Matthew 16:3 And in the morning, foul weather today:

KJV Verse: 

Mat 16:3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And early in the day, stormy weather today, the heaven is fiery, threatening. You indeed recognize how to distinguish the features of the heaven, but you do not really have the power in yourselves [to see] the marks of critical times.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There is nothing in the Greek here to indicate that the second part of this phrase is a question, rather than a statement. In Greek, this is a contrast between what we know how to do, judge by appearances, and what we have no power to do, see when times are critical. Much of this is lost in translation. There is also a play on words contrasting our ability to see the appearance of a calamity before the fact.

"It will be foul weather" is not a phrase, but a single noun that means primarily "winter" but also "wintry, stormy weather." It is a metaphor for a calamity sent by the gods.

The word translated as "the sky" is the word usually translated as "heaven" in the NT, but it means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods.

"Is red" is from a Greek verb that means literally, "to be fire colored." It is from the base word for "fire" which, in Greek is also the base for the color, red. "Fire" is associated in Christianity with punishment, but Christ refers both to the productive use of fire in ovens for the baking of bread and in getting rid of trash in the junk yard.

There is no conjunction "and" in the Greek.

"Lowering" is from a verb used as an adjective that means "having a gloomy look" and "being a threatening sky."

Today's Greek source does not contain the "hypocrites" phrase, but the KJV source did.

"You can" is used twice in the following section, but two different Greek words are used. Each having a very different meaning.

There is a word here, untranslated in the KJV, that means "indeed" or "surely."

The first "you can" is from a verb that means "to know", "to recognize", "make known", "to know carnally," and "to learn.

"Discern" is from a verb that means "to separate", "to discriminate", "to distinguish," and "to decide." It captures the idea of telling one thing from another. It also means "to question" or "to doubt." In the Gospels, it is most often translated as "doubt" and second most often translated as "judge."

"Face" is translated from a Greek word that means "face", "front," and "facade." It generally means the appearance of things.

Again, the word translated as "the sky" is the word usually translated as "heaven" and means both sky and the universe. This word "face of" is necessarily used before this because Christ would never say that people know how to judge the universe. The point is that we judge by appearances.

The second "can ye" is from a word meaning "having the power or ability." It is the word usually translated as "can" in the NT. In English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. However, in ancient Greek, it indicated having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something.

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

"Discerns the signs" is not a phrase, but one word, a noun that means "sign," or "signal.

"Of the times" is from a noun which means "due measure", "fitness", "measure", "vital part", "exact or critical time", "opportunity," and generally, "season." There is a sense in the word of a special time or point, rather than any time or place.

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ "And" 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."

πρωί "In the morning" is from proi, an adverb which means "early in the day", "early", "at morn," generally, "betimes", "in good time", "too soon," and "too early."

Σήμερον "To day" is from semeron, which is an adverb that means "for today" and "on this day."

χειμών, (noun sg masc nom) "It will be foul weather" is from cheimon, which means "winter", "wintery", "storm", "stormy" and it is a metaphor for a calamity sent by the gods.

πυρράζει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is red" is from pyrrazô, which is a verb that means "to be fiery red." It is from pyrros, which means "ed" and "flame-colored."

γὰρ "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what." --The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

στυγνάζων (part sg pres act masc nom) "And lowering" is from stygnazo, which is a verb that means "to have a gloomy, lowering look" and "to be threatening weather."

οὐρανός. (noun sg masc nom) "The sky" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun but here is separated from the noun by the following particle.

μὲν Untranslated is men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

πρόσωπον (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Face" is from prosopon, which means "face", "countenance. ""in front", "facing", "front", "façade", "one's look", "dramatic part", "character", "in person", "in bodily presence", "legal personality", "person," and "feature [of the city, of a person]."

τοῦ οὐρανοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Of the sky" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate." -- The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods.

γινώσκετε (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "You can," is from ginosko which means "to learn to know", "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive."

διακρίνειν, (verb pres inf act) "Discern" is from diakrino, which means "to separate, ""to separate one from another, ""to discriminate", "to distinguish", "to decide," and "to separate into elemental parts." It captures the idea of telling one thing from another. It also means "to question" or "to doubt." In the Gospels, it is most often translated as "doubt" and second most often translated as "judge."

τὰ (article pl neut acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun but here is separated from the noun by the following conjunction.

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"). -- 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.

σημεῖα (noun pl neut acc) "Discern...signs" is from semeion, which means "mark (by which things are known)", "a proof" (in reasoning), "sign (of the future)", "sign from the gods", "signal (to do things)," and "standard (flag).

"Sign" is Greek word that means a "mark", "sign," or "proof." The word in Greek is used specifically to means a sign from the gods and it that sense, it means "omen", "portent," and "constellations."

τῶν καιρῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Of the times" is from kairos, which means "due measure", "proportion", "fitness", "exact time", "season", "opportunity", "time", "critical times", "advantage," and "profit." It is the concept of time as a moment as opposed to a measurement. The ideas of good times or bad times as a part from seconds, minutes, and hours.

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.

δύνασθε (verb 2nd pl pres ind mp) "Can ye" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

 

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "it is foul weather" means both "stormy weather" and a "calamity sent by the god." 

Heaven means the sky and the universe.

"Red" is another way of saying "like fire." Fire is a metaphor for purification. 

Related Verses: