Matthew 8:22 Follow me; and let the dead

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

A student asks to be entrusted to exit and give funeral honors to his father.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Follow me. And leave the dying to bury those of themselves dying.

My Takeaway: 

People who like like they are dying are praising themselves to death.

KJV : 

Matthew 8:22 Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

NIV : 

Matthew 8:22 Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This phrase refers to "dead men" not the dead father. It is a general statement about dead mean honoring themselves in their death.

In English, it almost comes across as conceited or heartless, because Jesus seems to be telling a son not to attend to his dead father. Jesus never refers to the man's dead father. This confusion arises because we cannot see plurals in English as people can in Greek.  "The dead" clearly doesn't refer to the son's dead father, but to groups of people. Both version of "dead" are plural, masculine, with the sense of "dead men."

The word translated as "bury" doesn't mean putting someone in the ground of even a tomb. It means giving honors to those who have passed on, that is, praising them. The sense of this is that dead men praise themselves in the process of killing themselves.

Wordplay: 

The phrase works on several meanings of the word translated as "dead." It not only means those who are already dead but those who are dying. It refers not only to physical death but spiritual death.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀκολούθει (2nd sg pres imperat act) "Follow" is from akoloutheo, which means "to follow," and "to go with." It also means "to be guided by" and means following a leader as a disciple.

μοι, (pron 1st sg masc dat) "Me" is from moi, which means "I", "me", and "my".

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." --

ἄφες (2nd sg aor imperat act) "Let" is from aphiemi, which means "to let fall", "to send away", "give up", "hand over", "to let loose", "to get rid of", "to leave alone", "to pass by", "to permit," and "to send forth from oneself."

τοὺς article pl masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

νεκροὺς (noun pl masc acc) "The dead" is from nekros, which specifically means "a corpse" as well as a "dying person", "the dead as dwellers in the nether world", "the inanimate," and "the inorganic"

θάψαι (aor inf act or 2nd sg aor imperat) "Bury" is from thapto, which also means "to pay the last dues to a corpse", "to honor with funeral rites."

τοὺς (article pl masc acc) "The" 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." Here it is separated from its noun by an adjective.

ἑαυτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Their" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

νεκρούς. (noun pl masc acc) "Dead" is from nekros, which specifically means "a corpse" as well as a "dying person", "the dead as dwellers in the nether world", "the inanimate," and "the inorganic"

KJV Analysis: 

Follow  - The term "follow" means "to follow," or "go with," in a physical sense, but it is also a metaphor meaning "to be guided by" or "to follow the meaning of." It is in the form of a command.

me;  - The "me" is the indirect object of "Follow". This is the form of a command Christ uses several times.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is the common conjunctions.

let  - The word translated as "let" primarily means "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. It is from a noun that means "letting go" or "release." It is also in the form of a command.

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

dead  - The word translated as "the dead" means "corpse" and "a dying man." It is plural not singular as it would be if it referred to the boy's dead father. The word refers to those who are dying physically but Jesus uses it to refer to all those who are dead spiritually. So if refers to a group of people, "the dying". It is in the form of an object, of the verb. The command is "Leave the dying."

bury  - The word translated as "bury" means "bury" but it also means "to pay the last dues to a corpse", "to honor with funeral rites." The form of this verb, however, has two potential meanings. It could be the infinitive ("to bury") though they don't actually translate it that way. If it was an infinitive, the literal translation would be "leave the dead to bury the dead". However, its form could also be a second person command, simply, "Bury!" Because of the potential confusion, Christ clarifies his meaning in the following word.

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. 

their - (CW) The word translated as "their" actually means "themselves". It is in a genitive form, which could be a simple "their own," but it could also be "for themselves" or concerning themselves. It could be a simple "of themselves" or it could be used in apposition, so "who are themselves".

dead.   - The word translated as "dead" means "corpse" and "a dying man." It is again plural so it does nor refer to the man's father but to all those dead and dying.

KJV Translation Issues: 

2

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "their" is not the common word usually translated as "their." It is a word that means "their own, "of themselves," or "for themselves."

NIV Analysis: 

Follow  - The term "follow" means "to follow," or "go with," in a physical sense, but it is also a metaphor meaning "to be guided by" or "to follow the meaning of." It is in the form of a command.

me;  - The "me" is the indirect object of "Follow". This is the form of a command Christ uses several times.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is the common conjunctions.

let  - The word translated as "let" primarily means "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer," and "let" in the New Testament. It is from a noun that means "letting go" or "release." It is also in the form of a command.

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

dead  - The word translated as "the dead" means "corpse" and "a dying man." It is plural not singular as it would be if it referred to the boy's dead father. The word refers to those who are dying physically but Jesus uses it to refer to all those who are dead spiritually. So if refers to a group of people, "the dying". It is in the form of an object, of the verb. The command is "Leave the dying."

bury  - The word translated as "bury" means "bury" but it also means "to pay the last dues to a corpse", "to honor with funeral rites." The form of this verb, however, has two potential meanings. It could be the infinitive ("to bury") though they don't actually translate it that way. If it was an infinitive, the literal translation would be "leave the dead to bury the dead". However, its form could also be a second person command, simply, "Bury!" Because of the potential confusion, Christ clarifies his meaning in the following word.

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. 

their own - (CW) The word translated as "their own" actually means "of themselves". It is in a genitive form, which could be a simple "their own," but it could also be "for themselves" or concerning themselves. It could be a simple "of themselves" or it could be used in apposition, so "who are themselves".

dead.   - The word translated as "dead" means "corpse" and "a dying man." It is again plural so it does nor refer to the man's father but to all those dead and dying.

NIV Translation Issues: 

2

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "their" is not the common word usually translated as "their." It is a word that means "their own, "of themselves," or "for themselves."

Front Page Date: 

Jul 31 2020