Luke 17:1 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come

KJV : 

Luke 17:1 It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!

Literal Verse: 

Not possibly allowed? It is of someone. These traps? Not to show up? Except, oy-vey, through whoever shows up himself.

What is Lost in Translation: 

There is very little in the Greek that conforms to the KJV translation or most other Biblical translations, which just rephrase the KJV, which ignores several key words and adds others out of nothing. This verse seems to be the answer to a question. As a spoken phrase, exactly translated as recorded, it has a certain humor and communicates a clear idea, but one very different from the KJV.  Very possibly the same type of question that generated Matthew 19:26, which is similar to the first part of this verse. This previous story about Lazarus makes a similar point about how the wealthy can suffer in the afterlife. In Matthew, this triggered the question about how anyone could be saved? The last part repeats the last part of  Matthew 18:7 in very much the same, distinctive language.

The verb "it 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.   When the verb "to be" appears without a clear subject, the sense is more like "it is".

The "impossible" here is a very rare word in written Greek, occurring only here and one other place.  It is made of a negative prefix with a root word that means "allowed" or "possible". This is more like "not allowed" than the "not capable of" word translated as "impossible" in Matthew 19:26.

An key untranslated Greek word appears here that means "anyone", "someone," and "anything." The form is possessive, "of someone" or "of something".

There is no "but" here.

There is also no "that" here to indicate a dependent clause. What follows is a new sentence. Like the previous "but" this "that" is simply added.

"Offences" is from a noun that means "a trap or snare for the enemy." It is plural and introduced by an article, so "these traps". The form is plural and it could be either the subject or object of the verb. Again, this sounds like the answer to a question.

The most important untranslated keyword is a negative "not", which appears after "offences" and before the verb. The 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. If it wasn't done or wasn't true, the objective negative of fact would be used. The "don't want" sense explains the verb form used later.

The word translated as "will come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. The form is not active and no the future tense. It is an infinitive, "to come" or "to show up." The phrase is "not to show up". This verb  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.

The word translated as "but" here is not the normal conjunction translated as "but" be an uncommon preposition that means "except." This word was also used in the final part of Matthew 19:26 and connects them.

"Woe" is from an exclamation of grief, meaning "woe" or "alas."  It is likely the source of the Yiddish, oy-vey, which is closely resembles both in sound and meaning. It has a humorous element.

The word translated as "through" means "through," in the midst of," or "by (a cause)." This is the same Greek word used in Matthew, but translated as "by".

The word translated as "whom" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. It means means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

The "they come" here is the same word as the earlier "come," so "show up",  but it is not plural, as translated. It is  singular and in a form that indicates the subject, the whoever, acting on himself. In Matthew, however, an addition word "trap" could be the subject.

Greek : 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀνένδεκτόν [unique]( adj sg neut nom )"Impossible" is anendektos, which means "inadmissible", "impossible."

ἐστιν (verb 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." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") --

τοῦ (pron sg gen) Untranslated is 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."

τὰ σκάνδαλα [uncommon](noun pl neut nom/acc) "Offences" is from skandalon, which means a "trap" or "snare" for an enemy. It is not Greek, but based on the Hebrew and Aramaic word. This is one of the words that first occurs in the Greek version of the Old Testament from the Hebrew word for "noose" or "snare."

μὴ (conj particle) (partic) "But" 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.

ἐλθεῖν, ( verb aor inf act) "Will 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.

πλὴν (prep) "But" is from plen, which is a preposition meaning "except", "save", "besides," and "in addition to." Often used with the negative as a conjunction, "except not." -- The word translated as "nevertheless" is a less common preposition used like a conjunction that means "except", "save", "besides," and "in addition to."

οὐαὶ (exclam) "Woe" is from ouai, which is an exclamation of pain or anger meaning "woe" or "alas."

δι᾽ (prep) "Through" is from dia which means "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between."

οὗ (pron sg masc gen) "Whom" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἔρχεται: (verb 3rd sg pres ind mp) "They come" is from 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. --

Related Verses: 

Front Page Date: 

Sep 5 2018