Matthew 21:21 Truly I tell you, If you have faith...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 21:21 Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

I speak truly: If you keep confidence and don't feel divided, you are really not going to create the solitary one of the fig tree. Rather even when you say to a moutain/mule: Be lifted up and be cast into the sea, it is going to happen.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Christ here is referring to our human tendency to second-guess ourselves and be conflicted in our beliefs, but this idea is lost in translation. Also, the word translated as "mountain" here is a play on words that Christ uses elsewhere.

KJV Analysis: 

This verse starts with the "amen" phrase, which we discuss in this article.

The Greek word translated as "if" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. We would probably use "when."

The word translated as "ye have" means "to possess" or "to keep."

"Faith" is from a noun tht means "confidence", "assurance", "trustworthiness", "credit", "a trust," and "that which give confidence."

The negative used "not" here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do or "don't feel" something, not that it isn't felt or done. If it wasn't done, the objective negative of fact would be used. More about the Greek negative in this article.

The term translated here as "doubt" is from a word that means "to divide." In the Gospels, it is most often translated as "doubt," (though it isn't translated that way elsewhere) and second most often translated as "judge." Its literal meaning is "judge by." It captures the idea of "dividing" by distinguishing, dividing, one thing from another. It also means "to question," which can mean doubt in English but not in Greek. There are a number of Greek words that do mean "doubt" or "lack of faith" that are used in the Gospels, but the term here means "divide." It is also passive, so "be divided" as we might say "conflicted."

The Greek word translated as "ye shall...do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

The Greek word translated as "not" here is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. This is different than the "not" above. It makes a negative statement of fact, in fact, which is captured in English with adverbs like "really."

"Only" is not from an adverb but an adjective that means "alone" or "solitary."

"This which" is from an article, "the" but without a noun, it can mean "the one."

"Is done to" doesn't appear in the original Greek, but was added by the KJV translators for clarity.

The word for "fig tree" is possessive, "of the fig tree."

"But" is from a conjunction that means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay."

"Also if" is from a contraction that means "and if", "and when", "even if," and "although."

"Ye shall say" is from the Greek verb that means "to say" and "to speak". Here the form is that indicates that the action or the event as something wanted or expected.

The word translated as "unto a mountain" is complicated. The word translated as "mountain" means "mountain" or "hill" but it could also be the word which means "mule." It could also be a third word, spelled just like the Greek word "mountain" means "boundary" and "the decision of judges." Both words, "mountain/boundary" and "mule" are in the form of an indirect object and the surround definite article and demonstrative pronoun agree with both, even though they are different genders, "mule" being masculine and "mountain" being neutral.

"Be removed" is from a verb that means "to lift up", "to raise", "to raise up", "to exalt", "to lift and take away," and "to remove." In an earlier verse, Mat 17:20, Christ actually does use a verb that means "be removed," but not here.

The word translated as "cast" has a number of meanings revolving around "throw" as we do in English with both "throw" and "toss." In dice, it means "to throw" the dice, but with the sense of being lucky. This word is also a middle passive, the tree is throwing itself in the fire.

The word translated as "shall be done" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. Referring to situations, it means "to happen."

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμὴν (exclam) "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from llego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."

ὑμῖν, (pron 2nd pl dat) "To you" is from humin, the 2nd person pronoun.

ἐὰν (conj) "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

ἔχητε (verb 2nd pl pres subj act) "Ye have" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

πίστιν (noun sg fem acc) "Faith" is from pistis, which means "confidence", "assurance", "trustworthiness", "credit", "a trust," "that which give confidence," and, as a character trait, "faithfulness."-- The term translated as "faith" was much closer to our general idea of having confidence or trust in people and especially their words rather that the general sens of religious belief.

καὶ (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." -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also."

μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me , which 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.

διακριθῆτε, (verb 2nd pl aor ind pass) "Doubt" is from diakrino, which means "to separate," "to separate one from another," "to discriminate", "to distinguish", "to decide," and "to separate into elemental parts."

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.

μόνον (adj sg neut nom/acc) "Only" is from monos (monos), which means "alone", "solitary", "only", "single", "unique", "made in one piece," "without [someone]," "only [something]", "unique", "one above all others," and "on one condition only."

τὸ (article sg neut acc) "This which" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

τῆς (article sg fem gen) συκῆς (noun sg fem gen) "To the fig tree " is from syke, which means "fig tree."

ποιήσετε, (verb 2nd pl fut ind act) "Ye shall do" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

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

κἂν (conj) "Also if" is from kan, which means "and if", "even if," and "although." It is a conjunction of kai an. Kai 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." An, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

τῷ (article sg masc/neut dat)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ὄρει "Mountain" is either from oros (noun sg neut dat) , or oreus ( noun sg masc dat ) . Oros  means "mountain", "hill", "canton," and "parish." In Egypt, it was also used to mean the "desert" and a place of burial. Oreus means "mule."  A homonym for oros means a "boundary", "landmark", "time limits", "decisions of judges", "memorial stones and pillars," "standard", "measure", "term (in logic)", "definition", "terms," and "conditions."

τούτῳ (adj sg masc/neut dat)"Unto this" is from toutou, which is a demonstrative pronoun that means "this", "here", "the nearer," and "the familiar."

εἴπητε (verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Ye shall say" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer." --

Ἄρθητι (verb 2nd sg aor imperat pass) "Be thou removed" is from airo, which means "to lift up", "to raise", "to raise up", "to exalt", "to lift and take away," and "to remove."

καὶ "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."

βλήθητι (verb 2nd sg aor imperat pass) "Cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὴν (article sg fem acc) "The is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

θάλασσαν, (noun sg fem acc)"Sea" is from thalassa (thalassa), which means also means "sea" or "sea water."

γενήσεται: (verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "It shall be done" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "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.

Wordplay: 

 Play on the double meaning of the word "mountain" and "mule."
The use of the word "divide" as a weakness of faith. 

Related Verses: