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Jehovah’s Witnesses

English

Glossary

Aorist

Aorist

A verb form in Biblical Greek that, though called a tense, usually conveys the kind of action taken rather than the time when the action takes place. Verbs in the aorist tense may be rendered in a variety of ways according to their context. For example, the aorist may denote a single action or actions that are momentary rather than an action or actions that are habitual or continuous.

At 1 John 2:1, the aorist tense of the Greek verb “to sin” is rendered “commit a sin.” The aorist here evidently expresses momentary action, referring to just one act of sin. The present tense of a Greek verb, by comparison, often denotes ongoing action. For example, at 1 John 3:6, the present tense of the same verb is rendered “practice sin.” At Matthew 4:9, the use of the aorist evidently indicates that Satan asked Jesus to “do an act of worship” to him, not to offer continuous worship.

A command may also be in the aorist. Unlike a prohibition in the present tense, which may often denote a command to stop doing something (Lu 5:​10; 23:28; Joh 2:​16), a prohibition in the aorist could be understood as a command against doing something at any given time or moment. One example is recorded at Matthew 6:​34: “Never be anxious about the next day.” Here the aorist conveys the idea of not being anxious at any given time or moment.