Matthew 12:31 All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men:

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Pharisees attack, casting out demons, joining or scattering

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

By this I am teaching you: every error and slander are going to be let go for these men. That, however, about the spirit? Slander is not going to be let go.

My Takeaway: 

All human mistakes are eventually dropped except those that deny the existence of the human soul itself, whihc are remembered from generation to generation.

KJV : 

Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

NIV : 

Matthew 12:31And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is a good example of putting a specific religious teaching into translation. This verse does not reference the "Holy Ghost" but simply the "spirit." Notice how the more recent NIV translation eliminates the "holy," but still capitalizes "Spirit" to maintain that teaching. Of course since all the original Greek was capitalized, this doesn't reflect anything in the Greek.

The beginning of the verse is changed because the phrase, "through this" doesn't seem to apply to Jesus's previous verse. The Unrecorded Dialogue Theory (UDT) explains this by proposing that these words were spoken as part of a discussion where only Jesus's part of the discussion is captured. The "the" before "spirit" cold also explained as an element from UDT.

Again, the most important word appears at the end of this verse, not in the beginning as would be more normal in Greek. The context is the previous verse, Matthew 12:30. That verse divides people into those who are working for him and against him. However, the larger context is a discussion of casting out demons. The contrast here is between the slanders by men of the "spirit" by which that tossing out is done.

Wordplay: 

The word for "spirit" also means "breath" or "wind." In Christ's view, the visible world is temporary and the invisible world of the spirit is permanent. You cannot "let go" of the wind, because you cannot hold it.

The idea of "letting something go" (the meaning of the word translated as "forgiven") can be both positive of negative. It is positive in the sense that you don't have to hold onto bad things. However, it is negative in the sense that the mistakes that are forgotten are repeated. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Διὰ (prep) Untranslated is dia, which means "through," "in the midst of," "in a line (movement)," "throughout (time)," "by," "among," and "between."

τοῦτο (adj sg neut acc) "Wherefore" is from toutô (touto) (with dia above), which means "from here," "from there," "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

λέγω (verb 1st sg pres ind) 1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from legô (lego) means "pick up," "choose for oneself," "pick out," and "count," but it used to mean "recount," "tell over," "say," "speak," "teach," "mean," "boast of," "tell of," "recite," nominate," and "command."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

πᾶσα (adj sg fem nom) "All" is from pas, which means "all," "the whole," "every," "anyone," "all kinds," and "anything."

ἁμαρτία (noun sg fem nom) "Sin" is the Greek hamartia, which means "to miss the mark," "failure," "fault," and "error." Only in religious uses do it become "guilt" and "sin."

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."

βλασφημία [4 verses](noun sg fem nom) "Blasphemy" is from blasphêmia, which means "slander," "profane speech," "word of evil omen," and "irreverent speech against God."

ἀφεθήσεται (3rd sg fut ind pass) "Forgiven" is aphiêmi, which means "to send forth," "to launch," "to send away," "to put away," "to get rid of," "to set free," and "to be released from." It means literally "to go from."

τοῖς (article pl masc dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἀνθρώποις, (noun pl masc dat) "Men" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

 (pron/article sg fem nom or adv) "the" is hos, which could be the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), but it could also be the demonstrative pronoun in its various forms. It means "this," "that," "he," "she," "which," "what," "who," or, "whosoever," "where," and as an adverb, "for which reason," and the general adverb of place, "where."

δὲ (partic) "But" is from de, which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way.

τοῦ (article sg neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

πνεύματος (noun sg neut gen) "Ghost" is from pneuma, which means "blast," "wind," "breath," "the breath of life," and "divine inspiration."

βλασφημία [4 verses](noun sg fem nom) "Blasphemy" is from blasphemia, which means "slander," "profane speech," "word of evil omen," and "irreverent speech against God."

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from οὐ ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἀφεθήσεται (3rd sg fut ind pass) "Forgiven" is aphiêmi, which means "to send forth," "to launch," "to send away," "to put away," "to get rid of," "to set free," and "to be released from." It means literally "to go from."

KJV Analysis: 

Wherefore -- (WW) The words translated as "wherefore" are not the common Greek word usually translated as "therefore" but two words, meaning "through this" or "by this" referring to the previous verse, Matthew 6:24.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

say -- The word translated as  "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Jesus usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object,

you, -- "You" is the plural forms second person pronoun, "you." This is a change from the last several verses that addressed a single person using the singular you, in both verbs and pronouns. 00

All - The word translated as "all manner" is a Greek adjective that means simply "all" or, when modifying a singular noun, "every." 

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

sin  - (CW, WF) The word translated as "sin" more generally means "mistakes" or "errors." The "of" before it make it possessive, but it is the subject of the sentence.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

blasphemy  - (UW) The word translated as "blasphemy"  means "slander." "The word "blasphemy" is from the untranslated Greek.  This word is only used twice in the Greek OT, to translate different Greek words, one is the Hebrew phrase that means "speak amiss error" and the other a Hebrew word that means "contempt."

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

forgiven  - The Greek word translated as "forgiven" really means "to let go." This same word is usually translated as "leave," "forgive," "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. This is Jesus's first word in the Gospels (Matthew 3:15) when he tells John to "suffer" baptizing him. It is often translated as "to leave" or "to let" in the Gospels. It is first translated as "forgive" in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:12) where it is applied to forgiving debts. It has the sense of leaving something alone and letting it drop. It is in the future, "going to let go" and the passive, "going to be let go." This verb appears at the end of the sentence as its punch line. 

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

men: -- The Greek word for "man" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men," "people," and "peoples."

but -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand."

the  -- (CW) This word could be the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." It could also be a pronoun referring to the noun. The form is a singular,  feminine  subject. This could refer to the earlier words "mistakes" and "slander." It could also be the adverb that means "for which reason." It is confusing because, if it is an article, it is separated from its now not only by  the conjunction, "but," which is normal, but also the phrase translated as "against the spirit."

blasphemy   --  (UW) The word translated as "blasphemy"  means "slander." "The word "blasphemy" is from the untranslated Greek.  This word is only used twice in the Greek OT, to translate different Greek words, one is the Hebrew phrase that means "speak amiss error" and the other a Hebrew word that means "contempt."

against - (WW) This word "against"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. The most likely meaning here is about "about." It should not be translated as "against," which appears in the Greek of the previous verse Matthew 12:30.

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. 

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

Ghost  - (CW) The Greek word translated as "ghost" is usually translated as "spirit" and means "wind," blast," "breath" and "spirit." The means the "breath of life" that animates us. More about this word and its relationship to the Greek words Christ uses to describe other aspects of being human in this article. The sense of this word is the immortal self-awareness put into us by God, though this is not the word the NT usually translates a "soul."  The word is used with an article, "the" in English, but often more like "that" in Greek. The form of the word "spirit" is genitive so ("the spirit's slanders" or "slanders about the spirit."). However, it comes before "slanders" not after, which is more commonly the way Christ uses genitive nouns. Even odder, it separates the "the" from the "blasphemies" or "slanders."

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

forgiven  - The Greek word translated as "forgiven" really means "to let go." This same word is usually translated as "leave," "forgive," "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. This is Jesus's first word in the Gospels (Matthew 3:15) when he tells John to "suffer" baptizing him. It is often translated as "to leave" or "to let" in the Gospels. It is first translated as "forgive" in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:12) where it is applied to forgiving debts. It has the sense of leaving something alone and letting it drop. It is in the future, "going to let go" and the passive, "going to be let go." This verb appears at the end of the sentence as its punch line. 

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

KJV Translation Issues: 

12
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "therefore" should be "Through/by this."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "manner of" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "sin" is closer to meaning to "mistakes."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "sin" is not part of an "of" phrase but a subject.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "blasphemy" means "slander." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "men" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "the" could also be a pronoun, "it" or an adverb, "for which reason."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "blasphemy" means "slander." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "against" should be "about."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "holy" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "ghost" is usually translated as "spirit."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "unto men" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.

NIV Analysis: 

And --  (WW)  The word translated as "and" a means "by" the sense of "by means of" a given method.

so , - (WW) The word translated as "so" means "this," "from here" or "this/that thing."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

tell -- The word translated as  "tell " is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Jesus usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you, -- "You" is the plural forms second person pronoun, "you." This is a change from the last several verses that addressed a single person using the singular you, in both verbs and pronouns.

every - The word translated as "all manner" is a Greek adjective that means simply "all" or, when modifying a singular noun, "every." 

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

sin  - (CW, WF) The word translated as "sin" more generally means "mistakes" or "errors." The "of" before it make it possessive, but it is the subject of the sentence.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and," but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

slander - The word translated as "slander "  means "slander."   This word is only used twice in the Greek OT, to translate different Greek words, one is the Hebrew phrase that means "speak amiss error" and the other a Hebrew word that means "contempt."

can -- (WW) This helping verb "can" should be "will" because it indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. This is not the Greek word legitimately translated as "can."

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

forgiven  - The Greek word translated as "forgiven" really means "to let go." This same word is usually translated as "leave," "forgive," "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. This is Jesus's first word in the Gospels (Matthew 3:15) when he tells John to "suffer" baptizing him. It is often translated as "to leave" or "to let" in the Gospels. It is first translated as "forgive" in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:12) where it is applied to forgiving debts. It has the sense of leaving something alone and letting it drop. It is in the future, "going to let go" and the passive, "going to be let go." This verb appears at the end of the sentence as its punch line.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those"). See this article for more. 

untranslated "men "  -- (MW) The untranslated word means "men," "people," and "peoples."

but -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but," "however," and "on the other hand."

untranslated "the" or "it" or "for which reason" -- (MW) The untranslated word could be the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." It could also be a pronoun referring to the noun. The form is a singular,  feminine  subject. This could refer to the earlier words "mistakes" and "slander." It could also be the adverb that means "for which reason." It is confusing because, if it is an article, it is separated from its now not only by  the conjunction, "but," which is normal, but also the phrase translated as "against the spirit."

blasphemy   --  (UW) The word translated as "blasphemy"  means "slander." "The word "blasphemy" is from the untranslated Greek.  This word is only used twice in the Greek OT, to translate different Greek words, one is the Hebrew phrase that means "speak amiss error" and the other a Hebrew word that means "contempt." This word is accurately translated as "slander" in the first part of the verse.

against - (WW) This word "against"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. The most likely meaning here is about "about." It should not be translated as "against," which appears in the Greek of the previous verse Matthew 12:30.

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.

Spirit - The Greek word translated as "ghost" is usually translated as "spirit" and means "wind," blast," "breath" and "spirit." The means the "breath of life" that animates us. More about this word and its relationship to the Greek words Christ uses to describe other aspects of being human in this article. The sense of this word is the immortal self-awareness put into us by God, though this is not the word the NT usually translates a "soul."  The word is used with an article, "the" in English, but often more like "that" in Greek. The form of the word "spirit" is genitive so ("the spirit's slanders" or "slanders about the spirit."). However, it comes before "slanders" not after, which is more commonly the way Christ uses genitive nouns. Even odder, it separates the "the" from the "blasphemies" or "slanders."

will -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

not -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

forgiven  - The Greek word translated as "forgiven" really means "to let go." This same word is usually translated as "leave," "forgive," "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. This is Jesus's first word in the Gospels (Matthew 3:15) when he tells John to "suffer" baptizing him. It is often translated as "to leave" or "to let" in the Gospels. It is first translated as "forgive" in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:12) where it is applied to forgiving debts. It has the sense of leaving something alone and letting it drop. It is in the future, "going to let go" and the passive, "going to be let go." This verb appears at the end of the sentence as its punch line.

NIV Translation Issues: 

12
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "through/by."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "so" should be "this."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "kind of" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "sin" is closer to meaning to "mistakes."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "sin" is not part of an "of" phrase but a subject.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "can" should be "will."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "men" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "men" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word --  The missing word could be "the" or a pronoun, "it" or an adverb, "for which reason."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "blasphemy" means "slander." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "against" should be "about."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "ghost" is usually translated as "spirit."

Front Page Date: 

Nov 6 2020