Get behind me – or – Follow me

For the past several years my pastor and I have read his sermon texts in Greek and/or Hebrew and shared insights before he delivered his sermons.  In his recent sermon text of Mark 8:27-38, he noticed that the Greek word OPISO (usually translated “after” or “behind” in the KJV) occurs in verse 33 in the clause “Get behind me, Satan” and again in verse 34 in the clause “If any want to follow after/behind me…”

Our first thought was that the Greek word OPISO was used in two different senses; the occurrence in verse 33 in the sense in which the TEV (“Get away from me”) and the NIV (“Out of my sight”) translated it; the occurrence in verse 34 in the sense of following Jesus.  But then I began to wonder if the occurrence in verse 33 may have been intended to convey the same sense as the one in verse 34.  A look at a concordance supports that likelihood since nearly all uses of OPISO in the New Testament occur in contexts that convey the sense of following Jesus.

If Jesus were rebuking Satan in verse 33, I could understand why he might say “Get away from me” or “Out of my sight.”  But Jesus was scolding Peter, a devoted follower of his, who was not acting as a follower should.  I don’t think Jesus was rejecting Peter, which “Get away from me” implies.  I think Jesus was reminding Peter of what it meant to be his follower.  So I prefer the rendering of The Better Life Bible:   “Stop acting like Satan, who wants everything to go his way.”  I wonder if any other translations convey this idea.

2 thoughts on “Get behind me – or – Follow me

  1. Paul Franklyn says:

    We are still waiting on final edit of Mark, but so far the forthcoming Common English Bible reads: “Get behind me, you devil! You think like a human being; that’s not the way God thinks.”

  2. Jonathan Morgan says:

    Jesus (or Mark recording it) chose to use the word Satan, which is not a Greek word, rather than diabolos, which is. Changing it to devil doesn’t make any sense for either a literal translation or a dynamic equivalence translation, IMHO. Additionally, Peter was being an adversary (Satan) but not as far as I can tell a false accuser (devil), so Satan makes more sense (adversary or similar might make sense too, but the fact that a non-Greek word was used suggests to me that translating to English is probably a mistake.

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