Judas and Jesus—A Reminder of Our Depravity (Matthew 26:25)

Here is a verse that provides and excellent example of how, oftentimes, our English bible translations simply fail to render the original Greek in the most accurate manner. Within Greek grammatical rules is a grammatical structure where if one of two Greek negatives, οὐ, is used in a question, then the questioner is expecting a “Yes” answer. Conversely, if the other of the two negatives, μή, is used, a “No” answer is expected. In the following verse under consideration, the New American Standard version gets it right, while the highly reputable English Standard version unexpectedly seems to miss it.

The setting is the last Passover Jesus will share with the twelve disciples. Among the twelve, of course, is Judas, who has already secured his booty of silver from the chief priests in exchange for his impending betrayal of Jesus (v. 15). This fact is key to understanding the importance of the Greek grammatical structure in verse 25!

Now, knowing what has occurred in earlier in verse 15, Matt. 26:25 is even more startling, when in answer to Jesus’ all-knowing statement that one of his disciples would betray him, Judas emphatically asks Jesus, “It is not I, is it, Rabbi?” — μήτι ἐγώ εἰμι, ῥαββι;

According to Greek usage, Judas is expecting—at least in his mind and heart—a “No” answer from his omniscient Lord. This, in spite of the fact that, shortly after “Satan entered into Judas” (Luke 22:3), he has already been paid by the chief priests for the yet uncommitted deed of betrayal. Yet, surely Judas reasonably should have known by then that Jesus, the very Son of God, would know what was in his heart. A reminder and warning to us all of our depraved condition, most clearly set forth by Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

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God’s Adopted Children: Chosen “In Love” (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 8:29-30)

Greek compound verbs have always fascinated me, since as in English—though many people don’t recognize or appreciate them because of the words’ unfamiliar Latin origins—they carry the resultant meaning derived from the inherent meanings of the two individual Greek words now joined. Most often these Greek compounds have a preposition as part of their forms. In the verses observed here in Ephesians 1, the Greek compound verb (ἐξελέξατο) occurring in an Aorist Middle voice form meaning (along with ἡμᾶς), “He chose us for Himself,” comes from the lexical form ἐκλέγω, a compound from the preposition ἐκ (ἐξ- = out of) and the verb λέγω (to say, speak). And this “choosing” or “speaking out” occurred “before the foundation of the world” (v. 4), at which creative point in time God literally “spoke” everything into existence!

But, there’s more to this passage than simply a captivating Greek compound verb. Especially when we look at it exegetically in conjunction with another familiar Pauline passage from Romans 8. There are two other important words in verse 29 that shed light on and undergird what we have already seen in Ephesians 1. Here in Romans, we find the Greek προέγνω = He foreknew (lexical form: προγινώσκω). Of course, there’s more going on here than is analogous to a football “prognosticator” verbalizing his educated “guess” on who the winners of weekend football matches will be. There is much more going on than the physician’s “prognosis” of what the result of the major surgery will most likely prove to be. This is Divine foreknowledge, literally: “to know beforehand.” And this pre-knowing is not simply celestial crystal ball gazing, but rather a “knowing” in the sense that Adam “knew” his wife Eve. There is a true intimacy which existed in the will of God toward those whom He would choose as His own children, as members of His own household. So, in Romans 8:29, God “foreknows,” and then sets His will into full motion by “foreordaining” (προώριζεν, from: προορίζω = to predestine, foreordain) us “to become conformed to the image of His Son.” Then in verse 30, the Father sets His will down as a finished act with a series of past tense Aorist verbs that form the major foundation of what bible students have come to know as the “Ordo Salutis” (“Order of Salvation”) —

“And those He predestined (foreordained), these He also called; and those He called, these He also justified; and those He justified, these He also glorified.

One final observation can now be more astutely accomplished. Many have long questioned where prepositional phrase “in love” (ἐν ἀγάπῃ) belongs in Ephesians 1:4-5. Does it belong at the end of verse 4 where “we should be holy and blameless before Him in love . . .” or, within the context of the longest continuous sentence in the New Testament) does it more appropriately belong with verse 5?

“. . . in love, He (God) predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:5)

We have only to refer back to our previous discussion of Romans 8:29-30 to find the only exegetically plausible answer. Within the context in Romans, God has “foreknown” or “set his love upon” us (προέγνω) as those “foreordained to become conformed to the image of His Son” (including our “adoption,” see Eph. 1:5, above). Here, as elsewhere, the bible repeatedly serves as its own interpreter, particularly through the beauty and precision of its God-breathed language.

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FLASH! Card!! Study!!! All the Words in the Greek New Testament Occurring More than 10 times!

For an online flashcard study of all the New Testament words occurring more than 10 times per Bruce Metzger’s Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek frequency lists (supported with words noted by Sake Kubo from his Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament >50x word usage appendix), click here. Each Greek vocabulary word occurs not only on the front of the vocabulary card, but also on the back of the card—with the definition immediately under it. In this way, you are associating the original Greek word with its definition, so that, when you turn the card over to the front side—even though the “answer” is not really there—after repetitive viewings you will actually “see” the definition under the Greek word on the front side of the card as well!  Some cards also include a “third side” clue to the word’s meaning (see screen shot example below).

Here’s a visual example—via screen shots—of what you’ll find once you’re on the “Cram.com” (formerly “Flashcard Exchange.com”) site.

1) Word frequency categories listing —


2) Word frequency group selected —


3) Features & Navigation —


4)  Sample Vocabulary Card (Front) —


5)  Sample Vocabulary Card “Third Side” Definition Clue —


6) Sample Vocabulary Card (Back) showing Greek word coupled with its English definition —

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Wermuth’s GREEKBOOK Now Available for Purchase as a Watermarked PDF!