John 8:55 Yet ye have not known him;

Spoken to: 

challengers

Context: 

Jesus's challengers ask him if he is greater than Abraham and the prophets because he offers life.  He says that he does not seek his own honor.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

You just haven't learned to know him [the Father]. I, however, have seen him. If I might say that I haven't seen him, I will be the same as you, a liar. Except I have seen him, and that logic of his I observe.

My Takeaway: 

What we know depends on what we have seen.

KJV : 

John 8:55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.

NIV : 

John 8:55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.

What is Lost in Translation: 

Two different Greek words are both translated as "know." Except for the first "know," the rest mean "see." All these verbs are in the past perfect tense, "have known" and "have seen." Jesus makes a distinction between the way he "has seen" the Father and how the others "haven't known" him. The idea of "having seen" also sets up the final word, the punchline, "that logic of his I observe." The final word is a word that means both "observe" and "obey."

The Greek word translated as "saying" and "words" is the root of our word "logic," and it is the most serious word Jesus uses to refer to what he says. In John 8:51, Jesus use a strong form of possessive to identify his own logic or message. Here, however, he talks about the logic or message of his father. He seems to intentionally switch his claims of ownership with this Father.

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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."

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.

ἐγνώκατε [62 verses](2nd pl perf ind act) "You have...known," is ginosko which means "to learn to know," "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive."

αὐτόν, [720 verses](adj sg masc acc) "Him" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there."

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.

δὲ [446 verses](conj) "But" 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 an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

οἶδα [38 verses](verb 1st sg perf ind act) "Know" is oida which is a form of eido (ἴδω) which means "to see," "to examine," "to perceive," "to behold," "to know how to do," "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

αὐτόν, [720 verses] (adj sg masc acc) "Him" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there."

κἂν [8 verses](conj)  "And if" is kan, which means "and if," "even if," and "although." It is a contraction of kai anKai is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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." An, is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have," "might," "should," and "could."

εἴπω [162 verses] (1st sg aor subj act) "I should say" is eipon, which means "to speak," "to say," "to recite," "to address," "to mention," "to name," "to proclaim," "to plead," "to promise," and "to offer."

ὅτι [332 verses](adv/conj) "That" is hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that," "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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.

οἶδα [38 verses](verb 1st sg perf ind act) "Know" is oida which is a form of eido (ἴδω) which means "to see," "to examine," "to perceive," "to behold," "to know how to do," "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

αὐτόν, [720 verses] (adj sg masc acc) "Him" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there." -

ἔσομαι .[614 verses](1st sg fut ind mid) "I shall be" 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.

ὅμοιος  [29 verses](adj sg masc nom) "Like" is homoios, which means "like," "resembling," "the same," "equal in force, "a match for one," "suiting," "of the same rank," "alike," "in like manner," and "equally."

ὑμῖν [289 verses](pron 2nd pl dat) "To you" is humin the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." 

ψεύστης [2 verses](noun sg masc nom) "A liar" is from pseustes, which means "liar", "cheat", "lying," and "false."

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

οἶδα [38 verses](verb 1st sg perf ind act) "Know" is oida which is a form of eido (ἴδω) which means "to see," "to examine," "to perceive," "to behold," "to know how to do," "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know." -- The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English.

αὐτόν, [720 verses](adj sg masc acc) "Him" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there." -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The word means "the same" when used as an adjective. In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there." This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "And" is kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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."

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

λόγον [80 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Word" is logos, which means "word," "computation," "relation," "explanation," "law," "rule of conduct," "continuous statement," "tradition," "discussion," "reckoning," "reputation" (when applied to people), and "value."

αὐτοῦ [720 verses](adj sg masc gen) "His" is autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord." In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there."

τηρῶ. [17 verses] (1st sg pres ind act) "Keep" is tereo, which means "to watch over," "to guard," "to take care of," "to give heed to," "to keep," "to test by observation or trial," and "to observe."

KJV Analysis: 

Yet -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "yet" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as." There are a number of Greek words that are used for "yet," but this is not one of them.

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

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

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.

known -- "Known" is a verb that means "to know," "to recognize," "make known," "to know carnally," and "to learn.

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

but -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand." It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  It can also be an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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."

know -- (CW, WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

and if --  "And if" is a conjunction that means "and if," "even if," and "although."  It is a contraction of the conjunction "and" that joins and the particle that indicates a possibility,

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb. This is not the pronoun used above.

should -- This helping verb "should" describes a possibility, in Greek, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause as this one is.

say,   - The word translated as "say" means "to say" and "to speak." It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

missing "that"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

know -- (CW, WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

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.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. This is different than the subjunctive "should" above.

be -- 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.

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

liar  -- "Liar" is a word that means, as a noun, "liar", "cheat", or the adjective, "lying," and "false." Jesus only uses this word one other time in John 8:44 where it is used to describe the "father" of lies.

like -- The word translated as "like" is an adjective that means "like," "resembling," and "matching."

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

you: -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

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" above. Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, not doing something, with a positive one, "instead do this."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

know -- (CW, WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

, and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

keep   - The word translated as "keep" means "to watch over," "to guard," "to take care of," "to give heed to," "to keep," "to test by observation or trial," and "to observe." Jesus uses this word seventeen times, almost always with the idea of "keeping" in one commandment or another. "Keep" works best because it combines the idea of "guarding" and "observing."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

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. 

saying.-- (CW) "Sayings" is translated from a Greek word that means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. However, when applied to people, it means "repute" or "reputation." More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means the communication of various types, so "message" often works better.

KJV Translation Issues: 

12
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "yet" is not a common word usually translated as "yet."
  • MW -- Missing Word  -- The pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "I myself."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "know" is not the common word usually translated as "know" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "know" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have known."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "know" is not the common word usually translated as "know" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "know" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have known."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" is not the common word usually translated as "but" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "know" is not the common word usually translated as "know" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "know" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have known."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "sayings" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "sayings" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

NIV Analysis: 

Though -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "yet" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as." There are a number of Greek words that are used for "though," but this is not one of them.

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English.

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

know -- (WT) "Know" is a verb that means "to know," "to recognize," "make known," "to know carnally," and "to learn.

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

missing "but"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "but" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand." It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  It can also be an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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."

know -- (CW, WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

missing "and"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). It appears as part of the contraction with the "if" below.

If --  "And if" is a conjunction that means "and if," "even if," and "although."  It is a contraction of the conjunction "and" that joins and the particle that indicates a possibility,

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb. This is not the pronoun used above.

said    - The word translated as "said" means "to say" and "to speak." It is one of the two most common words translated "speak," "say" and "tell," but it has more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

missing "that"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

did -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English.

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.

missing "know"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

missing "him"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

would -- This helping verb "would " indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. This is different than the subjunctive "should" above.

be -- 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.

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

liar  -- "Liar" is a word that means, as a noun, "liar", "cheat", or the adjective, "lying," and "false." Jesus only uses this word one other time in John 8:44 where it is used to describe the "father" of lies.

like -- The word translated as "like" is an adjective that means "like," "resembling," and "matching."

you: -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

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" above. Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, not doing something, with a positive one, "instead do this."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

know -- (CW, WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. This is not the verb translated as "know" at the beginning of the verse. This is also the past perfect tense so it should be "have known."

him; -- The word translated as "him" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. 

, and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as."

obey - The word translated as "keep" means "to watch over," "to guard," "to take care of," "to give heed to," "to keep," "to test by observation or trial," and "to observe." Jesus uses this word seventeen times, almost always with the idea of "keeping" in one commandment or another. "Keep" works best because it combines the idea of "guarding" and "observing."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

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. 

word.-- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. However, when applied to people, it means "repute" or "reputation." More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means the communication of various types, so "message" often works better.

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "though" is not a common word usually translated as "yet."
  • 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 "know" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have known."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "know" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "him" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" is not the common word usually translated as "but" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "know" is not the common word usually translated as "know" used at the beginning of the verse.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "know" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have known."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "sayings" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 15 2022