Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation:

KJV Verse: 

Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Stay awake and offer prayers so that you might not want to get into trials: on one hand the spirit: ready and willing, on the other hand, the meat: weak and sickly.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

"Watch" is from a verb that means "to be or to become fully awake." It is in the form of an command "be fully awake". In English, we would say "wake up" to someone sleeping and "stay awake" to someone already awake. In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch."

The word "pray" means "to offer prayers" to God. However, in this form, it has the sense of praying for your benefit.

"Ye enter" is a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." It is in a form indicating something that "might come into."

The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true. If it wasn't done or wasn't true, the objective negative of fact would be used.

The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

The Greek word translated as "temptation" doesn't primarily means that. It means a "trial" as in a "worry." Christ doesn't use this term but another Greek word to refer to court trials. It could mean a "trial" as a "test." Again, this is an uncommon word in Christ's teaching.

The word translated as "spirit" has been used in the section to mean "non-material beings" but it primarily means "breath", "wind," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' Its meaning as "the breath of life" is brought out by the idea of creating life. Its meaning as "spiritual" is brought out by the contrast with "physical". Read this article on the use of this word with "holy" and this article when contrast with similar terms for the soul, life, and mind.

The "indeed" here is a particle, which. when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" take on the meaning "one one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

The term translated as "willing means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily." This is an uncommon word from Christ to use.

The "but" here is the particle frequently translated as the English conjunction "but" but this word has a number of specific use, one of which is to indicate the other half of a contrast where the first half is indicated by the word translated "indeed" above. The meaning here becomes "on the other hand."

The Greek word translated as "the flesh" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the later sense. It is not the word that Christ uses for "body" in Mat 26:26 (discussion here). The "body" is the physical part of a person without their soul, but in the Greek the word for "flesh" here has an even lower sense, that of being just meat, but Christ doesn't use it that way. He uses this word "flesh" as of the physical existence and relationships between people. It is used somewhat sparingly by Christ in Matthew (Mat 16:17, Mat 19:5), Mat 24:22 but Christ uses it heavily in John sometimes to equate his own body with the flesh of food. For Christ, the word captures the abilities of the physical body, those we share with animals.

The word used for "weak"" means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It was translated as "sick" in Mat 25:43, in the sense of "I was sick and you visited me."

In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch." One way to read this is that divine inspiration keeps us ready but the weakness of our earthly bonds to God make it hard to keep connected with that divine breath.

Greek Vocabulary: 

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

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."

προσεύχεσθε, (verb 2nd pl pres imperat mp) "Pray" is from proseuchomai, which means "to offer prayers or vows", "to worship," and "to pray for a thing. It is the combination of two Greek words, pros, meaning "towards" or "by reason of," and euchomai, meaning "to pray to God."

ἵνα "That" is from hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because." -- The word translated as "that" is not the simple demonstrative pronoun, but a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

μὴ "Not" is from 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.

εἰσέλθητε (verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye enter" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

εἰς "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

πειρασμόν: (noun sg masc acc) "Temptation" is from peirasmos, which means a "trial", "worry," and only by extension "temptation."

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc) "Unto them that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by the particle below.

μὲν (partic) "Indeed" is from men, a particle which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly." Used with the conjunction de, as it is here, it points out the specific word being contrast after the conjunction. In English, we usually say, one one hand

πνεῦμα (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Spirit" is pneuma, which means "blast", "wind", "breath", "the breath of life", "divine inspiration", "a spiritual or immaterial being," and "the spirit" of a man.

πρόθυμον [uncommon](adj sg neut nom/acc) "Is willing" is prothymos, which means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily."

(article sg neut nom/acc) "Unto them that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by a conjunction.

δὲ (conj) "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"). Here, the prior use of the men particle makes its use indicating the other half of a contrast, "on the other hand"

σὰρξ (noun sg fem nom) "The flesh" is from sarx (sarx), which means "flesh", "the body", "fleshy", "the pulp of fruit", "meat," and "the physical and natural order of things" (opposite of the spiritual or supernatural).

ἀσθενής. [uncommon](adj sg fem nom) "Weak" is from asthenes, which means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It could be the verb (meaning "to be weak" or "to be sickly") used in the earlier verse, but it would be in the second person, singular, "You are/were weak/sickly." So it doesn't fit.

The Spoken Version: 

"Stay awake." he said half seriously, "and pray so that you don't get into difficulty. On the one hand, the spirit: ready and willing. On the other hand, the flesh: feebly and sickly."

Related Verses: 

Nov 27 2016