Mat 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Because he showed up, John, neither eating nor drinking, and they are saying, a devil possesses.

Hidden Meaning: 

The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, "because" or, in written English, as "This is because..." to start a new sentence.

The word translated as "came" primarily means "to start out." It 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 under way." The English phrase "show up" captures both the idea of "start" and "move". 

"Eating" is translated from a Greek word that means "to eat" and "to consume" but it has some of the same metaphorical sense that "eat" has in English. It means "decay," with the sense of "eating away" at something. It also means "vex" in the sense of "eating at" someone. John wasn't a consumer, but he clearly vexed the authorities.

The word seems for "drinking" might be chosen for its double meaning. "To drink" also means "to celebrate."

"Devil" is a word which means "belonging to a demon." It is based on the noun for "demon." The word 'demon" doesn't necessarily mean "evil". In Greek is used to refer to a controlling spiritual power, inferior to the gods. It was used to mean "knowing" and "skilled" in the sense that we might say, "He is a demon poker player." See this article on "demon" and related terms such as "devil". Generally, "having a demon" was how people of Christ's time said that someone had mental problems. See this article on demons and mental illness. 

Vocabulary: 

ἦλθεν (3rd sg aor ind act) "Came" is from 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.

γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

Ἰωάνης (noun sg masc nom) "John" is from Ioannes, which is the Greek form of the name "John."

μήτε (partic) "Neither" is from mete, which means "and not" and "either...or." It is used mostly double. A variation on mede.

ἐσθίων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Eating" is from esthio, which means "to eat", "devour", "fret", "vex," and to "take in one's mouth." It is also a metaphor for decay and erosion.

μήτε (partic) "Nor" is from mete, which means "and not" and "either...or." It is used mostly double. A variation on mede.

πίνων, (part sg pres act masc nom) "Drinking" is from pinô (pino), which means "to drink", "to celebrate," and "soak up." -

καὶ (conj) "And" is from 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." -

λέγουσιν (3rd pl pres ind act ) "They say" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

Δαιμόνιον (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Devil" is daimonion, which means "belonging to a demon." It is from daimôn, which actually is the noun "demon." The word 'demon" doesn't necessarily mean "evil" (though it seems the way the Jews used it here), but in Greek is used to refer to a controlling spiritual power, inferior to the gods. It was used to mean "knowing" and "skilled" in the sense that we might say, "He is a demon poker player."

ἔχει: (3rd sg pres ind act) "He hath" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do." -- The word translated as "have" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

Jul 3 2017