John 18:23...If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil:

KJV Verse: 

John 18:23...If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

If worthless things I chatter, testily about the worthlessness. If, however, wonderful things, why me do you beat?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is uses the words that are translated as "good" and "evil" in the KJV, but which are closer to meaning "worthless" and "wonderful." The two words are soundalikes: kakos/kalos.

The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

The Greek word translated as "I have spoken" is not the ordinary "to say" or "to speak" in Greek. This word means both "idle chatter", "gossip," and "the proclamations of an oracle." The word is somewhat self-effacing. The form is not the not the past tense, as translated, nor is it the subjunctive, as expected in an "if" statement. The form is something that takes place as a specific point in time.

The word translated as "evil" is an adjective which means many different forms of "bad," including "ugly", "low born", "craven," and "ill." In the NT, it is often translated as "evil." More about it in this article.

"Bear witness" is the Greek ver that means "to give testimony" and "to bear witness." It has the sense of being true testimony. It is the verb form of the Greek word for "testimony" and "proof," which is the source of our word "martyr," and its funny spelling.

The Greek word translated as "of" means It means "around" when referring to a place, but, in this context, it means "about", "concerning", "on account of," and "in regard to." This is the way Christ usually uses it.

The word translated as "the evil: " is an adjective which means many different forms of "bad," including "ugly", "low born", "craven," and "ill." In the NT, it is often translated as "evil." More about it in this article. It is used with an article which makes it work more like a noun.

The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. 

The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

The word translated as ""well" means "good", "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality."  See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."  The word translated as "well" means, as an adverb, "well", "rightly",  "happily",  "thoroughly", "altogether", and "deservedly".  

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

The Greek verb translated as "smitest thou" means "to flay" or "to skin" someone, though in later use it came to mean "to cudgel" or "to thrash." Jesus seems to use it to mean being "flogged" or "beat." 

"Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Εἰ (conj) "If" is ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions. --

κακῶς ( adj pl masc acc ) "Evil" is kakos, which means "bad", "mean", "base", "ugly", "ill-born", "evil", "worthless", "sorry", "pernicious," and "ill." --

ἐλάλησα, ( verb 1st sg aor ind act ) "I have spoken" is laleo, which means "to talk," "to speak" "to prattle", "to chat," and [for oracles] "to proclaim." It also means "chatter" as the opposite of articulate speech. --

μαρτύρησον ( verb 2nd sg aor imperat act ) "Bear witness" is martyreo, which means "to bear witness", "to give evidence", "give a good report", "testify to," and "acknowledge the value of." It is the basis for our word "martyr." ==

περὶ (prep) "Of" is peri, which means "round about (Place)", "around", "about", "concerning", "on account of", "in regard to", "before", "above", "beyond," and "all around." --

τοῦ κακοῦ: (adj sg masc gen) "Evil" is kakos, which means "bad", "mean", "base", "ugly", "ill-born", "evil", "worthless", "sorry", "pernicious," and "ill." --

(conj) "If" is ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions. -- The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

δὲ (conj/adv) "But" is 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"). --

καλῶς, ( adj pl masc acc ) "Well" is kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base." --

τί ( irreg sg neut nom ) "Why" is tis which can mean "someone", "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."

με (noun sg masc acc) "Me" is eme, which means "I", "me", and "my". --

δέρεις; ( verb 2nd sg pres ind act ) "Smitest thou" is from dero, which means "to flay" or "to skin" someone, though in later use it came to mean "to cudgel" or "to thrash." --

Apr 24 2019