Non-Jesus Verse: Matthew 24:3 The Apostle's Question

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

The apostle's response after hearing Jesus's prediction about the destruction of the Temple.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Tell us when these things will exist and what [is] the significance of this your presence also for a culmination of this era?

KJV : 

Matthew 24:3 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

NIV : 

Matthew 24:3  “Tell us when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The Greek of this verse is translated because of its importance in the coming discussion about the culmination of the era. There are a number of key mistranslations in it.

The word "sign" in its verse is not a mistranslation, but the Greek word specifically means a sign from the gods and that sense, it means "omen," "portent," and "constellations," but it also means a "proof" in reasoning. The translation of "proof" often seems how Jesus uses it. Here the word seems to have the sense of "significance" in "omen" and "constellation" connects with the references in Matthew 24:27 and Matthew 24:31 to a "comet," this sight of which were considered omens. This same word, a "sign" or "omen" shining in the sky is used in Matthew 24:30, likely referring to the comet in Matthew 24:31. But in that verse, "comet" is translated as "trumpet," demonstrating that the translators missed the entire point of these verses.

The word translated as "coming" does not refer to a second coming. The word means "presence," "arrival," but in the sense of "having arrived," "occasion," "situation," "substance," "property," and "contribution." It is an uncommon word, only used by Jesus three times in this section of Matthew. It is first used in this verse by his students, not by Jesus himself. They cannot be thinking about some future arrival. He is there now, predicting the destruction of the Temple.  It has nothing to do with the verb usually translated as "coming." It is from the present participle of the verb meaning "to have arrived" and "to be present." Jesus is with them, what does his presence mean in regards to the Temple being destroyed?

The word translated as "end" means literally "to bring together for a goal." It means the accomplishment of a shared purpose, so "culmination." It does not mean "end" in the sense of "destruction" of anything since it has the opposite sense of "accomplishment." Yes, the temple is being destroyed, but Jesus's students see this as a bringing together of historical purpose since they believe the Divine has a purpose. There is no definite article before this word, so not "the culmination" but "a culmination." The "the" is added to make it sound like the definitive end of things, which is not what the apostles thought.

"World" is from aiôn, which means "lifetime," "life," "a space of time," "an age," and an "epoch." The students seem to be using it as an "epoch," marked by the end of the second temple as the destruction of the first temple culminated an earlier epoch of Israel as an independent nation, that destruction earned by the failure of its kings. However, in his response, Jesus plays with this word, using it to refer to what happens at the fall of Jerusalem, any time of crisis, and the death of a person.   See this article on words translated as "world" in Jesus's words

Greek Vocabulary: 

Εἰπὸν [162 verses] (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Tell" is eipon, which means "to speak," "to say," "to recite," "to address," "to mention," "to name," "to proclaim," "to plead," "to promise," and "to offer."

ἡμῖν [14 verses](pron 1st pl masc/fem dat) "Us" is from hemin, which is the first person plural dative pronoun, "to us."

πότε [26 verses](adv/conj) "When" comes from pote, which means "when," "at what time," "at some time or other," "at some unknown time, and "at some time in the future."

ταῦτα [96 verses](adj pl neut acc) "These things" "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.

ἔσται, .[614 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Shall...be" is eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen,"  and "is possible." With the genitive object, the sense is "belongs to." 

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" 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.

τί [252 verses](pron sg neut nom) "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."

τὸ [821 verses](article sg neut nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

σημεῖον [15 times](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Signs" is from semeion, which means "mark (by which things are known)," "a proof" (in reasoning), "sign (of the future)," "sign from the gods," "signal (to do things)," "omen," "portent," "constellations," and a "standard (flag)."

τῆς [821 verses](article sg fem gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

σῆς [8 verses](adj sg fem gen) "Thy" is sos, which means "thy," "thine" "of thee," or "from thee."

παρουσίας [3 verses] (noun sg fem gen ) "The coming" is parousia, which means "presence," "arrival," "occasion," "situation," "substance," "property," and "contribution." It is from the present participle of the verb pareimi, meaning "to have arrived" and "to be present," from para eimi, literally, "being by." 

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" 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.

συντελείας [4 verses](noun sg fem gen) "End" is synteleia, which means "joint contribution for the public burdens," "(compulsory) provision of recruits," "a body of citizens who contributed jointly to bear public burdens," generally, "company," "the consummation of a scheme," "an end of," "full realization," "unjust gain," and, in Grammar, "completed action."

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

αἰῶνος. [41 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Age" is aion, which means "life," "lifetime," "age," or "generation."

KJV Analysis: 

Tell   - The word translated as "tell" means "to say" and "to speak." It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

us, - "Us" is the first person plural pronoun, "we," "us" as an indirect object.

when -- The "when"  is from an adverb meaning "when," "at what time," "at some time or other," "at some unknown time, and "at some time in the future."

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.

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."

things  - There is no word, "things," in the Greek source, but this word comes from the neuter, plural form of the previous adjective.

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

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

what  -- The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who," "what," or even "why."

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

be -- There is no verb "be" in the Greek source. It is implied by the equating of "what" with "the sign" both in the Greek form of subjects.

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. 

sign - "Sign" is Greek word that means a "mark," "sign," or "proof." The word in Greek is used specifically to means a sign from the gods and it that sense, it means "omen," "portent," and "constellations," but it also means a "proof" in reasoning. The translation of "proof" often seems how Jesus uses it. Here the meaning seems to be more like "significance," the meaning of a sign. However, the same word also means "omen," which connects to Matthew 24:27 and Matthew 24:31 with their references to a "comet," this sight of which were considered omens. This same word is used in Matthew 24:30, likely referring to the comet in Matthew 24:31.

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.

thy - This is not the common second-person possessive pronoun, but a special pronoun used to describe things that are owned.

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. 

coming, - (CW) The word translated as "coming" means "presence," "arrival," "occasion," "situation," "substance," "property," and "contribution." It is an uncommon word, only used by Jesus three times in this section of Matthew. It was first used in this verse. Since it is not related to the word usually translated as "come" in the NT, "arrival" might be a better word though the sense is more about the nature of that arrival. It has nothing to do with the verb usually translated as "coming."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

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. However, it can also mean "for" a purpose and "during" a time period.

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

end - (CW) The word translated as "end" means literally "to bring together for a goal." It means the accomplishment of a shared purpose, so "culmination." It does not mean "end" in the sense of "destruction" of anything since it has the opposite sense of "accomplishment."

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.

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. 

world? -- (WW) "World" is from aiôn, which means "lifetime," "life," "a space of time," "an age," an epoch," and "the present world." See this article on words translated as "world" in Jesus's words

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "shall " doesn't exist in the source repeated here.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "coming" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "coming" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "end" doesn't exist in the source repeated here.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "end" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "world" should be "era."

Front Page Date: 

Aug 16 2021