John 5:19 ...The Son can do nothing of himself,

Spoken to: 

challengers

Context: 

Jesus is accused of breaking the Sabbath making himself God by calling God his Father.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Honestly, honestly, I tell you. No ability has the son to create by himself, nothing, when [it is] not something he watches the Father creating. Because these things, when this person here creates [them], these things the son likewise creates. 

My Takeaway: 

The Son watches the Father and copies him.

KJV : 

John 5:19 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

NIV : 

John 5:19 Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Sometimes, the biblical translators seem to think their job is eliminating as many of Jesus's "unnecessary" words and to add their own to clarify what he said. Here, a number of negatives are removed, which is somewhat forgivable, since Greek accepts double negatives more than English, but by eliminating them, much of the negative impact here is lost. Two "when" clauses are also ignored, which also requires ignoring the mood of the verb when it shows a possibility.

The verb translated as "can" is not just a helper  verb as it is in English. In Greek, it means "having power or the ability." "Power" is the meaning of its noun form. From these Greek root, we get "dynamo," "dynamic", "dynasty," and "dynamite." Jesus uses these words specifically to discuss his abilities. It is unrelated to a different word meaning "authority."

The Greek verb translated as "see" in this verse is the more tangible form of seeing. It is not the more common words for "see" that also means "know." It has more the sense of "watch," so Jesus is saying  that he can see how to Father work, not that he knows it.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμὴν "[91 verses](exclaim)"Verily" is amen, which is the Hebrew, meaning "truly," "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek of this meaning before the NT. However, this is also the infinitive form of the Greek verb amao, which means "to reap" or "to cut."

ἀμὴν [91 verses](exclaim)"Verily" is amen, which is the Hebrew, meaning "truly," "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek of this meaning before the NT. However, this is also the infinitive form of the Greek verb amao, which means "to reap" or "to cut."

λέγω [264 verses] (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" 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."

ὑμᾶς [210 verses](pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is humas which is the plural obejective form of the second-person pronoun, "you."

οὐ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is ou ( οὒ ) 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.

δύναται [61 verses](3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities," "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

[821 verses](article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

υἱὸς [158 verses](noun sg masc nom​) "The Son" is huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." It is used generally to refer to any male descendant. -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children." It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

ποιεῖν [168 verses](pres inf act) "To do" is poieo, which means "to make," "to produce," "to create," "to bring into existence," "to bring about," "to cause," "to perform," "to render," "to consider," "to prepare," "to make ready," and "to do."

ἀπὸ [190 verses]​(prep) "From" is 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. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done.  Usually takes the genitive object.

ἑαυτο  [75 verses](adj sg masc gen) "Himself" is heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself," "herself," "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is not the common pronoun meaning simply "he," "she," "them," etc.

οὐδὲν [69 verses](adj sg neut nom /acc) "Nothing" is oudeis which means "no one," "not one," "nothing," "naught," "good for naught," and "no matter."

ἂν [60 verses](particle) "But" [162 verses](conj) "But" is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might), which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event. This is how we use the word "when." -- The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

μὴ [447 verses](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. With pres. or aor. subj. used in a warning or statement of fear, "take care" It can be the conjunction "lest" or "for fear that."

τι [252 verses](pron sg nom/acc) "What" is tis which can mean "someone," "something," "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." -- The Greek word translated as "some" in the singular means "anyone," "someone,"  "something," and "anything." In the plural, it means "some," "they," and "those."

βλέπῃ [46 verses](3rd sg pres subj act) "He seeth" is from of blepo, which means "to look," "to see," "to look to," "to look like," "to rely on," "to look longingly," "to propose," "to beware," "to behold," and "to look for."

τὸν [821 verses](article sg masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

πατέρα [191 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Father" is pater, which means "father," "grandfather," "author," "parent," and "forefathers."

ποιοῦντα [168 verses](part sg pres act masc acc) "Do" is poieo, which means "to make," "to produce," "to create," "to bring into existence," "to bring about," "to cause," "to perform," "to render," "to consider," "to prepare," "to make ready," and "to do."

[294 verses](pron pl neut nom/acc) "What" is hos, which means "this," "that," "he," "she," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

γὰρ [205 verses](partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for," "since," and "as." In an abrupt question, it means "why" and "what."

ἂν  [162 verses](conj) "Soever" is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might), which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event. This is how we use the word "when."

ἐκεῖνος[107 verses](adj sg masc nom) "He" is ekeinos, which means "the person there," "that person," "that thing," and as in the form of an adverb, "in that case," "in that way," "at that place," and "in that manner."

ποιῇ [168 verses](3rd sg pres subj act) "Doeth" is poieo, which means "to make," "to produce," "to create," "to bring into existence," "to bring about," "to cause," "to perform," "to render," "to consider," "to prepare," "to make ready," and "to do."

ταῦτα [96 verses](adj pl neut acc) "These" "These things" is tauta, which is a referring pronoun meaning "these," "this," "that," and "here." It can mean the nearer or the further depending on usage. As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "Also" is 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."

[821 verses](article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

υἱὸς [158 verses](noun sg masc nom​) "The Son" is huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." It is used generally to refer to any male descendant. -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children." It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

ὁμοίως "Likewise"[29 verses](adv) "Likewise" is homoios, which means "like," "resembling," "the same," "equal in force, "a match for one," "suiting," "of the same rank," "alike," "in like manner," and "equally."

ποιεῖ, [168 verses](verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Doeth" is poieo, which means "to make," "to produce," "to create," "to bring into existence," "to bring about," "to cause," "to perform," "to render," "to consider," "to prepare," "to make ready," and "to do."

KJV Analysis: 

Verily, -- The word translated as "verily" is the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."

verily, -- The word translated as "verily" is the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

say -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak,"  but when used with an objective noun or pronoun, the sense is "say of" or "speak of."  When two accusative objects are used, the sense is  "say of him this," or "call him this." The form Jesus uses to describe his own speaking can be either indicative, "I say/tell" or subjunctive, "I should/could say/tell."  It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

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.

you, -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

missing "not"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

can - (WF)  The word translated as "can" means "having the power" or "having the desire" to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. This is not a helping verb, but the active verb in the clause.

do -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. Here, "creating" works well because it is used to describe what the Father does. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not.  The form is not an active verb, but an infinitive, "to create."

nothing -- The Greek word translated as "nothing" also means "no one" and other negatives nouns. Here is is neuter so "nothing." However, this is a repetition of the idea after the sentence, not its immediate object.

of -- (CW) The word translated as "from" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from." The "by" works the best here so as not to be confused with the genitive form of the word.

himself, -- "Himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself," "herself," and so on. " When used in the possessive, it has the sense of "his own."

but -- (WW) The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

missing "not"  -- (MW) The untranslated word negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. This is the negative used with commands or requests. Here it precedes "what."

what  -- The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "something" in the neuter as it is here.

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when" untranslated here.

seeth -- The verb translated as "seeth" means "to see," "to look to," "to look like," "to beware," and "to look for." It is the more tangible sense of seeing, such as seeing what is right in front of you rather than understanding so  "watch" works better.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Father -- "Father" is the Greek noun that means "father" or any male ancestor so "forefathers." It is the word that Christ uses to address his own Father.

do: -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not. The form of the word is not an active verb but a participle, a verb in the form of an adjective, "leaving."

for  - --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause." 

what -- The word translated as "what" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

soever -- The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

he -- (CW) The word translated as "he" is an adjective that highlights its noun as being in a specific place or time from a word that means "there." Used as a pronoun, the sense is "that one there."

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when" untranslated here.

doeth, -- The Greek word translated as "doeth" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not.

these -- The "these" is a pronoun that can mean "this" or "that," the nearer or the further depending on usage. It is often used in the neuter plural to refer to "these things." As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why."

also -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

doeth  - -- The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not. 

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

likewise. -- The word translated as "likewise" is an adjective that means "like," "resembling," and "matching."

KJV Translation Issues: 

10
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "can" is not a helping verb but an active verb, "have power."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "do" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to do."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" should be "when."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "do" is not an active verb but a participle, "doing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "he" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Very  -- (WW) The word translated as "very" is the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." This is not the word meaning "very."

truly , --  The word translated as "truly" is the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

tell -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak,"  but when used with an objective noun or pronoun, the sense is "say of" or "speak of."  When two accusative objects are used, the sense is  "say of him this," or "call him this." The form Jesus uses to describe his own speaking can be either indicative, "I say/tell" or subjunctive, "I should/could say/tell."  It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you, -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

missing "not"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

can - (WF)  The word translated as "can" means "having the power" or "having the desire" to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. This is not a helping verb, but the active verb in the clause.

do -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. Here, "creating" works well because it is used to describe what the Father does. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not.  The form is not an active verb, but an infinitive, "to create."

nothing -- The Greek word translated as "nothing" also means "no one" and other negatives nouns. Here is is neuter so "nothing." However, this is a repetition of the idea after the sentence, not its immediate object.

by -- The word translated as "from" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from." The "by" works the best here.

himself, -- "Himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself," "herself," and so on. " When used in the possessive, it has the sense of "his own."

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

missing "not"  -- (MW) The untranslated word negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. This is the negative used with commands or requests. Here it precedes "what."

he can do only -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "he can do only" in the Greek source.

what  -- The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "something" in the neuter as it is here. It could be a subject or an object, but with the negative before it, the sense is "it is not something."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when" untranslated here.

sees -- The verb translated as "sees" means "to see," "to look to," "to look like," "to beware," and "to look for." It is the more tangible sense of seeing, such as seeing what is right in front of you rather than understanding so  "watch" works better.

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Father -- "Father" is the Greek noun that means "father" or any male ancestor so "forefathers." It is the word that Christ uses to address his own Father.

doing--  The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not. The form of the word is not an active verb but a participle, a verb in the form of an adjective, "doing."

because - --The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause." 

what- -- The word translated as "what" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

ever -- (CW) The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is how we use the word "when."

the Father -- (WW) The word translated as "the father" is an adjective that highlights its noun as being in a specific place or time from a word that means "there." Used as a pronoun, the sense is "that one there."

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when" untranslated here.

does, -- The Greek word translated as "does" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not.

missing "these"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "these" is a pronoun that can mean "this" or "that," the nearer or the further depending on usage. It is often used in the neuter plural to refer to "these things." As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why."

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

does  - -- The Greek word translated as "does" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do," which covers all actions, productive or not. 

also -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

missing "likewise"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "likewise" is an adjective that means "like," "resembling," and "matching."

NIV Translation Issues: 

14
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "very" should be "truly."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "can" is not a helping verb but an active verb, "have power."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "do" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to do."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "not" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "he can do only" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "his" should be "the."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "do" is not an active verb but a participle, "doing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "the Father" should be "that one there."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "these" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "likewise" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Feb 15 2022