Matthew 15:11 That which goes into the mouth

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Addressing the crowd after being challenged by Pharisees on violating traditon.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

What is entering into the mouth does not impart information [about] the person, but what one is making exit from the mouth, this is what imparts information [about] the person.

My Takeaway: 

That which goes into the mind is not shared with others, but what comes out of the mind is what is shared with others.

KJV : 

Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

NIV : 

Matthew 15:11  What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

What if the word translated as "defiled" in this verse doesn't mean "defile" at all, but something else entirely? However, there is a kind of logic that got the KJV translators to the concept of "defile," though their idea wasn't what Christ's listeners heard.  The word means "communicate," and "to share in comeon." In Jewish custom, items dedicated to God were kept separate from everyday items. The Hebrew word translated as "holy" means "separate." Its opposite was the word for "common." It did not mean "defiled" and "impure" as it is often translated, as much it means as a regular, everyday thing that everyone used rather than a special, separate thing that was dedicated to God. So Jesus is making a play on the Jewish idea of "common" as not suitable for God with the Greek word for common meaning "communicate" and sharing ideas.

Jesus doesn't say this about "a man" but a specific man, "the man" or "this man." He may well be talking about his mouth.

Wordplay: 

The words for "in" and "out of" are repeated as a prefix of the verb and in the following preposition, creating an alliteration in Greek and creating a stronger sense of "in" and "out" that we can create in English. 

There is a play on the Greek word for "communicate" and "share" here. In one sense, it highlights the two uses of a mouth, to eat and to speak. On another level, it plays on the Jewish idea of what is shared among people is not special to God. This also says something about the idea of sacred ideas and ideas that are held in common. 

If the form of the word translated as "man" was changed from an object to a subject, this verse would say "The man doesn't communicate by what goes into the mouth but by what comes out of the mouth." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

οὐ "Not" is from 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. -

τὸ   -- (article sg neut nom/acc)  "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

εἰσερχόμενον (part sg pres mp neut nom/acc) "Which goeth" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into," "to come in," "to enter," "to enter an office," "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind."

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)." --

τὸ   -- -- (article sg neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

στόμα (noun sg neut acc) "Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth," "the organ of speech," "speech," "utterance," "any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

κοινοῖ [7 verses](verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) The word translated above as "defile" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information," "make common," "share," "undertake together," "make common cause in," "take counsel with," "take counsel with," "consult," "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν  -- (article sg masc acc)  "A" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἄνθρωπον (noun sg masc acc) "Man" 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.

ἀλλὰ (conj) "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise," "but," "still," "at least," "except," "yet," nevertheless," "rather," "moreover," and "nay."

τὸ    -- (article sg masc acc)  "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἐκπορευόμενον (part sg pres mp neut nom/acc) "Which cometh" is from ekporeuomai, which means "to make to go out," "to fetch out," and "to march out."

ἐκ (prep) "Out of" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from."

τοῦ  -- (article sg neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

στόματος (noun sg neut gen) "Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth," "the organ of speech," "speech," "utterance," "any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

τοῦτο (adj sg neut nom/acc) "This" is from touto, which means "from here," "from there," "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

κοινοῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) The word translated above as "defile" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information," "make common," "share," "undertake together," "make common cause in," "take counsel with," "take counsel with," "consult," "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν   -- The word translated as "a" 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. 

ἄνθρωπον. (noun sg masc acc) "A man" 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.

KJV Analysis: 

Not  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

that  - The word translated as "that" 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. 

which  - -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "which" in the Greek source. It was added because the next verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

goeth  - (WW, WF) "Goeth" is from a verb that means to "go or come into," "enter," and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." It is a particle acting on itself in the form of a noun, "entering itself." This is no a verb normally translated as "go."

into  - The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. This preposition in repeated here even though it is already part of the verb above. This create an alliteration.

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. 

mouth  - "Mouth" is from the Greek word that means "mouth" and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade of a weapon.The Greek word is much more an organ of speech or simply any inlet or outlet.

defileth  - (WW) The word translated as "defile" is a verb that means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." It has a host of meanings related to communication and sharing. It can mean "make common," but in the sense of "make common knowledge" or "make common property," not in the sense as in English, "to make lower-class. The word also means "to partner" and "to come to terms with." "Defile" has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of purity and holiness versus what common and every day.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" 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. 

man;  - The Greek word for "a man" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular and "people" and "peoples" in plural. Here it is introduced by an article, "the."

but  - The Greek word translated as "but" appear here, after mount and denote an exception or simple opposition. "Still" or "however" work well when the word isn't being used as a conjunction, especially when it begins a sentence.

that  - The word translated as "that" 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. 

which  - -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "which" in the Greek source. It was added because the next verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

cometh  - (WW, WF) "Cometh" is from a verb that means literally, "to make to go or carry out of" and is translated regularly as "to make to go out of," "to fetch out," and "to march out," but in modern English, we would probably say "exit" here. It is in the form of an adjective used as a noun, "exiting"

out  of - The Greek preposition translated as "out of" means "out of" of "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of." This preposition is repeated because it is the prefix of the previous verb. This create an alliteration.

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. 

mouth  - "Mouth" is from the Greek word that means "mouth" and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade of a weapon.The Greek word is much more an organ of speech or simply any inlet or outlet.

this -- The word translated as "this" means "from here" or "this/that thing."

defileth  - (CW) The word translated above as "defile" is a verb that means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." It has a host of meanings related to communication and sharing. It can mean "make common," but in the sense of "make common knowledge" or "make common property," not in the sense as in English, "to make lower-class. The word also means "to partner" and "to come to terms with." Translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of purity and holiness versus what common and everyday.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" 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. 

man;  - The Greek word for "a man" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular and "people" and "peoples" in plural. Here it is introduced by an article, "the."

KJV Translation Issues: 

10
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "goeth" should be "enter."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "goeth" is not an active verb but a participle, "entering."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "defile" should be "communicate" or "share commonly."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "cometh" should be "goes out."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "cometh" is not an active verb but a participle, "going out."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "defile" should be "communicate" or "share commonly."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the."

NIV Analysis: 

What - (WW) The word translated as "what" 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. 

goes - (WW, WF) "Goes" is from a verb that means to "go or come into," "enter," and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." It is a particle acting on itself in the form of a noun, "entering itself." This is no a verb normally translated as "go."

into  - The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, and "up to" limits in time and measure. This preposition in repeated here even though it is already part of the verb above. This create an alliteration.

someone’s- (WW) The word translated as "someone’s" 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. 

mouth  - "Mouth" is from the Greek word that means "mouth" and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade of a weapon.The Greek word is much more an organ of speech or simply any inlet or outlet.

 does -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not   - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

defile  - (WW) The word translated as "defile" is a verb that means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." It has a host of meanings related to communication and sharing. It can mean "make common," but in the sense of "make common knowledge" or "make common property," not in the sense as in English, "to make lower-class. The word also means "to partner" and "to come to terms with." Only here in Matthew and in the parallel verses in Mark is it translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of purity and holiness versus what common and every day.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word 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. 

them;  - (WW, WN) The Greek word for "them" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular as it is here. Here it is introduced by an article, "the."

but  - The Greek word translated as "but" appear here, after mount and denote an exception or simple opposition. "Still" or "however" work well when the word isn't being used as a conjunction, especially when it begins a sentence.

what - (WW) The word translated as "what" 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. 

comes - (WW, WF) "Comes" is from a verb that means literally, "to make to go or carry out of" and is translated regularly as "to make to go out of," "to fetch out," and "to march out," but in modern English, we would probably say "exit" here. It is in the form of an adjective used as a noun, "exiting"

out  of - The Greek preposition translated as "out of" means "out of" of "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of." This preposition is repeated because it is the prefix of the previous verb. This create an alliteration.

their  - (WW) The word translated as "their" 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. 

mouth  - "Mouth" is from the Greek word that means "mouth" and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade of a weapon.The Greek word is much more an organ of speech or simply any inlet or outlet.

that -- The word translated as "that" means "from here" or "this/that thing."

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

defiles  - (CW) The word translated above as "defile" is a verb that means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." It has a host of meanings related to communication and sharing. It can mean "make common," but in the sense of "make common knowledge" or "make common property," not in the sense as in English, "to make lower-class. The word also means "to partner" and "to come to terms with." Only here in Matthew and in the parallel verses in Mark is it translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of purity and holiness versus what common and everyday.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word 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. 

them;  - (WW, WN) The Greek word for "them" means "man," "person" and "humanity" in the singular as it is here. Here it is introduced by an article, "the."

NIV Translation Issues: 

16
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "what" should be "that."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "goeth" should be "enter."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "goeth" is not an active verb but a participle, "entering."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "someone's" should be "the."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "defile" should be "communicate" or "share commonly."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "them" should be "man."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "them" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "what" should be "that."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "comes" should be "goes out."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "cometh" is not an active verb but a participle, "going out."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "is what" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "defile" should be "communicate" or "share commonly."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "them" should be "man."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "them" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.

Front Page Date: 

Jan 22 2021