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"Insights" from the New Testament Greek

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 Study Notes from the New Testament Greek

By Bob Jones, Northside Bible Church, Jacksonville Florida

Greek Synonyms

Greek Terms

Greek Article "The"

Conditional Sentences

Greek Prepositions

Granville Sharp Rule


(Or what does that "IF" mean?)

A "conditional clause" is a statement of supposition generally introduced in English by the conjunction "if". The fulfillment of the supposition is stated as a potential fact expressed in a companion clause. Grammarians call the "if" clause the "protasis", and the fulfillment clause is called the "apodosis". 

 "IF CLAUSE" =      (Protasis - condition)      (Apodosis - fulfillment)

Illustration: If it rains, then the grass will grow.


When interpreting conditional sentences in the New Testament, the student of the English Bible must realize that four classes of conditional sentences are used. In other words, the writers of the New Testament had four different ways of saying "if", each one with its distinct construction, meaning and significance.

There are no equivalents to these constructions in English, but in the Koine Greek, the construction tells us what the writer means.


FIRST CLASS = REALITY - "IF" and it IS TRUE (protasis), then - - - apodosis.

SECOND CLASS = UNREALITY - "IF" and it is NOT TRUE (protasis), then - - - apodosis.

THIRD CLASS =  POSSIBILITY - "IF" and it has not happened yet, and IT MAY (protasis), and when it does - - - apodosis.

FOURTH CLASS = WISH or DESIRE - "IF" and it has not happened yet, and I WISH IT WOULD (protasis), and when, and if it does - - - apodosis.


FIRST CLASS - "ei" (if) + indicative mood verb = True

         Gal 5:18 If, and you are, to some extent, being led by the Spirit.

         Rom 6:5 If we have been, and we have been, planted together with Christ in death.

SECOND CLASS - "ei" (if) + "un" (not) = False

         Gal 1:10 Paul argues, if I am pleasing men, and I am not.

         Luke 7:39 The Pharisee shows no faith when he says if Jesus were a prophet, and he's not.

THIRD CLASS - "ean" + subjunctive mood verb = Maybe yes, maybe no.

         Rom 7:2 If a woman's husband is dead, maybe he is and maybe not.

         Heb 6:3 Leaving the foundational teachings and progressing to maturity, if God will permit, maybe He will and maybe He won't. (In the context, God won't as long as they keep on sacrificing animals instead of trusting the blood of Christ.)

FOURTH CLASS - "ei" + optative mood verb = Wish or desire.

         1 Pet 3:14 If your suffering is for righteousness sake, and I wish it was, it would be a blessing.

The New Testament uses the first two classes with great frequency, the third quite often, and the fourth very rarely.

  Bob Jones