Matthew 9:5 For what is easier, to say,

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 9:5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Why? Because it is less tiring to proclaim, "Your mistakes are being let go by themselves!" than to proclaim "Awake and walk around."

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There is much more of a contrast between two statements in this verse in Greek than English translation. First of all, the "easier" word is actually a humorous reference, not a simple comparative as it appears in translation. The phrase about "thy sins shall be forgiven thee" is the same as in Matthew 9:2. The "arise and "walk" statement has a double meaning referring to waking the dead.

The Greek word translated as "whether" primarily means "someone" and "something," but it has a lot of uses including the introduction of short questions such as "what", "why", etc.

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. The "because" here naturally follows the "why" of a short question.

The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

The word translated as "easier" is a compound of two words. It is an uncommon word, appearing only a half dozen times in the NT and only five times in the rest of ancient Greek literature. The prefix here means "good" or "better" because the word is comparative. The base word primarily means "beating" or "fatigue". So the sense is "better fatigue", which has the sense of "less tiring".

The word translated as "to say" is the primary verb used in the NT to refer to speaking, telling, or saying. It also means "proclaiming," which works pretty well when Christ is referring to this type of statement.

The word translated as "sins" is a form of a word that means "to fail in one's purpose", "to neglect," and "to be deprived of." It has no sense of doing malicious evil in Greek. The best English translation is "mistakes" or "failures" rather than what we commonly think of as the evils of "sin." More about this word in this article.

The word translated as "be forgiven" primarily means "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. It is in a form where the subject ("mistakes") is acted upon by itself, so "are being let go of themselves."

The word translated as "or" also means "than" in a comparison, as it is used here.

The word for "to say" is the same word in the same form as the earlier "to say."

The word for "arise" is the same word Christ uses to describe God raising the dead and false prophets arising.

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

The word translated as "walk" means "walk around" and it is a metaphor meaning "making your way", "progress", "to use your opportunities," and "to live."

Greek Vocabulary: 

τί (irreg sg neut nom/acc) "Whether" is from tis which can mean "someone", "anyone", "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."

γάρ (partic) "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."

ἐστιν (3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

εὐκοπώτερον, [uncommon](adj sg neut nom/acc comp) "Easier" is from eukopo, which is a comparative form of "easy." It is a compound eu, the word for "well", "thoroughly", "competently", "fortunately," and "happily." and kopos, which means "striking", "beating", "toil and trouble", "fatigue," and "work." The modern Greek word meaning "easy" closest is eukolos, where the later part, kolos, means "cool".

εἰπεῖν (aor inf act ) "To say" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer."

Ἀφίενταί (3rd pl pres ind mp) "Be forgiven" is from aphiemi, which means "to let fall", "to send away", "give up", "hand over", "to let loose", "to get rid of", "to leave alone", "to pass by", "to permit," and "to send forth from oneself."

σου (pron 2nd sg gen ) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, (noun pl fem nom) "Sin" is from hamartia, which means "to miss the mark", "failure", "fault," and "error." Only in religious contexts does it become "guilt" and "sin."

 (conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

εἰπεῖν (aor inf act ) "To say" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer."

γειρε (2nd sg pres imperat act) "Arise" is from egeiro, which means "to awaken", "to stir up," and "to rouse."

καὶ (conj) "And" is 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."

περιπάτει; (2nd sg pres imperat act) "Walk" is from peripateo, which means "to walk up and down", "to walk about," and "to walk about while teaching."

Wordplay: 

 The phrase "awake and walk around" also has the sense of "awake and live" 

Related Verses: 

May 3 2017