Matthew 9:15 Can the sons of the bridechamber mourn...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 9:15 Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

They don't think they have the ability, the children of the wedding party, to cry for as long as he is along with them, the groom. However, there are going to arrive times when he might be carried off from them, the bridegroom, and then they will abstain.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse appears in a little different version in Mark (Mar 2:19, Mar 2:20) but what is lost in translation is the humor here. All we have to do is assume that the young men in the wedding party behaved then as they do today and "abstaining" is another way of saying "will be cut off" from their drinking. Christ generally uses the metaphor of the wedding as a metaphor for the kingdom of heaven, but here the message here is about a party that ends.

KJV Analysis: 

This verse starts with an untranslated negative, the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is of "not wanting" to do something, not that it isn't done.

The Greek word translated as "can" means having the power, ability, or a desire to accomplish something. In English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. The Greek verb doesn't have that use.

The word translated as "children" more specifically means "sons" but it refers to a male descendant of any age. not just children. However, the use of this word here seems to indicate that the men in a wedding party do not necessarily act as adults.

The term translated "of the bridal chamber" means simply "wedding room" and can refer either to the place of the wedding or to the bridal chamber.

"Mourn" is a Greek word that means "to bewail", "to mourn", "to go mourning" and "to lament." It is the same word used for "mourn" in the Beatitudes (Mat 5:4).

The "as long as" is from two Greek words: a preposition that means "upon", "at," or "against, " but meaning "for" when used as an adverb, as it is here, and an adjective meaning "as great as", "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

The word translated as "the bridegroom" is a male form of the adjective meaning "bridal," hence, "groom" or "son-in-law."

The word translated as "is" is to common verb "to be," 3rd person, singular, present.

The word translated as "with" also means "among" and "along with."

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.

"The days" is from the Greek word meaning "day", "daytime," and, more generally, "time." The word is plural here, so "times".

The word translated as "will come" primarily means "to start out." 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 "getting under way." When it refers to a time in the future, as it does here, "come" works well."

The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition.

The term translated as "shall be taken" means "to lift off", "to carry off," and "to lead away." It is in the passive form, but is not the future tense. It is in a form indicating something that might happen.

The term translated as "fast" specifically means a religious fast. The verb is in the future tense or a form indicating something that might occur in the future.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Μὴ (partic) Untranslated is me, which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

δύνανται (3rd pl pres ind mp) "Can" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

οἱ υἱοὶ (noun pl masc nom ) "The children" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." --

τοῦ νυμφῶνος (noun sg masc gen) "Of the bridechamber" is from numphon, which can either be the room of the marriage bed or marriage ceremony. Numphios is "bridegroom."

πενθεῖν (pres inf act) "Mourn" is from pentheo, which means "to bewail", "to mourn", "to go into mourning," and "to lament."

ἐφ᾽ (prep) "As long as" is from epi (with hosos below), which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against." In adverbial phrases, it means "for" or "with."

ὅσον (adj sg neut nom/acc) "As long as" is from hosos, (with epi above) which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

μετ᾽ (prep) "With" is from meta, which means "in the midst of", "among", "between", "in common", "along with", "by the aid of", "in one's dealings with", "into the middle of", "coming into", "in pursuit of", "after", "behind", "according to," and "next afterward"

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Them" 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."

ἐστὶν (3rd sg pres ind 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.") -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."

νυμφίος; (noun sg masc nom) "Bridegroom" is from nymphios, which means "bridal", "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

ἐλεύσονται (3rd pl fut ind mid) "Will 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.

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").

ἡμέραι (noun pl fem nom ) "Day" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life", "a time (poetic)", "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet", "tame (animals)", "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)."

ὅταν (conj) "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

ἀπαρθῇ (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Shall be taken" is apairo, which means "to lead off", "to lift off", "to carry off", "to remove", "to get rid of," and "to lead away."

ἀπ᾽ (prep) "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. --

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Them" 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."

νυμφίος, (noun sg masc nom) "Bridegroom" is from nymphios, which means "bridal", "bridegroom" and "son-in-law."

καὶ (conj) "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."

τότε (adv) "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

νηστεύσουσιν. (3rd pl fut ind act or 3rd pl aor subj act) "Fast" is from nesteuo, which means "fast" and "to abstain from."

Wordplay: 

 The comparison to religious fasting with swearing off drinking at the end of a wedding party. 

Related Verses: 

May 8 2017