Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation,

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

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

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Because there will be then great oppression such as has not happened from a starting world order until the one now neither. Never might it happen.

My Takeaway: 

Every oppressive change we experience is the worst in human history.

KJV : 

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

NIV : 

Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The Greek word translated as "world" means "world order," having the sense of society as a whole or a particular regime currently in power.  The use of this term makes it clear that Jesus is talking about the end of an era, that is, a particular form of society or a regime, rather than the mistranslated concept, so dear to centuries of apocryphal preachers, "the end of the world."

The term translated as "affliction" means "pressure" and "oppression." This is what happens when one society or regime is transformed into another: pressure is applied to people to force them into new ways.

This verse has a lot in common with the Septuagint version of  Deu 4:32 but that relationship is clearer in the similar verse in Mark 13:19 because a couple of words more in it also appear in the Septuagint that do not appear here.

Again,  we commonly see, the verb meaning "happens" is translated as "to be" confusing a change with continued existence.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἔσται [614 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind) "Shall be" is eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

γὰρ [205 verses](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."

τότε [53 verses](adv) "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

θλίψις [9 verses](noun sg fem nom ) "Tribulation" is thlipsis, which means "pressure," "crushing," and "oppression."\

μεγάλη [47 verses](adj sg fem nom) "Great" is from megas, which means "big," "full-grown," "vast," "high," "great," "mighty," "strong (of the elements),""loud" (of sounds), "over-great (with a bad sense), "impressive" (of style), and "long" ( of days).

οἵα [2 verses](adj sg fem nom ) "Such as" is hoios, which means "such as," "of what sort," "so and so'" "fit," "able," "as," "just as," "for instance," "that is to say," "as it were," and "so to speak."

οὐ[269 verses](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. -

γέγονεν [117 verses](verb 3rd sg perf ind act) "Was" is ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," "to happen," "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

ἀπ᾽ [190 verses]​(prep) "Since" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. -- The word translated as "from" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. "Was" is from ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," "to happen," "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

ἀρχῆς [13 verses](noun sg fem gen) "The beginning" is arche, which means "beginning," "origin," "first principles," "first place of power," "empire," "command," "heavenly power," "power of evil," and a lot of other ways of expressing the source of things. this is the word from which we get both "archbishop," head bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

κόσμου [63 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Of the world" is kosmos, which mean "order," "good order," "ruler," "world order," "universe," and "the world of men." It is a form of the is verb kosmeô, which means "to order," "to arrange," "to rule," "to adorn" (especially women), and "to equip." It especially means controlling and arranging an army. -- Christ uses the word translated as "the world" to mean "the world order," specifically the powers-that-be. More about this word in this article about related words.

ἕως [63 verses](conj) "To" is heos which means "until," "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that." -- The word translated as "until" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

τοῦ [821 verses](article sg masc gen) "This" 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." -- The word translated as "who" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine, possessive form) which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." It could also be a demonstrative pronoun, that often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

νῦν [31 verses](adv) "Time" is nyn (nun), which means "now," "at the present moment," "at the present time," "just now," "presently," and "as it is."

οὐδ᾽ [51 verses](partic) "No" is oude , which means "but not," "neither," "nor,"and "not even."

οὐ μὴ [39 verses](partic) "Nor ever" is from ou me, the two forms of Greek negative used together. Ou is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. Mê (me) is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

γένηται. [117 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj) "Shall be" is ginomai, which means "to become," "to come into being," "to happen," "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state. -- The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state.

KJV Analysis: 

For -- The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation.

then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then." 

shall -- This helping verb indicates that the following verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- The verb "be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. This is the first word in the verse.  When the verb "to be" appears early in the clause before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."  This is plural.

great -- The word translated as "great" means "big," "high" "great," and "impressive."

tribulation, -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "tribulation" means "pressure," which is translated as a metaphor for "oppression." Since it primarily means pressure in the sense of "crushing" (and "castration"), it is a more colorful word than the words we used to describe a time of difficulty. Prior to Christ's use, it appears in Greek literature more as a scientific term than a social description. It is translated as "tribulation" in Matthew's version of this verse.

such as -- "Such as" is an adjective that means "such as," "of what sort," "kind of," and can imply a fitness or capability of a thing. This word is only used by Jesus here and in parallel in Mark.

was --(WW, WT)  The word translated as "was" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is not the simple past but the past perfect, "has happened."

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" to the sentence captures the same idea.

since -- The word translated as "since" means "from" in both location and time and when referring to a source.

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

beginning -- "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning," "origin," "first principles," "first place of power," "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

world  - (CW) The word translated as "world" is not the same word translated as world in "the end of the world" from the beginning of this chapter (Matthew 24:3). Jesus uses to this world to refer to the world order, that is, human organization, This seems to be about the Jewish state.

to  -- (CW) The word translated as "to" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

this -- The word translated as "this" 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. 

time, -- (CW) The Greek adverb translated as "time" means "now," "at the present moment,""presently," and "as it is."  It is not either of the words usually translated as "time," one of which is the "days" above.

no,  - (CW) The "not" here is both of the Greek negatives used together. Greek has two negatives, one objective, one subjective. The sense is "never," because the use of both together is more extreme, like saying "you cannot really think." It appears after the "nor."

nor -- "Nor" is from a Greek negative meaning "but not" and as both parts of "neither...nor."

ever -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "it" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used.

shall -- (WW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the following verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form. ]

be. -- (WW) The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. When applied to events, this words works like our "happen."

KJV Translation Issues: 

12
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "tribulation" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "was" should be "happen."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "was" is the past tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "has happened."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "beginning " doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "world" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "world" does not capture the specific meaning of the word. The "world" is not the same word translated as "world" at the beginning of this section.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "to" is not the common word usually translated as "to."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "time" is not the common word usually translated as "time."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "no" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word  "ever" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "shall should be "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "be" should be "happen."

NIV Analysis: 

For -- The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation.

then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then." 

For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

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

will -- This helping verb indicates that the following verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- The verb "be" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. This is the first word in the verse.  When the verb "to be" appears early in the clause before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."  This is plural.

great -- The word translated as "great" means "big," "high" "great," and "impressive."

distress, -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "distress" means "pressure," which is translated as a metaphor for "oppression." Since it primarily means pressure in the sense of "crushing" (and "castration"), it is a more colorful word than the words we used to describe a time of difficulty. Prior to Christ's use, it appears in Greek literature more as a scientific term than a social description. It is translated as "tribulation" in Matthew's version of this verse.

missing "such as"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "such as," "of what sort," "kind of," and can imply a fitness or capability of a thing. This word is only used by Jesus here and in parallel in Mark.

unequaled --(WW, WT)  The word translated as "unequaled" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is not the simple past but the past perfect, "has happened."

missing "now"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence captures the same idea.

from -- The word translated as "since" means "from" in both location and time and when referring to a source.

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

beginning -- "Beginning" is a noun that means "beginning," "origin," "first principles," "first place of power," "empire," and "command." This is the word from which we get both "archbishop," primal bishops who can consecrate other bishops, and "archeology," the study of ancient history.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

the -- (IW) There are no Greek words that can be translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. When a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

world  - (CW) The word translated as "world" is not the same word translated as world in "the end of the world" from the beginning of this chapter (Matthew 24:3). Jesus uses to this world to refer to the world order, that is, human organization, This seems to be about the Jewish state.\

until --  The word translated as "umtil" means "until" but it also means "in order that."

this -- The word translated as "this" 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. 

now, --  The Greek adverb translated as "now" means "now," "at the present moment,""presently," and "as it is."  It is not either of the words usually translated as "time," one of which is the "days" above.

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

never ,  - The "never" here is both of the Greek negatives used together. Greek has two negatives, one objective, one subjective. The sense is "never," because the use of both together is more extreme, like saying "you cannot really think." It appears after the "nor."

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

be. -- (WW) The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. When applied to events, this words works like our "happen."

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

NIV Translation Issues: 

12
  1. CW - Confusing Word -- The "distress" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  2. MW - Missing Word -- The word "such as" is not shown in the English translation.
  3. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "unequaled" should be "happen."
  4. WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "unequaled" is the past tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "has happened."
  5. MW - Missing Word -- The word "now" is not shown in the English translation.
  6. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "beginning " doesn't exist in the source.
  7. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "world" doesn't exist in the source.
  8. CW - Confusing Word -- The "world" does not capture the specific meaning of the word. The "world" is not the same word translated as "world" at the beginning of this section.
  9. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  10. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "to" doesn't exist in the source.
  11. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "be" should be "happen."
  12. IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "equallyed gain" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Sep 18 2021