PEPHIMOSO

 

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea,

Si-Ō’-pa, pe-PHIM’-ō-so.” – Mark 4:39.

Pephimoso is a difficult word for us to pronounce, since we are not accustomed to accenting the syllable with a short vowel, when a syllable with a long vowel is so nearby.  It’s a word that fascinates me.  It is one of two commands Jesus gave to the wind.  Both words are pre-defined by Mark in recent passages.

Si-Ō’-pa: This command is fairly easy to translate.  Mark 3:4 – “And he said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent.” Si-Ō’-pa is the imperative (command) form of the word Mark uses in 3:4 to say “they were silent.”  Jesus is telling the wind to silence itself, in much the same manner that a debater is silenced when he has no reply.

pe-PHIM’-ō-so: Mark 1:25 – “But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’” The root word means a muzzle.  Jesus is telling the unclean spirit to muzzle himself and come out of the man.  Now although it is true that pe-PHIM’-ō-so is in the imperative in both 1:25 and 4:39, in 1:25, it is a simple command: muzzle yourself.  But in Mark 4:39, pe-PHIM’-ō-so is in the perfect tense: He has muzzled himself.

Greek is accepted by many as the best language all-time for expressing thought.  For one, Greek is the only language ever that has a perfect imperative form.  English doesn’t have a perfect imperative, because all imperative statements in English are presumed to be future tense, even when they take on the form of the present tense.  When you command someone, you expect him to respond in the future – even if you intend to see him respond in the very near future.

That is why the future tense can be used as a command.  “You WILL wash the dishes” doesn’t mean the same thing as “YOU will wash the dishes.”  The first is an order: “You are not going to the movies tonight until you first wash the dishes.”  The second is a prediction that among all the people who might possibly be eligible, you are the one I anticipate will wash the dishes.

But English has no perfect imperative.  Woodenly literal, it means not to muzzle yourself.  But it means “have been muzzled.”  We have no device of grammar that allows us to command someone to have already washed the dishes.  If someone skips Church one Sunday, can that person be commanded to have been in attendance?  As far as I know, pe-PHIM’-ō-so is the only example of a perfect imperative anywhere in all literature, of any age, of any culture, of any language. 

Mark 4:41 records that those who saw it were filled with great fear.  And from more common teachings of this passage, it would create a reaction if someone stood out in the rain, and shouted, “Stop.”  And it were to stop raining.  But the only way I can comprehend the perfect imperative is if Jesus commanded the storm to already have been muzzled, and thereby returning all things to the state they were in just prior to the storm having not been muzzled.  That would seriously amplify my reaction.