For the true understanding of the New Testament a
knowledge of the Greek Prepositions is indispensable.
They might be exhibited in groups, or acccording to the Cases 1
of the Noun which they govern, or according to their geometrical relations to a
line, a superfices, and a solid, or according to the relative frequency of their
occurrences. 2 But we have given them below in their alphabetical
order, so that they may be more readily found by the reader.
They are eighteen in number, and may thus be defined:-
i. ana governs only one case (the
Accusative), and denotes up, upon, formed from ano
(as kata is from kato, with which ana stands in
direct antithesis). In relation to vertical lines it denotes the top. With
numerals it is used as a distributive (Matthew 20:9,10. Luke 9:3
. John 2:6); also adverbially (Revelations 21:21
ii. anti governs only one case (the
Genitive), and denotes over against, or opposite. Hence it is used as instead
of or in the place of (e.g. Matthew 2:22. Luke 11:11
); and denotes equivalence (e..g. Matthew 20:28
. Hebrews 12:16. 1Peter 3:9
), while huper (Number xvii, below)
denotes in the interest of, or on behalf of (Luke 6:28. John 17:19
iii. amphi is used only in
composition in the New Testament and is rare in Classical Greek. It denotes about,
or around. Used of a solid, it denotes both sides.
iv. apo governs only one case (the
Genitive), and denotes motion from the surface of an object, as a
line drawn from the circumference; it thus stands in contrast with ek (Number vii), which denotes a line drawn from the center; while para
denotes a line drawn as a tangent, thus-
Hence, it is used of motion away from a place (e.g.
Matthew 3:16; 8:1. Acts 15:38
); marking the distance which separates the two places, or the interval of time
between two events (e.g. Matthew 19:4 Acts 20:18
). It also marks the origin or source whence anything comes, such as birth,
descent, residence (e.g. Matthew 2:1; 15:1;
21:11. Acts 10:23; 17:13
), or of information (e.g. Matthew 7:16).
Apo may consequently be used of deliverance or passing away
from any state or condition (e.g. Matthew 1:21; 14:2
. Mark 5:34. Acts 13:8; 14:15
. Hebrews 6:1).
It would thus differ hupo (Number
xviii), which would imply a cause immediate and active while apo would
imply a cause virtually passive, and more remote.
v. dia governs two cases (the Genitive
1. With the Genitve it has the general sense of through,
as though dividing a surface into two by an intersecting line. It includes the idea of proceeding
from and passing out (e.g. Mark 11:16. 1
Corinthians 3:15. 1Timothy 2:15
. 1Peter 3:20). Compare diameter.
In a temporal sense; after an interval (Matthew 26:61
. Mark 2:1. Galatians 2:1).
From the ideas of space and time dia (with the Genitive)
denotes any cause by means of which an action passes to its accomplishment
(e.g. Matthew 1:22. John 1:3. Acts 3:18
. 1Corinthians 16:3. 2
Corinthians 9:13); hence, it denotes the passing through
whatever is interposed between the beginning and the end of such action.
2. With the Accusative it has the sense of on account of,
or because of (e.g. Matthew 27:18. Mark 2:27
. Revelation 4:11), indicating both the exciting cause
(Acts 12:20. Romans 4:25. 1
Corinthians 11:10), the impulsive cause (e.g. John 12:9
. Romans 4:23; 15:15. Hebrews 2:9
), or the prospective cause (Romans 6:19; 8:11
; 14:15. Hebrews 5:3).
vi. eis governs only one case (the
Accusative). Euclid uses eis when a line is drawn to meet another line, at
certain point. Hence, it denotes motion to or unto an object,
with the purpose of reaching or touching it (e.g. Matthew 2:11; 3:10
. Luke 8:14. Acts 16:10).
From this comes the idea of the object toward which such motion is
directed (e.g. Matthew 18:20,30. 1Corinthians
12:13. Galatians 3:27); and for,
or with respect to which such action or movement is made.
In contrast with eis, pros (Number xv, below) may mark one object as the means of reaching
an ulterior object which is denoted by eis (e.g. John 6:35
. Romans 5:1. Ephesians 4:12). It
is the opposite of ek (Number vii, below).
vii. ek governs only one case (the
Genitive), and denotes motion from the interior. See under apo (Number iv, above, and diagram there). It is used of time, place,
and origin. It means out from, as distinguished from apo (Number iv, above), which means off, or away
from. Ek marks the more immediate origin, while apo
marks the more remote origin; of expressing the intermediate meanings.
viii. en governs only one case (the
Dative), and denotes being or remaining within, with the primary idea of
rest and continuance. It has regard to place and space (e.g. Matthew 10:16
. Luke 5:16), or sphere of action (e.g. Matthew 14:2
. Romans 1:5,8; 6:4).
It also used for the efficient cause as emanating from within, and hence
has sometimes the force of by, denoting the instrument, with,
passing on to union and fellowship; en denoting inclusion, and
sun (Number xvi, below) denoting conjunction.
En denotes also continuance in time (Matthew 2:1
; 27:40. John 11:10).
2. with plural = among.
ix. epi governs three cases (the
Genitive, Dative, and Accusative), and denotes superposition.
1. With the Genitive it denotes upon, as proceeding or
springing from, and answers to the question "Where?" (e.g. Matthew
9:2; 10:27. Mark 8:4.
Luke 22:30. John 6:21).
With the idea of locality it conveys the sense, in
the presence of (e.g. Matthew 28:14. Mark 13:9
. Acts 24:19. 1Corinthians 6:1
With the idea of time, it looks backward and upward, e.g. "in
the days of" (Matthew 1:11. Hebrews 1:2
With the idea of place, it denotes dignity and power (e.g.
Matthew 23:2. Acts 12:21. Romans 9:5
. Revelation 2:26).
2. With the Dative it implies actual superposition, as one
thing resting upon another, as upon a foundation or basis which may be actual (e.g. Mark
6:25,28,39), or moral (e.g. Matthew 18:13.
Mark 3:5). Both senses occur in 1Thessalonians
Hence it is used of the moving principle or motive suggesting the
purpose or object (e.g. Ephesians 2:10), and sometimes including
the result (e.g. 2Timothy 2:14).
3. With the Accusative it implies the downward pressure on that upon
which a thing rests; active motion being suggested (e.g. 2Corinthians
3:15. 1Timothy 5:5).
Hence, it denotes any extended motion downward (Matthew 13:2
; 18:12; 19:28; 27:45
) from heaven to earth (Mark 4:20. Acts 11:15
. 2Corinthians 12:9).
Compared with pros (Number xv,
below), pros marks the motion, the direction to be taken, while epi
(with Accusative) marks the point to be reached.
This downward presure may be that of the mind, or feeling (e.g. Matthew
25:21; 27:43. Hebrews 6:1
. 1Peter 1:13).
For the difference between eis (Number
vi, above) and epi (with the Accusative) see Romans 9:21
, "one vessel unto (eis) honour", and
verse 23, "riches of glory on (epi) the
vessels of mercy".
x. kata governs two cases (the Genitive
and Accusative), and denotes two motions, vertical and horizontal.
1. With the Genitve it denotes vertical motion, the opposite of ana
(Number i, above), descent, or detraction from a higher place
or plane (e.g. Matthew 8:32. Mark 5:13); and
direction to, or against (e.g. Mark 9:40. John 18:29
. Acts 25:27. 2Corinthians 13:8
2. With the Accusative it denotes horizontal motion, along
which the action proceeds (e.g. Luke 8:39; 10:33
. Acts 5:15; 8:26. Philippians 3:14
). Sometimes it includes the purpose or intention (e.g. 2Timothy
1:1; 4:3. Titus 1:1).
In this connection eis (Number vi, above. 2
Timothy 4:14) marks the more immediate purpose, pros
(Number xv, 3. Ephesians 4:12.
Philemon 5) the ultimate purpose; and kata (Number x, 2.) the destination to be reached. It has regard to the
duration of the motion (e.g. Matthew 27:15. Hebrews 3:8
) and the accordance, conformity or proportion of the two things which such
motion thus connects (e.g. Matthew 16:27; 23:3
; 25:15. Luke 2:22).
xi. meta governs two cases (the
Genitive and Accusative), and denotes association and companionship with. It
thus differs from sun (Number xvi, below),
which denotes proximity to, and hence conjunction or coherence.
Compare Ephesians 6:23. (meta) with
Ephesian 4:31. (sun); and 1Thessalonians
3:13. (meta) with Colossians 3:3
1. Hence meta, with the Genitive, denotes among,
amid (e.g. Matthew 26:58. Mark 1:13
. Revelation 21:3), or in company with
(e.g. Matthew 9:15. John 11:31. 2
Thessalonians 1:7. Revelation 14:13).
It refers specially to the mental dispostion with which an action is
performed (e.g. Matthew 12:30. Mark 3:5.
Luke 1:39; 9:49. John 8:28
. 2Corinthians 7:15).
2. With the Accusative it means after, always in
connection with time (e.g. Matthew 17:1; 26:32
. John 13:7. Hebrews 4:7; 7:28
xii. para governs three cases
(Genitive, Dative, and Accusative), and the uniform meaning is beside, or alongside
of. See apo, Number iv, above, and
compare diagram there.
1. With the Genitive it denotes from beside, implying the
source from which anything proceeds (e.g. Matthew 2:4; 21:42
. Luke 2:1; 6:19. Acts 26:10
. Philippians 4:18).
As distinguished from hupo (Number
xviii, below) it denotes the general sense of motion, while hupo
marks the special sense or efficient cause of such motion.
As distinguished from apo (Number
iv, above) it marks the motion from person (e.g. Matthew 2:16),
while apo may imply motion from a place (e.g. Matthew 2:1
2. With the Dative it denotes rest beside and at a person,
place, or thing, expressing rest and position there (e.g. John 19:25.
Acts 9:43); laid up with, or in store with (e.g. Matthew 6:1
. Luke 1:30), or proximity to (e.g. Matthew 22:25
. Colossians 4:16).
Hence it implies in the power of (Matthew 19:26.
Luke 1:37); in the judgement of (e.g. Romans 2:12
. 2Peter 2:11).
3. With the Accusative it denotes motion to a place, so as to be
alongside it (e.g. Matthew 15:29 Mark 4:1).
Hence, beside and beyond, and so against
(e.g. Acts 18:13. Romans 1:25,26; 4:18
. 1Corinthians 3:11. Galatians 1:8
); and beside, i.e. more or less than
(e.g. Luke 3:13; 13:2. Romans 14:5
. 2Corinthians 11:24). Compare pros,
number xv, below.
xiii. peri governs two cases
(Genitive and Accusative), and denotes around, or about, like
a completed circle. Hence concerning. It marks the object about which the
action of the verb takes place.
1. With the Genitve it means as concerning, or as
regards, but always with the primary idea, and marking the central point of the
activity (e.g. Matthew 4:6. Luke 24:19,27,44).
2. With the Accusative it denotes the extension of such activity, hence,
around (e.g. Mark 9:42. Luke 13:8
. Acts 28:7. Philippians 2:23).
xiv. pro governs only one case (the
Genitive), and denotes the position as being in site, or, before
one, in place (e.g. Luke 7:27, 9:52
, James 5:9); time (e.g. Matthew 5:12
, John 17:24, Acts 21:38); or superiority
(e.g. James 5:12, 1Peter 4:8
xv. pros governs three cases (the
Genitive, Dative, and Accusative), and denotes to, or, toward,
implying motion onward. Its general meaning with the three cases is the motive-as
in consideration of (with the Genitive); in addition to
anything-as an act (with the Dative); with a view to anything-as an end
(with the Accusative).
Compared with para (Number xii,
above), pros denotes only direction and tendency, whereas para
denotes both motion and change of place of some object.
1. With the Genitive the only occurence is Acts 27:34
2. With the Dative it occurs five times : Luke 19:37
. John 18:16; and twice in John 20:12
. Revelation 1:13.
3. With the Accusative, see e.g. Matthew 2:12; 3:10
; 21:34; 26:57. Mark 5:11
; 11:1; 14:54. Luke 7:7
. Acts 6:1. 1Thessalonians 3:6
xvi. sun governs only one case (the
Dative). See under meta (Number xi, above)
(e.g. Luke 23:11. Romans 6:8).
xvii. huper governs two cases (the
Genitive and Accusative), and denotes above, and over, with
respect to the upper plane of a solid. Latin, super.
1. With the Genitve it is used in its relative rather than its absolute
sense. In the place of (e.g. John 11:50; 18:14
. Romans 5:6. 1Timothy 2:6
. Philemon 13. 1Peter 3:18
In the interests of (e.g. 2Thessalonians
In behalf of (e.g. Matthew 5:44.
For the purpose of (e.g. John 11:4.
Romans 15:8. 2Corinthians 12:19
. Philippians 2:13).
With the Genitive huper is connected with peri,
being the apex of the triangle, or the fixed point of the compass, whereas peri
(see Number xiii.) is the circle described around it. Hence
huper has regard to feeling, and implies the pleading a case on behalf of
another, whereas peri implies the mere description of the circumstances of
the case. (e.g. 1Peter 3:18. Jude 9
2. With Accusative it denotes beyond, in excess
of measure, honour, number, or time (e.g. Matthew 10:24. 2
Corinthians 1:1-8. Ephesians 1:22.
Philippians 2:9. Philemon 16).
xviii. hupo governs two cases (the
Genitive and Accusative), denotes the under side of a solid, and is thus the
opposite of huper (see Number xvii, above ).
With the Genitive it describes motion from beneath; with Dative (not
used in the New Testament), position beneath; and with the Accusative, motion or extension
1. With the Genitive, hupo is used to mark the efficient
or instrumental agent, from under whose hand or power the action of the verb
proceeds (e.g. Matthew 1:22; 2:16. Luke 14:8
2. With the Accusative, it denotes the place whither such action extends
(e.g. Matthew 8:8. Mark 4:32. James 2:3
Hence it implies moral or legal subjection (e.g. Matthew 8:9
. Romans 6:14; 7:14; 16:20
. 1Timothy 6:1).
Cases governed by the Prepositions stand in the following proposition:
Genitive, 17; Accusative, 19; and Dative, 15; according to Helbing (Schanz's Beitrage,
Number 16 (1904), page 11.
2 On page 98 of his Grammar
of New Testament Greek, Professor J. H. Moulton gives a list as follows:- If en
represents unity, the order of the frequency of the other Prepositions work out thus : eis,
·64; ek, ·34; epi, ·32; pros, ·25; apo,
·24; kata, ·17; meta, ·17; peri, ·12; hupo,
·08; para, ·07; huper, ·054; sun, ·048; pro,
·018; anti, ·008; and ana, ·0045.