Ten Passive Imperatives In The New Testament

Since this mood seems to be so critical to our ongoing experience of God’s salvation, I decided to do a search through the New Testament to see where I could find other instances of the passive imperative. All these instances below are true passive imperatives (in contrast to many other phrases that still convey the sense of God’s operation and our cooperation, i.e. Phil. 2:12-13), which means that in Greek they are represented by one word- a verb in the passive voice and imperative mood. Thus, no matter how your preferred Bible version translates these phrases (ESV has “save yourself” for Acts 2:40, which does not accurately convey this tension), they should be understood as a command directed to you, yet not enacted directly by you. So the verb should be past tense in form (although not necessarily past tense in meaning; in Romans 12:2 the passive imperative is in the present tense, so it could be translated as “be being transformed”).

Be saved — Acts 2:40
Be transformed — Romans 12:2
Be reconciled — 2 Corinthians 5:20
Be enlarged — 2 Corinthians 6:13
Be separated — 2 Corinthians 6:17
Be perfected — 2 Corinthians 13:11
Be filled — Eph. 5:18
Be empowered — Eph. 6:10
Be humbled — 1 Peter 5:6
Be sanctified — Rev. 22:11

Thus the passive imperative preserves in the grammar the most fundamental principle of God’s economy, that is, that God is the One who operates in us and yet we are responsible to open to His operation, to allow Him to operate, and to cooperate with His operation.

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