Matthew 15:11 That which goes into the mouth

KJV Verse: 

Mat 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

What is entering into the mouth does not impart information [about] the person, but what one is making exit from the mouth, this is what imparts information [about] the person.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

What if the word translated in the above verse doesn't mean "defile" at all, but something else entirely? However, there is a kind of logic that got the KJV translators to the concept of "defile," though their idea wasn't what Christs's listeners heard. If the word translated as "man"

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

"That which goeth" is from a verb that means to "go or come into", "enter," and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." It is a verb acting on itself in the form of a noun, "the thing entering itself."

The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. This preposition in repeated here even though it is already part of the verb above. This create an alliteration.

"Mouth" is from the Greek word that means "mouth" and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade of a weapon.The Greek word is much more an organ of speech or simply any inlet or outlet.

Though it appears later in the KJV English, the Greek word translated as "but" appear here, after mount and denote an exception or simple opposition. "Still" or "however" work well when the word isn't being used as a conjunction, especially when it begins a sentence.

The word translated above as "defile" is a verb that means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." It has a host of meanings related to communication and sharing. It can mean "make common," but in the sense of "make common knowledge" or "make common property," not in the sense as in English, "to make lower-class. The word also means "to partner" and "to come to terms with." Only here in Matthew and in the parallel verses in Mark is it translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of purity and holiness versus what common and everyday.

In Jewish custom, items dedicated to God were kept separate from every day items. The Hebrew word translated as "holy" means "separate." It's opposite was the word for "common." It did not mean "defiled" and "impure" as it is often translated, as much it means as a regular, everyday thing that every one used rather than a special, separate thing that was dedicated to God. So Christ is making a play on the Jewish idea of "common" as not suitable for God with the Greek word for common meaning "communicate" and sharing ideas.

The Greek word for "a man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular and "people" and "peoples" in plural. Here it is introduced by an article, "the."

"That which cometh" is from a verb that means literally, "to make to go or carry out of" and is translated regularly as "to make to go out of", "to fetch out," and "to march out," but in modern English, we would probably say "exit" here. It is in the form of an adjective used as a noun, "the thing exiting"

The Greek preposition translated as "out of" means "out of" of "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of." This preposition is repeated because it is the prefix of the previous verb. This create an alliteration.

Symbolic version (mouth=mind): That which goes into the mind is not shared with others, but what comes out of the mind is what is shared with others.

Greek Vocabulary: 

οὐ "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. -

τὸ εἰσερχόμενον (part sg pres mp neut nom/acc) "That which goeth" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

εἰς "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place), ""up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)." --

τὸ στόμα (noun sg neut acc) "The mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth", "the organ of speech", "speech", "utterance, ""any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

κοινοῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) The word translated above as "defile" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information", "make common", "share", "undertake together", "make common cause in", "take counsel with", "take counsel with", "consult", "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν ἄνθρωπον (noun sg masc acc) "A man" is from 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.

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

τὸ ἐκπορευόμενον (part sg pres mp neut nom/acc) "That which cometh" is from ekporeuomai, which means "to make to go out", "to fetch out," and "to march out."

ἐκ "Out of" is from 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."

τοῦ στόματος (noun sg neut gen) "The mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth", "the organ of speech", "speech", "utterance, ""any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

τοῦτο (adj sg neut nom/acc) "This" is from touto, which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

κοινοῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) The word translated above as "defile" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information", "make common", "share", "undertake together", "make common cause in", "take counsel with", "take counsel with", "consult", "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν ἄνθρωπον. noun sg masc acc) "A man" is from 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.

Wordplay: 

The words for "in" and "out of" are repeated as a prefix of the verb and in the following preposition, creating an alliteration in Greek and creating a stronger sense of "in" and "out" that we can create in English. 

There is a play on the Greek word for "communicate" and "share" here. In one sense, it highlights the two uses of a mouth, to eat and to speak. On another level, it plays on the Jewish idea of what is shared among people is not special to God. This also says something about the idea of sacred ideas and ideas that are held in common. 

If the form of the word translated as "man" was changed from an object to a subject, this verse would say "The man doesn't communicate by what goes into the mouth but by what comes out of the mouth." 

Related Verses: