence “Go get your dog”, I am commanding you to do something. The you is understood, and is usually written (you) in diagrams. In English, the imperative is always second person. That is, I can command you to do something, but I can not command a third party to do something to you, unless I talk to them, in which case they are now the second person. (Keeping up? Because it is about to get dizzying.)

The Third person Imperative, which exists in Greek, commands someone or something to do something to or for you. So, for example if you take the sentence, “(You) go get your dog” and try and make it third person imperative, it will be (in the best English available) “I will now command the dog to come to you”. Not exactly what the Greek means, but better than, addressing you and saying “(Dog) come to you,” which makes absolutely no sense at all in English.

However, it is this very tense that Paul uses in Colossians. He is not telling you to allow the word of Christ, he is in fact commanding the peace of God rule and the word of Christ to dwell in you.

Is all this important? It is if you want to avoid a Arminian view of these verses. Or should I say, “It is so verses you avoid Arminian viewpoint”?

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