Matthew 9:15 Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn...

Context: 

Asked by followers or John the Baptist about fasting

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

No, they don't seem to have the ability, those children of the wedding party, to cry for as long as he is along with them, this groom. However, days are going to show up when he might be carried off from them, the bridegroom, and then they will abstain.

KJV : 

Matthew 9:15 Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse starts with a negative ("no" or "not") that is not translated. This happens often in the Gospels because Jesus seems to be answering a question that was not recorded. However, a negative changes the meaning to its opposite. The KJV and NIV handle this by making the statement a question, when nothing else about it indicates that it is a question. 

This verse appears in a little different version in Mark (Mar 2:19, Mar 2:20) but what is lost in translation is the humor here. All we have to do is assume that the young men in the wedding party behaved then as they do today and "abstaining" is another way of saying "will be cut off" from their drinking. Christ generally uses the metaphor of the wedding as a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven, but here the message here is about a party that ends.

NIV : 

Matthew 9:15 Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Wordplay: 

 The comparison to religious fasting with swearing off drinking at the end of a wedding party. 

My Takeaway: 

As long as we are with Jesus, we should celebrate. Only our loss of connection should be mourned.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Μὴ (partic) Untranslated is 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.

δύνανται (3rd pl pres ind mp) "Can" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

οἱ (articlepl masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

υἱοὶ (noun pl masc nom ) "The children" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." --

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

νυμφῶνος [4 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Of the bridechamber" is from numphon, which can either be the room of the marriage bed or marriage ceremony. Numphios is "bridegroom."

πενθεῖν [3 verses](pres inf act) "Mourn" is pentheo, which means "to bewail", "to mourn", "to go into mourning," and "to lament."

ἐφ (prep) "As long as" is from epi (with hosos below), which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against." In adverbial phrases, it means "for" or "with."

ὅσον (adj sg neut nom/acc) "As long as" is from hosos, (with epi above) which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

μετ (prep) "With" is from meta, which means "in the midst of", "among", "between", "in common", "along with", "by the aid of", "in one's dealings with", "into the middle of", "coming into", "in pursuit of", "after", "behind", "according to," and "next afterward"

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ἐστὶν (3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

(article sg masc nom))  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

νυμφίος; [9 verses](noun sg masc nom) "Bridegroom" is nymphios, which means "bridal", "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

ἐλεύσονται (3rd pl fut ind mid) "Will 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.

δὲ (partic) "But" is from 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").

ἡμέραι (noun pl fem nom ) "Day" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life", "a time (poetic)", "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet", "tame (animals)", "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)."

ὅταν (conj) "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

ἀπαρθῇ (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Shall be taken" is apairo, which means "to lead off", "to lift off", "to carry off", "to remove", "to get rid of," and "to lead away."

ἀπ (prep) "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. --

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Them" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

(article sg masc nom))  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

νυμφίος, (noun sg masc nom) "Bridegroom" is from nymphios, which means "bridal", "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

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."

τότε (adv) "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

νηστεύσουσιν. [10 verses](3rd pl fut ind act "Fast" is from nesteuo, which means "fast" and "to abstain from."

KJV Analysis: 

untranslated "no or not"  -- (MW) This verse starts with an untranslated negative, the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is of "not wanting" or "not thinking" something. Perhaps "it doesn't seem" also captures the idea.

Can The Greek word translated as "can" means having the power, ability, or a desire to accomplish something. In English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. The Greek verb doesn't have that use.

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. 

children  - The word translated as "children" more specifically means "sons" but it refers to a male descendant of any age. not just children. However, the use of this word here seems to indicate that the men in a wedding party do not necessarily act as adults.

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.

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. 

bridechamber  - The term translated "bridechamber" means simply "wedding room" and can refer either to the place of the wedding or to the bridal chamber.

mourn,  - "Mourn" is a Greek word that means "to bewail", "to mourn", "to go mourning" and "to lament." It is the same word used for "mourn" in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:4).

as long as  - The "as long as" is from two Greek words: a preposition that means "upon", "at," or "against, " but meaning "for" when used as an adverb, as it is here, and an adjective meaning "as great as", "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

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. 

bridegroom   - The word translated as "bridegroom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or "son-in-law."

is  - The word translated as "is" is to common verb "to be," 3rd person, singular, present.

with  - The word translated as "with" also means "among" and "along with."

them?  - -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The word means "the same" when used as an adjective. In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there." This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

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

the -- There is no Greek article "the" here in the source, but the noun is plural and in English an article is used before plural nouns in phrases like this.

days  - "The days" is from the Greek word meaning "day", "daytime," and, more generally, "time." The word is plural here, so "times".

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

come,  - The word translated as "will come" 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 "getting under way." When it refers to a time in the future, as it does here, "come" works well."

when  - The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition.

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. 

bridegroom  - The word translated as "bridegroom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or "son-in-law."

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

taken  - (CW) The term translated as "shall be taken" means "to lift off", "to carry off," and "to lead away." It is in the passive form, but is not the future tense. It is in a form indicating something that might happen.

from  - -- The word translated as "from" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause.

them,  - " -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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

then  - -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then". 

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

fast.  - The term translated as "fast" specifically means a religious fast. The verb is in the future tense or a form indicating something that might occur in the future.

KJV Translation Issues: 

3

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "shall" does not mean the future tense.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "taken" is not common word usually translated as "taken." It means "carried off.

NIV Analysis: 

Do -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "do" means having the power, ability, or a desire to accomplish something and is usually translated as "can", but in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. The Greek verb doesn't have that use.

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

wedding - The term translated "bridal chamber" means simply "wedding room" and can refer either to the place of the wedding or to the bridal chamber.

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

guests - (WW) The word translated as "guest" specifically means "sons" but it refers to a male descendant of any age. but it can also be used more generally as "children." However, the use of this word here seems to indicate that the men in a wedding party do not necessarily act as adults. It does not mean "guest."

mourn,  - "Mourn" is a Greek word that means "to bewail", "to mourn", "to go mourning" and "to lament." It is the same word used for "mourn" in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:4).

while  - The "while" is from two Greek words: a preposition that means "upon", "at," or "against, " but meaning "for" when used as an adverb, as it is here, and an adjective meaning "as great as", "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

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

with  - The word translated as "with" also means "among" and "along with."

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. 

groom   - The word translated as "groom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or "son-in-law."

untranslated "them"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The word means "the same" when used as an adjective.

Of course -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "of course" in the Greek source.

not. -- (WP) This verse starts with a negative, the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is of "not wanting" or "not thinking" something. Perhaps "it doesn't seem" also captures the idea.

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

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. 

someday - (WW, WN) "The days" is from the Greek word meaning "day", "daytime," and, more generally, "time." The word is plural here, so "times".

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. 

groom  - The word translated as "groom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or "son-in-law."

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

untranslated "show up"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  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 "getting under way." When it refers to a time in the future, as it does here, "come" works well."

untranslated "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition, "when."

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

taken away  - (CW) The term translated as " taken away" means "to lift off", "to carry off," and "to lead away." It is in the passive form, but is not the future tense. It is in a form indicating something that might happen.

from  - -- The word translated as "from" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause.

them,  - " -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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

then  - -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then".

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

will -- (WW) This helping verb "will" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

fast.  - The term translated as "fast" specifically means a religious fast. The verb is in the future tense or a form indicating something that might occur in the future.

NIV Translation Issues: 

11

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "do" should be "have power" or "can."

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "guests" should be "sons."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "celebrating" doesn't exist in the source.

MW - Missing Word -- The word "them" is not shown in the English translation.

IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "of course" doesn't exist in the source.

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "someday" should be "days" or "times."

WN  - Wrong Number- The word "someday" is translated as singular but it is plural, "days."

MW - Missing Word -- The word "show up" is not shown in the English translation.

MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "taken" is not common word usually translated as "taken." It means "carried off."

CW - Confusing Word -- The "will" does not mean the future tense.

The Spoken Version: 

“Why do we and the Distinguished fast much,” one the ascetics was asking, “but these student of yours don’t fast?”
“No, they don’t seem to have the ability,” the Master admitted in a light-hearted way, indicating his followers as  they were eating their meal
We all laughed and cheered.
“These children of the wedding party,” continued the Master, describing us.
And it was true. Every day with the Master was like a party.
“The ability to do what?” asked Rocky, who seemed a little slow at noticing what was going on some times, especially when he was eating.
“To mourn,” the Master answered.
“Are your followers always celebrating,” one of the followers of John asked, sounding somewhat jealous.
“For as long as he is along with them,” the Master responded, indicating himself, “this groom.”
“Congratulations!” said one of the ascetics, “we didn’t know you were getting married!”
The Master’s students laughed at the idea. The Master joined them.
“He isn’t,” explained Brother James, “it is an analogy.”
“The Master loves his analogies,” explained Andrew.
“However,” added the Master in a more serious voice, “times are going to show up when he might be carried off from them, this bridegroom, and then they will fast.”
Everyone took  this statement very seriously. The Master’s cousin, John, had recently been taken by the tetrarch.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 10 2020