Is “He is Risen” Passive? (Matt 28:6) – Mondays with Mounce 273

Bill Mounce on February 13th, 2017. Tagged under ,,.

Bill Mounce

William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language and exegesis on the ZA Blog. He is the president of BiblicalTraining.org, a ministry that creates and distributes world-class educational courses at no cost. He is also the author of numerous works including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek and a corresponding online class. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

The other day in class we translated what Herod said about John. “This is John the Baptist; he has risen (ἠγέρθη) from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him” (Matt 14:2; NASB). ἠγέρθη is an aorist passive and a student asked why the NASB didn’t translate it as a passive.

This becomes a more important question when we realize that passives are used of Jesus being raised from the dead. “He is not here, for He has risen (ἠγέρθη), just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying” (Matt 28:6). The NIV also uses “he has risen,” which is transitive but I am not sure it is passive. The NLT uses an almost stative, “He is risen.” CSB (formerly the HCSB) has an explicit passive: “For He has been resurrected” (“has been raised,” NET).

And why was the NASB not consistent? In Matt 26:32 they translate the passive as a passive, “But after I have been raised (μετὰ … τὸ ἐγερθῆναί με), I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

It is of the utmost theological importance to see that God the Father raised Jesus as a vindication of his perfect sacrifice and a validation that in fact Jesus had done everything he came to do. τετέλεσθαι.

So how do you hear “he is risen”? Do you hear it as an active or a divine passive?

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William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language and exegesis on the ZA Blog. He is the president of BiblicalTraining.org, a ministry that creates and distributes world-class educational courses at no cost. He is also the author of numerous works including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek and a corresponding online class. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

Learn more about Bill’s Greek resources at BillMounce.com.

  • Cheryl Meban 5 months ago

    Interesting! I hadn’t thought if “he is risen” as a passive in English. I thought that older English, like French, uses the verb “to be” rather than “to have” when conjugating certain verbs of motion. Je suis arrivé, I am come. Je suis parti- I am gone (Nowadays we generally say, “I have gone”, but we still use the verb “to be” when there is a particular significance to our state of being. So I assumed “He is risen” said something significant about him, beyond the simple geography…

  • Julie Castin 5 months ago

    It is passive! We learned that from your book Dr. Mounce