Matthew 12:48 Who is my mother?

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Jesus is interrupted by someone announcing his mother and brother.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Who is this mother of mine? And who are these brothers of mine? 

KJV : 

Matthew 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse includes an analysis of the Gospel writer's introduction as well as the Jesus quote. This is important because the introduction to the quote here doesn't say that Jesus "asked". It says he "answered." In written Greek, we cannot tell a statement from a question since the words for "someone" and "who" are the same. Of course, Jesus's statements were all spoken and we would be able to tell by tone of voice. 

Literally, these statements read: "Someone is that mother of mine. Some are those brothers of mine." But the same statements become a question when we put a question mark after it indicating a rising inflection:  "Someone is that mother of mine? Some are those brothers of mine?"  If the Gospel writer had said, "asked" instead of "answered," we would choose the second set. But it is answered,

NIV : 

Matthew 12:48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”

Wordplay: 

"Mother"also means "source" and "brothers" means "sons of the same mother." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

(article sg neut dat)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

δὲ (conj) "But" is de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

ἀποκριθεὶς (part sg aor pass masc nom) "Answered" is from apokrinomai that means to "set apart," "choose", "exclude," "reject on examination", "decide", "answer" the question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself" and, in the passive, "to be parted or separated." In the passive, it means "to be parted or separated" or "give answer to" a question.

εἶπεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Said"is eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer.

τῷ (article sg masc dat ) "Unto him that" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λέγοντι (part sg pres act masc dat) "Told" is lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." When used with an object is has the sense of "call by name."  It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelled the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

Τίς (pron sg fem nom)"Who" is from 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."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act)"Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

(article sg fem nom)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

μήτηρ (noun sg fem nom) "Mother" is from meter, which means "mother", "grandmother", "mother hen", "source," and "origin."

μου, (pron 1st sg masc gen) "My" is from mou, which mean "my," or "mine."

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."

τίνες (pron pl masc nom) "Who" is from 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."

εἰσὶν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

οἱ (article pl masc nom)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἀδελφοί (noun pl masc nom) "Brothers" is from adelphos, which means "son of the same mother", "kinsman", "colleague", "associate," and "brother."

μου; (pron 1st sg masc gen) "My" is from mou, which mean "my," or "mine."

KJV Analysis: 

But -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

he -- (WW)  The word translated as "he" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

answered -- (WF) "Answered" is from a verb that means to "set apart," "choose", "answer" a question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself." In the passive, it means "to be parted or separated" or "give answer to" a question.  However, here is is not an active verb, but a passive participle introduced by an article, so "the one giving an answer." In the Gospels, it is always translated as "answered." 

and -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source. This is added because of the wrong form of the previous verb.

said - -  The word translated as "said" means "to say" and "to speak". It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

him -- (WW)  The word translated as "him" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

that -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

told -- (WF) The word translated as "told" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak." When used with an object is has the sense of "call by name." The form of the word is not an active verb but a participle introduced by an article, so the sense is "the one telling."

him, - This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "heaven" is not shown in the English translation.

Who  - There word translated as "who" means "anything" or "anyone," but in questions is translated as"who" or "what." Its use by Jesus often signals a question. It is in the female singular form. 

is  -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. 

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

mother?  - The phrase "my mother" is actually "the mother of mine" or "this mother of mine. "Mother" is the common Greek word for "mother" and "grandmothers," but it also means "the source" of something. It is introduced by an article, "the mother" or "this mother." 

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

who    There word translated as "who" means "anything" or "anyone," but in questions is translated as"who" or "what." Its use by Jesus often signals a question. The word translated as "who" is repeated again in the male plural form. 

are  - The verb is again the Gree verb "to be".The verb is again the Gree verb "to be".

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

brethren?  - The word translated as "brethren" means "kinsmen," and "associate." More specifically, it means "sons of the same mother."

KJV Translation Issues: 

2

The following problems are in the quote introduction and not counted against the quote:

  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "the one."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "answered" is not an active verb but a participle, "answering."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "him" should be "the one."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "told" is not an active verb but a participle, "telling."

The following problems are with the quote:

  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "mother" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "brothers" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

untranslated "but"  -- (MW) The untranslated word means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

He -- (WW)  The word translated as "he" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

replied -- (WF) Replied " is from a verb that means to "set apart," "choose", "answer" a question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself." In the passive, it means "to be parted or separated" or "give answer to" a question.  However, here is is not an active verb, but a passive participle introduced by an article, so "the one giving an answer." In the Gospels, it is always translated as "answered." 

untranslated "said"  -- (MW) The untranslated word means "to say" and "to speak". It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

him -- (WW)  The word translated as "him" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.

untranslated "telling"  -- (MW) The untranslated wordis the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak." When used with an object is has the sense of "call by name."

Who  - There word translated as "who" means "anything" or "anyone," but in questions is translated as"who" or "what." Its use by Jesus often signals a question. It is in the female singular form. 

is  -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. 

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

mother?  - The phrase "my mother" is actually "the mother of mine" or "this mother of mine. "Mother" is the common Greek word for "mother" and "grandmothers," but it also means "the source" of something. It is introduced by an article, "the mother" or "this mother." 

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

who    There word translated as "who" means "anything" or "anyone," but in questions is translated as"who" or "what." Its use by Jesus often signals a question. The word translated as "who" is repeated again in the male plural form. 

are  - The verb is again the Gree verb "to be".The verb is again the Gree verb "to be".

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

brothers?  - The word translated as "brothers" means "kinsmen," and "associate." More specifically, it means "sons of the same mother."

NIV Translation Issues: 

2

The following problems are in the quote introduction and not counted against the quote:

  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "the one."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "replied" is not an active verb but a participle, "answering."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "said" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "him" should be "the one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "telling" is not shown in the English translation.

The following problems are with the quote:

  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "mother" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "brothers" is not shown in the English translation.

The Spoken Version: 

The man they told was excited by this news and pushed his way through the town square to get up close to the Master. He pointed to the edge of the square, telling the Master that his mother and brothers were seeking to chat with him outside the square. Many heard the man turned to look to see the Master’s family. The family, however, hid themselves around the corner of a building.
“You have a mother and brothers?” someone asked him.
The Master laughed.
“Someone is that mother of mine,” responded the Master cheerfully. “Some are those brothers of mine.”

Front Page Date: 

Nov 20 2020