Biblical Greek (Beginners): 09. Perfect, Pluperfect


Perfect is not used that often as in the case of other tenses. However, if it is used, it is important in interpretation for us.

Perfect represent a perfective tense (as is suggested by its name) and describes the action that took place and was completed in the past, and in some way interfering with its effects or results to the present (from the point of view of the writer). Emphasis is on the outcome of the action. In a way, it ensures the continuity of the already completed action, but not in a permanent or eternal sense. We will translate into English according to the context, but mostly we will use perfect.

Indicative   Active     Middle-Passive  
Sg. 1   λε λυ κα I have loosed    λε λυ μαι I have loosed /
  2   λε λυ κας     λε λυ σαι I have been loosed
  3   λε λυ κε(ν)     λε λυ ται  
Pl. 1   λε λυ καμεν     λε λυ μεθα  
  2   λε λυ κατε     λε λυ σθε  
  3   λε λυ καν/κασι(ν)     λε λυ νται  
Infinitive   λε λυ κεναι     λε λυ σθαι  

Reduplication (Doubling)

This is a duplication of the first letter of the verb and the insertion of the ε.

  • Full (initial letter is fully duplicated):

    • letters κγχ, τδθ, πβφ, letters ρλμν

    • letters χφθ

  • Incomplete (full duplication is not taking place):

    • vowels, letters ρζξψ and others outside of the above


Does not contain discerning letters κα, but just the endings are employed.

Irregular verbs

Irregular verbs are losing letter κ similarly to aorist in the case of letter σ. Particular irregular forms are to be found in dictionary.


Rom 3:10 καθὼς γεγραπται ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν δίκαιος οὐδὲ εἷς
  As it is written that: ,there is no one righteous, not even one‘
John 17:7 νῦν ἔγνωκαν ὅτι πάντα ὅσα δεδωκας μοι παρὰ σοῦ εἰσιν·
  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you
Luke 5:20 ἄνθρωπε, ἀφέωνται σοι αἱ ἁμαρτίαι σου
  Man, your sins are forgiven.


Like perfect, it speaks of an action based on a previous event. In case of pluperfect, this event or action is always in the past. Pluperfect describes past action that preceded some action in the past. Therefore it is past perfect tense. It also describes a perfective action.

Pluperfect is similar to perfect in its form, with the difference that the augment may be at the beginning of the word. Like imperfect, it has only indicative forms.

Pluperfect occurs 86 times in the text of the NT, and all of the occurrences are in the gospels and acts, only in three cases it is different. In the active voice we recognize it by the diphthong ει and reduplication.

Indicative   Active     Middle-Passive  
Sg. 1   (λε λυ κειν I had loosed   (λε λυ μην I had loosed /
  2   (λε λυ κεις     (λε λυ σο I had been loosed
  3   () λε λυ κει(ν)     (λε λυ το  
Pl. 1   (λε λυ κειμεν     (λε λυ μεθα  
  2   (λε λυ κειτε     (λε λυ σθε  
  3   (λε λυ κεισαν     (λε λυ ντο  


In the middle-passive voice, pluperfect occurs total of 7x in the NT text (middle 2x, passive 5x). We are conjugating the middle-passive voice according to the modified endings of the imperfect.


John 6:17 καὶ σκοτία ἤδη ἐγεγόνει καὶ οὔπω ἐληλύθει πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὁ Ἰησοῦς
  And it was dark and Jesus had not yet come.
1 John 2:19 εἰ γὰρ ἐξ ἡμῶν ἦσαν, μεμενήκεισαν ἂν μεθʼ ἡμῶν
  For if they were of us, they would have remained with us.
Acts 8:27 ὃς ἐληλύθει προσκυνήσων εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ
  Who had come to Jerusalem to kneel