Matthew 17:12 ...Elias is come already,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

I, however, say to you that Elijah has already arrived [at a point in time] and they didn't recognize him. Still, they did with him what they desired. In this manner, also, the child of humanity is destined to have [this] happen to him.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

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. It is a different word than the word translated as "but" later in the sentence.

The "I say to you" phrase is a variation on a commonly repeated phrase that Christ uses to reference his teaching as different from that of others. However, it lacks the pronoun, which emphasizes that is Christ's speaking.

Elias is the Greek form of the name of the prophet we call "Elijah." Christ refers to Elijah only here and in Mark as a forerunner or harbinger of the Christ. However, he also appear with Christ along with Moses. More about Christ's use of OT figures in this article.

The word translated as "is come" primarily means "to start out." It is not in the present tense (as it was in the previous verse), but a tense that indicates something that happens at a point in time and is usually translated as the past. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway."

The verb translated as "they knew" means literally, "on learning to know" or "by learning to know." Generally, it means "to witness" or "to discover," but the word "recognize" works best here. It is in the same "point in time" tense as previous verb, "is come."

The Greek word translated as "but" denote an exception or simple opposition. It is different than the Greek word translated as "but" above. "Still" or "however" work well when the word isn't being used as a conjunction, especially when it begins a sentence.

The Greek word translated as "have done" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. It is in the same tense as the previous two verbs, indicating something that happens at a point in tiime.

The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as", ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

The Greek word translated as "they listed" is from a verb usually translated as "they willed," but today we would say "they wanted" or "desired." It expresses consent and even a delight in doing something. In Hebrew, "will" or "desire" is from a verb that means "to delight in", "to take pleasure in," and "to be pleased with."

"Likewise" is translated from a Greek word adverb that means "in this way", "in this manner," and "to such an extent."

"Also" is from 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."

The "son of man" phrase is a phrase Christ commonly used. It is discussed in this article. The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

The word translated simply as "shall" is actually a loaded term with two very different meanings. It means both "to be destined" and, more interestingly, "to always going to do without actually doing." It is not an indication of the future tense as the "shall" later in the verse is. This verb is in the present tense, so currently "is destined" or "always on the verge of."

"Suffer" is from a verb which means "to have done to one", "to be treated so," and "to come to be in a state."

Greek Vocabulary: 

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "Say" is from llego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."

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.

ὑμῖν "You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ὅτι "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore." -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause.

Ἠλείας "Elias" is from Elias, the Greek form of the biblical name for Elijah.

ἤδη "Already" is from ede, which means "already", "by this time", "forthwith", "after", "immediately," and "now." It means proximity in time, but also place.

ἦλθεν, (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Is come" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

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."

οὐκ "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.

ἐπέγνωσαν (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "They knew" is from epiginosko, which means "look upon", "witness", "observe", "recognize", "find out," "discover", "learn to know", "take notice of", "come to a judgment", "decide", "acknowledge," and "approve."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Him" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

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

ἐποίησαν (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Have done" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

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

αὐτῷ (adj sg masc dat) Him" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ὅσα "Whatsoever" is from hosos, which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἠθέλησαν: (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "They listed" is from thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)", "to wish", "to ordain", "to decree", "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain", "to hold", "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event)." As an adverb, "willingly," and "gladly." and "to desire." As an adjective, it means "wished for" and "desired." The Greek word translated as "will" is not the same as the helper verb "will" in English, which primarily expresses the future tense. Its primary purpose is to express consent and even a delight in doing something. In the Hebrew, "will" or "desire" is chaphets, which means "to delight in", "to take pleasure in," and "to be pleased with."

οὕτως "Likewise" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

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."

υἱὸς (noun sg masc nom) "The Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child."

τοῦ ἀνθρώπου (noun sg masc gen) "Of 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.

μέλλει ( verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Shall" is from mello, which is a verb meaning "to be destined to", "to be likely to", "to be about to", "to be alway going to do [without actually doing]", "to delay or put off

πάσχειν (verb pres inf act) "Suffer" is from paschô, which means "to have something happen to one," "to have done to one", "to be treated so," and "to come to be in a state."

ὑπ᾽ "Of" is from hypo (hupo), which means [with genitive] "from under (of motion)", "down under," under, beneath," indicating a cause with passive verbs, "by", "under," or "with", "under the cover or protection of", "of the agency of feelings, passions," "expressing subjection or dependence," "subordinate", "subject to;" [with accusative] "towards" and "under" (to express motion), "under" (without a sense of motion), "subjection", "control", "dependence," of Time, "in the course of", "during", "about," as an adverb, "under", "below," beneath, the agency or influence under which a thing is done"by", "before,' and "under," (with genitive and passive verbs of cause).

αὐτῶν. (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Him" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

adj pl fem gen

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