Verb tenses aren’t always the most entertaining things to talk about in Scripture, especially when we’re talking about Greek verb tenses. The very fact that is my lead might mean you haven’t bothered reading this sentence. Nevertheless, every word in Scripture is inspired by God, even the tenses of the verbs, which can provide us with invaluable insights into glorious truths regarding our God and how He has revealed Himself.
Take Hebrews 1:2, for example, where the writers states that “in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son.” Virtually every major English translation renders the Greek verb elaleisen “has spoken.” This is a valid translation, but it doesn’t capture the fullness of what is being communicated. Greek is a more precise language than English, and elaleisen more exactly communicates the fact that God is done speaking.
The verb is in the aorist tense in Greek, and while that in itself might be Greek to you, it’s not insignificant. English translations render elaleisen like a perfect tense verb. The word “has” is the big indicator there. It demonstrates that something has happened in the past but continues to be in effect. And while that is certainly true of how elaleisen is used in Hebrews 1:2, the verb itself is not in the perfect tense, but again, the aorist tense, which more often demonstrates the point in time finality of an action. Continue reading