In my King James Bible, I have found some words which look like Gerunds but they really are not, or at least they don't make sense when they get turned into nouns. Take a look at these examples:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

And there are many example of words like these. At first I thought they might be Adverbial clauses which have reduced subject, helping verbs and changing verbs to "-ing" form, which some of them are pretty likely to be such as:

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily

It sounds like this:

Then Joseph her husband, because he was a just man and didn't want to make here a public example,....

Or maybe it's "being" because it just has the responsibility to accompany an adjective form of phrase which didn't have sentence form. But still, it's not clear.

What are these gerund-like words really? They cannot be nouns - that doesn't make any sense for me, maybe because I'm not a native speaker. I'm not understanding something here!

Any idea or help would be really nice, thanks!

1 Answer 1


It helps to have the full context of the words you quote:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.

Knowing is a present participle, a verb form obtained by adding the suffix -ing to the plain form of the verb. But it's not a gerund since it doesn't have a clear role as a noun, as in the following where it takes the role of the subject:

Knowing is believing.

Its function in the sentence in the OP is that of a nominative absolute. Nominative because it applies to the subject, and absolute because it is free of the grammatical structure of the rest of the sentence. Nominative absolutes often describe both the subject and the action that the subject is taking, and that's the case here. The absolute in part describes the subject (we), as persons who know something, and the action the subject takes (believe), giving the reason for believing.

  • 'Seeing' ('Seeing as how') is harder to pin down as a nominative absolute here. It's probably better analysed as a subordinator (= 'since'). May 3, 2016 at 22:56
  • There is no way they are Nominative absolutes,I have spent few days reviewing them, they are always accompanied with a noun or pronoun! Why would you even say that ? Do you know what Nominative absolute or phrase is or its another weird model of Nominative absolutes which I have never seen ?
    – Abraham _
    May 11, 2016 at 10:43
  • These things could be Adverbial phrases! Adverbial phrases of Because or when! But those are not followed by any ( , ) Even though they are at the beginning of sentences,there is no way that they are Nominative absolute,no way! ;-)
    – Abraham _
    May 11, 2016 at 10:44
  • @Abraham_ Well, if you've spent a few days reviewing them, then how could anyone think they're not absolutes? That's dispositive evidence all by itself.
    – deadrat
    May 12, 2016 at 0:53
  • Because they are not and I just explained for what reason,didn't I? Because absolutes are always next to a noun or pronoun!Thats their number 1 quality,now the question is do you know what absolutes are? or do you know something which I don't? In that cases putting forth the evidence would be nice, right?
    – Abraham _
    May 14, 2016 at 4:39

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