Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Easier, however, it is [having] the sky and the earth to pass by than the practice's one tittle to fall. 

KJV : 

 Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

What is Lost in Translation: 

This is another verse that seems to be the response to a question rather than a statement.  The vocabulary is like Matthew 5:18, but the form of "tittle" is non-standard. 

The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. 

The verb "it is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. -- 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." 

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".

There is no "for" here. It is added because the "heaven and earth" are in the form of an object, but there is no verb that takes and object, so the proposition is added. However, in Greek, an objective noun without a verb is more like adding the English verb "have" to the verb. 

The word translated as "heaven" means "sky", the "climate", and the "universe". It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article. It is introduced by an article. "the sky". 

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 "earth" means "ground" and "dirt". Translated as "earth", it refers to the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this article for more on these words.

The phrase "to pass " is a verb that means "go by", "pass by", "outstrip" (in speed), and "pass over".  The sense here could be "pass by", "surpass", but the sense of "pass away" as in "die" is not at all clear. The word means to pass the time and can refer to times past, but it also means to "outwit" and "elude" and "be superior". It also means to "pass by" a place or to "arrive" at a place. In the Latin Vulgate, this verb was translated as "transit" which means "to cross". In Greek, the form is neither active nor passive, but the middle form which means that the subjects are acting on themselves.   It is in the form of an infinitive, "to pass". 

"Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

The Greek word translated as "one" means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same."

"Tittle" is from the Greek form of the apostrophe. The word "one" precedes this word.  However, this form is not a standard Greek form. 

The Greek word translated as "of the law" describes the social norms, which can be from "tradition", "common practice," or the "laws." Christ also uses it to refer to the first five books of the OT written by Moses.

"To fail" is translated from a Greek verb that means "to fall" and "to fall down." It is the root word for dozens of Greek terms involving moving from a higher state to a lower one. Like our word "to fall" it has a number of special meanings including "to fall into a given class", "to prostrate", "to fall from power", "to perish," and so on.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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".

δέ (conj/adv) "And" is 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"). --

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "It is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

τὸν οὐρανὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Heaven" is the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate." 

καὶ (conj/adv) "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." 

τὴν γῆν (noun sg fem acc) "Earth" is ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet. 

παρελθεῖν (verb aor inf act) "To pass" is from parerchomai, which means "go by", "pass by", "outstrip" (in speed), "pass (time)", "outwit", "past events" (in time), "disregard", "pass unnoticed," "escape notice", and "pass without heeding."

(conj/adv) "Than" is which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." 

τοῦ νόμου (noun sg masc gen) "The law" is nomos, which means "anything assigned", "a usage", "custom", "law", "ordinance," or "that which is a habitual practice." It is the basis of the English words "norm" and "normal." --

μίαν (adj sg fem acc) "One" is heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." This adjective is irregular, having a number of forms depending on sex, number, and case: heis, henos, heni, hen, hena, mia, mias, miai, mian; hen, henos, hen.  

κερέαν [κεραίαν​] (noun sg fem acc) "Tittle" is from keraiawhich means "the horn of an animal", "the antenna of crustaceans", "a bow", "an instrument for blowing", "a drinking horn", "horn points [for writing instruments]", "objects shaped like horns", "the wing [of an army]", "branch of a river", "corps of men", "sailyard", "mountain peak," and "anything made of horn." The small apostrophe like mark to distinguish numbers from letters in Greek is horn-shaped and therefore called a keraia.

πεσεῖν. (verb aor inf act) "To fail" is the verb pipto, which means "to fall", "to fall down", "to be cast down," "fall upon", "intersect (geometry)", "meet", "pass through", "fall violently upon", "attack", "fall in battle", "sink{in water)", "fall short i.e. fail", " fall out of", "lose a thing", "escape from", "fall asleep", "to be accessible to perception", "to fall (between her feet, i.e. to be born)", "to let fall[dice)", "turn out," and "fall under (belong to a class)." --

Front Page Date: 

Aug 21 2018