Mark 12:39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

Greek Verse: 

Literal Translation: 

And the front seats in gatherings and the best chairs at meals.

KJV Verse: 

Mark 12:39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The first word use for "seat" has the same broad meaning that "seat" has in English.  It refers to the furniture, our posteriors, the act of sitting, and the idea of sitting idle, doing nothing. The second word similarly generally describes the idea of reclining at meals. It refers to the furniture, a hut for reclining, and  the act of joining others in eating. Both refer to social activities rather than work.

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ (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 "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

πρωτοκαθεδρίας [3 times]( noun pl fem acc ) "Chief seats" is protokathedria, which literally means "first seat." It is a word only used in the New Testament.  "First" is from prôtos (protos). In place, this means "the foremost." Of time, it means "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "the highest" or "the best."  "Seats" is from kathedra, which means a "seat" to sit on, the "posterior," the "sitting posture", "sitting idle", "inaction," the "chair of a teacher," and "a throne."

ἐν (prep) "In" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with". -- The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

ταῖς (article pl fem dat) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

συναγωγαῖς ( noun pl fem dat) "Synagogues" is from sunagôgê (synagoge), which means a "bringing together", "assembly", "place of assembly", "contracting", "collection", "combination", "conclusion," and "demonstration." It comes from a Greek word Christ uses commonly, sunagô, to mean "gather" or "bring together."

καὶ (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 "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just." -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." 

πρωτοκλισίας [5 times]( noun pl fem acc ) "Uppermost rooms" is protoklisia, which means "first seat at a table."  Again, this word occurs only in the New Testament.  It is from "proto" (see above) and klisia (klisia), which means "a place for lying down or reclining", "anything for lying or sitting upon," a "couch for reclining at a table", "nuptial bed," and  a "company" of people reclining at meals.

ἐν (prep) "In" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τοῖς ( article pl masc dat ) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

δείπνοις ( noun pl masc dat ) "Feasts" is deipnon, which means "a meal", "noonday meal," and, generally, "food."

KJV Analysis: 

And -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." 

the -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity because we usually use the definate article with plurals in English.

chief seats "Chief seats" from a compound word that literally means "first seat." It is a word only used in the New Testament. 

in -- The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

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. 

synagogues, -- The Greek word translated as "synagogues" is the source of our English word. It simply means an assembly or place of assembly. It comes from a Greek word Christ uses commonly, sunagô, to mean "gather" or "bring together."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." 

the -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity because we usually use the definate article with plurals in English.

uppermost rooms -- "Uppermost rooms" is a word that means "first seat at a table."  Again, this word occurs only in the New Testament.  The word for "seat at the table" means "a place for lying down or reclining", "anything for lying or sitting upon," a "couch for reclining at a table", "nuptial bed," and  a "company" of people reclining at meals.

at -- The word translated as "at"is the word translated as "in" above that  also means "within", "with," or "among."

feasts: -- "Feasts" is a noun that means "a meal", "noonday meal," and, generally, "food." The verb form means "to make a meal."  Jesus uses it to refer to a meal to which guests are invited.

Wordplay: 

Jesus invents a couple of new words here to create an alliteration here contrasting two ideas  that refer both to position of honor but also subtly refer to doing nothing. He starts each phrase in this verse with similar sounding words. The two words translated as "chief seats" and "uppermost rooms" both start with "protok-". Both also refer to different types of furniture, one for sitting in and one for reclining. And both also refer to doing nothing.

Related Verses: 

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

On a symbolic level, like clothing mentioned in the previous verse, Jesus uses these ideas to represent social position. In Jesus's system breaking our lives in this world into three aspects, physical, mental, and emotional/relationship, social position is the flaw of concerning ourselves with what people in general think of us rather than on our personal relationships.

Front Page Date: 

Dec 6 2019