Grammar Can Be Fun: Imperatives and Participles
Finding interesting grammatical or syntactical points doesn’t sound like much fun right? The very word grammar may cause some to be tempted to skip this article all together. When most people think of grammar they think of sentence diagramming, punctuation, parts of speech and tenses. They may recall the face of their high school English teacher and immediately feel the desire to fall asleep. Well, when studying the Bible, you may find that looking at grammatical points can be interesting and even fun!
Look for Imperatives
An imperative is a command, an order, and an obligatory statement. Within the text of the Bible it seems only logical that we would find many imperatives. God writes so we will know what to do. It is important that we take notice of these grammatical points since they are God’s instructions for us where He tells us directly what to do. (e.g.: Listen! Go!)
Look for Participles
A participle is a word which ends in “ing”. Often times in scripture, a point is made and then the “ing” words give examples to prove that point.
Connection between Participles and Imperatives
Participles that follow imperatives become imperatives themselves. Let me simplify: an “ing” word that follows a command becomes a command itself. When we see an imperative in scripture, we may find a series of participles following which instruct us in how to carry out the command. If we look for the “ing” words, we can gain great insight to the command given.
For example, Matthew 28:18-20 says,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
The command given by Jesus is to “make disciples” (as you are going) and then we see the command followed by some participles, “baptizing” and “teaching”. This is Jesus telling us how to make disciples.
Look at these other examples: Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 2:6-7
“Let Us” and Participles
Also, with Participles we should look for the “Let us” phrase.
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:22-25).
“Let us draw near” + having our hearts sprinkled
“Let us hold fast” + without wavering
“Let us consider” + Not forsaking, but exhorting
As you can see, the “Let us” phrase tells us what to strive for and the participle explains how we can obtain that outcome. We find many of these “Let us” phrases all throughout the New Testament letters, so this should be a helpful tool.
An excellent article “-ing Words” about participles was previously posted on Come Fill Your Cup by Erynn Sprouse. Also, Carley Robertson focused her encouraging article, “Life Gives You Lemonade” on a set of imperatives. Both of these articles focus on this technique of finding interesting grammatical points from the text. Grammar can be fun and interesting when it gives us new insight and understanding in God’s word.
Step 1: Investigate
By Aimee Lemus