Matthew 26:38  My soul is exceeding sorrowful,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Very sad is my life in this world until my execution. Remain here and stay awake with me.

KJV : 

Mat 26:38 My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The KSV translation makes this seem as though Christ is expressing an emotion in the beginning of this phase. Taking their cue from the KJV, most other translations double down on this idea. In doing so, they get further and further from the Greek. Christ is not describing an emotion but something else.

The word translated as "soul" here means one's self-awareness of who they are in this life (see this article on "Life," "Soul," " Mind," "Heart", and "Spirit" ). It is the opposite of the purely physical body, our minds, our emotions, and our "pure" self-awareness of existence that is separate from our lives in this world.

The "is" verb here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It is important to note that it isn't the word for "becomes," that is, the sense that something has changed. Christ is not saying that some emotion has come upon him at this time; However, Christ also uses the verb "to be" to describe the future he knows will happen.

"Exceedingly sorrowful" is a word that means "very sad", and "deeply grieved." However, it should be noted that Christ uses another Greek word meaning "the heart" to refer to the human seat of emotions, which is also discussed in the article above. The sense here is that Christ is using this term to describe his life in this word, so "so sad" or "pathetic" might work. This phrase might be more humorous and self-deprecating than it appears. However, it is also an accurate description of the remainder of his life.

The problem with this phrase comes from the "even unto" here which is a word that means simple "until." It can also mean "in order that" which also makes sense here, but in a more complex way.

"Death" is the Greek word meaning "death" generally and the death penalty specifically. So Christ is saying that his life is very sad or pathetic from this point until he is killed.

The word translated as "tarry ye" has more of a sense of to "stay" or "remain," not necessarily dwelling in a place, though the KJV often treats it that way.

"Watch" is a Greek verb that means "to be or to become fully awake." It is in the form of a command. This is the word that Christ uses three times about keeping ready for his return.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Περίλυπός[uncommon] (adj sg masc nom) "Exceedingly sorrowful" is from perilypos, which means "very sad", and "deeply grieved."

ἐστιν (verb 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.")

ψυχή (noun sg fem nom) "Soul" is from psyche, which means "breath", "life", "self", "spirit," and "soul." It has the clear sense of the conscious self and is often translated as "life" in the Gospels. It is also used to describe "the spirit" of things. It is often translated as "soul." -

μου” (noun sg masc gen) "My" is from mou, which mean "my," or "mine."

ἕως "Even unto" is from heos which means "until", "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that." -- The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

θανάτου: (noun sg masc gen) "Death" from thanatos, which means "death" "kinds of death," specifically, "violent death", "corpse," and "a death sentence."

μείνατε (verb 2nd pl aor imperat act) "Tarry ye" is from meno, which, as a verb, it means "stand fast" (in battle), "stay at home", "stay", "tarry", "remain as one was", "abide", and (transitive) "await."

ὧδε Here" is hode, the demonstrative pronoun which means "this" in the sense of "what is present" and "what can be seen." With verbs of action and with a person (its use here), it means "here" as in "here I am" in the sense of "I am present."

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."

γρηγορεῖτε [uncommon] (2nd pl pres imperat act) "Watch" is from gregoreo, which means "to become fully awake," and "to watch."

μετ᾽ "With" is from meta, which means "with", "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."

ἐμοῦ. (adj sg masc gen)"Me" is from emou, which means "me", and "mine". -- "Me" is from the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

The Spoken Version: 

"Very sad," he said seeming to himself.

Those few with him wondered if they were talking about them.

He saw this and clarified his meaning, "It is my life in this world from now until my death."

Then he indicate that they should sit and added, "Stay here and stay awake with me."

Front Page Date: 

Nov 22 2016