Mark 4:9 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Spoken to: 

audience

After finishing the parable of the seeds.

KJV : 

Mark 4:9 ...He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

NIV : 

Mark 4:9 Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Listeners Heard: 

Whoever has ears to hear, he must hear.

My Takeaway: 

We must listen to Jesus with the ears that want to hear, not normal ears.

Lost in Translation: 

Jesus repeats this phrase in various forms about eight times in Gospels (see list of verses hear, I mean, here). This makes it one of his common humorous catchphrases.

This second "hear" in this verse is a third-party command, which is translated in a misleading way (See this description of this verb form.)

Original Word Order: 

Ὃς           ἔχει  ὦτα  ἀκούειν ἀκουέτω.
Whoever  has  ears  to hear,   he must hear.

WORD-BY-WORD COMPARISON OF THE GREEK TO ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS: 

Ὃς [294 verses]( pron sg masc nom) "He that" is hos, which means "this," "that," "he," "she," "it," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἔχει: [181 verses](3rd sg pres ind act) "He hath" is echo, which means "to have," "to hold," "to possess," "to keep," "to have charge of," "to have due to one," "to maintain," "to hold fast," "to hold in," "to bear," "to carry," "to keep close," "to keep safe," and "to have means to do." In aorist, it can mean "acquire," or "get." The main sense when it has an object is "to have" or "to hold." It can also mean "to without" or "keep back" a thing.

ὦτα [15 verses](noun pl neut acc) "Ears" is from ous, which means "ear" and things that resemble an ear, such as a handle on pitchers, cups, etc.

ἀκούειν [95 verses]( verb pres inf act) "To hear" is akouo,  which means "hear of," "hear tell of," "what one actually hears," "know by hearsay," "listen to," "give ear to," "hear and understand," and "understand." The accusative object is the person/thing heard about, while the genitive is the person/thing heard from.  However, two genitives can be used with the sense of "hear of a thing from a person."

ἀκουέτω [95 verses]( verb 3rd sg pres imperat act ) "Let him hear" is akouo,  which means "hear of," "hear tell of," "what one actually hears," "know by hearsay," "listen to," "give ear to," "hear and understand," and "understand." The accusative object is the person/thing heard about, while the genitive is the person/thing heard from.  However, two genitives can be used with the sense of "hear of a thing from a person." -

KJV Analysis: 

He -- (IW) This comes from the masculine form of the following demonstrative pronoun.

that -- The word translated as "That" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun, "he," "she," "it," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

hath   -- The word translated as "hath" means to "have," "possess," "bear," "keep close," "hold in," "have means to do,"  "to have due to one," or "keep" and many specific uses.

ears -- The term translated as "ears" means "ear," things resembling a handle, and is a metaphor for understanding.

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

hear,  "To hear" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.   It also means "to listen" and "to understand," but amusingly, it also means "to be silent." The accusative object is the person/thing heard about, while the genitive is the person/thing heard from.  The form is an infinitive, "to hear."

let -- This "let" is the helping verb used to translate the Greek form of the third-person command. In English all commands are in the second person. This form is used as something like our word "must." Using "let" as the active verb, rather than a helper verb like "must," changes the subject from the third party to the second.

him -- (WF) This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb. It is not the object of the verb.

hear. -- "Hear" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.   It also means "to listen" and "to understand," but amusingly, it also means "to be silent." The form is a 3rd-person command. (See this description of this verb form.)

KJV Translation Issues: 

2
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "he" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF -- Wrong Form -  The "him" is not the object but the subject of the verb "he."

NIV Analysis: 

has ears to hear, let them hear.”

Whoever -- The word translated as "That" is a demonstrative pronoun ("this" "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun, "he," "she," "it," "which," "what," "who," "whosoever," "where," "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

has   -- The word translated as "has" means to "have," "possess," "bear," "keep close," "hold in," "have means to do,"  "to have due to one," or "keep" and many specific uses.

ears -- The term translated as "ears" means "ear," things resembling a handle, and is a metaphor for understanding.

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

hear,  "To hear" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.   It also means "to listen" and "to understand," but amusingly, it also means "to be silent." The accusative object is the person/thing heard about, while the genitive is the person/thing heard from.  The form is an infinitive, "to hear."

let -- This "let" is the helping verb used to translate the Greek form of the third-person command. In English all commands are in the second person. This form is used as something like our word "must." Using "let" as the active verb, rather than a helper verb like "must," changes the subject from the third party to the second.

them -- (WF, WN) This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb. It is not the object of the verb. It is not plural.

hear. -- "Hear" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.   It also means "to listen" and "to understand," but amusingly, it also means "to be silent." The form is a 3rd-person command. (See this description of this verb form.)

NIV Translation Issues: 

3
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "he" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF -- Wrong Form -  The "him" is not the object but the subject of the verb "he."
  • WN  --Wrong Number- The word "them" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.

Related Verses: 

Unimportant Opinions and Imaginings: 

However, this phrase was later used by Plutarch, a Greek historian living after Christ. He used it to refer to spies in Persia. It may have been a more general phrase referring to speaking on coded terms, as this parable does. This raises a question about a possible reason for the parables: so Jesus could say more revolutionary things about the coming of the kingdom of heaven without triggering the laws against sedition.

Front Page Date: 

Mar 14 2023