Matthew 24:49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants,

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

A long section about "the end of the world" or, more precisely, "the culmination of an era." This section on remaining watchful.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

And he might begin to beat those fellow slaves of his. He might eat, however, and might drink,  among the wine-drunk.

My Takeaway: 

Beating on others makes you hungry and thirsty.

KJV : 

Matthew 24:49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

NIV : 

Matthew 24:49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards.

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse is inherently comedic, assuming that if the head servant thinks he won't get caught, he might starting beating his charges and getting drunk. Also interesting because Jesus again uses a number of words that are unusual for him, which is another hallmark of his humor.  The word translated as "drunken" and "drunkards" is only used by Jesus here. It is clearly the punchline, the last word in the verse.

All the verbs, except "smite/beat" are in the form of possibility usually requiring a "should" or "might" when not in a "when" or "if" clause.

The verb translated as "begin" means "to be first," and means both "to begin," and "to command." The sense is that the servant starts ruling by force. The form of the word indicates that he is doing this for his own benefit.

The verbs of "eat" and "drink" here at a play on words, since they have secondary meanings of "fretting" and "celebrating."

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "begin" also means "rule."

"Eating" and "drinking" mean "fretting" and "celebrating." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv) "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."

ἄρξηται [14 verses](3rd sg aor subj mid or 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Shall begin" is from archomai, which is a form of archô, which means "to be first," "to begin," "to make a beginning," "to rule," "to govern," and "to command."

τύπτειν [4 verses] (verb pres inf act) "To smite" is typto, which means to "beat," "strike," "smite," and "strike oneself."

τοὺς [821 verses](article pl masc/fem acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

συνδούλους [5 verses](noun pl masc/fem acc) "Fellowservant" is from syndoulos, which means "slave of the same master," "companion in slavery," and "fellow slave."

αὐτοῦ,[720 verses] (adj sg masc gen) "His"is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself," "yourself," "himself," "herself," "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him," "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

ἐσθίῃ [30 verses](verb 3rd sg pres subj act) "Ye shall eat" is esthio, which means "to eat," "devour," "fret," "vex," and to "take in one's mouth." It is also a metaphor for decay and erosion.

δὲ [446 verses](conj) "And" 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 a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv)  "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."

πίνῃ [36 verses]verb 3rd sg pres subj act) "Ye shall drink" is pino, which means "to drink," "to celebrate," and "soak up."

μετὰ [36 verses](prep)"With" is from meta, which means "with," "in the midst of," "among," "between," "in common," "along with," "by the aid of," "in one's dealings with," "into the middle of," "coming into," "in pursuit of," "after," "behind," "according to," and "next afterward." -

τῶν [821 verses](article pl masc gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

μεθυόντων, [1 verse](part pl pres act masc gen) "Drunken" is from methos, which means "to be drunken with wine," of things, "to be drenched," "steeped," of persons, "to be intoxicated" with passion or pride, and "to be intoxicated."

KJV Analysis: 

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

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

begin  - The first such word is the verb that is translated as "begin" means "to be first," and means both "to begin," and "to command."The sense is that the servant starts ruling by force. The form of the word indicates that he is doing this for his own benefit. The verb could also be the future tense, but all the other verbs as subjunctive so this one is likely subjunctive as well. Most likely the form indicates something that might happen at some time.

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

smite - The verb translated as "smite" is from another uncommon word "to beat," "to strike," and "to smite." Jesus uses a lot of different words to mean "to beat."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

missing "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. 

fellowservants,  - The word translated as "fellow servants" means literally "slaves together."

and  - (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" is not the normal "and." It is the conjunction usually translated as "but" and joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

to -- (OS) In the source used by the KJV, this verb was infinite. This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when."

eat  - The word translated as "eat" means "eat" but it also means "fret," as we say "something is eating me up," which seems to go better with the "worry" concept earlier. The form is something that might or should happen, a possibility.

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

drink  - The word "to drink" seems chosen for its double meaning. It also means "to celebrate." The form is something that might or should happen, a possibility.

with -  "With" is from the Greek word that is almost always translated as "with" or a related concept such as "among" or "by the means of." It is not the term usually translated as "after."

the  -   -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

drunken; - "Drunken" is from a verb which means "to be drunken with wine," "drunkeness," and "to be intoxicated." It is in a verb in the form of an adjective, "being drunken with wine" used as a noun, "those drunken with wine."

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "fellowservants" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be something more like "but."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" before "eat" and "drink" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

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

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

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

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when."

begins - The first such word is the verb that is translated as "begin" means "to be first," and means both "to begin," and "to command."The sense is that the servant starts ruling by force. The form of the word indicates that he is doing this for his own benefit. The verb could also be the future tense, but all the other verbs as subjunctive so this one is likely subjunctive as well. Most likely the form indicates something that might happen at some time.

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

smite - The verb translated as "smite" is from another uncommon word "to beat," "to strike," and "to smite." Jesus uses a lot of different words to mean "to beat."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

missing "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. 

fellow servants,  - The word translated as "fellow servants" means literally "slaves together."

and  - (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" is not the normal "and." It is the conjunction usually translated as "but" and joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

to -- (WF) In the source used by the KJV, this verb was infinite but the source used by the NIV does not so this is the wrong form.

missing "should" or "might"-- (MW) A helping verb is necessary because the following verb is a verb of possibility, a subjunctive, something that "should" or "might" occur. The helping verb is not needed in a clause beginning with an "if" or a "when."

eat  - The word translated as "eat" means "eat" but it also means "fret," as we say "something is eating me up," which seems to go better with the "worry" concept earlier. The form is something that might or should happen, a possibility.

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

drink  - The word "to drink" seems chosen for its double meaning. It also means "to celebrate." The form is something that might or should happen, a possibility.

with -  "With" is from the Greek word that is almost always translated as "with" or a related concept such as "among" or "by the means of." It is not the term usually translated as "after."

missing "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. 

drunkards.- "Drunkards" is from a verb which means "to be drunken with wine," "drunkeness," and "to be intoxicated." It is in a verb in the form of an adjective, "being drunken with wine" used as a noun, "those drunken with wine."

NIV Translation Issues: 

7
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "then" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" before "begin" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "fellow servants" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be something more like "but."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "to eat" is not an infinitive but an subjunctive verb "might eat."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "might" before "eat" and "drink" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "drunkards" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Oct 16 2021