Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Which, on the other hand, out of you all, the father? He asks--the son--a fish. Do you want, in place of a fish, a serpent to him are going to give afterward? 

KJV : 

Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse combines two verses in Matthew (Matthew 7:9Matthew 7:10) with many differences. The Greek we use today is different from the KJV because it doesn't have the phrase about the bread and the stone. The KJV, however, translates the first part as a statement rather than a question, which is clearly is. There is also an untranslated negative here, which is important to understanding the verse. To make this into a written statement, all the word have been shifted around, so please note the literal version above when reading what is hidden in it. 

The Greek word translated as "if" 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.  

The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." This word appears much later in the verse, after the initial question as part of a separate sentence. 

The verb "ask" has shades of meaning from "demand" to "claim." This word also appears much later in the verse. 

There is no "bread" or "stone" in the Greek we use today. 

The word that begins the verse is translated as "any" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why".  The verse seems to start with this question, but the form is of an object, not a subject. This matches "the father" later in the verse. The KJV has it as the indirect object, that is, the one being asked a question, but the form is not that of an indirect object. We might assume that there was a question asked from the audience that Jesus is answering. He answers with a question.  In context, the question might have been something like, "What does this boy have?" Jesus answers using the same word. In Greek, "what" and "who" in questions are the same word. 

The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" of "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of." There is no "there" there.

The "you" here is plural, indicating many of Christ's listeners. This makes sense because Christ is asking a question of the crowd.

There are not Greek words for "that is". They are added to make a statement out of what seems to be an answer to a question. 

"Father" is the common word for "father". However, it isn't "a father" as it might be addressed to a crowd generally about any boy. It is "the father", which seems to refer to a specific father of a specific boy. The form matches the "who" or "any" that begins the verse as an object. 

The Greek word translated as "fish" means "fish".

The word translated as "will he give" is not from the normal verb translated as "give", but a more complicated word meaning "give besides" or "bestow." It is in the future tense. The form of the verb could be the third person future, "he will give", but it could also be the second person future, "you will give". Given the question at the beginning, this was probably addressed to the father, so "you". 

The untranslated negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true. 

The phrase translated as "for a fish" is from two Greek words meaning literally "against a fish" but the idea is the same. "Against" is from a preposition "anti" which means "opposite" and "against", but it has the specific meaning of "in place of", which is the sense here. The word for "fish" it the same as the one used earlier. 

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.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τίνα (irreg sg masc acc) "Any" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

 δὲ (conj) "If" 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").

ἐξ (prep) "Of" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from."

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen ) "You" is from humon, a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

τὸν πατέρα (noun sg masc acc) "The Father" is pater, which means "father", "grandfather", "author", "parent," and "forefathers." 

αἰτήσει (3rd sg aor subj act) "Ask" is from aiteo, which means "to ask", "to demand", "to beg", "to claim," and "to ask for one's own use."

υἱὸς (noun sg masc nom) "Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child."

 ἰχθὺν (noun sg masc acc) "Fish" is ichthys, which means "fish" and, in the plural, "fish market."

μὴ (partic) Untranslated 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.

ἀντὶ  [uncommon](prep) "For" is from anti (anti) which means "opposite", "over against", "instead", "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for", "for the sake of", "against", "in return", "equal to", "corresponding to," and "mutually."

ἰχθύος (noun sg masc gen)  Untranslated is ichthys, which means "fish" and, in the plural, "fish market."

 ὄφιν (noun sg masc acc) "Serpent" is from ophis, which means "serpent", "a serpent-like bracelet", "a specific constellation", "a creeping plant," and "a type of fish." It is a metaphor for "an arrow."

αὐτῷ; (adj sg masc dat) "Him" is from 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."

ἐπιδώσει (2nd sg fut ind or 3rd sg fut ind act mid) "Will he give" is from epididōmi which means to "give besides", "give afterwards", "contribute as a `benevolence'", "give freely", "bestow", "give oneself up", "devote oneself", "give into another's hands", "deliver", "take as one's witness", "increase", "advance", "improve", "give in," and "give way."

Front Page Date: 

Feb 13 2018