Matthew 16:15 But whom say ye that I am?

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

After the Apostles explain that the locals think Jesus is one of the prophets reborn.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

You yourselves, however, who do you say me to be?

KJV : 

Matthew 16:15 But whom say ye that I am?

NIV : 

Matthew 16:15 Who do you say I am?

What is Lost in Translation: 

The emphasis here is on the "you" plural that begins the phrase. The pronoun is used explicitly. which is unnecessary because the information is in the verb.  The simplicity of this question makes it stand out as something special.
 

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

These two questions illustrate the conflict that Jesus sees between society and the individual. When he talks about the opinions of "men" or people in general (anthropos), he never expects the crowd to be correct. On the contrary, Christ teaches that the judgments of society are always wrong. It is almost as if the opinions that we express in public and which the public finds interesting as gossip or, today, as news, have to be wrong. The truth that we can know in this world is always a personal, private matter. Those that try to paint Jesus as a social reformer have it exactly wrong. Christ taught that the only real transformation is personal and private.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "You" is from hymeis (humeis), which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you." 

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 but can also be an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

τίνα (irreg sg neuter/masc acc) "Whom" is from tis which can mean "someone," "any one," "everyone," "they [indefinite]," "many a one," "whoever," "anyone," "anything," "some sort," "some sort of," "each," "any," "the individual," "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who," "why," or "what."

με (pron 1st sg masc acc) Untranslated is eme, which means "I," "me," and "my."

λέγετε (verb 2nd pl pres ind) "Say" is from lego, which means "to recount," "to tell over," "to say," "to speak," "to teach," "to mean," "boast of," "tell of," "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out, ""choose for oneself," "pick up," "gather," "count," and "recount."

εἶναι; (verb pres inf act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible."  

KJV Analysis: 

missing "you yourselves" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourselves." This word starts the verse.

But  - The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

whom  - As we saw in Matthew 16:13, Jesus is asking "what" as much as "who."  Here, the form is usually not masculine, but neuter, so this can be read "what" or "how" more readily than "who."

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." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching. Here, because the verb has an object (both "me" and "whom"), explain works better.

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

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

I -- This is from the first-person, singular, accusative pronoun "me," which is the subject of an infinitive.

am? -- (WF) The verb "am" here is the common infinitive form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.  The infinitive form has no information about the subject, number, or mood as do most Greek verbs. It has only voice and tense.
 

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "you yourselves" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "am" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to be."

NIV Analysis: 

missing "you yourselves" -- (MW)  The subjective pronoun repeats the information in the verb so it should be repeated in English like "you yourselves." This word starts the verse.

missing "but" -- (MW)  The missing conjunction rs "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

Who - As we saw in Matthew 16:13, Jesus is asking "what" as much as "who."  Here, the form is usually not masculine, but neuter, so this can be read "what" or "how" more readily than "who."

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." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching. Here, because the verb has an object (both "me" and "whom"), explain works better.

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

I -- This is from the first-person, singular, accusative pronoun "me," which is the subject of an infinitive.

am? -- (WF) The verb "am" here is the common infinitive form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.  The infinitive form has no information about the subject, number, or mood as do most Greek verbs. It has only voice and tense.

NIV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "you yourselves" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "that I" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "am" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to be."

Front Page Date: 

Feb 11 2021