Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John, whence was it?

Spoken to: 

The Pharisees

Context: 

Jesus is asked for his authority by the chief priests and elders. And he asks them a question first.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The washing from John, from what source was it? From the beyond or from people?

My Takeaway: 

The universe gives us all a bath.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?

NIV : 

Matthew 21:25  John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Jesus names the source of baptism then asks where it comes from. As with so much of Jesus's humor, we have to imagine the pause that sets up the punch line. The pause after "where is it from?" invites the answer
"John."

In using the term, "heaven," Jesus didn't make this about divine power alone. The term also means "universe." So the question can be taken as a question about the source of one's power in general: Does it come from the larger universe or from ourselves. It can also be taken as a contrast between power coming from the natural world of God or from the artificial world of society.

 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

βάπτισμα [6 verses](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Baptism" is baptisma, which is only in the New Testament and means "baptism.

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

Ἰωάνου [17 verses](noun sg masc gen)"John" is from Ioannes, which is the Greek form of the name "John."

πόθεν [8 verses](adv) "Whence" is pothen which means "whence" and "from what source."

ἦν; ( verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Was it" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai.)

ἐξ (prep) "From" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from." -- The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" of "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

οὐρανοῦ [111 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Heaven" is  ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky," "heaven as the seat of the gods," "the sky," "the universe," and "the climate."

(conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either," "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

ἐξ (prep) "From" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from."

ἀνθρώπων; [209 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Of man" is 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. -- The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

KJV Analysis: 

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. 

baptism  - The Greek noun for "baptism" appears for the first time in the NT. However, it comes from a Greek verb that means to "dip" or "to plunge" and was used for many different ideas ranging a town being "flooded to a person being "drown" and from someone being "over their heads" in debt to "getting in deep water."

missing "the one"  -- (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. 

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

John, --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name. 

whence -- "Whence" is from an adverb which means "whence" and "from what source."

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

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

from -- The Greek preposition translated as "from" means "out of" or "from."

heaven,  -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

of -- -- (CW) The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from."

men?  - The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

KJV Translation Issues: 

2
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word, which is translated as "from" above.

NIV Analysis: 

John --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name. 

’s --  "Apostrophe "s" comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition or apostrophe "s" in English.  

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. 

baptism  - The Greek noun for "baptism" appears for the first time in the NT. However, it comes from a Greek verb that means to "dip" or "to plunge" and was used for many different ideas ranging a town being "flooded to a person being "drown" and from someone being "over their heads" in debt to "getting in deep water."

missing "the one"  -- (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. 

where -- "Where" is from an adverb which means "whence" and "from what source."

did it come from? -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "did it come from? " in the Greek source.

was -- The verb "was" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. With the genitive object, the sense is "belongs to.

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

from -- The Greek preposition translated as "from" means "out of" or "from."

heaven,  - -- The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases usually used with "of."

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

of -- -- (CW) The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from."

human?  - (WF, WN) The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

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

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "did it come from" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" does not capture the specific meaning of the word, which is translated as "from" above.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "human" is not an adjective but a noun,"men."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "human" is translated as singular but the Greek word is plural, "men."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "origin" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 8 2021