Matthew 15:3 Why do you also transgress

Spoken to: 

The Pharisees

Context: 

Jesus follower challenged for not washing their hands before eating bread.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

By what, have you yourselves also bypassed the order of the Divine by this bequest of yours.

KJV : 

Matthew 15:3 Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse represents some wonderful repartee between Jesus and his accusers that is lost in translation. His accusers make a play on words accusing his followers of not washing before eating and Jesus turns in back on them. In Greek, this verse doesn't read as though it is a question. Punctuation was not part of the original Greek of the Gospels.

Note that Jesus is not denying his "transgression" but saying that his accusers are doing the same thing. Jesus's response is consistent with his constant criticism of social norms and traditions taking precedence over true spirit. In the original Greek, Jesus makes it clear that his accusers, the scribes and Pharisees, are more interested in legalisms than the spirit of the law. Much of Christ's teaching in Matthew is aimed at clarifying that a meaningful personal relationship with God and other people are much more important in cycle of spirit than conforming to social pressure and social norms.

NIV : 

Matthew 15:3 And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

Wordplay: 

In this verse, Jesus's accusers make a play on words in their accusation, accusing Christ of bypassing (parabainô) what was passed down (paradosis) from the elders. Christ turns in around to saying that by what they have passed down, they bypass God's order, The The double use of the word for "by" or "through" emphasizes this sense of going around something. 

My Takeaway: 

We must compare potential mistakes and avoid the worst for the better.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Διὰ (prep) Untranslated is dia which means "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between."

τί (pron sg neut acc) "Why" 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."

καὶ (conj/adv) "Also" 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."

ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "You" is from hymeis (humeis), which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you."

παραβαίνετε (verb 2nd pl imperf ind act) "Transgress" is from parabainô, which means to "go by the side of", "stand beside", "pass beside", "overstep", "transgress", "disappoint", "go aside from", "pass on", "come forward (toward crowd)", "step forward", "commit an offence against," and literally "to walk over."

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἐντολὴν (noun sg fem acc) "The commandment" is from entole which means "injunction", "order," and "command."

τοῦ (article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

θεοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Of God" is from theos, which means "God," the Deity."

διὰ (prep) "By" is from dia (with tis below) which means "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between."

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

παράδοσιν [5 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Tradition" is paradosis, which means literally "to give over" and it used to mean "handing over" and "passing down." It is used to mean the "transmission" of legends, "bequeathing" of an inheritance," or that which is handed down such as "tradition", "doctrine," or "teaching.

ὑμῶν; (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

KJV Analysis: 

untranslated "by"  -- (MW) The untranslated preposition means "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method.

Why  - (CW) The second word is a pronoun that can be translated as "why" (or "how" or "what") in a question, but here is clearly the object of the pronoun "by." The word means "anything, ""some thing," or "this thing," but as the object of the preposition, this sense is "what" and in "by what."

do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

you -- This is from the second person pronoun, but the information is already in the verb ending.

missing "yourself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourself."

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

transgress  - "Transgress" is from a Greek verb that means literally "to walk over," but commonly means "to bypass," or "over step." It is the same word that Jesus's accusers used in their accusation. It has the sense of the English phrases, "go around" or "walk all over."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

commandment  - "Commandment" is from a Greek noun that means an "injunction", "order," or "command."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God  - -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

by --  The preposition translated as "through" means "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method. This is the same preposition that begins the verse and wasn't translated.

your -- The word translated as "your" is a plural, second-person pronoun in the genitive case. This pronoun follows the noun so "of yours."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

tradition?  - "Tradition" is from a noun which means literally "handing over" and it used to mean "handing over" and "passing down." It is used to mean the "transmission" of legends, "bequeathing" of an inheritance," or that which is handed down such as "tradition", "doctrine," or "teaching."

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "by" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "why" should be "what" because it is the object of an untranslated preposition.
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourself."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "tradition" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

And - (WP) The Greek word translated as "and" is usually used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). This does not begin the verse but follows the opening phrase, "through what."

untranslated "by"  -- (MW) The untranslated preposition means "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method.

Why  - (CW) The second word is a pronoun that can be translated as "why" (or "how" or "what") in a question, but here is clearly the object of the pronoun "by." The word means "anything, ""some thing," or "this thing," but as the object of the preposition, this sense is "what" and in "by what."

do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

you -- This is from the second person pronoun, but the information is already in the verb ending.

missing "yourself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourself."

break - (WW) "Break" is from a Greek verb that means literally "to walk over," but commonly means "to bypass," or "over step." It is the same word that Jesus's accusers used in their accusation. It has the sense of the English phrases, "go around" or "walk all over." It does not mean "break" in any common sense.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

commandment  - "Commandment" is from a Greek noun that means an "injunction", "order," or "command."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

God  - -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

 for the sake of --  (WW) The preposition translated as "through" means "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method. This is the same preposition that begins the verse and wasn't translated. This is not the Greek word than means "for the sake of."

your -- The word translated as "your" is a plural, second-person pronoun in the genitive case. This pronoun follows the noun so "of yours."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

tradition?  - "Tradition" is from a noun which means literally "handing over" and it used to mean "handing over" and "passing down." It is used to mean the "transmission" of legends, "bequeathing" of an inheritance," or that which is handed down such as "tradition", "doctrine," or "teaching."

  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "by" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "why" should be "what" because it is the object of an untranslated preposition.
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourself."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "break" should be "go around."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "for the sake of" should be "by."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "tradition" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Jan 14 2021