Determiners are words that identify or quantify a noun. The definite article quantifies the noun by making it distinct from others of its kind. The object of the article is definite whenever the article is used. [e.g. the book as opposed to any book]. The absence of the definite article stresses the basic quality or character of the object as opposed to any particular object. . The object may still be definite even though the definite article is absence.
|Ἀβραὰμ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰσαάκ Ἰσαὰκ δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰακώβ|
|Abraam egennēsen ton Isaak Isaak de egennēsen ton Iakōb|
|Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob|
|[Note: In this example the definite article before the names Isaac|
|and Jacob are omitted in the smooth translation as the name of an|
|individual is already definite in English.]|
The article must always agree in case, number and gender with the noun it modifies.
The article can have the following functions:
It can indicate that the noun is definite or specific.
Ὡς δὲ ἔμελλον αἱ ἑπτὰ ἡμέραι συντελεῖσθαι, (Act 21:27)
Now when the seven days were almost over
It can indicate a category, rather than a specific person or item.
ἄξιος γὰρ ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ (Luk 10:7)
for the laborer is worthy of his wages (This is a general principle applying to all laborers [the entire category].)
An adjective can have an article to show that it functions nominally (i.e., as a noun)
σὺν τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν (2Co 1:1)
with all the saints (lit., “the holy)
A participle can have an article to show that it functions nominally (i.e., as a noun).
ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, (Mrk 1:7)
one who is stronger than me is coming after me,
The article can be used alone like a personal pronoun.
οἱ δὲ ἐξ ἐριθείας °τὸν Χριστὸν καταγγέλλουσιν (Php 1:17)
But they from envy preach Christ.
The article can be used like a possessive pronoun.
τί γὰρ οἶδας, γύναι, εἰ τὸν ἄνδρα σώσεις; (1Co 7:16)
For how do you know, woman, if you will save your husband?
The article can be used like a relative pronoun.
οὕτως γὰρ ἐδίωξαν τοὺς προφήτας τοὺς πρὸ ὑμῶν (Mat 5:12)
For thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you
Personal names often have the article (which often will not be translated).
Τότε παραγίνεται ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλιλαίας ἐπὶ τὸν Ἰορδάνην πρὸς τὸν Ἰωάννην (Mat 3:13)
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John
The article can be used with infinitives and indicate temporality.
καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ σπείρειν ὃ μὲν ἔπεσεν παρὰ τὴν ὁδόν (Mar 4:4)
and it happened when he sowed (lit. in the to sow), some fell by the roadside
The article can be used with infinitives to indicate the subject of the action which is given in the accusative. (It is sometimes called an accusative of general reference).
ἐπεθύμησα τοῦτο τὸ πάσχα φαγεῖν μεθʼ ὑμῶν πρὸ τοῦ με παθεῖν· (Luk 22:15)
I desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer (lit. before the me to suffer). (The idea is that the suffering has reference to “me”, i.e. Christ).
If two substantives are joined by the verb εἰμί (to be), the one with the article is the subject and the one without the article is the predicate.
καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος (Jhn 1:1)
and the Word was God
The article can be used to refer back to something previously referenced. This is called anaphoric (meaning “refers to again”).
πόθεν οὖν ἔχεις τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν; (Jhn 4:11)
Where, then, do you get that living water? (referring back to ὕδωρ ζῶν in 4:10)
The article can be used like a demonstrative pronoun. This is called deictic (meaning “pointing”).
ἰδοὺ ὁ ἄνθρωπος. (Jhn 19:5)
“Behold, the man! (meaning “this man”, standing here)
The article can be used to indicate that a substantive is the very best (or worst) of its kind, or “in a class by itself”. This is called par excellence.
ὁ προφήτης εἶ σύ; (Jhn 1:21)
Are you the Prophet? (referring to the prophet which Moses said would come after him [Deu 18:15, 18])
The article can be used to indicate that a substantive is unique. This is called monadic (meaning “one of a kind”). (This is very similar to the previous usage and thus there is debate over which usages are par excellence and which are monadic.)
καὶ ἀκριβέστερον αὐτῷ ἐξέθεντο τὴν ὁδὸν τοῦ θεοῦ (Act 18:26)
and more clearly explained to him the way of God
In the construction ὁ δέ or ὁ μὲν … ὁ δέ, the article indicates a change of subject and is used as a third person personal pronoun in the nominative (e.g., he, she, they).
ὁ δὲ ἔφη αὐτοῖς Ἐχθρὸς ἄνθρωπος τοῦτο ἐποίησεν. οἱ δὲ αὐτῷ λέγουσιν … ὁ δέ φησιν· (Matt. 13:28-29)
and he said to them, “An enemy has done this.” And they said to him … and he said
Similarly, in the construction ὁ μὲν … ὁ δέ when the article is nominative, a contrast is indicated between groups.
ἐσχίσθη δὲ τὸ πλῆθος τῆς πόλεως, καὶ οἱ μὲν ἦσαν σὺν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις οἱ δὲ σὺν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις. (Act 14:4)
and the crowd of the city was divided, and some were with the Jews but others were with the apostles
When two singular nouns are joined by καὶ (and):
- If both have the article, the reference is to two separate people.
ὅπου καὶ τὸ θηρίον καὶ ὁ ψευδοπροφήτης (Rev 20:10)
where also [are] the beast and the false prophet.
- If only the first of two singular nouns has the article, they are referring to the same person. (This is called the Granville Sharp rule.)
Τύχικος ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἀδελφὸς καὶ πιστὸς διάκονος ἐν κυρίῳ (Eph 6:21)
Tychichus, the beloved brother and faithful servant in the Lord
- Some passages where the Granville Sharp rule applies are theologically important and often debated.
καὶ ἐπιφάνειαν τῆς δόξης τοῦ μεγάλου θεοῦ καὶ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, (Tit 2:13)
and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ
The article is absent in NT Greek in many places where it is required in other languages, especially in prepositional phrases.***