Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

And if not he he shortens, a Master,  these days not possibly be rescued all flesh, but through those picked out he has shortened these days.

KJV : 

Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The colorful wordplay of this verse is lost in translation. The term translated as "shortened"  and "cut short means to prune a tree or clip a bird's wings.  A word meaning "all" before the word "flesh" is not translated. in any English version. The word "flesh" itself is lost in the more modern translations.

There is also a bit of fun alliteration connecting "cut short," "elect," and "select." This cannot be captured in English, but it may be the reason that Jesus uses a couple of uncommon words

NIV : 

Mark 13:20  If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.

NLT : 

Mark 13:20 In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.

Wordplay: 

In Greek, the words translated as "elect," "shorten" and "select" are a series of alliterations. The word translated as "shortened" means "clipped short." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is e 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"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

εἰ μὴ (conj/partic) "Except" is from ei me, which is the conjunction that means "if not", "but," and "except." εἰ is the particle use with the imperative usually to express conditions "if" or indirect questions, "whether." (me) is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no."

ἐκολόβωσεν [2 verses]( verb 3rd sg aor ind act ) "Had shortened" is from koloboô, which means "to dock", "to curtail," and "to mutilate." Kolobôsis means "mutilation."

Κύριος (noun sg masc nom) "Lord" is from kurios (kyrios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

τὰς (article pl fem 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."

ἡμέρας (noun pl fem acc) "Days" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life", "a time (poetic)", "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet", "tame (animals)", "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)."

οὐκ  (partic) "Not" is ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἂν (partic) "Should" is from an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

ἐσώθη (verb 3rd sg aor ind pass) "Be saved" is sozo (soizo), which means "save from death", "keep alive", "keep safe", "preserve", "maintain", "keep in mind", "carry off safely," and "rescue." This is the 3rd person, singular, aortic, passive form.

πᾶσα (adj sg fem nom) Untranslated is pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether." -- The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "every thing."

σάρξ: (noun sg fem nom) "The flesh" is sarx, which means "flesh", "the body", "fleshy", "the pulp of fruit", "meat," and "the physical and natural order of things" (opposite of the spiritual or supernatural).

ἀλλὰ (adv) "But" is alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay."

διὰ "For" is from dia which means "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between." -

τοὺς (article pl masc acc) "The" 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."

ἐκλεκτοὺς (adj pl masc acc) "Elect's sake" is from eklektos, which means "picked out", "select", "choice," and "pure."

οὓς ( pron pl masc acc ) "Whom" is hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἐξελέξατο [5 verses]( verb 3rd sg aor ind mid ) "He hath chosen" is from eklegomai, which means "to pick out" "to single out," and "to choose for oneself." This is the 3rd person, singular, indicative, form.

ἐκολόβωσεν [2 verses]( verb 3rd sg aor ind act ) "He has shortened" is from koloboô, which means "to dock", "to curtail," and "to mutilate." Kolobôsis means "mutilation."

τὰς (article pl fem 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."

ἡμέρας (noun pl fem acc) "Days" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life", "a time (poetic)", "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet", "tame (animals)", "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)."

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, it is best translated as "not only...but also." When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

except -- The two Greek words translated as "except" mean "if not." The not is an expression of doubt.

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

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

Lord -- The word translated as "lord" is the same word that is often translated as "Master" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Jesus, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

had -- (WT) This helping verb "had" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

shortened  -- "Shortened" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

those -- The word translated as "those" 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. 

days, -- The Greek word translated as "days" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

no --  The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

untranslated "all"-- (MW) The untranslated word "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

flesh -- The Greek word translated as "flesh" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. It is often contrasted it with the Greek word translated as "spirit," so he usually uses it in the later sense.

should -- "Should" is from a word that limits the verb by circumstances. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have" or "might."

be  -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the following verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

saved: -- "Saved" is from the Greek word that means "to keep alive" when applied to people or "to keep safe" when applied to things. Christ uses it to mean "rescue" in most cases.

but -- -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

for -- The word translated as "for" means "through," in the midst of," or "by (a cause)."

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. 

elect's -- (WF) The word translated as "elect" is Greek for "the chosen" or "the pure." Greek has a specific word that is used to say "sake" in this sense, but it is not used here. It is not a possessive form.

sake  -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "sake" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. There is a word that Jesus commonly uses the means "sake."

whom -- The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

hath -- (WT) This helping verb "hath" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

chosen, -- "Chosen" is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means "to pick out" "to single out," and "to choose for oneself." This verb is only used in five of Jesus's verses.

he - This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

hath -- (WT) This helping verb "hath" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

shortened -- "Shortened" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

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. 

days. -- The Greek word translated as "days" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "had" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "all" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "elect" is not a possessive form.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "sake" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "hath" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.

NIV Analysis: 

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

If -- 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 -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

Lord -- The word translated as "lord" is the same word that is often translated as "Master" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Jesus, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

had -- (WT) This helping verb "had" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

not -- The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true. If it wasn't done or wasn't true, the objective negative of fact would be used. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

cut short -- "Cut short" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

those -- The word translated as "those" 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. 

days, -- The Greek word translated as "days" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

no --  The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

untranslated "all"-- (MW) The untranslated word "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

one -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "one" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. It is often contrasted it with the Greek word translated as "spirit," so he usually uses it in the later sense.

would -- (WW) "Would" is from a word that limits the verb by circumstances. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have" or "might."

survive. -- (WW, WF) "Survive" is from the Greek word that means "to keep alive" when applied to people or "to keep safe" when applied to things. Jesus uses it to mean "rescue" in most cases. The form is passive, not active.

But -- -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

for -- The word translated as "for" means "through," in the midst of," or "by (a cause)."

the sake  -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the sake" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. There is a word that Jesus commonly uses the means "sake."

of -- (WF) This seems to indicate that the following noun is a possessive form, but it isn't.

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. 

elect -- The word translated as "the elect's sake" is Greek for "the chosen" or "the pure." Greek has a specific word that is used to say "sake" in this sense, but it is not used here.

whom -- The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun ("the one that), especially a connective pronoun ("the one that") introducing a dependent clause.

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

has -- This helping verb "has" indicates that the following verb is the past  perfect tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

chosen, -- "Chosen" is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means "to pick out" "to single out," and "to choose for oneself." This verb is only used in five of Jesus's verses.

he - This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

has -- This helping verb "has" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

shortened -- "Shortened" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

untranslated "the"-- (MW) The untranslated word "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. 

them. -- The Greek word translated as "them" means "days" and "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

NIV Translation Issues: 

12
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "had" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "all" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "one" means "flesh."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "would" means "should" or "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "survive" means "rescue."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "survive" is not an active verb but a passive one, "be rescued."
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "the sake" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "of" seems to indicate a possessive form which does not exist.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

NLT Analysis: 

untranslated "and"-- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

In fact, -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "in fact" in the Greek source. The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not.

unless --  The two Greek words translated as "except" mean "if not." The "if" also means "if ever" and "whenever." The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true. If it wasn't done or wasn't true, the objective negative of fact would be used. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

Lord -- The word translated as "lord" is the same word that is often translated as "Master" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Jesus, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

shortens -- "Shortens" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

that -  The word translated as "that" 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.

time -- (WN) The Greek word translated as  "time" means"days" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime." The word is plural, not singular.

of calamity, -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "of calamity" in the Greek source.

not --  The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

single -- (IW) There is no Greek word that can be translated as "single" in the Greek source.

untranslated "all"-- (MW) The untranslated word "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

person -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "person" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. It is often contrasted it with the Greek word translated as "spirit," so he usually uses it in the later sense.

will -- (WW) "Will" is from a word that limits the verb by circumstances. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have" or "might." The following verb is not the future tense.

survive. -- (WW, WF) "Survive" is from the Greek word that means "to keep alive" when applied to people or "to keep safe" when applied to things. Jesus uses it to mean "rescue" in most cases. The form is passive, not active.

But -- -- The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise".

for -- The word translated as "for" means "through," in the midst of," or "by (a cause)."

the sake  -- (IP) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the sake" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. There is a word that Jesus commonly uses the means "sake."

of -- (WF) This seems to indicate that the following noun is a possessive form, but it isn't.

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek definite article, "the," 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. 

chosen ones -- The word translated as "chosen ones" is Greek for "the chosen" or "the pure."

untranslated "whom"-- (MW) The untranslated word "whom" 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.

untranslated "picked out"-- (MW) The untranslated word is an uncommon verb for Jesus that means "to pick out" "to single out," and "to choose for oneself." This verb is only used in five of Jesus's verses.

he - This is from the third-person, singular form of the following verb.

has -- This helping verb "has" indicates that the following verb is the past tense, but the verb is not the past but a form that indicates a specific point in time, past, present, or future. We might assume this is the future from the context, but not the past. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

shortened -- "Shortened" is from a word that means "to curtail" from a base meaning "to prune" tree or "to clip" a bird's wings.

those -- The word "those" 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. 

days. -- The Greek word translated as "them" means "days" and "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

NLT Translation Issues: 

14
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "in fact" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "time" is translated as singular but it is plural.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "single" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "all" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "person" means "flesh."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "will" means "should" or "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "survive" means "rescue."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "survive" is not an active verb but a passive one, "be rescued." Nor is it the future tense as the "will" seems to indicate.
  • IP - Inserted phrase-- The phrase "the sake" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "of" seems to indicate a possessive form which does not exist.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "whom" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "picked out" is not shown in the English translation.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

The mention of "all flesh" not surviving seems to indicate that physical reality or at least embodied humans might end.

Front Page Date: 

Dec 25 2019