Mark 11:30 The baptism of John, was [it] from heaven...

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

This dunking, the one of John, from heaven, was it? Or from people? You might answer for me.

KJV : 

Mark 11:30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

 The word used for "answer," is based on a word that means "to judge" or "to separate." Since the context is choosing between heaven and earth, this judgment is a separation of the two realms. Notice that Jesus could have asked this question much more simply, just by asking if baptism was from heaven. The word translated as "answer" is only used in this verse and the previous one, Mark 11:29. Jesus is intentionally contrasting the two possibilities. Mar 11:29 sets up this question and introduces the idea of "answering" as  choosing and separating. Matthew 21:25 is the parallel verse, but it doesn't use the concept of sorting ideas out or the rare word used here.

In all the English translations examined here, two different words are used for the phrases "from  heaven" and "of men," but Jesus uses the same preposition for both phrases, equating human and divine creation.

The NLT translation of this verse changes this question making it about John's authority, not his actions. This is not what Jesus said. Jesus was asked about his "authority" in Mark 11:29, he does not focus on authority but actions. 

NIV : 

Mark 11:30 John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”

NLT : 

Mark 11:30 Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!

Wordplay: 

The word used for "answer,"  is based on the word that krinô, which means "to judge" and "to separate." Since the context is choosing between heaven and earth, this judgment is a play on the final judgment.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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

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

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc)   Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones.

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

ἐξ (prep) "From" is 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."

οὐρανοῦ ( noun sg masc gen ) "Heaven" is the Greek 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."

ἦν ( verb 3rd sg imperf ind act ) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

(conj/adv)  "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." OR (exclam) "Or" is e which is an exclamation meaning "hi!" OR (adv) "Or" is e, which is an adverb meaning "in truth" and "of a surety".

ἐξ (prep) "Of" is 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; (noun pl masc gen) "Men" 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.

ἀποκρίθητέ [2 verses](verb 2nd pl aor subj/ind pass) "Answer" is aprokrinomai, which means "to set apart", "to mark by a distinctive form", "to distinguish", "to choose", "to exclude", "to reject on examination", "to give an answer to", "to reply to [a question", "to answer charges," and "to defend oneself." The root is from krinô, which means "separate", "distinguish", "pick out", "choose," 'decide", "decide in favor of", "determine," and "form a judgment."

μοι. (noun sg masc dat) "Me" is moi, which is 1st person,singular dative pronoun meaning "me' as the indirect object of a verb.

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"). See this article for more. 

baptism -- (UW) "Baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking." Baptism is the untranslated Greek word.

untranslated "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. 

of -- -- This word comes from the genitive case of the following word(s) that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

John, --"John" is from the Greek form of the name "John."

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. The tense is something started in the past but not completed. Since John was dead, this indicates that Jesus thinks John's practice of baptism is still being continued.

it --  There is no Greek word that translated as "it," but objects are assumed in Greek much more than English so the pronouns are not needed.

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. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

of -- The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." This is the same word translated as "from" above.

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

untranslated "you" -- The following word is not a command so it should have the subject, a second-person plural pronoun.

untranslated "might" -- The following verb is a form that could be a form of possibility, so a "might" or "should" should appear here. After all, Jesus is not saying that they can or will answer.

answer  -- "Answer" is a word used only in this verse and the previous one, Mark 11:29, that means "to set apart", "to mark by a distinctive form", "to distinguish", "to choose", "to exclude", "to reject on examination", "to give an answer to", "to reply to [a question", "to answer charges," and "to defend oneself." The root word means "separate", "distinguish", "pick out", "choose," 'decide", "decide in favor of", "determine," and "form a judgment." In this context, the sense is "clarify" for me. In the passive, the form used here, it means "to answer."

me. -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.  Te dative case requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking." It is not translated..
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The subject"you" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The helping verb "might" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

John, --"John" is from the Greek form of the name "John."

's -- The possessive form is from is the Greek definite article that precedes "John." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.

untranslated "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 -- (UW) "Baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking." Baptism is the untranslated Greek word.

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. The tense is something started in the past but not completed. Since John was dead, this indicates that Jesus thinks John's practice of baptism is still being continued.

it --  There is no Greek word that translated as "it," but objects are assumed in Greek much more than English so the pronouns are not needed.

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. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

of -- The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." This is the same word translated as "from" above.

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

origin? -- (IW) The word "origin" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.

untranslated "you" -- The following word is not a command so it should have the subject, a second-person plural pronoun.

Tell -- (WW, WF) "Tell" is a word used only in this verse and the previous one, Mark 11:29, that means "to set apart", "to mark by a distinctive form", "to distinguish", "to choose", "to exclude", "to reject on examination", "to give an answer to", "to reply to [a question]", "to answer charges," and "to defend oneself." The root word means "separate", "distinguish", "pick out", "choose," 'decide", "decide in favor of", "determine," and "form a judgment." In this context, the sense is "clarify" for me. In the passive, the form used here, it means "to answer." It is not either of the two common words that mean "say" or "tell."

me. -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.  Te dative case requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking." It is not translated.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "origin" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The subject"you" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "tell" means "answer."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "tell" is not a command, but a statement of possibility, "you might answer."

NLT Analysis: 

Did -- This comes from the past tense of the clause's verb.

John, --"John" is from the Greek form of the name "John."

's -- The possessive form is from is the Greek definite article that precedes "John." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.

authority -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "authority" in the Greek source.

to -- (IW) The following word is not an infinitive or a verb so this "to" is incorrect.

untranslated "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. 

baptize -- (UW, WF) The word here is a noun, not a verb. Baptism is an untranslated Greek word."Baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking."

come -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "come" in the Greek source.

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. The same word could also be the exclamation "hi" or the adverb meaning "in truth."

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. The tense is something started in the past but not completed. Since John was dead, this indicates that Jesus thinks John's practice of baptism is still being continued.

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

merely -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "merely" in the Greek source.

untranslated "from" -- (MW) The untranslated Greek preposition  means "out of" or "from." This is the same word translated as "from" above.

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

untranslated "you" -- The following word is not a command so it should have the subject, a second-person plural pronoun.

Answer --  (WF) "Answer" is a word used only in this verse and the previous one, Mark 11:29, that means "to set apart", "to mark by a distinctive form", "to distinguish", "to choose", "to exclude", "to reject on examination", "to give an answer to", "to reply to [a question]", "to answer charges," and "to defend oneself." The root word means "separate", "distinguish", "pick out", "choose," 'decide", "decide in favor of", "determine," and "form a judgment." In this context, the sense is "clarify" for me. In the passive, the form used here, it means "to answer." The word is not in the form of a command.

me. -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek.  Te dative case requires the addition of a preposition in English: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, and an "in" for area of affect.

NLT Translation Issues: 

9
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "authority" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "to" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The article "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "baptism" means "dipping" or "dunking." It is not translated.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "baptize" is not a verb, but a noun, "baptism."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "come" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "merely" doesn't exist in the source and isn't otherwise justified.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The subject"you" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "tell" is not a command, but a statement of possibility, "you might answer."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Jesus uses baptism as a symbol for rebirth, more specifically, of our rebirth after death. Water is the symbol more generally of change. So the question here is very symbolic: Is rebirth an idea the comes out of our limited humanity because we want to believe our existence is more that temporary or is rebirth universal, something intrinsic in the universe. It is likely that this deeper meaning was understood exactly by the priests to whom he put the question.

Front Page Date: 

Nov 9 2019