Matthew 13:21 Yet he has no root...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

No, however, he does not have root within himself. Rather temporary, he is unstable. Growing, however, pressue or harassment, straight away he trips himself up.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Here, the original Greek is actually closer to the way we say things today that the KJV translation. The wordplay here is that instad of stumbling over roots, we stumble without roots. The KJV makes takes some liberties in translation to make a point that the original doesn't necessarily make. Like much of what Christ says, this sounds less religious and more pragmatic when translated simply.

The Greek word translated as "yet" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. It is not commonly translated as "yet."

The word translated as "hath he" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

"Root" is from the Greek word for a plant's "root" and anything that springs from a root. It includes the roots of hairs, feathers, and teeth. It is also a metaphor for roots as a foundation, such as "the roots of the earth."

This second "but" is from a different Greek conjunction which also means "but," but also means "moreover", "still", "at least", "except," and, interestingly, "yet." It denotes an exception or a simple opposition.

The verb translated here as "dureth" (or "endures") is the common form of "to be" in Greek, It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

"For awhile" is from an adjective that means "occasional", "temporary", "opportune," and "lasting for a time." It is in a form the refers to a masculine subject.

The Greek word translated as "for" joins phrases in an adversarial way and it usually translated as "but." We saw it above translated as "yet." In this case, it's meaning of "so" works best.

"Tribulation" is from a noun that means simply "pressure," or "crushing;" It is a metaphor for "oppression" and "affliction."

"Persecution" is from a noun which means "the chase", "pursuit," and "harassment."

"Ariseth" is from a verb in the form of an adjective (or noun), which means "to become," and "to come into existence, so "becoming" or "coming into being."

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

"By and by" is froman adverb which means "straightly", "directly", "forthwith", "as soon as," and "straightway." In the last verse, Mat 13:20, it was translated as "anon."

The key phrase here, "he is offended," is from a "Greek" verb that means "to cause to stumble", "to give offense," and "to scandalize" and is found only in the Bible. It refers to putting a stumbling block before someone so that they trip and thereby offending them. In English, we would simply say, "trips you up." It is in a form indicating the subject doing something to himself.

Greek Vocabulary: 

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from 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.

ἔχει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Hath" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

δὲ "But" is from 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"). --

ῥίζαν (noun sg fem acc) "Root" is rhiza, which means "root" and anything that springs from a root. It includes the roots of hairs, feathers, and teeth. It is also a metaphor for roots as a foundation, such as "the roots of the earth."

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

ἑαυτῷ (adj sg masc dat) "Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself ""themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

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

πρόσκαιρός (adj sg masc nom) "For awhile" is from proskairos, which means "occasional", "temporary", "opportune," and "lasting for a time."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Dureth" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

γενομένης (part sg aor mid fem gen) "Ariseth" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

δὲ (partic) "For" is from 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").

θλίψεως (noun sg fem gen) "Tribulation" is from thlipsis, which means simply "pressure," or "crushing," and is a metaphore for "oppression" and "affliction."

 (conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." --

διωγμοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Persecution" is from diôgmos, which means "the chase", "pursuit," and "harassment."

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

τὸν λόγον (noun sg masc acc) "Of the word" is from logos, which means "word", "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition", "discussion, ""reckoning," and "value." -- "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means "explanation" or "calculation." It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons.

εὐθὺς (adv) "By and by" is from euthys, which means "straight", "direct," and "straight forward."

σκανδαλίζεται. (verb 3rd sg pres ind mp) "He is offended" is from skandalizo, which means "to cause to stumble", "to give offense," and "to scandalize."

Wordplay: 

Instead of stumbling over roots, we stumble without roots. 

Related Verses: