Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Greek : 

This verse does not exist in the Greek sources that we use today. Below is Mark 9:48, which is translated the same.

MAPKON 9:48 ὅπου σκώληξ αὐτῶν οὐ τελευτᾷ καὶ” “τὸ πῦρ οὐ σβέννυται:”

Literal Verse: 

Somewhere that worm of theirs doesn't die and the fire doesn't go out.

KJV : 

Mark 9:44 Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is the first of three repetitions of this phrase in the KJV, but only the last of these verses exists in the Greek source that we use today. We repeat this post under all three verse for completeness.

This is a quote from Isaiah 66:24  using the same vocabulary as the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint. (linked  verse  Greek here). The fact that this is a quote from the Old Testament explains why so many unique and uncommon terms are used in it. Since this verse exists in both the Greek and Hebrew it allows us to understand how Jesus meant the words, but since these words are not commonly used, it does not provide a key to many other verses.

Related Verses: 

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

In this case, the three symbols used in these series of repeating verses are the hand, foot, and eye, representing the emotional (our relationships with others), physical (our physical bodies), and intellectual (our mind).

The immediate context here describes our lives ending up on a trash heap. While Christianity teaches this is about the punishment of hell, looking at the context and Christ's words describing good and evil, sin, and forgiveness, it is much more about leading worthless lives. The idea of endless worm and the continued fire seems to be about being trapped in the awareness more like an animal  instead of moving onto a spiritual awareness of real life.

The worm described here is specifically the worm that lives on dead bodies. The idea is that until we are reborn of the spirit, we are dead. In the previous verse, Christ describes cutting off our hand as getting rid of the physical aspects of our life, in this case, our relationships (specifically worrying about our place in society) that are holding us back. Our spiritual awakening is "entering into life."

As long as we don't do that, our pain continues and our "worm" never stops. These three repetitions of this line are Christ's only reference to the term "worm" but he actually alludes to it when he is dying on the Christ.  The words "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me," are the first line of Psalm 22 (translated here), which also references us as worm because our social relations betray us: "I am a worm, not a man, scorned by humanity, despised by people."  However, since the "worm" is repeated three times, however, it represents the betrayal of all aspect of our temporal existence: emotional, physical, and intellectual.

Greek Vocabulary: 

This verse does not exist in the Greek sources that we use today. Below is Mark 9:48, which is translated the same and provided for easy reference.

ὅπου (adv/conj) "Where" is hopou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

(article sg masc nom) "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." 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."

σκώληξ [unique]( noun sg masc nom ) "Worm" is from skolex, which means "worm," specifically, "earthworm", "grub", "larvae," and "worms in dung, decaying matter and trees and wood."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Their" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there."

οὐ (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.

τελευτᾷ [uncommon]( verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) "Dies" is from teleutao, which means "to bring to pass", "to accomplish", "to finish", "to die", "to end a life," and "to make an end to life." From OT Hebew word,  muwth, which means "to die" and "to kill."

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."

τὸ (article sg neut nom) "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." 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."

πῦρ ( noun sg neut nom ) "Fire" is pyr (pur), which means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", "hearth-fire", "lightning", "the light of torches," and "heat of fever."

οὐ "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.

σβέννυται:” [uncommon]( verb 3rd sg pres ind mp ) "Quenched" is from sbennymi, which means "quench", "put out", "dry up", "run dry," and "go out."

KJV Analysis: 

Where -- "Where" is a conjuction that means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

their -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English. This word follows the noun and therefore means "of them."

untranslated -- The untranslated word is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

worm -- "Worm" is a noun Jesus only uses here. It means "worm," specifically, "earthworm", "grub", "larvae," and "worms in dung, decaying matter and trees and wood."

dies -- "Dies" is another uncommon word that  means "to bring to pass", "to accomplish", "to finish", "to die", "to end a life," and "to make an end to life." From OT Hebrew word,  muwth, which means "to die" and "to kill."

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 to captures the same idea.

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

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. 

fire -- "Fire" is a noun that means "fire", "sacrificial fire", "funeral fire", and so on, but Christ only uses this word to describe the fire of a trash dump. He usually uses it with the word that is translated as "hell" but which was the name of the burning trash dump outside of Jerusalem.

is -- This is from the passive form of the verb.

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 to captures the same idea.

quenched. -- "Quenched" is the final uncommon word for Jesus that means "quench", "put out", "dry up", "run dry," and "go out."

Front Page Date: 

Sep 21 2019