New Testament Greek Syntax

The Dative Case

Expressing the idea of personal interest, accompaniment and means

Later Greek replaces the dative with a prepositional phrase, which process is evident in the NT

1. The Pure Dative

The pure dative expresses personal interest in someone or something where a relationship is specified.

i] Dative of Indirect Object

The prime function of the dative is to serve as an object complement - Common

The noun or pronoun in the dative is the person or thing which receives the direct object of an active verb, or the subject of a passive verb, cf. Wallace.

Often the classification merges with the dative of interest and may be classified as such, so Turner

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "to"


I will repay all things TO YOU

panta apodwsw soi


We are manifested TO GOD

qew/ pefanerwmeqa

Luke will often use proV + acc. instead of a dative for indirect speech

"[They] complained .... TO the disciples"

egogguzon ... proV touV maqhtaV

ii] Dative of interest

a) Advantage

Most datives can be classified as datives of interest, so Turner

Identifying the one for whose benefit something is done - "for"

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "for", "to", ..

She has done a good thing FOR ME

kalon ergon hrgasato en emoi


b) Disadvantage

Most datives can be classified as datives of interest, so Turner

Identifying the one who will be adversely affected by the action - "against"

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "against"

Herodias had a grudge AGAINST HIM

hJ HJrw/diaV eneicen aurw/

iii] Dative of Reference, Respect / Representation, Benefit / Relation

A dative can function adverbially, limiting a verb or adjective

In this usage the dative identifies a person or thing:

a) possessing little or no interest in, but mere reference to; "concerning, about, in regard to, ..."

b) representation or benefit; "on behalf of / for the benefit of"

c) Relation; "in relation to."

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "about" .....

Be not anxious ABOUT your LIFE

mh merminate th/ yuch/ umwn

iv] Dative of Possession

Identifying the person to whom something belongs

Often translated with a possessive pronoun, "his", "her"

the name TO HIM was John = HIS name was John

onoma autw/ IwannhV

Sometimes relational / expressing a relationship

I will be a father TO YOU


esomai uJmin eiV patera

v] Dative of Feeling / Ethical dative

Identifying the person whose feelings or viewpoint are linked to the action of the verb.

Ascriptions fall into this category; "TO GOD be Glory."

Translate: "as far as I am concerned", "in my opinion"

beautiful TO GOD = beautiful as far as God is concerned

asteioV tw/ qew/

vi] Dative of Recipient

"I write TO YOU (soi)"

vii] Adjectival dative (rare in the NT)

A dative can function as an adjective limiting a noun or another adjective

Often epexegetic, "consisting in" = "consisting of"

cf. NIV 2Cor.12:12: "the things that mark an apostle - SIGNS, WONDERS and MIRACLES - were done among you."

2. The Local Dative (Locative)

Expressing the idea of location, place, position. The dative of time and space, of temporal and spacial relations.

i] The Dative of Space / Place

Identifying a spot or place

Note: Wallace includes this class under Dative of Sphere.

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi, para, proV = "at", "by", "on", "with", "in", "beside", "among", "upon", ......

they put it UPON his HEAD

epeqhkan autou th/ kefalh/

ii] Dative of Sphere

Identifying a metaphorical spacial idea

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi, para "in the sphere of", "in the realm of" ......

having been found IN APPEARANCE as a man

schmati euJreqeiV wJV anqrwpoV

iii] Dative of Time (Temporal)

Identifying a particular point in time "when" the action of the main verb is performed

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "when", "while", "at", "during", "on", .....

ON THE FIRST [DAY] of the week

th/ mia/ twn sabbatwn

iv] Dative of rule

Expressing the idea of conforming with a standard, code, or rule of conduct - "in conformity with."


oJsoi tw/ kanoni toutw/ stoichsousin

v] Dative of direction / destination, termination

Expressing the idea of "to" or "toward" / of traveling "to".

I was not able to speak TO YOU = address YOU.

ouk hdunhqhn lalhsai uJmin

3. The Instrumental Dative

Expressing the idea of means, agent, cause, manner or instrument, indicating that by/with which the action of the verb was performed

i] Dative of Means

Identifying the impersonal means (instrument) by which an action is performed

Sometimes with a preposition: en = "by", "with", "by means of"

Note: personal agency is expressed by uJpo + gentitive

because he had often been bound BY FETTERS and CHAINS

dia to auton pollakiV pedaiV kai aJusesin dedesqai

ii] Dative of Cause

Identifying what caused the action to be performed

Sometimes with a preposition: en, epi = "because of", "on the basis of"

I am perishing here BECAUSE OF FAMINE

egw limw/ wde apollumai

iii] Dative of Manner / Attendant Circumstance

As an adverb describing an accompanying circumstance, or manner (method), by which the action of the verb is performed.

"Called out WITH A LOUD VOICE"

Sometimes expressed with a preposition: en + dat. = "in", meta+ gen. = "with"


parrhsia/ lalei

iv] Dative of Association / Relation / Accompaniment

Identifying those persons or things that acompany the action performed

Often occurring with verbs with a sun prefix

Sometimes with a preposition: en, para, sun, meta = "with"

he made us alive WITH CHRIST

sunezwopoihsn tw/ Cristw/

v] Dative of Measure / degree of difference

Identifying the intervening measure between two points, usually an interval of time

Sometimes with a preposition: en = Difference by - "during", "much", "in addition to", ...

FOR A LONG TIME he had worn no garment

gronw/ iJkanw/ oiuk ededusato iJmation

vi] Dative of Agency

Identifying the personal agent by whom the action is performed

Translation: "by", "through"

has been tamed by humankind

dedamastai th/ fusei th/ anqrwpinh/

vii] Dative of Material

Identifying the material (rather than tool) used to perform the action

written not WITH INK

eggrammenh ou melani

viii] Dative of Content

Identifying the content that is used by a verb of filling

he was filled WITH WISDOM

being filled WITH WISDOM

plhroumenon sofia/

ix] Dative of The Thing Compared

Used sometimes instead of the adjective oJmoiV, "like", or the particle wJV, "as".

4. Datives after certain verbs, nouns and adjectives

The use of the dative after certain words

i] Dative of Direct Object

The classification "necessary complement / dative complement" is often used for a dative of direct object although best limited to the dative complement of a substantive construction.

A dative will often follow compound verbs with a prefix such as sun, proV, epi, para

Jesus strictly warned them

he having spoken against THEM

oJ epitimhsaV autoiV. The prefix epi + dat. = "against"

As with the dative of indirect object, these datives may be classified as datives of interest

Some verbs naturally take a dative, eg. "I obey him" = "I am obedient to him"; "I rebuke him" = "I speak sternly to him"

Usually translated by to or in, eg pisteuw, followed by the dative, "I believe/trust IN ......."

Applicable to verbs of trusting, obeying, serving, worshipping, thanksgiving, belief, following, rebuking, helping, pleasing, commanding, ....

I serve God's LAW

I submit to LAW of God

douleuw nomw/ qeou

Sometimes with a preposition: en

A dative substantive following a verb with the prepositional prefix sun, "with", could also be classed as a dative of accompaniment.

The following word groupings often take a dative direct object, sometimes an accusative, cf. BDF:

i] Helping: to do good, to benefit, help (bohqew), please / to harm, etc. with dative or accusative

ii] Pleasing: to please (areskw)

iii] Serving: to serve (diakonew), follow, meet, make a slave to, be enslaved to

iv] Revealing: to show, reveal, seem

v] Directing: to command, censure, rebuke (epitimaw) - most times take a dative

vi] Responding: to trust, obey, believe (pisteuw), follow / disbelieve, disobey

vii] Emoting: to be angry, envy, thank (eucaristew), owe

viii] Worshipping: proskunew

ii] Dative after certain nouns and adjectives

A dative can be prompted by a verbal noun and is best classified as a "dative complement"

An adjective which prompts a dative is usually classified as a "dative of reference"

The nouns usually carry the idea of personal interest


diakonian toiV aJgioiV


*A less than common usage*


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A Commentary on the Greek New Testament Exegetical Notes

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