In the KJV with Strong's, this verse:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

the words I've highlighted in bold all come from the same Greek word: Autos (Strong's 846).

Now her I understand, because of the context. But I don't understand the distinction between they and he / him. The NIV builds on this distinction to render the verse:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

So my questions are:

  1. Why do Bible translations use both they and he here? Why not both times just he?
  2. Why does the NIV change they (assuming that is accurate) into and his disciples? Is that accurate?
  • @GoneQuiet: exactly my point. Who went into the house? Some commentaries say it was only Jesus, but also mention that other people must have been present because Martha was busy with much serving. And so I'm puzzled why this same word is translated different ways here. Jul 10, 2013 at 13:00
  • @FrankLuke, oh, ow, silly mistake, thx for the correction. Jul 10, 2013 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


For the first question, just looking at Strong's numbers introduces the conflict here. The Greek words all come from the same word but are different forms of that word. Strong's numbers combine all forms of a word. That number is what you look up in a lexicon containing Strong's codes.

English is not a highly inflected language. That means that we rely on word order to show meaning. Greek spells words differently to show if they are the subject or object of the sentence.

10:38 Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς, αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά· γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτόν.

10:38 Now as they went on their way, [he] entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. [I replaced the NET's Jesus with "he" to keep the pronoun]

  • αὐτὸς - This is the root or lexical form. Pronounce it as "autos" with a short o sound. It is the 3rd singular, masculine, nominative pronoun (often abbreviated 3SMN or NM3S).
  • αὐτοὺς - Pronounce it as "autous". This is the 3rd plural, masculine, accusative form (3PMA or AM3P).
  • αὐτόν - Pronounce it as "auton" with a short o sound. This is the 3rd singular, masculine, accusative form (3SMA or AM3S).

The first in the bullet list is the nominative case. It serves as the subject of the verb. "He entered."

The two accusatives receive the action of the verb. The last is simpler to explain. Who did she welcome? Martha welcomed "him."

In the first sentence, the verb itself is plural and shows that more than one person is making the journey. But αὐτοὺς is accusative and not nominative. αὐτοὺς receives the action. Were it to merely emphasize, αὐτοἱ would have been used. This is why the NIV has "they were on their way." The pronoun and case doesn't transfer to English on a one-to-one basis.

For the second question, why did the NIV use "and the disciples" in place of "they," this was a decision made for clarification. Who is "they"? Jesus and the disciples. Since a new paragraph was starting, they wanted to be clear on who "they" were (the subject was contained in the plural verb). The NET Bible made a similar decision when they left "they" in the first clause but changed the "he" to "Jesus" in the second.


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