Dative Case - Syntactical Classification
Back to main Learn NT Greek page. Back to Syntactical Classification Pages.
The following categories mainly refer to uses of the Dative case when used without a preposition. Some prepositions require their
object to be in the Dative Case. Even the Dative
with the preposition will often still fit into one of these syntactical categories.
The Dative is the case of personal interest, pointing out the person to or for whom
something is done. When it refers to a person, it indicates the one who is concerned about
or affected by the action of the verb. When it refers to an object, it refers to the
setting or framework in which an action takes place.
A. Dative After Certain Prepositions - as discussed in the section dealing with
prepositions, the noun governed by each preposition will be
in a certain case form or forms. Certain prepositions will
normally have their direct object in the dative case.
B. Dative Indirect Object - This is one of the most basic and most common uses of
the dative case. It is used to indicate an indirect object
for many transitive verbs. The substantive in
the dative case indicates to or for whom something is done.
E.g. John 4:10
"kaiV e[dwken a[n soi
"and he would have given to you
"they were bringing children to Him"
C. Dative of Means (also called the Instrumental Dative) - This is also a
very common use (and a root meaning) of the dative case. It shows the
"means" or the "instrument by which something is accomplished. The
English prepositions with, by, or by means of can be used to
translate this use of the dative. The dative noun is typically concrete as opposed to an
abstract idea. This use can also be formed using the preposition ejn
with the dative case.
E.g. Ephesians 2:8
"th'/ ga;r cavritiv
ejste sesw/smevnoi dia; pivstew""
"for by means of grace you are
saved through faith"
Other examples: Romans 3:28, John 11:2,
D. Dative of Sphere (or Place) Also called the Locative Dative - This
use shows the sphere, location, or even physical place, of an item or in which an action
takes place. Although it can be translated by the English prepositions in, on,
at, upon, or beside, (where appropriate) this use of the dative is
most clearly translated by the phrase in the sphere of or in
the realm of. See the explanation if the Dative of Reference since these two can
be confused with each other.
E.g. Matthew 5:3
"Makavrioi oiJ ptwcoiV
"Blessed are the poor in (the realm of)
"mh; ajsqenhvsa" th'/
"without being weakened in (the sphere
E. Dative of Time (Answering When? or At what point of
time?) - The emphasis is on the chronology of an event. It indicates a
particular point of time within a succession of events.
E.g. Matthew 20:19
"on the third day He will be
2 Corinthians 6:2
"at the appointed time I heard
F. Dative of Interest - Emphasizes the idea of personal interest, or the person
interested in the verbal action. It can convey the idea of interest in a positive or
negative sense: interest in terms of advantage or disadvantage. Both of these uses are
relatively common, with the dative of advantage being more common than that of
disadvantage. Even the Dative of Direct Object tends to show some kind of
interest, this classification is used when the idea of interest is stressed.
Interest is usually indicated by the kind of verb used.
I. Dative of Advantage - Indicates the meaning "for
the benefit of" or "in the interest of", although these may be
rather awkward for a smooth translation.
E.g. 2 Corinthians 5:13
ejxevsthmen, qew'/: ei[te swfronou'men, uJmi'n"
"For if we are beside ourselves, it is for
God; if we are in our right minds, it is for you"
wJ" nuvmfhn kekosmhmevnhn tw'/ ajndri; aujth'"."
prepared as a bride adorned for
II. Dative of Disadvantage - Can be translated "to the
detriment of" or "against".
E.g. Matthew 23:31
"you testify against yourselves"
G. Dative of Direct Object - after certain verbs - A number of verbs require that
their direct object be in the dative case (as opposed to the accusative case which is normally expected). These are
verbs that usually emphasize a personal relationship such as verbs that indicate trusting,
worshipping, obeying, serving, thanksgiving, or following.
E.g. Hebrews 1:6
aujtw'/ pavnte" a[ggeloi qeou'."
"And let all the angels of God worship Him."
"oiJ a[nemoi kai; hJ
qavlassa aujtw'/ uJpakouvousin;."
"the winds and the sea obey Him."
H. Dative of Reference - Shows interest in a way that is similar but more
remote than that of the indirect object. It is typically used to qualify a statement that
would otherwise typically not be true. It acts to give a frame of reference or context to
the statement. The statement will often make no sense if the dative word is removed. It
can be translated with the phrases with reference to, concerning, about,
or in regard to.
The Dative of Reference can sometimes be confused with the Dative of Sphere, but their
meanings are somewhat the opposite. Make sure to not just see if the grammar fits, but to
think through what the author intended to say in the context. For instance, in Romans 6:2,
having died in the sphere (realm) of sin or having died with reference
to sin have very different meanings. This should be a true Dative of Reference.
E.g. Romans 6:11
[ei\nai] nekrou;" me;n th'/ aJmartiva/ zw'nta" de; tw'/ qew'/"
"consider yourselves to be dead in
reference to sin, but alive to God"
I. Dative of Association - This relatively common use of the dative indicates
the person or thing one associates with or accompanies. It can be translated in
English with the phrase in association with. It is typically formed with a dative
substantive modifying a verb rather than a noun. Oftentimes the verb will be one that is
prefixed with the preposition suvn.
E.g. Ephesians 2:5
"he made us alive together (in
association) with Christ"
2 Corinthians 6:14
"Do not be unequally yoked together in
association with unbelievers;"
Back to Syntactical Classification Pages