Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

You might not want to legislate that I've show up to annul the laws or the shining lights. I really didn't show up t to dissolve but to complete.

Hidden Meaning: 

This is a very interesting verse if we look at the original Greek. Almost every word in it has a double meaning. Several of the keywords have a special meaning connected to the idea of "the law." This is lost in English translation. Since this verse reflects a change in topic, it is possibly a response to a question or accusation that what he was saying was annulling the laws. 

The first sentence actually says something that is close to the opposite of what the KJV translation offers. The way it works best in the context is to translate it as a rhetorical question. Remember, the punctuation isn't part of the Greek source, but was added hundreds of years later.

There are two different Greek words translated as "not" here, and both begin their phrases. The first "not" in "think not" refers to subjective opinion, that is, people's thoughts. However, it often works best to translated it as "you don't want." This works well because it comes before the verb.

The word translated as "think" is the verb form of the Greek noun usually translated as "the law," which is discussed below. It is the basis for our word "normalize." For a legislator, it means to enact a law, but it also means "to be used by custom" and "to be accustomed to." It comes from the meaning of the word as "traditions" or customary behavior. The KJV translation also makes it sound like it is a command, that is, an imperative verb. It isn't. It is an active verb indicating a possibility. "You might be getting accustomed to..." or "you might assume." However, "legislate" 

The Greek word translated as "I am come" primarily means "to start out" and can mean either "to come" or "to go" especially at the beginning of a move. It is not in the present tense, as it appears. The English phrases that capture the idea best are to "set out" and "show up."

Next, the verb "destroy" is the Greek word that means to destroy and break up, but it has a specific meaning in relation to the law. It means to annul or abolish a law. However, here, the "break up" meaning is significant as a contrast to the last word, which means "fill up."

Next is the word translated as "the law" throughout the entire KJV of the Bible. It refers to the biblical books of Moses (Torah). It doesn't mean "law' in our modern legal sense of a legal statute. It means traditions and customs.It is the basis for our word "normal" and social "norms." It is the noun form of the word translated as "think" above. Christ uses it to refer to the traditions of the Jewish people. Living according to the laws of Moses was the norm for Christ's society. The word, however, refers to social norms in general. We can assume that Christ is referring to all such social norms. These "traditions" were passed down from Moses.

As "the law' refers to the biblical books of Moses (Torah), the "prophets" refers to the second group of books in the Jewish scripture, called "the Prophets" (Nevi'm). So when Christ refers to the "law and the prophets" he is referring to the first two sections of Jewish scripture. There is a third section, called "the Writings" (Ketuvim). However, the Greek word means a spokesperson for the divine and comes from the word "shine," as we might describe "shining lights".

The second sentence starts with another negative, but this one is the negative of fact, not opinion. Translating its as "no, really" captures its feeling.

The second "I am come" is the same as the first. The English phrases that capture the idea best are to "set out" and "show up."

The second "destroy" is the same Greek word as the "destroy" above. Its sense here is "to break up" as a contrast to "fill up" and "annul" in reference to the laws.

Finally, we have "fulfill" from a word that means to fill full of something, like being filled full of food. It also means to impregnate or make complete.

Wordplay: 

A play of words on "think" which also means "legislate" and "laws". 

The idea of "breaking up" is contrasted with "filling up." 

 

The Spoken Version: 

A voice from among the Dedicated shouted, “Are you overturning our traditional laws, the writings of the shining lights?”
The crowd murmured, but the speaker smiled more broadly. Before answering, he went back to the foreigners and obtained a small loaf of bread.
“You all might not want to assume that I have shown up to tear up—,” he said as he tore off a piece of bread and held it up, “the laws or the shining lights. I really haven’t shown up to tear up—,” he said as he tore off and held up another piece of bread.
Many chuckled at the contradiction.
“But to fill up!” He announced gleefully, as he began putting the pieces of bread in his mouth.

Vocabulary: 

Μὴ (partic) "Not" is from 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.

νομίσητε (2nd pl aor subj act) "Think" is from nomizo, which means means "to use by custom", "to get accustomed to", "to enact [for a legislator]", "to own", "to acknowledge", "to esteem", "to hold in honor," and "to believe."

ὅτι (conj) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

ἦλθον (1st sg aor ind act) "I am come" 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.

καταλῦσαι (aor inf act) "To destroy" is from katalyo, which means "to put down", "to destroy", "to dissolve", "to break up", "to dismiss", "to disband", "to abolish", "to bring to an end", "to unloose," and "to unyoke."

τὸν νόμον (noun sg masc acc) "The law" is from nomos, which means "anything assigned", "a usage", "custom", "law", "ordinance," or "that which is a habitual practice." It is the basis of the English words "norm" and "normal."

(conj) "Or" is from e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

τοὺς προφήτας: (noun pl masc acc) "The prophets" is from prophetes, which means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will", "interpreter", "keepers of the oracle", "the highest level of priesthood in Egypt", "interpreter," and "herald."

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἦλθον (1st sg aor ind act) "I am come" 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.

καταλῦσαι (verb aor inf act) "To destroy" is from katalyo, which means "to put down", "to destroy", "to dissolve", "to break up", "to dismiss", "to disband", "to abolish", "to bring to an end", "to unloose," and "to unyoke."

ἀλλὰ (adv) "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay." It denotes an exception or a simple opposition.

πληρῶσαι: (aor inf act) "To fulfill" is from pleroo, which means "to fill", "to fulfill", "to make complete", "to pay in full", "to make pregnant," and "to fill full."

Jan 12 2017

evidence: 

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