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Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation,
Context:

A long section about "the end of the world" or, more precisely, "the culmination of an era."

Spoken to:
Apostles
Greek Verse:

Matthew 24:21 ἔσται γὰρ τότεθλίψις μεγάλη οἵα οὐ γέγονεν ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς κόσμου ἕως τοῦ νῦνοὐδ᾽ οὐ μὴ γένηται.

KJV Verse:

Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

NIV Verse:

Matthew 24:21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Literal Alternative:

Because there will be then great oppression such as has not happened from a starting world order until the one now neither. Never might it happen.

Hidden Meaning:

The Greek word translated as "world" means "world order," having the sense of society as a whole or a particular regime currently in power.  The use of this term makes it clear that Jesus is talking about the end of an era, that is, a particular form of society or a regime, rather than the mistranslated concept, so dear to centuries of apocryphal preachers, "the end of the world."

The term translated as "affliction" means "pressure" and "oppression." This is what happens when one society or regime is transformed into another: pressure is applied to people to force them into new ways.

This verse has a lot in common with the Septuagint version of  Deu 4:32 but that relationship is clearer in the similar verse in Mark 13:19 because a couple of words more in it also appear in the Septuagint that do not appear here.

Again,  we commonly see, the verb meaning "happens" is translated as "to be" confusing a change with continued existence.

The Spoken Version:

"Because," he explained. "There is going to be then a great pressure."

He demonstrated by pressing together his hands.

"As hasn't really come into being," he continued. "from the earliest earthly powers until the one now."

He gestured indicating the city beyond them.

"No," he emphasized. "Never."

"But," he continued. "It is going to come into being."

My Takeaway:

Every oppressive change we experience is the worst in human history.

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About this Site

I started this site fifteen years ago.  My original award-winning work as a "techno-linguist" was in ancient Chinese. I wanted to bring the same computer search and analysis techniques to explore something more important: the original Greek of Jesus's words. To understand why this was important to me, you may want to read this article on how Jesus's meaning is lost.

This site does not promote any religious point of view. On the contrary, it seeks to avoid the competing and evolving religious dogmas that have shaped Biblical translation for centuries.  I purposely use "nonreligious" sources for Greek word meaning, rejoining the study of Biblical Greek with the broader study of ancient Greek. My goal is simply to identify how listeners of Jesus's time would have heard him.

Jesus' words are unique for three reasons.

  1. His words were spoken, not written. Spoken language is inherently different than written language.
  2. His words changed the meaning of words, determining even how later NT authors' used the Greek.
  3. His words were the basis of a unique historical revolution in the way people think.

Most of the on-line material on "Biblical Greek" is largely tautological. It explains the Greek only in terms of how it has been translated into English in the Bible. It flows from the ways that the  Gospel was taught from the Latin Vulgate. I respect this work and use it daily. However,  most of my work takes place outside of this tradition, researching the use of the Greek closer to the time of Jesus, especially the Greek OT, the Septuagint.

The Bible has been such a powerful force in history that it has changed the meaning of many words in English, Latin, and Greek. However, the Greek of Jesus's words has been faithfully preserved for centuries despite the changing religious fashions. These fashions, unfortunately, affect each successive English translation of the Bible, moving it further and further from the Greek.  I stopped analyzing the NLT version because so much of it fails to connect to anything in Jesus's Greek. It is not a translation but how a group of people today feel about the ideas in other English translations. The Message Bible version is even worse.

This site is offered for those who care about fidelity to Scripture as passed down for two thousand years.

Most Recent Question

Question:
Does John 6:37 mean that once I’m saved, no matter what sin I do, if I come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and repent from that sin, I will not be cast out?
Answer:

I don't see anything about asking forgiveness and repenting nor anything about "being saved." All of these are Christian concepts invented after Jesus. He doesn't use these ideas at all. What is translated as "forgive" means "let go" as in dropping something. What is translated as "repent" means "change your mind" as in thinking differently. What gets translated as "being saved" is the idea of being "rescued" not from "evil" but from "worthlessness."

None of this is in the verses. Or in its context. His ideas in John 6:37 are simpler.  You are either returning to Jesus or moving away from him. Those who the Father has given him...