Mark 8:34 Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself...

KJV Verse: 

Mark 8:34  Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

If someone desires behind me to show up, he must reject himself, pull up that stake of his and follow me.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The English translation hides two important pieces of wordplay in the original Greek. 

The first relates to the previous verse where Christ says, "Get behind me, adversary." The two verses seem disconnected in English translation, but in Greek, one logically follows the other. Both verses use the same Greek phrase (opiso mou) translated first as "behind me" and then as "after me." In the previous verse, "Get behind me" seems like a rebuke but in light of this verse, it is more of a request for support. It is exactly like English when we ask people to support us by "getting behind us." In this verse, Christ completes the request. How do support Christ? By denying ourselves and following him.

This brings us to the second play on words: the "take up your cross" and "pull up stakes."  While "take up your cross" is how Christian might hear this line today (making it a prophecy of Christ's death), it is not likely the way the apostles heard it. As you can see from the vocabulary below, the term translates as "cross" means a "stake" or "post."  The phrase "pulling up stakes" in English means to leave an existing position and made even more sense in Christ's time when entire classes of people normally lived in tents and lived nomadic lives. See this article for a discussion of the Greek word translated as "cross".

(Side note: Actually, in the Gospels, Christ is not portrayed as carrying his cross to his crucifixion. In the synoptic Gospels, Simon of Cyrene carries it (Mat 27:32Mar 15:21Luk 23:26). In Jhn 19:17, the English translation seems to refer to Christ carrying the cross, but the verse never refers specifically to Christ and the Greek is closer to "and bearing his cross, they (plural) went to the place of the skull...")

KJV Analysis: 

untranslated -- an untranslated"if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It also means "if ever" and "whenever."

Whosoever -- -- The Greek word translated as "whoever" in the singular means "anyone", "someone," and "anything."

will - The Greek word translated as "will" is not the same as the helper verb "will" in English, which primarily expresses the future tense. The primary purpose of this verb is to express consent and even a delight in doing something. It means "to consent" and "to be resolved to a purpose". As an participle, it means "willingly" and "gladly".

come -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. 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." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. 

after  -- The term translated as "after" means "back" and "backward." It is an adverb, not a preposition as translated.

me, -- "Me" is the first-person singular pronoun, but it is a form requires that addition of extra words in English to capture its meaning.  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 nouns. 

let -- The "let" here comes from the form of the verb, which is a command or request in the third person. In English, all commands are directed to the listener, but in Greek such statements can be made about other parties or even things. In English, we would used a helper verb "must" or "should."

him -- This is from the third-person command form of the verb "deny."  It is the subject so "he" is more accurate.

deny  --  "Deny" is translated from a Greek word that means "to rejects" and "to deny utterly." The form is that of a verbal adjective, "denying".  The form is the middle voice, a person acting on themselves.

himself, -- "Himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.  This word is implied by the form of the verb, but here it is made explicit.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

take up -- "Take up" is one of Christ's favorite "multiple meaning" words. It is a verb that means "to raise up", "elevate", "to bear", "to carry off", "to take and apply to any use," and "to cause to cease."Christ uses this verb to refer to what will happen to "the son of man," which can apply either to his being raised from the dead or lifted up on the cross.

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English.  The word means "the same" when used as an adjective. In the adverbial form, it  means "just here" or "exactly there." 

cross, The word translated as "cross" means a stakes or post, like those used to hold up a tent. It describes not the crossbar of a cross, but the stake on which the crossbar is hung. Among people traveling, it would meant pulling up the central stake of a tent to use it as a walking stick.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

follow --  The term "follow" means "to follow," or "go with," in a physical sense, but it is also a metaphor meaning "to be guided by" or "to follow the meaning of."

me. -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek. 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Εἴ  (conj)"If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

τις (pron sg masc/fem nom) "What" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what." -- 

θέλει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Will" is from thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)", "to wish", "to ordain", "to decree", "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain", "to hold", "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event)." As an adverb, "willingly," and "gladly." and "to desire." As an adjective, it means "wished for" and "desired."

ὀπίσω (prep) "After" is from opiso, which means "back", "behind," and "hereafter."

μου (noun sg masc gen) "Me" is from mou, which mean "my", "of me," or "mine."

ἐλθεῖν, (verb aor inf act) "Come" 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.

ἀπαρνησάσθω (verb 3rd sg aor imperat mp) "Let him deny" is from aparneomaiwhich means "to deny utterly", "to refuse", "to reject," and "to deny."

ἑαυτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

καὶ (conj) "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."

ἀράτω (verb 3rd sg aor imperat act) "Take up" is from aeirô, which means "to lift up", "to raise up", "to take up", ""to exalt," and "to remove." 

τὸν  (article sg masc 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."

σταυρὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Cross" is from stauros (stauros), which means "upright post or stake," "pointed stick", "posts or piles for a foundation," and "a stake for impaling." In Christ's time, it was used for describing the upright post that held the crossbar for crucifixion.

αὐτοῦ (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."

καὶ (conj) "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."

ἀκολουθείτω (verb 3rd sg pres imperat act ) "Follow" is from akoloutheo, which means "to follow," and "to go with." It also means "to be guided by" and means following a leader as a disciple.

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

Related Verses: 

Front Page Date: 

Aug 29 2019