-- What is Hidden in Translation to English
This site's mission is to reveal the humor, wordplay, and double meanings of Jesus's words that are lost in translation into English.
Luke 18:17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 18:17 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὃς ἂν μὴ δέξηται τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ ὡς παιδίον, οὐ μὴ εἰσέλθῃ εἰς αὐτήν.
Honestly, I'm telling you, who probably might not want to accept/display the realm of the Divine, as a little kid, might never enter into it.
This is identical to Mark 10:15 although the KJV translations are slightly different. The Greek word translated as "receive" has a clear double meaning.
The "verily" phrase is used frequently by Christ as a personal signature. Its vocabulary and meaning are discussed in detail in this article. Currently, "honestly, I'm telling you" is the translation I currently use. Christ has fun with his frequent use of this phrase. The word translated is as "verily" is an exclamation that means "truly" or "of a truth." It is an untranslated Aramaic word that is echoed by a similar Greek word, and a good piece of evidence that Christ taught in Greek, not Aramaic.
The word translated as "verily" is the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."
The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.
The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc.
The word translated as "whosoever" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.
"Shall" is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have", "might", "should," and "could."
The negative "not" used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true. If it wasn't done or wasn't true, the objective negative of fact would be used.
"Receive" can be two different Greek terms. The Greek verb that the KJV prefers means "welcome" when applied to people and "take" or "accept" when applied to things. But it could also be another Greek verb that "bring to light" and "exhibit". In both cases, it is not the future tense, but a form that indicates a possibility at some point in time.
The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will. This concept as "the kingdom of heaven" is discussed in more detail in this article.
The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God" or "the Divine". Christ often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods. This is an example of the near parallel "kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 18:3 is turned into the "kingdom of God" here.
The word translated as "as" has a very broad meaning, translating as "how", "when", "where", "just as", "like," and related words.
The Greek word translated as "a little child" means "little child" and refers to children younger than seven. It is one of several words Jesus uses to refer to children, see this article.
"Ye shall enter" is a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." The "shall" does not indicate the future tense. The form of the verb is the form of possibility that can happen at any time, past, present, or future.
The "in no wise" here is both of the Greek negatives used together. Greek has two negatives, one objective, one subjective. The use of both together is more extreme, like saying "you cannot really think."
"Therein" is two Greek words meaning "into it". The word translated as "--in" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure. The word translated as "there" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English. Its form matches the Greek "kingdom".
The word translated as "receive" could be a word meaning "accept" or a different word meaning "exhibit".
Ἀμὴν "(adv) Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT
"λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from llego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."
ὑμῖν, (pron sg 2nd dat) "You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you".
ὃς ( pron sg masc nom ) "Whosoever" is hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.
ἂν (particle) "Shall" is an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have", "might", "should," and "could."
μὴ (partic) "Not" is me , which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.
δέξηται ( verb 3rd sg aor subj mid ) "Receive" is from dechomai, which means "welcome", "accept," and "entertain" when applied to people. It means "take", "accept," and "receive" when applied to things. OR ( verb 3rd sg aor subj mid ) deiknumi, which means "bring to light", "show forth", show, point out, display, and "exhibit".
τὴν βασιλείαν (noun sg fem acc) "The kingdom" is basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."
τοῦ θεοῦ (noun sg masc nom) "God" is theos, which means "God," the Deity."
ὡς (adv/conj) "As" is hos, an adverb which means to "thus", "as", "how", "when", "where", "like", "just as", "so far as", "as much as can be", "that", "in order that", "nearly (with numbers)," and "know that."
παιδίον, ( noun sg neut acc) "A little child" is from paidon. which means "little child" or "young child," (up to seven years) "infant" or "young slave."
οὐ μὴ (partic) "In no wise" is ou me, the two forms of Greek negative used together. Ou is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. Mê (me) is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.
εἰσέλθῃ (verb 3rd sg aor subj act) "Enter into" is from eiserchomai, which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."
εἰς (prep) "--in" is eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."
αὐτήν. (adj sg fem acc) "There--" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it means "just here" or "exactly there."
Mark 10:15 ...Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child...
Matthew 18:3 ...Except you be converted,
You can see a fairly complete explanation of the Greek here: Matthew 5:26 ...Thou shalt by no means come out thence.
But to answer your question directly, we would say, “the last penny” today.
Most Bibles lose a lot of information in translation, for example, the Greek word translated as "word". See this article.
When I started I didn't know that Christ taught in Greek, however, my work indicates he did. The key points are summarized in this article.
Do you know that Jesus was really funny? Many of his verses are clearly meant to be entertaining. See this article for more.
Christ's words were spoken not written Greek. To understand the differences, see this article.
What would it have been like to hear Jesus speak? To view a pdf of an audio script where the characters describe the Sermon on the Mount, click here. For the stage play version, click here.
I started this project over a decade ago. The initial goal was to satisfy my own curiosity about how the original Greek of Jesus's words was translated into English comparing it to my work in translating ancient Chinese.
This site does not promote any religious point of view about Christianity. I purposely use nonreligious sources for Greek translation. My goal is simply to identify how Jesus used words. His use of Greek words somewhat unique since his words were spoken, not written.
The range of quality of the articles on this site reflects that it is a personal site, not a commercial one. No one proofreads my work. Some articles are over a decade old when I knew much less ancient Greek. Matthew articles are best since I have updated them all at least once. The ones in Mark are the oldest and poorest. Luke is not yet complete.
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