Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

John the Baptist, description

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

This is because the shining light and the Jewish traditions until John predicted the future.

My Takeaway: 

The law and the prophets interpreted the Divine but John didn't.

KJV : 

Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.

NIV : 

Matthew 11:13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is a good example of how the meaning of words has been changed over time, both by the Bible itself and other forces. Today, there is a difference in how we read the word "prophet" and "prophesied" and how the people of Christ's time understood these words. We use the untranslated Greek words because of what these Greek words in English came to mean in the 1,500 years after Christ, but that was not their meaning at the time.  There is also a difference in how we understand what is translated as "the law."

The people of Jesus's time thought of the prophets as history's "shining lights," which is what the word means.

Jesus is clearly saying that John marked a transition point in history.
 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πάντες (adj pl masc nom) "All" is from pas, which means "all," "the whole," "every," "anyone," "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way," "on every side," "in every way," and "altogether."

γὰρ (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."

οἱ  - (article pl masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

προφῆται (noun pl masc nom) "The prophets" is from prophetes, which means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will," "interpreter," "keepers of the oracle," "the highest level of priesthood in Egypt," "interpreter," and "herald."

καὶ (conj) "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."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

νόμος (noun sg masc nom) "Law" is from nomos, which means "anything assigned," "a usage," "custom," "law," "ordinance," or "that which is a habitual practice." It is the basis of the English words "norm" and "normal."

ἕως (conj) "Until" is from heos which means "until," "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that." -- The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

Ἰωάνου (noun sg masc gen) "John" is from Ioannes, which is the Greek form of the name "John."

ἐπροφήτευσαν: [4 verses](3rd pl aor ind act) "Prophesied" is propheteuo, which means "to be an interpreter of the gods," "to be an intermediary in asking," "to be one with oracular power," "to hold the office of prophet," "to be a quack doctor," and "to have a spiritual impulse to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others."

KJV Analysis: 

For  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

all  - The word translated as "all " is a word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. 

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

prophets  - (UW) "Prophets" is a word that means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will," "interpreter," and "herald." However, it is a verb that means "to shine forth" so it works more like our phrase "shining lights." Notice, it does not mean someone who predicts the future, which has become its sense in English. Jesus also used this term to refer to specific books of the Jewish Bible. Read this article for more information

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."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

law  - (CW) "Law" is a Greek noun means "that which is in habitual practice" and is uses to mean "custom," "usage," "law," and "ordinance." "Law" was not a narrow term regarding civil or even religious laws. It encompassed all of the traditions, which were assumed to have practical value in coping with natural laws.  Jesus also used this term to refer to specific books of the Torah, See this article.

prophesied  - (UW) The word translated as "prophesied" doesn't actually means to make prophesies, but "to be a prophet," that is, to be a "shining light."   This has a broader meaning in the original Greek than in English. In English, it is limited to foreseeing the future, but in Greek it means "being an interpreter for the gods," and, surprisingly, "being a quack doctor." However, Jesus only uses this verb four times, and twice he clearly used it to predict the future.

until  - The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

John.  - --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name.

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "prophets" means "shining light" or "oracle." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "law" does not refer to civil or government law, but the Jewish books of law.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "prophesied" means to "foretell the future" as a spokesperson for God.

NIV Analysis: 

For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

For  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

all  - The word translated as "all " is a word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. 

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Prophets - (UW) "Prophets" is a word that means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will," "interpreter," and "herald." However, it is a verb that means "to shine forth" so it works more like our phrase "shining lights." Notice, it does not mean someone who predicts the future, which has become its sense in English. Jesus also used this term to refer to specific books of the Jewish Bible. Read this article for more information.

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."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Law - (CW) "Law" is a Greek noun means "that which is in habitual practice" and is uses to mean "custom," "usage," "law," and "ordinance." "Law" was not a narrow term regarding civil or even religious laws. It encompassed all of the traditions, which were assumed to have practical value in coping with natural laws.  Jesus also used this term to refer to specific books of the Torah, See this article.

prophesied  - (UW) The word translated as "prophesied" doesn't actually means to make prophesies, but "to be a prophet," that is, to be a "shining light."   This has a broader meaning in the original Greek than in English. In English, it is limited to foreseeing the future, but in Greek it means "being an interpreter for the gods," and, surprisingly, "being a quack doctor." However, Jesus only uses this verb four times, and twice he clearly used it to predict the future.

until  - The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

John.  - --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name.

NIV Translation Issues: 

3
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "prophets" means "shining light" or "oracle." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "law" does not refer to civil or government law, but the Jewish books of law.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "prophesied" means to "foretell the future" as a spokesperson for God.

Front Page Date: 

Oct 5 2020