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Lesson 9


New Testament Greek
Course I
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  Lesson 9 - Prepositions, Compound Verbs, ὅτι  

In English, prepositions are words like in, over, from, etc.

A preposition introduces a prepositional phrase. In the following examples, The highlighted phrases are the prepositional phrases.

He was sitting on the chair.

The man in the car is the driver.

In each prepositional phrase, there is an object of the preposition. In the first example, chair is the object of the preposition on. In the second example, car is the object of the preposition in.

In Greek, it is very important to learn what cases can be used with a given preposition, and to note what meaning is associated with the preposition for each case. Some prepositions consistently take only one case. Other prepositions may take two or three different cases, and have varying meanings depending on which case is used. You must associate the case and the meaning together when learning a preposition. For example, you should not be content to learn that ἐν means in. Rather you must learn that ἐν used with the dative case means in.

In Jn. 17:13, notice that κόσμῳ, the object of the preposition ἐν, is in the dative case:

I speak these things ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ

And of course, τῷ is dative because it must agree with the noun it modifies.

Learn the following prepositions, associating each case used with the corresponding meaning.

ἀπό gen. from apostasy - a falling away from
ἄχρι gen. until, as far as  
διά acc. on account of  
gen. through diameter - measure through
εἰς acc. unto, into  
ἐκ, ἐξ preceding a vowel gen. out of exit 
ἐν dat. in  
ἐνώπιον gen. before  
ἔξω gen. outside [of] exoskeleton - skeleton on the outside
ἕως gen. as far as, until  
κατά acc. according to   
gen. against, down from  
μετά acc. after metamorphosis - after form
gen. with  
περί acc. around perimeter - measure around
gen. concerning  
πρό gen. before program  - written before
πρός acc. to, toward proselyte - one who comes to another religion
σύν dat. with  
ὑπέρ acc. over, above hyperactive - over active
gen. on behalf of  
ὑπό acc. under hypodermic - under the skin
gen. by  

Many prepositions can be thought of geometrically, or spatially. Consider the prepositions represented in the graphic below, noting carefully the case with which the indicated meaning is associated.

This is an adaptation and simplification of a geometric representation of prepositions found on p. 80 in Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, by Bruce M. Metzger, 1977 
  Compound Verbs  

Compounds of a preposition and a verb

Prepositions are often combined with verbs to form compound words. The effect of the preposition on the meaning of the verb varies, but we can loosely categorize most of these effects as follows:

  1. The meaning of the preposition is combined with the meaning of the verb.
    For example
    βαίνω means I go. Remember that κατά can mean down. Accordingly, καταβαίνω means I go down.

  2. The meaning of the verb is intensified. Compounds intensified by a prefixed preposition are sometimes called "perfectives" because the action is viewed as carried out to perfection, i.e. to completion. For example, ἐσθίω means eat, but when κατά is prefixed to form κατεσθίω, the meaning is devour  (See κατεσθίω used in Mk. 12:40.) Here, perhaps we see something reminiscent of an English idiom that makes the Greek seem less strange. If we talk about some one devouring his food, we may say he eats it up.

  3. The meaning of the verb is unaffected. καλύπτω is cover. In a number of passages in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament scriptures), κατακαλύπτω means cover and is hardly, if at all, to be distinguished from καλύπτω.

Prepositions ending in vowels

Notice that the final vowel of κατά is dropped when the preposition is prefixed to ἐσθίω. The compound is κατεσθίω, not καταεσθίω. This will happen any time a preposition with a final vowel is prefixed to a verb beginning with a vowel, except in the cases of περί (for example, περί + αἰρέω = περιαιρέω) and πρό (for example, πρό + ἄγω = προάγω).

Repetition of the preposition

Often when a preposition is expressed as part of a compound verb, it is repeated in its own right.

ἐκβάλλει ἐκ τοῦ θησαυροῦ αὐτοῦ  Mt. 13:52
He brings out of his treasure

  Be aware of three uses of ὅτι. See pages 74-76 in your text book (pages 51-52 in the first edition) where there is a good discussion of these.
  • to introduce cause, meaning because
  • to introduce an object clause
  • to introduce discourse, both direct and indirect
  Assignment 9