Matthew 16:23 Get behind me, Satan:

Spoken to: 

Peter

Context: 

After Peter says that he doesn't want Jesus prediction of his death to be true.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Bring it under control after me: an opponent, a trap! You are of me because you do not have a gut feeling for the things of the Divine but those of these people.

KJV : 

Matthew 16:23 Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse's meaning is very different from the way it is normally translated, Jesus statement is as much of a compliment as a criticism.  He is not calling Peter, "Satan." The word is not in the form of address. Nor is he calling Peter an "offence" or a "stumbling block." That word is not in the right form either. The form of the words "satan" and "offense/stumbling block" match each other and both are the object of the verb mistranslated as "get."

Why would Jesus criticize Peter for saying that he didn't want to see him die? What Jesus says clearly is "you are of me." The "of me" is paralleled later in the verse where Jesus says he doesn't understand the things "of the Divine" but "of these men."

This verse also uses a couple of Aramaic words, translated as "Satan" and "offence/stumbling block"  that are put into a Greek form. If Jesus's words, as some claim, are translated into Greek from Aramaic, it is hard to explain why some words aren't translated (see more in this article about why we believe that Christ taught in Greek).

This verse also uses an uncommon verb translated as "savorest" and "have in mind." This indicates that it was chosen for its specific meaning. It is from a root noun that Jesus never uses that means "midrift," but which the Greeks use like we use "a git feeling" or "having the guts" or "my gut tells me. So the sense is "having a gut feeling." So Jesus is saying that Peter is like him, not having a gut feeling to things of the Divine, but for this of people.

This NIV versionis embellished with words it doesn't contain. The NIV also strips out the parallel constructions that Jesus used.

NIV : 

Matthew 16:23 “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Wordplay: 

Jesus uses a rare word the means "understand" in the sense of "having a gut feeling."

My Takeaway: 

We have a better feeling for human concerns than spiritual ones but they can be a trap.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὕπαγε (2nd sg pres imperat act) "Get thee" is hypago, 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."

ὀπίσω [15 verses](adv) "Behind" is from opiso, which means "back", "behind," and "hereafter."

μου (noun sg masc gen) "Me" is from mou, which mean "my", "of me," or "mine."

Σατανᾶ [16 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Satan" is satanas which is an Aramaic word meaning "adversary", "opponents," or "one who opposes another in purpose or act. "

σκάνδαλον [6 verses](noun sg masc acc) "An offense" is skandalon, which means a "trap" or "snare" for an enemy. It is not Greek but based on the Hebrew and Aramaic word. This is one of the words that first occurs in the Greek version of the Old Testament from the Hebrew word for "noose" or "snare."

εἶ (verb 2nd sg pres ind act) "You art" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

ἐμοῦ, (adj sg masc gen) "Me" is from emou, which means "my", "of me", and "mine".

ὅτι (adv/conj)"For" 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."

οὐ (partic) "Not" is from ou 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.

φρονεῖς [2 verses](verb 2nd sg pres ind act) "Thou savourest" is phroneo, which means "to have understanding", "to be prudent", "to comprehend", "feel by experience", "to know full well", "to have thoughts for or towards", "comprehend", "to be in possession of one's senses," and "to be wise." From the root that means "midrift" or "guts."

τὰ (article pl neut acc)  "The things" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

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

θεοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

ἀλλὰ (conj) "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay."

τὰ (article pl neut acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

τῶν (article pl masc gen indeclform) (article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἀνθρώπων. (noun pl 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.

KJV Analysis: 

Get  - (CW) "Get" is from a Greek verbal command that means literally "go under" or "bring under," but Jesus usually uses it without an object to mean "go away" and "depart." However, here it has an object, that is, it a command to put something behind or bring something under control. The word "get" is used because that is how we would tell someone to go behind us in English, but this isn't what Jesus is doing.

thee -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

behind  - The term translated as "behind" means "back" in space but "after" in time. This reference then is to place, as it, "get out of my way".  The logic regarding time is that, since the future is unseen, it should be regarded as behind us, whereas the past is known and therefore before our eyes. This seems quite strange to English speakers, but the use of this word in Greek is well-established to mean "future." Our English view coincides with the ancient Greek when discussing books. The "back" of the book in English means the "end" of the book, which is the future for the reader. This use of "back" is identical to the Greek. 

me, "Me" is from the regular first possessive person pronoun in Greek, so "of me."

Satan: - (UW, WF)  "Satan" is from an Aramaic word means "adversary" and "opponent." Its form is that of the object of the sentence (accusative), what is brought under control,  not a name someone is being called (vocative). So this is not a name that Jesus is calling Peter.  It is the thing Jesus is telling Peter to put behind him. More about this word in this article.

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

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

an -- 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.

offence  - (WF) The word translated as "offense" is another noun from an Aramaic word that means a "trap" or "snare" for an enemy. It is not equated with "you" because then the form would have to be the same case as the subject, but it isn't. It is the same case as satanas or "adversary," which appears right before it, so those two are equated.

unto  -- (WW) -- This word "unto"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common preposition is the "of" of possession.  However, it can also mean "belonging to," or "part of." The word "unto" implies the dative form.

me: "Me" is from the first possessive person pronoun in Greek.

for  - The word translated as "for" introduces a statement of fact or cause. While we can translate it as a word such as "because," it often works best to translate it as "this is because" to prevent complex, run-on sentences.

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

savourest  - (CW) In the original Greek, the word translated as "thou savourest" means simply "to have understanding" or "to comprehend." It refers to a state of understanding, not the discovery of it. It is not a word commonly used by Jesus to discuss understanding. It is used only in the parallel verses in Matthew and Mark. This indicates that it was chosen for its specific meaning. It is from a root noun that Jesus never uses that means "midriff," but which the Greeks use like we use "a gut feeling" or "having the guts" or "my gut tells me." So the sense is "having a gut feeling."

not  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. When a negative precedes the verb as it does here, it affects the whole clause.

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

things -- This comes from the neuter, plural form of the article.

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

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.

missing "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. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

but  - -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

those -- The word translated as "those" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

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

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.

missing "these"  -- (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. 

men. -- The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". Here it is plural and introduced by an article so it indicates a specific group of men.

KJV Translation Issues: 

10
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "Get" is not the common word best translated as "get."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "satan" means "adversary." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "satan" is not in the form of address, but the object of the verb 'bring under."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "offence" is not in the form equated with a subject, but the object of the verb 'bring under."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "unto" should be "of."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "savorest" has  nothing to do with eating except in the sense it refers to the "gut."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "that be" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The second phrase "that be" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "these" before "men" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Get  - (CW) "Get" is from a Greek verbal command that means literally "go under" or "bring under," but Jesus usually uses it without an object to mean "go away" and "depart." However, here it has an object, that is, it a command to put something behind or bring something under control. The word "get" is used because that is how we would tell someone to go behind us in English, but this isn't what Jesus is doing.

behind  - The term translated as "behind" means "back" in space but "forward" in time. This reference then is to place, as it, "get out of my way".  The logic regarding time is that, since the future is unseen, it should be regarded as behind us, whereas the past is known and therefore before our eyes. This seems quite strange to English speakers, but the use of this word in Greek is well-established to mean "future." Our English view coincides with the ancient Greek when discussing books. The "back" of the book in English means the "end" of the book, which is the future for the reader. This use of "back" is identical to the Greek. 

me, "Me" is from the regular first possessive person pronoun in Greek, so "of me."

Satan: - (UW, WF)  "Satan" is from an Aramaic word means "adversary" and "opponent." Its form is that of the object of the sentence (accusative), what is brought under control,  not a name someone is being called (vocative). So this is not a name that Jesus is calling Peter.  It is the thing Jesus is telling Peter to put behind him. More about this word in this article.

You -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

are -  The 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.

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.

stumbling block - (WF) The word translated as "stumbling block" is another noun from an Aramaic word that means a "trap" or "snare" for an enemy. It is not equated with "you" because then the form would have to be the same case as the subject, but it isn't. It is the same case as satanas or "adversary," which appears right before it, so those two are equated.

to  -- (WW) -- This word "to"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common preposition is the "of" of possession.  However, it can also mean "belonging to," or "part of." The word "to" implies the dative form.

me: "Me" is from the first possessive person pronoun in Greek.

for  - The word translated as "for" introduces a statement of fact or cause. While we can translate it as a word such as "because," it often works best to translate it as "this is because" to prevent complex, run-on sentences.

you -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. When a negative precedes the verb as it does here, it affects the whole clause.

have in mind - (CW) In the original Greek, the word translated as "have in mind " means simply "to have understanding" or "to comprehend." It refers to a state of understanding, not the discovery of it. It is not a word commonly used by Jesus to discuss understanding. It is used only in the parallel verses in Matthew and Mark. This indicates that it was chosen for its specific meaning. It is from a root noun that Jesus never uses that means "midriff," but which the Greeks use like we use "a gut feeling" or "having the guts" or "my gut tells me.: So the sense is "having a gut feeling."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more.

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

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.

missing "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. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

but  - -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

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

missing "those"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "those" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

missing "these"  -- (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. 

human. -- (WF) The Greek word for "human" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". Here it is plural and introduced by an article so it indicates a specific group of men. It is a noun, not an adjective.

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

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "Get" is not the common word best translated as "get."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "satan" means "adversary." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "satan" is not in the form of address, but the object of the verb 'bring under."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "stumbling block" is not in the form equated with a subject, but the object of the verb 'bring under."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "of."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "have in mind" has  nothing to do with the mind except in the sense it refers to the "gut."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "concerns" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "merely" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "those"  is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "these" before "human" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "human" is not an adjective but a plural noun "people."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "concerns" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Feb 15 2021