John 11:4 This sickness is not unto death

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

Mary and Martha send word to Jesus that his friend, Lazarus, is growing weaker.

KJV : 

John 11:4 This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

Literal Verse: 

This, the weakness is not before death but instead for the recognition of the Divine, that he may be recognized, this son of the Divine, through this.

What is Lost in Translation: 

The term translated as "sickness" had more the sense of "weakness" and "decline" rather than disease as we might say "failing health." The words translated as "glory" and "glorify" are better translated as "eminence" and "recognize." Our n"oun recognition" has too broad of a meaning to work well. The verb "recognize" is in the form of probability, "might be recognized," indicating that such recognition is still a choice. This is more consistent with Jesus's previous discussion about being recognized for doing the work of the Father.

Unlike John 10:36, where Jesus refers to himself as "a son of the Divine," here he uses the "the son of the Divine" phrase with the definite article before "son." Interestingly, this verse begins and ends of the same word, the demonstrative article, "this," in both cases referring to the failing health of Lazarus.

My Takeaway: 

Trials like sickness give us a reason to recognize the Divine.

Greek : 

Wordplay: 

 The use of the term "beyond" here contrasts goal of the weakness or illness with death. The meaning here that the Son of God can reach beyond death. 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Αὕτη [83 verses](adj sg fem nom) "This" is houtos, which as an adjective means "this," "that," "the nearer." 

[821 verses](article sg masc nom)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -

ἀσθένεια [2 verses] (noun sg fem nom) "Sickness" is from astheneia, which means "want of strength", "weakness", "disease", "sickness," [in a moral sense] "feebleness", "to be weak, feeble, or sickly", "to be too weak" [to do a thing], and "decline."

οὐκ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is ou , the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences.  The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἐστίν.[614 verses](3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen,"  and "is possible." With the genitive object, the sense is "belongs to." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

πρὸς [92 verses](prep)  "Unto" is from pros, which means "from (place)," "on the side of," "toward," "before," "in the presence of," "in the eyes of," "before (supplication, a judge, a witness)," "near" a time, "for" the moment, "proceeding from (for effects)," "dependent on," "derivable from," "agreeable," "in comparison with," "becoming," "like," "at the point of," "in addition to," "against," and "before."  It also means "dependent upon."

θάνατον [15 verses](noun sg masc acc ) "Death" is thanatos, which means "death" "kinds of death," specifically, "violent death," "corpse," and "a death sentence."

ἀλλὰ [154 verses](conj) "But" is alla, which means "instead," "otherwise," "but," "still," "at least," "except," "yet," nevertheless," "rather," "moreover," and "nay."

ὑπὲρ [17 verses](prep) "For" is hyper (huper), which means "over" (of place), "above' (in a state of rest), "off' (ships at sea), "over" and "across (in a state of motion), "over," "beyond," "on behalf of one (metaphor), "for," "instead of," "in the name of," "as a representative of" (in an entreaty), "for" and "because of" (of the cause or motive), "concerning," "exceeding" "above" and "beyond" (of measure), "above" and "upwards" (of numbers), "before" and "earlier than" (of time), "over much" and "beyond measure" (as an adverb), "for" and "in deference of" (doing a thing), and "above measure." 

τῆς [821 verses](article sg fem gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

δόξης [26 verses](noun sg fem gen)  "Glory" is doxa, which means "expectation," "notion," "opinion," "repute," and "popular repute." Translations as "glory" or "splendor" are found primarily in translating the Bible. The words "recognition," "honor." and "reputation" come closest to capturing the Greek word, but Jesus uses it only in the most positive sense so "imminence" may come closest.

θεοῦ [144 verses](noun sg masc gen) "God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

ἵνα [134 verses](adv/conj) "That" is hina, which means "in that place," "there," "where," "when,"  but when beginning a phrase "that," "in order that," "when," and "because."

δοξασθῇ [18 verses] (3rd sg aor subj pass) "Might be glorified" is doxazo, which primarily means "to think", "to expect", "to imagine," or "to suppose." Secondarily, it means "to magnify" or "to extol," which is where we get the "glorify" used most often in NT the translation. The English term "to recognize" carries the same sense of both seeing a person in the mind and honoring them.

[821 verses](article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

υἱὸς [158 verses](noun sg masc nom​) "The Son" is huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." It is used generally to refer to any male descendant.

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  - missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

θεοῦ [144 verses](noun sg masc gen) "God" is theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity." -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

δι᾽ [88 verses](prep) -by" is dia, which means with the genitive "through," "in the midst of," "in a line (movement)," "throughout (time)," "by (causal)," "for (causal)," "among," and "between." With the accusative, it can also be "thanks to," "because of,"  "by reasons of," and "for the sake of."

αὐτῆς[83 verses](adj sg fem gen) "There-" is houtos, which as an adjective means "this," "that," "the nearer." 

KJV Analysis: 

This-- "This" is translated from a Greek adjective that means "this," "that," "the nearer." Without a noun, it has the sense of "this one" or "that one." It is in the form of a subject.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

sickness -- The Greek word translated as "sickness" more generally means "weakness" and has the sense of a generally failing health rather than a specific disease or infection. The root of this word is "weakness."

is -- 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. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

unto -- The word translated as "unto" means "towards," "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

death,  -- "Death" is the Greek word meaning "death" generally and the death penalty specifically.

but -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "instead" or "rather." It is not the common word usually translated as "but." It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise." Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, "not this," with a positive one, "instead this."

for -- "For" is a preposition that means "over" "beyond," "concerning," "on behalf of,"  and "instead of" with many other specific uses.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

glory ---- (CW) The Greek noun translated as "glory" means "expectation," "notion," "opinion," "repute," and "popular repute." Translations as "glory" or "splendor" are found primarily in translating the Bible. Though it can have both a positive ("shining reputation") and negative ("bad repute") in Greek, Jesus only uses it to describe the shining aspect so "eminence" may be the closest. The verb form has the sense of "recognize," but "recognition" while positive in the sense of rewarding people simply means knowing them in the noun form.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

that -- The word translated as "that" is an adverb "in that place," "there," "where," "when," or as a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

might -- This helping verb "might" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility, the subjunctive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

glorified  -- (CW) The Greek term translated as "glorified" is a word that primarily means "to imagine" and "to expect." It also means "to honor" in a sense. However, the word that it comes closest to in English is "to recognize" since that word captures both the mental imagining and honoring sense of the word. "Recognize" works especially well with actors because they seek fame and recognition from the audience. More about this word in this article.

thereby. - This word is from two Greek word meaning "by this."  The "by" preposition means with the genitive "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method. -- "This" is translated from a Greek adjective that means "this," "that," "the nearer." Without a noun, it has the sense of "this one" or "that one." It is in the form of a subject.

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "sickness" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" is not the common word usually translated as "but."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "glory" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "glorify" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

NIV : 

John 11:4 This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.

NIV Analysis: 

This-- "This" is translated from a Greek adjective that means "this," "that," "the nearer." Without a noun, it has the sense of "this one" or "that one." It is in the form of a subject.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

sickness -- The Greek word translated as "sickness" more generally means "weakness" and has the sense of a generally failing health rather than a specific disease or infection. The root of this word is "weakness."

will --  (WT) This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense, but the verb is not the future.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words.

end -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "end" in the Greek source.

in -- (WW) The word translated as "in" means "towards," "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

death,  -- "Death" is the Greek word meaning "death" generally and the death penalty specifically.

No, -- (IW) There is nothing here that can be translated as "no" in the Greek source. This is a repeat of the earlier "no."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -  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. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. It does not mean "end."

missing "instead"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "instead" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "instead" or "rather." It is not the common word usually translated as "but." It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise."  Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, "not this," with a positive one, "instead this."

for -- "For" is a preposition that means "over" "beyond," "concerning," "on behalf of,"  and "instead of" with many other specific uses.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.. The word follows "son" so "of the Divine."

’s -- This word "'s"  comes from the genitive case of the previous word that requires the addition of a preposition in English or the apostrophe "s." 

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.

glory -- (CW) The Greek noun translated as "glory" means "expectation," "notion," "opinion," "repute," and "popular repute." Translations as "glory" or "splendor" are found primarily in translating the Bible. Though it can have both a positive ("shining reputation") and negative ("bad repute") in Greek, Jesus only uses it to describe the shining aspect so "eminence" may be the closest. The verb form has the sense of "recognize," but "recognition" while positive in the sense of rewarding people simply means knowing them in the noun form.

so that -- The word translated as "so that" is an adverb "in that place," "there," "where," "when," or as a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

God, -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God," "the Divine" or "the divine one." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods. The word follows "son" so "of the Divine."

’s -- This word "'s"  comes from the genitive case of the previous word that requires the addition of a preposition in English or the apostrophe "s." 

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article,"the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more.

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant." The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility, the subjunctive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

glorified  -- (CW) The Greek term translated as "glorified" is a word that primarily means "to imagine" and "to expect." It also means "to honor" in a sense. However, the word that it comes closest to in English is "to recognize" since that word captures both the mental imagining and honoring sense of the word. "Recognize" works especially well with actors because they seek fame and recognition from the audience. More about this word in this article.

through The "through" preposition means, with a genitive object, "through," "in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." It indicates movement through a place or time, but it also means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method.

it. -- (CW) "It" is translated from a Greek adjective that means "this," "that," "the nearer." Without a noun, it has the sense of "this one" or "that one." This is not the common pronoun meaning "it."

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "sickness" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "end" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "in" should be something more like "towards."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "no" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "instead" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "glory" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "glory" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "God" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "som" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "glorified" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "it" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

Front Page Date: 

Jul 25 2022