Matthew 9:6 ... the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins

KJV Verse: 

Mat 9:6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

In order that, however, you might have recognized the fact that an authority he holds, the child of humanity upon the planet, to let go of mistakes: Awake, lift up your cot and depart into your household.

Hidden Meaning: 

There are a number of unexpected aspects to this verse. First, the word order, which is more flexible but also more important in Greek than English is very different than the translation. Next, the tense of the word translated as "may know". The word used for "power" is more specific that the general idea of ability. However, the big difference here is the meaning of the words translated as "to forgive sins".

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 word translated as "that" is a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

The verb translated as "ye may know" means literally "to see", but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." In the KJV translation, it looks like the future tense, but the tense is the past, an action completed in the past. The "may" comes from the verb's mood, one indicates a possibility.

The second "that" is a different word from the first "that." This one introduces a statement of fact or cause.

The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense is "the offspring of humanity" or "the child of the man".

The word translated as "son" more generally means "child."

The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity". It is singular here.

The word translated as "hath" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

The term translated as "power" isn't the "power" of skill or energy but of authority, control, and the ability to make a decision. this is the "power" that comes down through channels of authority. This word also does not have an article ("the") in front of it, so it is "a power" not "the power".

The phrase "on earth" doesn't follow the word translated as "power", nor does it seem to modify that word. It follows the phrase, "the son of the man."

The word translated as "on" is a preposition that "upon", "at," or "against."

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet or ground, not society. Christ uses this word as the opposite of "the sky", which is the realm of that which is beyond nature. Normally, Christ discusses authority as part of human society, translated as "the world" in the KJV. See this article for more on these words.

The word translated as "forgive" primarily means "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. See the article before on the concept of "forgiving sins".

The word translated as "sin" is a form of a word that means "to fail in one's purpose", "to neglect," and "to be deprived of." It has no sense of doing malicious evil in Greek. The best English translation is "mistakes" or "failures" rather than what we commonly think of as the evils of "sin." See this article for more information and context.

The word for "arise" means "awaken" and is the same word Christ uses to describe God raising the dead and false prophets arising.

The word translated as "take up" means "lift up" but it also means "to remove" and "to exalt"

The word translated as "bed" means "that on which one lies," but it also means a "grave-niche." This word is rare for Christ to use.

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also."

"Go" is a Greek verbal command that means literally "go under" or "bring under," but Christ usually uses it to mean "go away" and "depart."

The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

The Greek word translated as "house," in Christ's time, was not only the physical building but the whole household, its members, its property, business interests, and position in the community, all connected to the "name" of the head of the house.


 The wordplay about rising from the dead in the previous verse is strengthened here. "Lift up your cot" also means "remove (or exalt) your grave bed." "Go into your house" also has the sense of "going home." 


ἵνα (adv/conj) "That" is from hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

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").

εἰδῆτε (2nd pl perf subj act) "Ye may see" is from eidon which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

ὅτι (adv/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."

ἐξουσίαν (noun sg fem acc) "Power" is from exousia which means "control", "the power of choice", "permission", "the power of authority", "the right of privilege", "abundance of means," and "abuse of power."

ἔχει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "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."

υἱὸς (noun sg masc nom ) "The Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." --

τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (noun sg masc gen) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ἐπὶ (prep) "On" is from epi which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τῆς γῆς (noun sg fem gen) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

ἀφιέναι (pres inf act) "To forgive" is from aphiemi, which means "to let fall", "to send away", "give up", "hand over", "to let loose", "to get rid of", "to leave alone", "to pass by", "to permit," and "to send forth from oneself."

ἁμαρτίας— (noun pl fem acc ) "Sin" is from hamartia, which means "to miss the mark", "failure", "fault," and "error." Only in religious contexts does it become "guilt" and "sin."

Ἔγειρε (2nd sg pres imperat act) "Arise" is from egeiro, which means "to awaken", "to stir up," and "to rouse."

ἆρόν (2nd sg aor imperat act) "Take up" is from airo, which means "to lift up", "to raise", "to raise up", "to exalt", "to lift and take away," and "to remove."

σου (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

τὴν κλίνην [uncommon](noun sg fem acc) "Bed" is from kline, which means "that on which one lies", "couch," and a "grave-niche."

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." -

ὕπαγε (verb 2nd sg pres imperat act) "Go" is from hupago, which means "to lead under", "to bring under", "to bring a person before judgment", "to lead on by degrees", "to take away from beneath", "to withdraw", "to go away", "to retire", "to draw off," and "off with you." --

εἰς (prep) "Unto" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὸν οἶκόν (noun sg masc acc) "House" is from oikia, which means "house", "building," and "household."

σου. (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

Related Verses: 

May 4 2017