“Thou SAVOREST not the things of God, but those that be of men” Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33
Some King James Bible critics (none of whom believe that any Bible in any language, translated or untranslated, is now or ever was the complete and inerrant words of God) raise a big stink about this expression found only two times in the King James Bible.
It is found in Matthew 16:23 and in Mark 8:33 and both times it is in the same context of when the Lord Jesus tells His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, and be killed and then be raise the third day. Peter then says to Jesus “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”
At this point we read in both gospel accounts: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for THOU SAVOREST not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
The underlying Greek word is # 5426 phroneo. This word is variously translated in the King James Bible as “to savour, to think, to regard, to mind, to understand, to set affection on, and to care (about something)”
The word is used in Colossians 3:2 - “SET YOUR AFFECTION on things above, not on things of the earth.”
The problem these bible critics have is not so much with the Greek as it is with understanding what the verb “to savor” means. If I am caring about something, or minded or disposed towards something, or have an affection for it, then I favor, like, relish and delight in these things.
And that is exactly the definition of the English verb “to savor”. Webster’s Dictionary defines “to savor” as “to like; to delight in; to favor, to enjoy with appreciation, to RELISH.”
Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich’s Greek-English lexicon tells us that the Greek word phroneo means “to think or feel a certain way about someone or something; to be concerned about”
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon likewise informs us that the word means “to direct one’s mind to a thing, to seek or strive for”
The word can have an emotional element to it rather than just a “mental assent”. For example, the NASB translates it as “it is only right for me TO FEEL this way about you” in Philippians 1:7 and as “you were CONCERNED (for me) in Philippians 4:10. The NIV also translates it as “feel” and “concerned”
The Greek word can have emotional overtones attached to it, as in “to set one’s affection on something”. And the English word “to savor” simply means to enjoy, to relish or appreciate and be favorably disposed towards something, as in “I plan to savor every moment.”
And that is how the word is used in Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33. Peter was more inclined to direct his mind and affections toward the things of men, than he was to savor the things of God.
Most modern versions translate Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33 as:
“you are not mindful of the things of God” - NKJV
“you think not God’s thoughts but man’s” Jehovah Witness NWT, Catholic New Jerusalem bible
“you are not setting your mind on the things of God” - ESV, NASB
“you do not have in mind the concerns of God” - NIV, Catholic Douay 1950
“for you RELISH NOT the things of God, but the things of men.” - Haweis N.T. 1795, Living Oracles 1835
“You don’t CARE ABOUT the things of God. You CARE ONLY ABOUT things that men think are important.” - International Children’s Bible 2015
“you are not intent on the things of God, but the things of people!” - Lexham Bible 2012
“You don’t CARE ABOUT the things of God, but only about the things people think are important.” - New Century Version 2005
Concordant Version 2006 - “for you are not disposed to that which is of God, but that which is of men."
There is nothing at all wrong with the King James Bible has it, since it conveys the idea that not only was Peter just “thinking” about things in the wrong way, but he was also emotionally drawn towards them and relished them. The English word “to savor” perfectly communicates this idea.
The King James Bible translators were well aware of other translations that read “understand not the things that are of God”. The Geneva Bible and Beza’s N.T. 1599 both read this way, but they rejected them and made the deliberate choice to translate it as “savourest not the things of God”.
Not only does the King James Bible read - “thou SAVOREST NOT the things of God, but those that be of men” but so too do the following Bible translations:
Wycliffe’s Bible 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Douay-Rheims 1582, the Bill Bible 1671, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s translation 1755, the Clarke N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s Bible 1833, the Longman Version 1841, the Hussey N.T. 1845, The Morgan N.T. 1848, the Hewett N.T. 1850, The Kenrick N.T. 1862, The Revised New Testament 1862, the Dillard N.T. 1885, the Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century version 1994, God’s First Truth 1999 - “you SAVOUR not godly things, but worldly things.”, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Bond Slave Version 2009, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - “for you SAVOUREST NOT the things that be of Elohim”, The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - “you do not SAVOR the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” and the BRG Bible 2012.
John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes - “Thou savourest not - Dost not RELISH or desire.”
Matthew Henry - “Those that inordinately fear, and industriously decline suffering for Christ, when they are called to it, SAVOUR more of the things of man than of the things of God; they RELISH those things more themselves”
Adam Clarke Commentary - “Thou savourest not - That is, DOST NOT RELISH, ου φρονεις, or, thou dost not understand or discern the things of God - thou art wholly taken up with the vain thought that my kingdom is of this world.”
John Calvin - “Thou art an offense to me; for thou RELISHEST not those things which are of God, but those which are of men.”
Matthew Poole’s Annotations - “For thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men…Though by thy intemperate affection to me thou wouldst hinder the redemption of mankind, this is not in this thing to mind, think on, or SAVOUR the things of God, but to suffer thyself to be seduced by thy carnal affection.”
The King James Bible is always right. Get used to it.
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