Luke 18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Easier, consequently, it is [to have] a camel through the hole in a needle than a wealthy into the realm of the Divine to enter.

KJV : 

Luke 18:25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse is likely a play on a double meaning of both "camel" and "eye of a needle". It changes Matthew 19:24  primarily in the placement of a verb and the word used for "needle". The version in Mark is the only one that has both the "to go" and "to enter" verbs.

The Greek word translated as "and" joins phrases in an adversarial way and is usually translated as "but." Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "as an explanation" or "as a cause". 

When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."

"Easier" is from an adjective that means "easy." It is in the form of a subject or object of the sentence and it in a comparative form.

There is no word translated as "for" here. The following word, however, is in the form of an object of the action, so it implies a "to have".

"A camel" is translated from a Greek word that means "camel." It is in the form of an object of the verb translated as "to go." However, in Aramaic, a similar word means both "camel" and "rope." In Greek, they are slightly different. There is also the idea that this could be a reference to the "needle" gate in Jerusalem. Read the article here for a pretty good (but not perfect) analysis here.

There is no "to go" here. There is in the Matthew version, but here it is at the end of the verse, referring to the rich.

"Eye" is translated from a Greek word that generally means a "hole" or "opening."

"Needle" is translated from a Greek word that means "needle."

"An eye of a needle" could also refer a gate in Jerusalem. Usually, this would be that an article would be used "the eye of the needle", but the phrase is without articles so " an eye of a needle". But if it was a place name, it could have been called simple "eye of the needle".

A different word for the needle is used in Matthew 19:24. The term here is the common sewing needle. The term in Matthew is a surgical needle.

The word translated as "than" usually means "or" but when used in a comparative, as here, means "then."

There is no "for" in the Greek source here. Again, there is an implied "to have" from the form of the adjective "rich".

"Rich man" is from an adjective that means "rich," and "opulent." It very much has the sense of ostentatiously rich. Here, it is not used with an article as in the previous verse. It is an object, like "camel" above so this is what else is "put through" a needle.

"To enter" is from a verb that which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind." Here it is used as a transitive verb, so "enter" works best, but we might say "lead into." This is a different word than the one from the source of the KJV, which emphasized the "through" rather than "into."

The "into" here is the same as the previous verse.

The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

The word for "God" or "the deity" is used here. This is a change from the previous verse.

Wordplay: 

 A play on the word for "camel" and "rope."

A play on a regular needle and the needle gate in Jerusalem. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

εὐκοπώτερόν (adj sg neut nom acc comp) "Easier" is from eukopo, which means "easy." The word is used primarily in the New Testament. It is a compound eu, the word for "well", "thoroughly", "competently", "fortunately," and "happily," and kopos, which means "striking", "beating", "toil and trouble", "fatigue," and "work."

γάρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question, it means "why" and "what."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "It is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."

κάμηλον (noun sg masc acc) "Camel" is from kamelos, which means "camel." However, in Aramaic (gamal), the word means both "camel" and "rope." In Greek, they are slightly different, kamelos and kamilos. There is also the idea that this could be a reference to the "needle" gate in Jerusalem. Read the article here for a pretty good (but not perfect) analysis here.

διὰ (prep) "Through" is from dia which means "through", "in the midst of", "in a line (movement)", "throughout (time)", "by (causal)", "among," and "between." -- The word translated as "through" means "through," in the midst of," or "by (a cause)."

τρήματος (noun sg neut gen) "Eye" is from trymalia (trymalia), which means "hole", "perforation", "aperture," and "orifice,"

βελόνης [unique](noun sg fem gen) "Needle" is from belone, which means "needle." This is more of a sewing needle.

(conj/adv) "Than" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

πλούσιον (adj sg masc acc) "Rich man" is from plousios, which means "rich," and "opulent." It very much has the sense of ostentatiously rich.

εἰς "Into" is from 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)."

τὴν βασιλείαν (noun sg fem acc) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τοῦ θεοῦ. (noun sg masc gen) "God" is from theos, which means "God," "divine," and "Deity."

εἰσελθεῖν (verb aor inf act) "To go" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into", "to come in", "to enter", "to enter an office", "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

Front Page Date: 

Oct 24 2018