Mark 9:35 If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all...

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

If someone desires superior to be, he shall be of all lowest and of all a slave.

KJV : 

Mark 9:35 If any man desire to be first, [the same] shall be last of all, and servant of all.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

In the Greek, Jesus is saying that to become superior, we must humble ourselves and serve all. In the KJV, it sounds more like that by desiring superiority, we are making ourselves low. The Greek words translated as "first" and last both take their meaning from the context. Among men, the "first" means "superior" and the last means "meanest." In Matthew 23:11, Jesus expresses the "superior" as "greater." The word translated as "desire" means to "want" something, which doesn't have the greedy feel of the word "desire." The KJV usually translates this word as "will," which often confuses it with the future tense in English.  The give away as to meaning is the last phrase, "of all a servant," which is how Jesus describes himself. Jesus  commands the apostles to be servants less poetically in Mark 10:44.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Εἴ (conj) "If" is 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  (pro sg masc nom) "Any man" is 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 ) "Desire" is 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 with inanimate objects)." As a participle, it means "being willing" or, adverbially, "willingly," and "gladly".

πρῶτος (adjsg masc nom) "First" is protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best."

εἶναι ( verb pres inf act ) "To be" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") --

ἔσται (verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Shall be" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

πάντων (adj pl masc gen) "Of all" is pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether." --

ἔσχατος (adj sgmasc nom) "The last" is from eschatos. In space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is 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."

πάντων (adj pl masc gen) "Of all" is pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether." -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

διάκονος. (noun sg masc nom) "Servant" is the noun diakonos, which means "servant", "messenger," and "attendant." This is the source for our word "deacon."

KJV Analysis: 

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

any man -- The Greek word translated as "any man" in the singular means "anyone", "someone," and "anything." In the plural, it means "some", "they," and "those."

desire -- The Greek word translated as "desire"  expresses consent and even a delight in doing something. It means "to consent" and "to be resolved to a purpose".  We would say "want" or "desire." As an participle, it means "willingly" and "gladly".

to be --The verb "to 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 form is an infinitive, "to be."

first, -- The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially." [

the - This word does not appear in the Greek source.

same - This word does not appear in in the Greek source,

shall be -- The verb "shall 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 form is the future tense.

last -- "Last" is from an adjective that, in space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending." In the first part of the verse, it is introduced with an article, making it a noun.

of -- This word comes from the form of the following "all."

all, --  The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

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, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

servant -- The word translated here as "servants," actually means "servant." It is not the Greek word usually translated as "servant," which really means "slave."

of -- This word comes from the form of the following "all."

all. -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

The continued theme of Christ's words in this chapter is the boundary between the physical and the spiritual.  In that context, the verse indicates that the comparisons that we make in the physical world are reversed in the spiritual. By putting others first and serving them, we put ourselves last in this world, but in the spiritual dimension, this is turned around, giving us the most reward in the end.

The temporal world is just what happens in the short-term. The spiritual side of this equation works itself out over more time but not necessarily in death. Even within a lifetime, people who are selfish are punished as people turn away from them while those who are selfless get rewarded by winning  the love of others. The difference is that, in this world, we cannot count on that happening because people are imperfect.

This lesson also concerns perspective. If we put others first from our perspective, we rise in terms of their point of view. If we favor them, they are more likely to favor us in return. Every business becomes successful by first serving its customers.

In this chapter so far, this idea has already been demonstrated in several ways.

As seen in the transfiguration that began the chapter, what is dead in this world (Moses and Elijah) lives in the spiritual world. In that transformation, what is shadowed and dirty in this world is shining and white in the spiritual. The intangible dumb and deaf spirit becomes tangible by decreasing our physical presence  though fasting and prayer in this world.

Front Page Date: 

Sep 14 2019