Greek New Testament Tenses

In the Greek New Testament tense emphasizes kind of action and not time as in the English language.

Present Tense
The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action. It shows 'action in progress' or 'a state of persistence.' When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time.

For example: "In Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit." Eph 2:22 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." Heb 10:25

Aorist Tense
The aorist is said to be "simple occurrence" or "summary occurrence", without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the 'punctiliar' tense. 'Punctiliar' in this sense means 'viewed as a single, collective whole,' a "one-point-in-time" action, although it may actually take place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.

For example: "God...made us alive together with Christ." Eph 2:5 "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." Phil 1:6 I

Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense shows continuous or linear type of action just like the present tense. It always indicates an action continually or repeatedly happening in past time. It portrays the action as going on for some extended period of time in the past. The idea of continual action in the past does not apply when the verb "to be" is in the imperfect tense. There it should be considered a simple action happening in past time, without regard to its "on-going" or "repeated happening" in the past.

For example: "For you were once darkness, but now light in the Lord." Eph 5:8

Perfect Tense
The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.

For example, Galatians 2:20 should be translated "I am in a present state of having been crucified with Christ," indicating that not only was I crucified with Christ in the past, but I am existing now in that present condition. "...having been rooted and grounded in love," Eph 3:17

Future Tense
Just like the English future tense, the Greek future tells about an anticipated action or a certain happening that will occur at some time in the future.

For example: "We know that if he is manifested, we will be like Him, for we will see Him even as He is." 1 John 3:2

Pluperfect Tense
The pluperfect ('past perfect') shows action that is complete and existed at some time in the past, (the past time being indicated by the context). This tense is only found in the indicative mood and is rarely used in the New Testament.

For example: "...and they beat against that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock." Matt 7:25

Future Perfect Tense
There is also a future perfect tense in Greek which is very rare in the New Testament. It is only formed by periphrasis in the New Testament is much like the past perfect, only the completed state will exist at some time in the future rather than in the past.

Non-Finite Verb Forms

A participle is considered a "verbal adjective". It is often a word that ends with an "-ing" in English (such as "speaking," "having," or "seeing"). It can be used as an adjective, in that it can modify a noun (or substitute as a noun), or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb.

For example:
Adjectival use: "The coming One will come and will not delay." Heb 10:37
Adverbial use: "But speaking truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things." Eph 4:15

Periphrastic Participles
This form uses the finite verb of the verb "to be" with typically an imperfect or perfect participle.
See Acts 16:9 "was standing" - imperf. tense of the verb "to be" with the perf. participle.
Periphrastic participles are used for emphasis.

The Greek infinitive is the form of the verb that is usually translated into English with the word "to" attached to it, often used to complement another verb. It can be used to function as a noun and is therefore referred to as a "verbal noun".

For instance, "For to me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). In this sentence, the words "to live" are an infinitive in Greek and are functioning as the subject of the sentence (a noun).