Matthew 16:15 But whom say ye that I am?

KJV Verse: 

Mat 16:15 But whom say ye that I am?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

You yourselves, however, what do you explain me to be?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The emphasis here is on the "you" and a "me". The "you" because the pronoun is used explicitly, though it is already part of the verb and the "me" because it does not appear in the Christ's previous statement asking what other people think about him.

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

As we saw in Mat 16:13, Christ is not asking "who" as much as "what." The word translated as "whom" means "someone, ""everyone," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what." Here, the form is usually not masculine, but neutral, so this can be read "what" or "how" more readily than "who."

The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching. Here, because the verb has an object (both "me" and "whom"), explain works better.

There is an untranslated "me" in the Greek source that is the object of "say."

There is no Greek word that can be translated as "that" or "I". The verb here that is the infinitive form of "to be" in Greek, a form that has no information about the subject or tense as do most Greek verbs. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

This is one of the few verses in which the original Greek read so closely to the English that further examination is unnecessary. Just as rarely, Christ uses no symbolism here. The simplicity of these question makes it stand out as something special.

These two questions illustrate the conflict that Christ sees between society and the individual. When he talks about the opinions of "men" or people in general (anthropos), he never expects the crowd to be correct. On the contrary, Christ teaches that the judgments of society are always wrong. It is almost as if the opinions that we express in public and which the public finds interesting as gossip or, today, as news, have to be wrong. The truth that we can known in this world is always a personal, private matter.

Those that try to paint Christ as a social reformed have it exactly wrong. Christ taught that the only real transformation is personal and private.

Greek Vocabulary: 

 

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

δὲ (partic) "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").

τίνα (irreg sg neutral/masc acc) "Whom" 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."

με (pron 1st sg masc acc) Untranslated is eme, which means "I", "me", and "my".

λέγετε (verb 2nd pl pres ind) "Say" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out, ""choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount."

εἶναι; (verb pres inf act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") 

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