Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means,

Spoken to: 

The Pharisees

Context: 

Answering Pharisees who challenged him on eating with tax collectors.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Departing, however, you all learn something. It is: "Compassion I desire and not a victim." No, this is why I didn't show up to invite law-abiding ones but mistaken ones.

My Takeaway: 

Quoting scripture is not enough, we must ponder the hidden spirit behind the words.

KJV : 

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

NIV : 

Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What is Lost in Translation: 

This KJV of this verse requires a lot of untangling. Little is what it appears in English translation, where m,any words are added.

The verse starts with words that appear to be common Greek words, ("go" and "learn"), but they are not the common words for these ideas but words with more specific meanings, "depart" and "ponder." These verbs also appear to be in the form of commands. They aren't. The reference in this verse is to the OT verse, Hsa 6:6 so some commentary on the Hebrew is offered in this analysis as well. While Christ uses, as he usually does, the Greek vocabulary from the Septuagint to translate the OT quote, he does shorten it.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πορευθέντες (part pl aor pass masc nom) "Go ye" is from poreuo which means "make to go," "carry," "convey," "bring," "go," "march," and "proceed." In passive, "to be driven" or "to be carried."

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").

μάθετε [5 verses] (2nd pl aor ind act) "Learn" is manthano, which means "to learn" especially by study or practice, "acquire a habit of," "perceive," "understand," and "notice."

τί (irreg sg neut nom/acc) "What" 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."

ἐστιν (3rd sg pres ind/subj act) "That meaneth" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

Ἔλεος [4 verses](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Mercy" is from eleos, which means "pity," "mercy," and "compassion."

θέλω (verb 1st sg pres ind act ) "I will have" is from thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)," "to wish," "to ordain," "to decree," "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain," "to hold," "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event)." As an adverb, "willingly," and "gladly." and "to desire." As an adjective, it means "wished for" and "desired."

καὶ (conj) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "also." 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."

οὐ (partic) "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.

θυσίαν:” [5 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Sacrifice" is thysia, which means "a burnt-offering," "a sacrifice," "a victim of sacrifice," "mode of sacrifice," "festival at which sacrifices are offered," "rite," and "ceremony."

οὐ (partic) "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.

γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for," "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

ἦλθον (1st sg aor ind act) "I am...come" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

καλέσαι (aor inf act) "To call" is kaleo, which means "call," "summon," "invite," "invoke," "call by name," and "demand."

δικαίους (adj pl masc/fem acc) "Righteous" is dikaios, which means "observant of rules," "observant of customs," "well-ordered," "civilized," and "observant of duty." Later it means "well-balanced," "impartial," and "just."study

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

ἁμαρτωλούς. (adj pl masc/fem acc ) "Sinners" is hamartolos, which means "erroneous" or "erring." It also means "of bad character" but with the sense of being a slave or low-born not evil.

KJV Analysis: 

But  - The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. However, it also can be used to mean "if" and "so." Looking at the previous verse, Matthew 9:12, "so" seems more appropriate than "but." Since the word almost always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling.

go  - (WF) It is not in the form of a command, nor is it in the second person ("ye"). The term also isn't the common verb almost always translated as "go" in the NT. In its active form, this word means "to lead over," "depart," and "to carry over." This word, however, uniquely means both "to pursue a course" and "to depart from life."

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

and -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source. It is added because the previous verb was made active.

learn  - "Learn" is the active verb here. It means "to learn from study or by practice" or "acquired the habit." It is not from the most common Greek verb that means "to learn." It is not in the form of a command, but an active verb. It is not the past, present, or future, but a tense that indicates something happening at a specific point in time.

what  - There word translated as "what" means "anything" "something," "someone," or "anyone." In questions, it means "what." It is the object of the verb "learn." This use of this word often, but not always, indicates a question. The original Greek does not have any punctuation marks, so words like this are clues to phrasing.

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

meaneth,  -  (WW) The verb translated as "meaneth" is the common form of the verb "to be" or, in this form "it is." When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." (Note: punctuation was not part of the original text but added centuries later.)

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

will  - (CW)  The Greek word translated as "will" expresses consent and even a delight in doing something not the future tense as in English. In the original Hebrew of Hosea, "will" or "desire" is from chaphets, which means "to delight in," "to take pleasure in," and "to be pleased with." 

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

mercy,  - The Greek term translated as "mercy" means "good will toward the afflicted." It also means "pity" and "compassion." In the original Hebrew, "mercy" is checed, which means "goodness," "kindness," and "faithfulness." It also means "to be ashamed" and "a reproach." Based on the verb checed ("to be kind"), the adjective combines both the idea of being good and feel guilty if you are not good. It the Greek Septuagint version, this word is in the dual masculine form (referring to Ephraim and Judah), but Christ changes it, putting it in the simple neutral form.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" here is used as the conjunction "and."

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. Adding "really" often captures its feeling better than "no" or "not" alone.

sacrifice:  - Interesting, the Greek terms translated as "sacrifice," does not refer to the act of sacrifice but to "a burnt offering" or "victim." In Hebrew, "sacrifice" is zebach, ("a sacrifice") which is the noun form of zabach, which means "to slaughter" either for sacrifice or for eating.

for  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is why..." to start a new sentence.

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

am -- (CW) This helping verb indicates the present tense of the verb, but the verb is not the present tense, but a tense that indicates something that happened at a specific point in time, past, present, or future. 

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. Adding "really" often captures its feeling better than "no" or "not" alone.

come  - The word translated as "I am come" primarily means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway."

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

call  - The term translated as "call" is like our word "call" means both "to summon" and also "to name."

the -- There is no Greek article "the" here in the source, but the noun is plural and in English an article is used before plural nouns in phrases like this.

righteous,  - The term translated as "righteous" means "those who observe the laws," "well-balanced," and "meet and fitting."  Since it is plural, masculine, it refers to a group of individuals, "law-abiding ones."

but  - The Greek word translated as "but" 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.

sinners  - - (WW) "Sinners" is a Greek word that means "mistaken," "erroneous" or "erring." It also means "of bad character" but with the sense of being a slave or low-born not evil. Only in biblical translations is this term given the sense of wickedness. More about the translation issues regarding "sin" in this article here. Since it is plural, masculine, it refers to a group of individuals, "mistaken ones."

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

KJV Translation Issues: 

9

WF - Wrong Form -  The "go" is not an active verb but a participle, "departing."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "meaneth" should be something more like "is."

CW - Confusing Word -- The "will" does not mean the future tense.

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "have" doesn't exist in the source.

CW - Confusing Word -- The "am" does not mean the present tense.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "sinners" should be something more like "mistaken ones."

OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "to repentence" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the source we use today.

NIV Analysis: 

But  - The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. However, it also can be used to mean "if" and "so." Looking at the previous verse, Matthew 9:12, "so" seems more appropriate than "but." Since the word almost always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling.

go  - (WF) It is not in the form of a command, nor is it in the second person ("ye"). The term also isn't the common verb almost always translated as "go" in the NT. In its active form, this word means "to lead over," "depart," and "to carry over." This word, however, uniquely means both "to pursue a course" and "to depart from life."

and -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source. It is added because the previous verb was made active.

learn  - "Learn" is the active verb here. It means "to learn from study or by practice" or "acquired the habit." It is not from the most common Greek verb that means "to learn." It is not in the form of a command, but an active verb. It is not the past, present, or future, but a tense that indicates something happening at a specific point in time.

what  - There word translated as "what" means "anything" "something," "someone," or "anyone." In questions, it means "what." It is the object of the verb "learn." This use of this word often, but not always, indicates a question. The original Greek does not have any punctuation marks, so words like this are clues to phrasing.

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

means,  -  (WW) The verb translated as "means" is the common form of the verb "to be" or, in this form "it is." When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." (Note: punctuation was not part of the original text but added centuries later.)

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

desire -  The Greek word translated as "will" expresses consent and even a delight in doing something not the future tense as in English. In the original Hebrew of Hosea, "will" or "desire" is from chaphets, which means "to delight in," "to take pleasure in," and "to be pleased with."

mercy,  - The Greek term translated as "mercy" means "good will toward the afflicted." It also means "pity" and "compassion." In the original Hebrew, "mercy" is checed, which means "goodness," "kindness," and "faithfulness." It also means "to be ashamed" and "a reproach." Based on the verb checed ("to be kind"), the adjective combines both the idea of being good and feel guilty if you are not good. It the Greek Septuagint version, this word is in the dual masculine form (referring to Ephraim and Judah), but Christ changes it, putting it in the simple neutral form.

untranslated "and" - (MW) The untranslated Greek word is "and" here is used as the conjunction "and."

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. Adding "really" often captures its feeling better than "no" or "not" alone.

sacrifice:  - Interesting, the Greek terms translated as "sacrifice," does not refer to the act of sacrifice but to "a burnt offering" or "victim." In Hebrew, "sacrifice" is zebach, ("a sacrifice") which is the noun form of zabach, which means "to slaughter" either for sacrifice or for eating.

For  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is why..." to start a new sentence.

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

have -- (CW) This helping verb indicates the past perfect tense of the verb, but the verb is not that tense, but a tense that indicates something that happened at a specific point in time, past, present, or future. 

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. Adding "really" often captures its feeling better than "no" or "not" alone.

come  - The word translated as "I am come" primarily means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway."

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

call  - The term translated as "call" is like our word "call" means both "to summon" and also "to name."

the -- There is no Greek article "the" here in the source, but the noun is plural and in English an article is used before plural nouns in phrases like this.

righteous,  - The term translated as "righteous" means "those who observe the laws," "well-balanced," and "meet and fitting."  Since it is plural, masculine, it refers to a group of individuals, "law-abiding ones."

but  - The Greek word translated as "but" 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.

sinners  - (WW) "Sinners" is a Greek word that means "mistaken," "erroneous" or "erring." It also means "of bad character" but with the sense of being a slave or low-born not evil. Only in biblical translations is this term given the sense of wickedness. More about the translation issues regarding "sin" in this article here. Since it is plural, masculine, it refers to a group of individuals, "mistaken ones."

NIV Translation Issues: 

7

WF - Wrong Form -  The "go" is not an active verb but a participle, "departing."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "this" doesn't exist in the source.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "means" should be something more like "is."

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

CW - Confusing Word -- The "have" does not mean the past  perfect tense.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "sinners" should be something more like "mistaken ones."

Front Page Date: 

Aug 9 2020