Matthew 26:53 Did you think that I cannot now pray...

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Soldiers grab Jesus, and a follower cuts off the ear of a temple servant. John identifies this follower as Peter.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Or don't you suppose that I do not have power myself? It will summon that Father of mine, and he will supply me just now more than twelve brigades of messengers?

My Takeaway: 

Jesus saw his power primarily as summoning his father.

KJV : 

Matthew 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

NIV : 

Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

What is Lost in Translation: 

This verse starts with "or" but it is left out. It looks like it contains common words for Christ, such as "can," "pray" and "give." It demonstrates why the word meaning "having power" should not be translated as the helping verb "can." It is that power that "summons" (not "prays") his Father. His father does not "give" "angels," but "supplies" " - messengers." The Greek word "legion" translates into the English "brigade" or "regiment," that is, a military force of two to five thousand.

Wordplay: 

"Pray" is from a word that both "to call" and "to summon."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Christ's final lessons are about duty and power. The sword is the symbol of power, but Christ's real power is the relationship with his Father who is the true source of power. The cup, that is the duty you accept, is more important than the power, especially since everyone has the power to avoid their duty.

Greek Vocabulary: 

[92 verses](conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than."

δοκεῖς [17 verses](verb 2nd sg pres ind act) "Thinkest thou" is from dokeo, which means "expect", "suppose", "imagine", "have an opinion", "seem", "seem good," and "to be reputed."

ὅτι [332 verses](adv/conj) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

οὐκ [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.

δύναμαι  [61 verses](verb 1st sg pres ind mp) "I can" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

παρακαλέσαι [6 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "Pray" is from parakaleo which means "call to", "call in", "send for", "invite," "summon", "address", "demand", "exhort", "encouraged", "excite", "demand," and "beseech." It means literally "call closer."

τὸν [821 verses](article sg masc dat)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

πατέρα [191 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Father" is pater, which means "father", "grandfather", "author", "parent," and "forefathers."

μου, [239 verses](pron 1st sg masc gen) "Me" is from emou, which means "me", and "mine". -- "Me" is from the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

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."

παραστήσει [3 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind act or verb 3rd sg aor subj act epic) "He shall presently give" is paristemi, which means "to cause to stand beside", "to place besides", "to set before the mind", "to present", "to furnish", "to supply", "to deliver", "to make good", "to show", "to offer," and "to render."

μοι [96 verses](pron 1st sg masc/fem dat) Me" is from emoi, which is 1st person,singular dative pronoun meaning "me' as the indirect object of a verb.

ἄρτι [13 verses](adv) "Now" is from arti, which means "just", "exactly," and "just now."

πλείω [15 verses](adj pl neut acc comp) "More than" is pleiôn, which means "more [of number, size, extent]", "longer [of time]," "greater than," "further than," (with an article) "the greater number", "the mass or crowd", "the greater part", "the advantage. As an adverb, "more," or "rather."

δώδεκα [5 verses](number)"Twelve" is from dodeka, which is the number "twelve," and a noun meaning "a group of twelve."

λεγιῶνας [1 verse](noun pl fem acc) "Legions" is from legion, which means a military unit of between three and five thousand men.

ἀγγέλων; [25 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Angels" is from aggelos, which means "messenger" and "envoys" though it became to mean "semi-divine beings" in later use.

KJV Analysis: 

missing "or"  -- (MW) The untranslated word here is the Greek word that means "or".

Thinkest  - (CW) The word translated as "thinkest" doesn't mean think as much as it means "expect" or "imagine." Christ uses it to address people's false expectations or imaginings.

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

that -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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

can- (CW) The word translated as "I can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a capability. In Greek, it indicates having a power. The form next verb doesn't work if you don't have the concept of "power."

-not  - The Greek word translated as "not" in "cannot" 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.

now  - - There is not Greek word for "now" in this part of the sentence, but there is in the next clause.

pray  - (WW, WF, WT) "Pray" is a verb that is an uncommon one for Christ that means "call to","summon", " or "demand." It is not the Greek word usually translated as "pray." It is also not in the first person. Jesus is not saying he will pray. This verb is the third-person and the future tense. So it means  "he/she/it will summon." There is no "he" or "she" here, but there is an "it," the "power" Jesus claimed with his previous verb.

preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

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. 

Father, - -  "Father" is the common word that Christ uses to address his own Father, though it can mean any male ancestor. When referring to others, Christ uses it to refer to their ancestors, that is, "forefathers."

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.

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.

presently -- The Greek word translated as "presently" means "just" or "exactly and "now" in the sense of "just now" when applied to time. Jesus usually seems to use it in the sense of "now."

give -- (CW) "Give" comes from another uncommon verb that means "to cause to stand beside", "to present", "to furnish", "to supply", "to deliver", and similar ideas. It is not the word usually translated as "give."

me-- "Me" is from the regular first-person pronoun in Greek in the form of an indirect object.

more than  - The Greek comparative translated as "more than" is an adjective that means "more" or "more than."

twelve  - - "Twelve" is from the number twelve.

legions - (UW) "Legions" was the Greek word for a military force of between three and five thousand men. In English, this describes a "brigade" or a "regiment."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.
angels?  - - "Angels" is from a noun meaning "messenger" and "envoys" though it became to mean "semi-divine beings" in later use from its use in the NT.

KJV Translation Issues: 

9
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "or" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "thinkest" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "pray" should be something more like "summon."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "summon" is not in the first-person but the third-person.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "summon" is in the future tense.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "father" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "give" is not the common word usually translated as "give."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "legions" means "brigades." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.

NIV Analysis: 

missing "or"  -- (MW) The untranslated word here is the Greek word that means "or".

Do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

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

think - (CW) The word translated as "think" doesn't mean think as much as it means "expect" or "imagine." Christ uses it to address people's false expectations or imaginings.

missing "that"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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

can- (CW) The word translated as "I can" means having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. Often, in English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a capability. In Greek, it indicates having a power. The form next verb doesn't work if you don't have the concept of "power."

-not  - The Greek word translated as "not" in "cannot" 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.

call - (WW, WF, WT) "Call" is a verb that is an uncommon one for Christ that means "call to","summon", " or "demand." It is not the Greek word usually translated as "call." It is also not in the first person. Jesus is not saying he will pray. This verb is the third-person and the future tense. So it means  "he/she/it will summon." There is no "he" or "she" here, but there is an "it," the "power" Jesus claimed with his previous verb.

missing "now"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "now" in this part of the sentence, but there is in the next clause.

on -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

my -- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

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. 

Father, - -  "Father" is the common word that Christ uses to address his own Father, though it can mean any male ancestor. When referring to others, Christ uses it to refer to their ancestors, that is, "forefathers."

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.

will -- This helping verb "will " 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.

at once-- The Greek word translated as "at once" means "just" or "exactly and "now" in the sense of "just now" when applied to time. Jesus usually seems to use it in the sense of "now."

put -- (CW) "Give" comes from another uncommon verb that means "to cause to stand beside", "to present", "to furnish", "to supply", "to deliver", and similar ideas. It is not the word usually translated as "put."

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

my -- (WF) "My" is from the regular first-person pronoun in Greek in the form of an indirect object.

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

more than  - The Greek comparative translated as "more than" is an adjective that means "more" or "more than."

twelve  - - "Twelve" is from the number twelve.

legions - (UW) "Legions" was the Greek word for a military force of between three and five thousand men. In English, this describes a "brigade" or a "regiment."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.
angels?  - - "Angels" is from a noun meaning "messenger" and "envoys" though it became to mean "semi-divine beings" in later use from its use in the NT.

NIV Translation Issues: 

14
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "or" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "think" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "can" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "call" should be something more like "summon."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "summon" is not in the first-person but the third-person.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "summon" is in the future tense.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "now" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "father" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "put" is not the common word usually translated as "put."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "at" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "my" is not a possessive but a dative, "to me."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "disposal" doesn't exist in the source.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "legions" means "brigades." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.

Front Page Date: 

Dec 30 2021