Present Indicative: The Present Of Past Action Still In Progress

The Present Of Past Action Still In Progress

The Present Indicative, accompanied by an adverbial expression denoting duration and referring to past time, is sometimes used in Greek, as in German, to describe an action which, beginning in past time, is still in progress at the time of speaking. English idiom requires the use of the Perfect in such cases.

Acts 15:21; Μωϋσῆς γὰρ ἐκ γενεῶν ἀρχαίων κατὰ πόλιν τοὺς κηρύσσοντας αὐτὸν, for Moses from generations of old has had in every city them that preached him. See also Luke 13:7, ἔρχομαι, 15:29, δουλεύω, John 5:6, ἔχει; 2 Tim. 3:15, οἶδας. This Present is almost always incorrectly rendered in R.V.

REMARK. Cf. Br. 156, “Das Prasens in Verbindung mit πάρος, πάρλαι, ποτὲ, wurde seit Homer gebraucht, um eine Handlung auszudrucken, die sich durch die Vergangenheit bis zur Zeit des Sprechens hinzieht.” In the New Testament examples definite expressions of past time occur in place of the adverbs πάρος, etc.

The Aorist Indicative, limited by an expression meaning up to this time, may also be used of acts beginning in past time and continuing to the time of speaking. Matt. 27:8; 28:15. Cf. THE AORIST FOR THE (ENGLISH) PERFECT, and ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS OF THE GREEK AORIST INDICATIVE.

Verbs in indirect discourse retain the point of view, as respects time, of the original statement; a Progressive Present in indirect discourse accordingly denotes action going on at the time, not of the quotation of the words, but of the original utterance of them. English usage in indirect discourse is different, and from this difference it results that a Greek Present Indicative standing in indirect discourse after a verb of past time must often be rendered by a verb of past time.

These cases, however, involve no special use of the Greek tense, and should not be confused with those of the Historical Present. Cf. INDIRECT DISCOURSE IN ENGLISH AND IN GREEK.

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