John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. They discuss the nature of man's origin. Nicodemus asked how anyone is able to know these things himself.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Just as Moses lifted high the snake in the desert, in this way, being lifted up is necessary for the Son of the man.

My Takeaway: 

Jesus was playing with words here.

KJV : 

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

NIV : 

John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Jesus makes a play on words with "lifted up" and "exalted." The snake in the desert was lifted up on a pole, and Jesus would be lifted up on a pole as well. The word translated as "cross" really means "post" or "stake." Nicodemus would not have heard this meaning because Jesus's lifting up on the post was in the future. He would have heard Jesus saying that he must be exalted. Nicodemus learned what this meant later in the Gospels when he helps with Jesus's funeral.

Wordplay: 

Jesus makes a play on words with "lifted up" on the cross and "exalted."

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "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."

καθὼς [36 verses] (adv) "As" is from kathos, which means "even as", "how", and, in relating to time, "as" and "when."

Μωυσῆς [18 verses](Hebrew Name) "Moses" is Moyses, which means "Moses." -

ὕψωσεν   [8 verses](3rd sg aor ind act) "Lifted up" is hypsoo, which means "to lift high", "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt."

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

ὄφιν [7 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Snake" is from ophis, which means "serpent", "a serpent-like bracelet," and "a creeping plant." It is a metaphor for "an arrow."

ἐν [413 verses](prep)  "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

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

ἐρήμῳ [3 verses](adj sg fem dat) "Desert" is from eremos, which is an adjective (used as a noun) that means "desolate", "lonely", "solitary", "reft of", "destitute of", "bereft of", "unclaimed", "vacant," [of places] "deserted," [of people] "friendless," and "not gregarious."

οὕτως  [137 verses](adv) "Even so" is houtos, which, as an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

ὑψωθῆναι   [8 verses](aor inf pass) "Be lifted up" is from hypsoo, which means "to lift high", "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt."

δει [28 verses](verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Must" is from, dei (dei), which means "needful," and "there is need."

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

υἱὸν [157 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child."

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

ἀνθρώπου [209 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate. -- The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

KJV Analysis: 

And -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

as -- "As" is from a Greek word that means which means "even as," "how," and, in relating to time, "as" and "when."

Moses - "Moses" is from the Greek spelling of the name for the author of the first five books of the OT. Unlike most Hebrew names, Jesus sometimes adds Greek ending to it in the form of a first-declension Greek noun.

lifted -- The word translated as "lifted up" is from a verb that means "to lift high," "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt." Jesus uses several words to mean "lift" or "raise" up but he uses this one primarily when making a play on words.

up-- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "above."

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. 

serpent  -- The word translated as "serpent" is also a kind of fish. The "serpent" was used by Jesus both as a metaphor for wisdom (Mat.10:16) and, of course, an evil cunning.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with" (an instrument), "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

wilderness, - "Wilderness" is from an adjective meaning "desolate," "lonely," and "solitary." It has the sense of the English phrase "the middle of nowhere."

even so -- (CW) The word translated in KJV as "even so" is in its adverbial form, so it means "in this manner" or "in this way."

must -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "must" is a special verb that means  "it is needed," and "there is a need." It is always singular, 3rd person. The subject here is the infinitive of the verb below, "to be lifted up is needed" or more properly in English, "lifting up is needed.

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. 

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 required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, 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. 

man - The Greek word for "man" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men," "people," and "peoples." 

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.

lifted -- (WF) The word translated as "lifted up" is from a verb that means "to lift high," "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt." Jesus uses several words to mean "lift" or "raise" up but he uses this one primarily when making a play on words. In Greek, this is an infinite, which acts as a noun describing the action, "to lift up." It is the subject of "is needed." However, in English, we use the gerund as the subject form of a verb so "lifting up is needed - ."

up-- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "above."

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "even so" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The must" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "lifting" is not an active verb but a verbal noun, "to lift" or "lifting."

NIV Analysis: 

Just -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

as -- "As" is from a Greek word that means which means "even as," "how," and, in relating to time, "as" and "when."

Moses - "Moses" is from the Greek spelling of the name for the author of the first five books of the OT. Unlike most Hebrew names, Jesus sometimes adds Greek ending to it in the form of a first-declension Greek noun.

lifted -- The word translated as "lifted up" is from a verb that means "to lift high," "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt." Jesus uses several words to mean "lift" or "raise" up but he uses this one primarily when making a play on words.

up-- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "above."

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. 

serpent  -- The word translated as "serpent" is also a kind of fish. The "serpent" was used by Jesus both as a metaphor for wisdom (Mat.10:16) and, of course, an evil cunning.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with" (an instrument), "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

wilderness, - "Wilderness" is from an adjective meaning "desolate," "lonely," and "solitary." It has the sense of the English phrase "the middle of nowhere."

so -- The word translated in KJV as "so" is in its adverbial form, so it means "in this manner" or "in this way."

must -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "must" is a special verb that means  "it is needed," and "there is a need." It is always singular, 3rd person. The subject here is the infinitive of the verb below, "to be lifted up is needed" or more properly in English, "lifting up is needed.

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. 

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 required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, 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. 

man - The Greek word for "man" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men," "people," and "peoples." 

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.

lifted -- (WF) The word translated as "lifted up" is from a verb that means "to lift high," "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt." Jesus uses several words to mean "lift" or "raise" up but he uses this one primarily when making a play on words. In Greek, this is an infinite, which acts as a noun describing the action, "to lift up." It is the subject of "is needed." However, in English, we use the gerund as the subject form of a verb so "lifting up is needed - ."

up-- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "above."

NIV Translation Issues: 

3
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The must" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "lifting" is not an active verb but a verbal noun, "to lift" or "lifting."

Front Page Date: 

Jan 20 2022