Matthew 11:15 He who has ears to hear,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

About John the Baptist, description

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The one having ears? He must hear!

My Takeaway: 

People are not always willing to hear what Jesus says plainly.

KJV : 

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

NIV : 

Matthew 11:15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Jesus uses a phrase similar to this a number of times. See the related verses below. It makes a point but in a humorous way.  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 This raises a question about a possible reason for the parables, which are coming ujp soon, so Jesus could say more revolutionary things about the coming of the kingdom of heaven without triggering laws against sedition.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

 (article sg masc nom ) "He" 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." ​

ἔχων (part sg pres act masc nom) "He that haveth" is from echo, which means "to have," "to hold," "to possess," "to keep," "to have charge of," "to maintain," "to hold fast," "to bear," "to keep close," "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

ὦτα (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.

ἀκουέτω. (3rd sg pres imperat act) "Hears" is from 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."

KJV Analysis: 

He  - The word translated as "He" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

hath  - (WF) The Greek verb translated as "hath" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb than the English "have" is. The form of the verb is that of an adjective, "having," but used as a noun, introduced by an article, "the one having."

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

to hear, -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "to hear" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

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."

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

hear.  - The Greek verb for "hear," means "to hear," "to listen," "to obey," and "to understand." It is in a Greek form that the KJV and most other Bible translations translate as "let him hear," but in modern English "let" has the sense of allowing something. That is not the sense in Greek. This is a command, something that must happen. A more accurate translation is "he must hear." 

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "hath" is not an active verb but a participle, "having."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "to hear" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "him" is not an object but a subject, "he."

NIV Analysis: 

Whoever - (CW) The word translated as "whoever " is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

that -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "that" in the Greek source.

has   - (WF) The Greek verb translated as "has" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb than the English "have" is. The form of the verb is that of an adjective, "having," but used as a noun, introduced by an article, "the one having."

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

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."

let thear.

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

hear.  - The Greek verb for "hear," means "to hear," "to listen," "to obey," and "to understand." It is in a Greek form that the KJV and most other Bible translations translate as "let him hear," but in modern English "let" has the sense of allowing something. That is not the sense in Greek. This is a command, something that must happen. A more accurate translation is "he must hear." 

NIV Translation Issues: 

4
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "has" is not an active verb but a participle, "having."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "them" is not an object but a subject, "he."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "them" is translated as plural but it is singular.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

The one with the ability to hear, he must understand. 

Front Page Date: 

Oct 7 2020