Matthew 15:3 Why do you also transgress

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

By something, you have also bypassed God's order: by what you passed down.

KJV : 

Matthew 15:3 Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse represents some wonderful repartee between Christ and his accusers that is lost in translation. His accusers make a play on words accusing his followers of not washing before eating and Christ turns in back on them. In Greek, this verse doesn't read as though it is a question. (Note: Punctuation was not part of the original Greek of the Gospels)

First, the initial word of the verse is ignored in the KIV. It means "by" in the sense of describing a cause or the means through which something is done.

The second word is a pronoun that can be translated as "why" (or "how" or "what") in a question, but here is clearly the object of the pronoun "by." The word means "anything, ""some thing," or "this thing."

The Greek word translated as "and" is usually used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

The pronoun is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you."

"Transgress" is from a Greek verb that means literally "to walk over," but commonly means "to bypass," or "over step." It is the same word that Christ's accusers used in their accusation. It has the sense of the English phrases, "go around" or "walk all over." Note that Christ is not denying his "transgression" but saying that his accusers are doing the same thing

"Commandment" is from a Greek noun that means an "injunction", "order," or "command."

"Tradition" is from a noun which means literally "handing over" and it used to mean "handing over" and "passing down." It is used to mean the "transmission" of legends, "bequeathing" of an inheritance," or that which is handed down such as "tradition", "doctrine," or "teaching."

Christ's response is consistent with his constant criticism of social norms and traditions taking precedence over true spirit. In the original Greek, Christ makes it clear that his accusers, the scribes and Pharisees, are more interested in legalisms than the spirit of the law. Much of Christ's teaching in Matthew is aimed at clarifying that a meaningful personal relationship with God and other people are much more important in cycle of spirit than conforming to social pressure and social norms.


In this verse, Christ accusers make a play on words in their accusation, accusing Christ of bypassing (parabainô) what was passed down (paradosis) from the elders. Christ turns in around to saying that by what they have passed down, they bypass God's order, The The double use of the word for "by" or "through" emphasizes this sense of going around something. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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

τί (pron sg neut acc) "Why" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

καὶ "Also" is from 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."

ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "You" is from hymeis (humeis), which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you."

παραβαίνετε (verb 2nd pl imperf ind act) "Transgress" is from parabainô, which means to "go by the side of", "stand beside", "pass beside", "overstep", "transgress", "disappoint", "go aside from", "pass on", "come forward (toward crowd)", "step forward", "commit an offence against," and literally "to walk over."

τὴν ἐντολὴν (noun sg fem acc) "The commandment" is from entole which means "injunction", "order," and "command."

τοῦ θεοῦ "Of God" is from theos, which means "God," the Deity."

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

τὴν παράδοσιν (noun sg fem acc) "Tradition" is from paradosis, which means literally "to give over" and it used to mean "handing over" and "passing down." It is used to mean the "transmission" of legends, "bequeathing" of an inheritance," or that which is handed down such as "tradition", "doctrine," or "teaching.

ὑμῶν; "Your" is from humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."