Matthew 24:8 All these [are] the beginning of sorrows.

KJV Verse: 

Mat 24:8 All these [are] the beginning of sorrows.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

All of these, a beginning which is birth pains.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The sense here is not nearly as negative as the KJV, and most, but not all other bibles, translate it. There is a pattern here of offering warnings, but then cushioning them that is lost in the KJV of Christ's words, which seem to be so dire.

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. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

The "these things" is a pronoun that can mean "this" or "that," the nearer or the further depending on usage. As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why." It is not typically used as an adjective. Here is it is a plural noun. The reference would be to the "famines" and "shocks" of the previous verse, Mat 24:7.

There is no verb "to be" in this sentence. This makes more sense when it is spoken, not read.

"Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning", "origin", and "empire". This is the word from which we get both "archangel," and "archeology," the study of the beginning of history. It is not introduced with an article, "the beginning" so it would read "a beginning."

"Sorrows" is a plural noun that means specifically the "pains of childbirth." However, it also means "children," the fruit of childbirth and the "fruit" of mental anguish. It is a metaphor for "anguish" but with the specific sense of suffering that bears fruit. This is a very different word from the sorrow we feel at death. It is in the genitive, which is often the possessive, but which also acts in the sense of equating things, something like the verb "to be". The sense is "which is".

Greek Vocabulary: 

πάντα (adj pl neut nom/acc) "All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

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").

ταῦτα (adj pl neut nom/acc) "These things" is from tauta, which is a referring pronoun meaning "these", "this", "that," and "here." It can mean the nearer or the further depending on usage. As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why." -

ἀρχὴ (noun sg fem nom) "Beginning" is from archê, which means "begining", "orgin", "first principles", "first place of power", "empire," and "command. This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

ὠδίνων. (noun pl fem gen) "Sorrows" is from ôdin, which means specifically the "pain or throes of childbirth", "children", in singular, "that which is born amid throes"," "child," It is a metaphor for "anguish" but with the specific sense of suffering that bears fruit, "fruit of" the mind's "travail". This is very different from the sorrow we feel at death, which is what the term "sorrows" in the context of war and natural disaster seems to indicate.

The Spoken Version: 

"All of these," he continued sounding more hopeful. "A new start...the pains of giving birth."

Related Verses: 

Jul 15 2016