Mark 2:17 They that are whole have no need of the physician...

KJV Verse: 

Mark 2:17 They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

No need have the ones being strong of a healer but those illness/evil having? They have. No, I don't show up to summon the law-abiders but the mistake-makers.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The key contrasts here are plays on words. The term translated as "they that are whole" also means  being "strong" "worthy." The term translated as "sick" also means "morally bad," and "evil"  but it is plural, so "evils" or "illnesses" having. It also means "worthless" but it is not the word usually translated as "evil" in the NT, which means "worthless" in a more direct sense.  The contrast in the second part of the verse is between those who obey the laws and those who make mistakes.

KJV Analysis: 

They that are whole: The word translated as "they that are whole" is a verb that means "to be sound" both of body and of mind. It is different than the word translated as "whole" in Matthew and Mark, which is a different word that means  "to be strong", "to be able," or "to have power." It is in the form of an adjective, "being strong" but it is used as a noun, used as the sentence's subject. The "they that are" comes from the article used to make it a noun.

have: The Greek word translated as "They that are" means "to possess" or "to keep." It is almost always translated as "to have." This is not the common word used for "to be."

no: The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

need: The word translated as "need" means "need" and "poverty," but it also means "familiarity" and "intimacy."

of the physician: The word translated as "of the physician" generally means "he who heals." It is in the form of a possessive, "of a healer." It has no article "the," and the "of" comes from its form so "of a healer."

but: The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition based on the word "other" like we used "otherwise". It is not the most common word Christ uses that is translated as "but" a "gentler" form of opposition. The sense is "on the other hand".

they that are: The word translated as "They that are" means "to possess" or "to keep." It is almost always translated as "to have." It is translated as "have" above  It is in the form of an adjective, "having" used as a noun, "those having."

sick: The word translated as "sick" is an adjective which means many different forms of "bad," including "ugly", "low born", "craven," and "ill." In the NT, it is often translated as "evil." More about it in this article. It is used here as a noun. It is plural and the object of the prior verb. This is one of the few cases where standard Greek word order of putting the most important words first does not work well in English, even when spoken. The last phrase comes out as "those illnesses having" when the sense in English is "those having the illnesses.

I came: The word translated as "I came" 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."

not: The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

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

the righteous: The term translated as "righteous" means "those who observe the laws", "well-balanced," and "meet and fitting." However, when used as a noun referring to a group ("the righteous"), Greek uses the article ("the") just like English does. No article is used here so its form is more like an adjective.

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: "Sinners" is a Greek word that means "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. Again, when used as a noun ("the sinners"), Greek uses the article ("the") just like English does. No article is used here so its form is more like an adjective.

to repentance: There is no Greek for this phrase in this verse. It does exist in Luke 5:32.

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὐ (partic) "No" is 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. -- 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 to captures the same idea.

χρείαν ( noun sg fem acc ) ἁμαρτωλούς. "Need" is from chreia (chreia ), which means "need", "want", "poverty", "a request of a necessity", "business", "military service", "a business affair", "employment", "familiarity", "intimacy," and "maxim."

ἔχουσιν (3rd pl pres ind act) "They that be" 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."

οἱ ἰσχύοντες (part pl pres act masc nom) "That are whole " is from ischuô (ischuo), which means "to be strong in body", "to be powerful", "to prevail," and "to be worth."

ἰατροῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Physician" is from iatros, which means "one who heals", "medic", "surgeon," or "midwife."

ἀλλ᾽ "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay."

οἱ κακῶς (adj pl masc acc) "Sick" is from kakos, which means "bad", "mean", "base", "ugly", "ill-born", "evil", "worthless", "sorry", "pernicious," and "ill."

ἔχοντες: (part pl pres act masc nom) "They that are" 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."

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is 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. -- 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 to captures the same idea.

ἦλθον  ( verb 1st sg aor ind act ) "I came" 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 from kaleo, which means "call", "summon", "invite", "invoke", "call by name," and "demand."

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

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

ἁμαρτωλοὺς  (adj pl masc/fem acc ) "Sinners" is from 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.

Wordplay: 

A play on the word "illnesses" also means "evils". A play on "worth" and "worlthless."

Related Verses: 

May 21 2019