Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

After being challenged by the Pharisees, Jesus's students ask if he knows that he tripped them up

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Drop them! Blind are guides. A blind one, however, when he guides both into a pit will fall

My Takeaway: 

We must rely upon God to guide us not on those who claim that they can guide us.

KJV : 

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

NIV : 

Matthew 15:14  Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

In Greek, Jesus says that guides, in general, are blind. The "blind" is joined to "guides" by the verb "to be." His advice is "drop them"  or "leave," which assumes guides are being used. There is no definite article before it.  The word for "pit" also means an open grave.  The KJV translation makes it sound as though "the blind" is plural, but in the Greek it is singular. Interestingly, most more modern translations follow the KJV even though it has some serious conflicts in form with the Greek, if not the meaning.

Wordplay: 

There are three repetitions of "blind," each in a different form and two repetitions of "guide," once as a noun and again as a verb. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἄφετε (verb 2nd pl aor imperat act) "Let...alone" 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."

αὐτούς: (adj pl masc acc)"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."

τυφλοί [15 verses](adj pl masc nom) "Blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind," "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim," "obscure," "dark," [of passages] "blind," "enclosed," "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

εἰσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act ) "They be" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible."

ὁδηγοί: [3 verses](noun pl masc nom) "Leaders" is from hodegos, which means "guide" and "pilot."

τυφλὸς [15 verses](adj sg masc nom) "Of the blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind," "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim," "obscure," "dark," [of passages] "blind," "enclosed," "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

δὲ (conj) "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").

τυφλὸν [15 verses](adj sg masc acc) "The blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind," "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim," "obscure," "dark," [of passages] "blind," "enclosed," "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

ἐὰν (conj) "If" is from 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.

ὁδηγῇ, [3 verses](verb 3rd sg pres subj act) "Lead" is the verb hodêgeô, which means "to lead one upon his way," and "to guide." These concepts were also used for those who helped those ignorant of a given area.

ἀμφότεροι  [5 verses](adj pl masc nom) "Both" is from amphoteroi, which means "either," "both of two," "both together," "towards both sides," "both ways," "on both sides," and "all together."

εἰς (prep) "Into" 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)."

βόθυνον  [3 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Ditch" is bothunos, a form of bothros, which means "hole," "trench," "pit dug in the ground," "trough," generally, "hollow," also "a grave," "ritual pit for offerings."

πεσοῦνται. (verb 3rd pl fut ind mid) "Shall...fall" is from the verb pipto, which means "to fall," "to fall down," "to be cast down," "fall upon," "intersect (geometry)," "meet," "pass through," "fall violently upon," "attack," "fall in battle," "sink{in water)," "fall short i.e. fail," " fall out of," "lose a thing," "escape from," "fall asleep," "to be accessible to perception," "to fall (between her feet, i.e. to be born)," "to let fall[dice)," "turn out," and "fall under (belong to a class)."

KJV Analysis: 

Let  - The verb translated as let...alone" 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. This is a rare example of it being translated in its primary sense.

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

alone: -- (CW) The concept of "letting go" and "dropping" is not the same as "letting alone."

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

be  - The verb phrase "they be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

blind  - (WP) "Blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses. This adjective appears before the verb not with the following now.

leaders  - (CW) "Leaders" is a noun, which means "guide" or "pilot."  It does not mean "leader" in the sense of a chief or head of a group. It is in the form of a subject of the sentence and immediately follows the verb "to be." This word is only used three times by Jesus.

of the blind. -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "of the blind" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

And -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

if -- (CW) The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when". It is not the word that simply means "if."

the -- (IW, WN) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. Adding it makes the following word seem plural, but it is singular.

blind  -- "The blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It has no article "the" before it. It is singular, not plural, so "a blind one" or "a blind person."

lead  - The word translated as "lead" is the verb form of the noun "leaders" used before. It means "to lead one upon his way," and "to guide." These concepts were also used for those who helped those ignorant of a given area. This word is only used three times by Jesus.

the -- (IW, WN) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. Adding it makes the following word seem plural, but it is singular.

blind  -- "The blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It has no article "the" before it. It is singular, not plural, so "a blind one" or "a blind person."

both  - The word translated as "both" means "both sides" and "both ways" as well as "both together." It is chosen because unlike the common word for "both," it implies two different ways or sides together.

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

fall  - "Shall fall" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." It is the root word for dozens of Greek terms involving moving from a higher state to a lower one. Like our word "to fall" it has a number of special meanings including "to fall into a given class," "to prostrate," "to fall from power," "to perish," and so on.

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

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

ditch.  - "Ditch" is a Greek noun that means any hole or pit dug into the earth. It is also a term used to refer to graves and a pit from offering sacrifices.

KJV Translation Issues: 

11
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "alone" is not a concept usually associated with this verb.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "blind" doesn't appear here but before the verb.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "leaders" is not the common word usually translated as "leaders."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "of the blind" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "if" is not the common word usually translated as "if."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "blind" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "blind" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

Leave - The verb translated as let...alone" 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. This is a rare example of it being translated in its primary sense.

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

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

are - The verb phrase "are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

blind - (WP) "Blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses. This adjective appears before the verb not with the following now.

guides- "Guide" is a noun, which means "guide" or "pilot."  It does not mean "leader" in the sense of a chief or head of a group. It is in the form of a subject of the sentence and immediately follows the verb "to be." This word is only used three times by Jesus.

missing "however" -- (MW)  The Greek word translated as "and" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

If -- (CW) The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when". It is not the word that simply means "if."

the -- (IW, WN) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. Adding it makes the following word seem plural, but it is singular.

blind  -- "The blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It has no article "the" before it. It is singular, not plural, so "a blind one" or "a blind person."

lead  - The word translated as "lead" is the verb form of the noun "leaders" used before. It means "to lead one upon his way," and "to guide." These concepts were also used for those who helped those ignorant of a given area. This word is only used three times by Jesus.

the -- (IW, WN) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source. Adding it makes the following word seem plural, but it is singular.

blind  -- "The blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It has no article "the" before it. It is singular, not plural, so "a blind one" or "a blind person."

both  - The word translated as "both" means "both sides" and "both ways" as well as "both together." It is chosen because unlike the common word for "both," it implies two different ways or sides together.

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.

fall  - "Shall fall" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." It is the root word for dozens of Greek terms involving moving from a higher state to a lower one. Like our word "to fall" it has a number of special meanings including "to fall into a given class," "to prostrate," "to fall from power," "to perish," and so on.

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

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

pit.  - "Pit" is a Greek noun that means any hole or pit dug into the earth. It is also a term used to refer to graves and a pit from offering sacrifices.

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "blind" doesn't appear here but before the verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "if" is not the common word usually translated as "if."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "blind" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "blind" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular

Front Page Date: 

Jan 23 2021