John 12:46 I am come a light into the world,

Spoken to: 

group

Context: 

The Evangelist says that many believed in Jesus but were afraid to admit it because of the Pharisees. Jesus then talks about trusting the one who sent him and seeing his Father in him.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

I have started a light in this society so that every one trusting in me might not want to remain in this darkness.

My Takeaway: 

We stop wanting to remain in this darkness.

KJV : 

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

NIV : 

John 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

What is Lost in Translation: 

Oddly, both Biblical translations avoid what Jesus actually said. He said "every one trusting" in him. For some reason, they all ignore the word meaning "every" or "all." Then, the negative used before "abide/stay" is one of opinion. The sense is that someone doesn't want to remain in darkness. Both translations also ignore the definite article before "darkness," making it specific, "this darkness." 

While Jesus describes himself as "light" elsewhere, for example, John 8:12 and John 9:5, he is saying something a little different here. The word translated as "come" primarily means "start." This would be best translated as, "I myself have started a light."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Light and darkness are Christ's metaphors for knowledge, specifically as illumination of the mind, and ignorance as the opposite of judgment. The Greek described people as "in the dark" in the same sense as we do in English, however, it also had the sense of secrecy and keeping things hidden.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἐγὼ [162 verses](pron 1st sg masc nom) "I" is ego, which is the first-person singular pronoun meaning "I." It also means "I at least," "for my part," "indeed," and for myself.

φῶς [21 verses] (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Light" is phos, which means "light," "daylight [primarily], "illumination [of things and of the mind]," "light [of the eyes], "window," "opening," " public visibility," and "publicity." Christ uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge," but in Greek it is also a metaphor for "deliverance," "happiness," "victory," and "glory."

εἰς [325 verses](prep) "Into" is 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)."

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

κόσμον [63 verses](noun sg masc acc) "World" is kosmos, which mean "order," "good order," "ruler," "world order," "universe," and "the world of men." It is a form of the is verb kosmeô, which means "to order," "to arrange," "to rule," "to adorn" (especially women), and "to equip." It especially means controlling and arranging an army.

ἐλήλυθα [198 verses](1st sg perf ind act) "Am come" is  erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

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."

πᾶς [212 verses](adj sg masc nom) "Whoever" is 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."

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

πιστεύων [69 verses](part sg pres act masc nom) "Believeth" is pisteuo, which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person," "to believe in someone's words," "to comply," "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

εἰς [325 verses](prep) "Into" is 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)."

ἐμὲ [49 verses](pron 1st sg masc acc) "Me" is eme, which is the objective first-person, objective, singular pronoun that means  "me."

ἐν [413 verses](prep) "In" is en, which means, with a dative object, "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," "during,"  and "with." With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." Referring to time, it means. "in the course of" or "during." 

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

σκοτίᾳ [5 verses](noun sg fem dat) "Darkness" is skotia, which means "darkness," "dark," "gloomy," [of persons] "in the dark," "in secret," and "secret." It is a metaphor for "obscure," and "the nether world," and was used as the opposite of the Greek word gnome, γνώμη, meaning judgment, opinion, purpose, and therefore also a metaphor for "ignorance."  

μὴ [447 verses](partic) "Not" is 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.

μείνῃ. [27 verses](3rd sg aor subj act) "Should abide" is meno, which, as a verb, it means "stand fast" (in battle), "stay at home," "stay," "tarry," "remain as one was," "abide," and (transitive) "await."

KJV Analysis: 

I -- The pronoun "I" is used here. Since, as the subject of the sentence, it is part of the verb, its explicit use accentuates who is speaking "I." Saying "I myself" captures this feeling in English.

missing "myself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."

am -- (WT) This helping verb indicates the present tense of the verb. It is used here to form the present tense, but the tense is the past perfect, so it should be "have."

come -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a noun doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

light -- The Greek word translated as "the light" means "light," "daylight [primarily], "opening," and "public visibility." Jesus uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge,"

into -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject,"up to" limits in time and measure, and "for" a purpose or object.

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. 

world, -- Jesus uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. Today, we use the word "society" or "regime" in this sense. More about this word in this article about related words.

that  -- The word translated as "so that" is a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

whosoever -- (WW) The word translated as "whosoever " is the Greek adjective meaning "all," "the whole," and "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."

missing "the one"  -- (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. 

believeth  -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "believe" does not apply to religious belief as much but trusting in other people, especially their words. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, such as the one here, that applies to trusting words.

on -- (WW) The word translated as "on" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject,"up to" limits in time and measure, and "for" a purpose or object.

me-- "Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek as the object of the verb or preposition. As the object of a preposition, an accusative object indicates movement towards something or a position reached as a result of that movement.

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

not -- (CW) The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. This is the negative used with commands or requests. Used with an imperative to express a will or wish. Used in negative "when" and "if" clauses.

abide -- The word translated as "abide " has the sense of to "stay," "stand fast," or "remain." Though often translated as "dwell", especially in the KJV, it does not mean to stay in a dwelling place.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with" (an instrument), "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near."

missing "the/this"  -- (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. 

darkness.- "Darkness" is a noun that means "darkness," "dark," "gloomy," [of persons] "in the dark," "in secret," and "secret." It is a metaphor for "obscure," and "the nether world,. It was used as the opposite of the Greek word meaning judgment, opinion, and purpose and therefore also a metaphor for "ignorance."

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "am come" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have come."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "whoever" should be something more like "every."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "believe" is not an active verb but a participle, "believing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "on" should be something more like "in."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is the subjective negative of opinion with the sense of "not wanting," "not thinking" or not seeming when used with a non-opinion verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the/this" before "darkness" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

I -- The pronoun "I" is used here. Since, as the subject of the sentence, it is part of the verb, its explicit use accentuates who is speaking "I." Saying "I myself" captures this feeling in English.

missing "myself" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."

have -- This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past.

come -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

into -- The word translated as "unto" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject,"up to" limits in time and measure, and "for" a purpose or object.

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. 

world, -- Jesus uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. Today, we use the word "society" or "regime" in this sense. More about this word in this article about related words.

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

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a noun doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

light -- The Greek word translated as "the light" means "light," "daylight [primarily], "opening," and "public visibility." Jesus uses it as a metaphor for "knowledge,"

so that -- The word translated as "so that" is a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

no -- (CW, WP) The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.   With the verb "to be," the sense is "doesn't seem." When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. When it precedes other words, its force is limited to those words. Here, it is before the verb not the "one."

missing "every"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "every" is the Greek adjective meaning "all," "the whole," and "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."

one  -- 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. 

who -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "who " in the Greek source. It was added because the next verb was translated as active rather than as a participle.

believes -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "believe" does not apply to religious belief as much but trusting in other people, especially their words. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, such as the one here, that applies to trusting words.

in -- The word translated as "on" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject,"up to" limits in time and measure, and "for" a purpose or object. It is not the normal word meaning "in" but "in regards to" is cumbersome here.

me-- "Me" is the regular first-person pronoun in Greek as the object of the verb or preposition. As the object of a preposition, an accusative object indicates movement towards something or a position reached as a result of that movement.

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

stay -- The word translated as "stay " has the sense of to "stay," "stand fast," or "remain." Though often translated as "dwell", especially in the KJV, it does not mean to stay in a dwelling place.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with" (an instrument), "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near."

missing "the/this"  -- (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. 

darkness.- "Darkness" is a noun that means "darkness," "dark," "gloomy," [of persons] "in the dark," "in secret," and "secret." It is a metaphor for "obscure," and "the nether world,. It was used as the opposite of the Greek word meaning judgment, opinion, and purpose and therefore also a metaphor for "ignorance."

NIV Translation Issues: 

8
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "as" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "no" is the subjective negative of opinion with the sense of "not wanting," "not thinking" or not seeming when used with a non-opinion verb.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "not" doesn't appear here but before the verb "abide."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "every" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "who" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the/this" before "darkness" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "believe" is not an active verb but a participle, "believing."

Front Page Date: 

Aug 25 2022