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Matthew 9:4 Why do you think evil

To the Pharisees who reacted to his telling a youth his mistakes were being let go.

Spoken to:
The Pharisees
Greek Verse:

Matthew 9:4 Ἵνα τί ἐνθυμεῖσθε πονηρὰ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν;

KJV Verse:

Matthew 9:4 Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

NIV Verse:

Matthew 9:4 Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

Literal Alternative:

Because? Why do you all infer for yourselves worthless things in your hearts.

Hidden Meaning:

This verse has a lot hidden in the Greek. It seems more a humorous rejoiner than an accusation.

The first words makes this verse seem like an answer to a question. This word is edited out in translation. Jesus uses this Greek word most commonly to begin an answer as "in order that" or "because." The literal translation of the two words is "because why?" This is used as a humorous phrase in response in English.  It seems like the answer to a question where the exact question was not recorded. However, it also works as a question, "because?" Followed by a second question beginning with "why."

The word translated as "think" is used uniquely here so we don't know exactly how Jesus used it. It can mean "think deeply" or "infer." Because of the context, "infer" seems more likely as an uncommon word.

The word "evil" doesn't mean that and it is plural and neutral. The sense is "worthless things."

The Spoken Version:

At this, the members of the Distinguished grumbled among themselves.  
The Master laughed at their grumbling.
“I think they are slandering you,” suggested Brother James.
“Because?” the Master asked, addressing the question to the Distinguished.
The Distinguished didn’t answer but their disapproval of what he head said was written all over their faces.
“Why do you all infer for yourselves worthless things in your hearts?” the  Master asked them again.

My Takeaway:

People often assume the worst in others.

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About this Site

I started this project over a decade ago. The initial goal was to satisfy my own curiosity about how the original Greek of Jesus's words was translated into English comparing it to my work in translating ancient Chinese. 

This site does not promote any religious point of view about Christianity. I purposely use nonreligious sources for Greek translation.  My goal is simply to identify how Jesus used words. His use of Greek words somewhat unique since his words were spoken, not written.

The range of quality of the articles on this site reflects that it is a personal site, not a commercial one. No one proofreads my work. Some articles are over a decade old when I knew much less ancient Greek. Matthew articles are best since I have updated them all at least once. The ones in Mark are the oldest and poorest. Luke is not yet complete.