Question:

I found an article stating that Jesus' words in Matthew 27:46 should have been translated, "My God, my God, for this I was kept!" Is there any basis for this claim?

Answer:

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46)

I had not heard of this before, so I did a bit of research. The argument comes strictly from the Aramaic; basically that "lama" was mistransliterated into Greek and that the actual Aramaic would should have been "lemana". There are several problems with this idea, but the primary one is that Matthew, inspired by the Holy Spirit, gives us a translation of what Jesus said -- we don't have to guess. The Greek word enkatelipes which translated sabachthani means "desert, abandon, leave remaining." You can see its use in Acts 2:27, 31 when Peter takes about Jesus' soul not being abandoned in Hades. Or Paul talking about those who had abandoned him in II Timothy 4:16. Or, not forsaking the assembly in Hebrews 10:25.

The claim that the Greek allows for a translation of "for this I was kept" is unsupported by any Greek source that I read, and it does not match its usage in the New Testament in other verses. The Aramaic, with some alterations, might allow this alternative meaning, but the Holy Spirit narrowed the definition for us.

November 5, 2008