Luke 12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth;

KJV Verse: 

Luke 12:49 I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Fire I start to toss upon the ground and what might I desire if now it has lit up? 

Hidden Meaning: 

This is another verse that seems to be an answer to a question. It begins with the object, fire, which seems like the answer to the question where "I start" seems like a repetition of the answer he was asked, something like "What are you starting? What do you want?" The last word is another use of a unique word for Jesus. It this case, it has a double meaning. 

The word translated as "I am come" primarily means "to start" or "to start out",  but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. Here is a good example of a place where it clearly means "start", the primary sense of the word. John 12:46 uses it similarly to describe "starting a light".  The verb indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. 

The word translated as "to send" has a number of meanings revolving around "throw" as we do in English with both "throw" and "toss." Jesus often uses this word in the same way we use "dump" in English. In the NT it is usually translated as "cast" since it is used to describe "casting out demons". This is not the Greek word usually translated as "send", which is the source of our word apostle.

"Fire" is a noun that means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", and so on, but Christ only uses this word to describe the fire of a trash dump. He usually uses it with the word that is translated as "hell" but which was the name of the burning trash dump outside of Jerusalem. Its use here seems a lot like the use of "light" in . See this article on the concepts of "fire" and "light" and their relationship

The word translated as "on" means "against", "before", "during", "by" or "on."

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. It also means "earth" in the sense of "dirt" and "ground". The image here is setting the ground, that is, the fields on fire. See this article for more on earth, sky, and related words.

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". Here it is neutral so "what". 

The Greek word translated as "will (" is not the same as the helper verb "will" in English, which primarily expresses the future tense. Its primary purpose is to express consent and even a delight in doing something. It means "to consent" and "to be resolved to a purpose".  It works more like we use "want" or "desire" in English. 

The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

 "Already" is a Greek adverb meaning "by this time", "forthwith", "after", "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place.

The last word translated as "kindled" primarily means "to fasten on". It means "to be lit up" in the same way we describe a fire as "catching on" when we try to light it. This word is only used by Jesus here. 

Vocabulary: 

Πῦρ (noun sg neut acc) "Fire" is pyr (pur), which means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearth-fire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever." --

ἦλθον (verb 1st sg aor ind act) "I am come" is erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place. --

βαλεῖν (verb fut/aor inf act) "To send" is ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe." 

ἐπὶ (prep) "On" is epi, which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," "during", and "against." --

τὴν γῆν, (noun sg fem acc) "The earth" is ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet. 

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." 

τί (irreg sg neut nom/acc) "What" is tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what." 

θέλω (verb 1st sg pres ind/subj act) "Will I" is thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)", "to wish", "to ordain", "to decree", "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain", "to hold", "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event with inanimate objects)." As a participle, it means "being willing" or, adverbially, "willingly," and "gladly". 

εἰ (conj) "If" is ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions. 

ἤδη (adv) "Already" is ede, which means "already", "by this time", "forthwith", "after", "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place. 

ἀνήφθη; [unique](verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Be kindled" is anapto, which means "make fast on", "moor", "cling", "fasten on", "offer up", "hang up", "kindle", "light up", "inflame with anger", and, in the passive "to be lighted up". 

Related Verses: 

May 4 2018