John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

It is necessary for me to work the works of my sender so long as it is daytime. The night starts. Then no one has the ability to work.

KJV : 

John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The "I" here is the pronoun, "us," the accusative plural first-person pronoun.

The "work the works" phrase from the KJV is perfect because the Greek uses the noun and verb forms of the same word. It is nice that English has a word that works in the same way.

The word translated in the KJV as "cometh" is the word that is almost always translated as "come" in the NT. However, the primary meaning of the word is "to start." This verse provides an example of translators get to come. In English, we say "day comes" and "night comes" when we mean "the day starts" and "the night starts." This usage is special because it refers to the coming of a time that is starting. We do not use "the postman comes" and "the postman starts" as equivalent ideas in the same way. However most biblical translation doesn't translate this Greek work, erchomai, in this say, even when it doesn't work.

However, translating is as "come" here works well.

The most interesting part of this statement is Christ saying that "the night starts." Does this refer to his death or some more generic period of time? If it referred to his death, the next statement, that no one has the ability to work seems a little strange, to general. If it refers to a more general period of time, the statement that no one an work makes more sense, but what does the night coming refer to?

The next verse gives us a hint but one worth thinking through. We will discuss it in the next posting.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἡμᾶς [7 verse](pron 1st pl masc/fem acc) "I" is hemas, which is "us,"  the 1st person, plural, accusative pronoun.

δεῖ (3rd sg imperf ind act) "Must" is from, dei (dei), which means "needful," and "there is need."

ἐργάζεσθαι (pres inf mp) "Work" is from ergazomai, which means "to work," "to labor," "to earn by working," "to work at," "to make," "to perform," "to cause," and "to practice."

τὰ ἔργα "The works" is from ergon (ergon ), which means "works," "tasks," "deeds," "actions," "thing," and "matter."

τοῦ πέμψαντός (part sg aor act masc gen) "Of him that sent" is from pempo, which means "send," "send forth," "send away," "conduct," and "escort."

με : "Me" is from eme, which means "I," "me," and "my".

ἕως "While" is from heos, which means "till," "until," "while," and "so long as."

ἡμέρα "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)."

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

ἔρχεται (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Come" is from erchomai (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.

νὺξ "Night" is from nyx, which means "night," "midnight," and is a metaphor for darkness.

ὅτε "Then" is from (hote), which means "when," "as when," "at the time when," and "sometimes."

οὐδεὶς "No man" is from oudeis, (oudeis) which means "no one," "not one," "nothing," "naught," "good for naught," and "no matter."

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

ἐργάζεσθαι (pres inf mp) "Work" is from ergazomai, which means "to work," "to labor," "to earn by working," "to work at," "to make," "to perform," "to cause," and "to practice."