Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Keep wake everyone and pray for yourselves because you don't want to show up in a trial. On one hand the breath [of life is] eager, on the other hand the flesh [is] weak.

KJV : 

Mark 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

NIV : 

Mark 14:38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

3rd Translation: 

Mark 14:38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There are so many mistranslations in the different English versions of this verse, that we cannot cite everything that is hidden. All of the verbs in this verse are somewhat inaccurately translated: wrong meanings, confusing meanings, wrong tenses.

Jesus switches here from talking to Simon alone in the previous verse to talking to the entire group. We cannot see the change from singular verbs to plural ones in English without adding a phrase like "all of you."

The word translated as "temptation" means "trial" or "testing" without any of the moral sense of temptation. In the Greek, it seems as thought Jesus may be worried about them being arrested with him. You cannot see this because the verb translated as "enter/fall/give" actually means "come" or "show up."

See this article on the words translated as "spirit" and "flesh" because Jesus uses these terms in very specific ways.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

γρηγορεῖτε (verb 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Watch ye" is from gregoreo, which means "to become fully awake," and "to watch."

καὶ (conj/prep) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." 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."

προσεύχεσθε, (verb 2nd pl pres imperat mp) "Pray" is from proseuchomai, which means "to offer prayers or vows", "to worship," and "to pray for a thing. It is the combination of two Greek words, pros, meaning "towards" or "by reason of," and euchomai, meaning "to pray to God."

ἵνα (adv/conj) Untranslated is hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because." -- The word translated as "that" is an adverb or a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

μὴ (partic)"Lest" is from 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. It also has a secondary use as "lest perchance."

ἔλθητε (verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye enter"  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.  There is a version of this word eiserchomai from this root that means "enter" but this in not that word.

εἰς (prep) "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)."

πειρασμόν: (noun sg masc acc) "Temptation" is from peirasmos, which means a "trial", "worry," and only by extension "temptation."

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by the particle below.

μὲν (partic) "Truly" is from men, a particle which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly." Used with the conjunction de, as it is here, it points out the specific word being contrast after the conjunction. In English, we usually say, one one hand

πνεῦμα (noun sg neut nom/acc) "Spirit" is pneuma, which means "blast", "wind", "breath", "the breath of life", "divine inspiration", "a spiritual or immaterial being," and "the spirit" of a man.

πρόθυμον [2 verses](adj sg neut nom/acc) "Is willing" is prothymos, which means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily."

(article sg neut nom/acc) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

δὲ (conj) "But" is from 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"). Here, the prior use of the men particle makes its use indicating the other half of a contrast, "on the other hand"

σὰρξ (noun sg fem nom) "The flesh" is from sarx (sarx), which means "flesh", "the body", "fleshy", "the pulp of fruit", "meat," and "the physical and natural order of things" (opposite of the spiritual or supernatural).

ἀσθενής. [5 verses](adj sg fem nom) "Weak" is asthenes, which means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It could be the verb (meaning "to be weak" or "to be sickly") used in the earlier verse, but it would be in the second person, singular, "You are/were weak/sickly." So it doesn't fit.

KJV Analysis: 

Watch -- "Watch" is from a verb that means "to be or to become fully awake." It is in the form of an command "be fully awake". In English, we would say "wake up" to someone sleeping and "stay awake" to someone already awake. In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch."

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

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".

pray, -- The word "pray" means "to offer prayers" to God. However, in this form, it has the sense of praying for your benefit.

untranslated "by/for yourselves"-- (MW) An untranslated phrase is necessary because the form of the word is a middle voice, which means that the person is to "pray for yourselves" or "pray by yourselves"

untranslated "that"-- (MW) The untranslated word -"that" is an adverb or a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

lest -- 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. When a negative precedes the verb, as it does here, it affects the whole clause.

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

enter -- (WW) The word translated as "ye enter" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It 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. There is a version of this word that has a prefix that means "enter," but this is not that word.

into -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

temptation. -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "temptation" doesn't primarily means that. It means a "trial" as in a "worry." Jesus doesn't use this term but another Greek word to refer to court trials. So it means a "trial" as a "test." This may be considered a "temptation" in one sense, but it is not the primary meaning of the word in English.  Again, this is an uncommon word in Jesus's teaching.

The -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

spirit The word translated as "spirit" has been used in the section to mean "non-material beings" but it primarily means "breath", "wind," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' Its meaning as "the breath of life" is brought out by the idea of creating life. Its meaning as "spiritual" is brought out by the contrast with "physical". Read this article when contrast with similar terms for the soul, life, and mind.

truly --  (WW) The "truly" here is a particle, which. when used alone, expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" it takes on the meaning "on one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

ready, -- The term translated as "willing means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily." This is an uncommon word from Jesus to use.

but -- (WW) The "but" here is the particle frequently translated as the English conjunction "but" but this word has a number of specific use, one of which is to indicate the other half of a contrast where the first half is indicated by the word translated "indeed" above. The meaning here becomes "on the other hand."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

flesh The Greek word translated as "the flesh" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the later sense. See this article on the words translated as "spirit" and "flesh."

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

weak. -- The word used for "weak"" means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It was translated as "sick" in Matthew 25:43, in the sense of "I was sick and you visited me."

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "by/for yourselves" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "enter" means "come" or "show up."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "temptation" only in the sense of a "test" or "trial."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "truly" means "on one hand."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" means "on the other hand."

NIV Analysis: 

Watch -- "Watch" is from a verb that means "to be or to become fully awake." It is in the form of an command "be fully awake". In English, we would say "wake up" to someone sleeping and "stay awake" to someone already awake. In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch."

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".

pray, -- The word "pray" means "to offer prayers" to God. However, in this form, it has the sense of praying for your benefit.

untranslated "by/for yourselves"-- (MW) An untranslated phrase is necessary because the form of the word is a middle voice, which means that the person is to "pray for yourselves" or "pray by yourselves"

so that--  The word "so that" is a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

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

will -- (WW) This helping  verb indicates that the verb is the future tense, but it isn't. It is in the form of possibility so it needs a "should" or "might."

not -- 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. When a negative precedes the verb, as it does here, it affects the whole clause.

fall -- (WW) The word translated as "ye enter" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It 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. 

into -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

temptation. -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "temptation" doesn't primarily means that. It means a "trial" as in a "worry." Jesus doesn't use this term but another Greek word to refer to court trials. So it means a "trial" as a "test." This may be considered a "temptation" in one sense, but it is not the primary meaning of the word in English.  Again, this is an uncommon word in Jesus's teaching.

The -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

spirit The word translated as "spirit" has been used in the section to mean "non-material beings" but it primarily means "breath", "wind," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' Its meaning as "the breath of life" is brought out by the idea of creating life. Its meaning as "spiritual" is brought out by the contrast with "physical". Read this article when contrast with similar terms for the soul, life, and mind.

untranslated "on one hand"-- (MW) The untranslated word is a particle, which, when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" it takes on the meaning "on one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

ready, -- The term translated as "willing means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily." This is an uncommon word from Jesus to use.

but -- (WW) The "but" here is the particle frequently translated as the English conjunction "but" but this word has a number of specific use, one of which is to indicate the other half of a contrast where the first half is indicated by the word translated "indeed" above. The meaning here becomes "on the other hand."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

flesh The Greek word translated as "the flesh" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the later sense. See this article on the words translated as "spirit" and "flesh."

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

weak. -- The word used for "weak"" means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It was translated as "sick" in Matthew 25:43, in the sense of "I was sick and you visited me."

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW - Missing Word -- The words "by/for yourselves" are not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "will" means "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "fall" means "on one hand."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "temptation" only in the sense of a "test" or "trial."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "on one hand" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" means "on the other hand."

3rd Analysis: 

Keep watch -- "Watch" is from a verb that means "to be or to become fully awake." It is in the form of an command "be fully awake". In English, we would say "wake up" to someone sleeping and "stay awake" to someone already awake. In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch."

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".

pray, -- The word "pray" means "to offer prayers" to God. However, in this form, it has the sense of praying for your benefit.

untranslated "by/for yourselves"-- (MW) An untranslated phrase is necessary because the form of the word is a middle voice, which means that the person is to "pray for yourselves" or "pray by yourselves"

so that--  The word "so that" is a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

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

will -- (WW) This helping  verb indicates that the verb is the future tense, but it isn't. It is in the form of possibility so it needs a "should" or "might."

not -- 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. When a negative precedes the verb, as it does here, it affects the whole clause.

give -- (WW) The word translated as "ye enter" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It 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. 

into -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

temptation. -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "temptation" doesn't primarily means that. It means a "trial" as in a "worry." Jesus doesn't use this term but another Greek word to refer to court trials. So it means a "trial" as a "test." This may be considered a "temptation" in one sense, but it is not the primary meaning of the word in English.  Again, this is an uncommon word in Jesus's teaching.

The -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

spirit The word translated as "spirit" has been used in the section to mean "non-material beings" but it primarily means "breath", "wind," and "blast." Like "spirit" in English, it can also mean "attitude" or "motivation.' Its meaning as "the breath of life" is brought out by the idea of creating life. Its meaning as "spiritual" is brought out by the contrast with "physical". Read this article when contrast with similar terms for the soul, life, and mind.

untranslated "on one hand"-- (MW) The untranslated word is a particle, which, when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" it takes on the meaning "on one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

ready, -- The term translated as "willing means "ready", "willing", "eager", "bearing goodwill", "wishing well," and "readily." This is an uncommon word from Jesus to use.

but -- (WW) The "but" here is the particle frequently translated as the English conjunction "but" but this word has a number of specific use, one of which is to indicate the other half of a contrast where the first half is indicated by the word translated "indeed" above. The meaning here becomes "on the other hand."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

body -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "body" means "flesh", "meat," and "the physical order of things" as opposed to the spiritual. This is not the word translated as "body" normally in the NT.  In contrasting it with "spirit," he is making it clear that he has been using it in the later sense. See this article on the words translated as "spirit" and "flesh."

is -- There is no verb "is" here. It is assumed because the noun is followed by an adjective describing it. For a technically correct sentence in written English, a verb is needed, but if we imagine this spoken, the verb is unnecessary.

weak. -- The word used for "weak"" means "without strength," "weak", in body "feeble", "sickly", in power, "weak", "feeble", in property, "weak", "poor", and "insignificant." It was translated as "sick" in Matthew 25:43, in the sense of "I was sick and you visited me."

3rd Issue Count: 

7
  • MW - Missing Word -- The words "by/for yourselves" are not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "will" means "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "fall" means "on one hand."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "temptation" only in the sense of a "test" or "trial."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "on one hand" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" means "on the other hand."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "body" means "flesh"

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

In the last few chapters, the original Greek focuses on the idea being awake and ready. In English, this is lost because the term for awake is often translated as "watch." One way to read this is that divine inspiration keeps us ready but the weakness of our earthly bonds to God make it hard to keep connected with that divine breath.

"Flesh" is not the word that Jesus uses for "body." The "body" is the physical part of a person without their soul, but in the Greek the word for "flesh" here has an even lower sense, that of being just meat, but Jesus doesn't use it that way. He uses this word "flesh" as of the physical existence and relationships between people. It is used somewhat sparingly by Jesus in Matthew (Matthew 16:17, Matthew 19:5), Matthew 24:22 but Christ uses it heavily in John sometimes to equate his own body with the flesh of food. For Christ, the word captures the abilities of the physical body, those we share with animals.

Front Page Date: 

Feb 1 2020