Friday, February 09, 2024

Acts 1:21-22: a bit more quickly

I thought we should start moving a bit faster through Acts; otherwise, I may not be around long enough to see it through to the end!  Here are the two next verses, Acts 1:21 and 1:22.  We'll emphasize verbs and difficult phrasings. 

Below each line in Greek I've given a mostly word-for-word translation, which means that the English is often awkward, to say the least.  As it happens, the Greek in these two verses is particularly difficult to understand from such a translation.


21  δεῖ οὖν τῶν συνελθόντων ἡμῖν ἀνδρῶν 

it is necessary so of the having accompanied to us men 

 ἐν παντὶ χρόνῳ ᾧ εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ἐξῆλθεν 

in all time which he came in and he went out 

ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς,

upon us the Lord Jesus, 

22  ἀρξάμενος ἀπὸ τοῦ βαπτίσματος Ἰωάννου 

 having begun from the baptism of John

ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἧς ἀνελήμφθη ἀφ’ ἡμῶν, 

until of the day which he was taken up from us 

μάρτυρα τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ σὺν ἡμῖν 

a witness of the resurrection of him with us 

γενέσθαι ἕνα τούτων.

to become one of these. 


1   Δεῖ is an impersonal verb; that is, the subject might be though of as 'it':  'it is necessary'.  This one form is used about 80 times in the New Testament.

Δεῖ is generally followed by an infinitive, which makes sense: 'it is necessary - to do something'.

But where is the infinitive?

2   Εἰσῆλθεν and ἐξῆλθεν should be familiar as 3-S, aorist active indicative forms of the ἔρχομαι derivatives εἰσέρχομαι and ἐξέρχομαι.  

The subject of these two indicatives is ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς, which follows the verbs.

3   Ἀρξάμενος is a participle; the masculine nominative singular, aorist middle of ἄρχω, 'I rule; in the middle/passive, 'I begin'. 

4  Ἀνελήμφθη is the 3-S, aorist passive indicative of ἀναλαμβάνω, 'I take up, I raise'.  

The subject is understood to be ὁ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς from the previous verse.  

And in the next post, which I promise to get to quickly, we'll look at the verb γενέσθαι, answer the question as to the infinitive of δεῖ, and consider the ways in which English translations of these two verses must employ work-arounds.

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