Luke 16:15 Ye are they which justify yourselves before men;

KJV Verse: 

Luke 16:15 Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

You yourselves are the ones setting yourselves right in front of people. The, however, Divine? He knows those hearts of yours. Because that among people lofty? Disgusting in front of the Divine!

Hidden Meaning: 

This quote is a good example of the difference between a spoken statement and a written one. In the KJV, verbs are added to make complete sentences, but the original makes perfect sense without those verbs if spoken.  The verse has an interesting contrast. The two opposing words, "highly esteemed" and "abomination" are in the same form and appear next to each other as if the adjective "high" modified the noun "abomination". 

The pronoun "ye" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say "you yourselves." It is plural.

The verb "are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

"They which justify" is a Greek verb that means "to set right", "hold or deem right", "proved", "tested," and "to do a man justice." It is in the form of an adjective, "deeming" used as a noun, "those deeming". 

"Yourselves " is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.

The Greek term translated as "before" is not used outside of Luke except once in John. It appears here for the first time in Jesus's words here. It means "in front of". 

The Greek word for "men" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". 

The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. 

The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Christ often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods

"Knoweth" is a verb that means "to know", "to recognize", "make known", "to know carnally," and "to learn.

The word translated as "your" is plural addressing a group of Jesus's listeners.

"Hearts" is the Greek word that means "heart" both the physical organ and as the seat of emotions, which we discuss in a larger Greek context in this article here. However, this phrase can be read as defining the "heart" and both the "soul" and "the mind".

The Greek source of "for" is a word that means "that" or "because." 

The word translated as "that which" is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

There is no Greek verb "is" here. It is added to make a complete phrase.

The Greek adjective translated as "highly esteemed" means "high, "lofty", "stately", "proud", "up raised" and "mighty".  It is only used by Jesus here in the Gospels. Everywhere else it is used to refer to the height of a mountain. 

The word translated as "among" also means "within", "with," or "among."

The Greek word for "men" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men", "people", and "peoples". 

There is no "is" in the Greek. It is added to make a sentence of a spoken phrase.

"Abomination" is translated from a Greek word appears first in Septuagint, the Greek OT, but it doesn't appear elsewhere in Greek writings, except, of course, in the NT and religious writing after Christ. It is translated consistently as "abomination," but a related noun means "sickness", "nausea," "filth," and "nastiness." The verb form means "to feel loathing for food", "to make a stink," and "to make loathsome." The most common word of this root word is the adjective that means "disgusting" and "loathsome." 

The Greek term translated as "before" is not used outside of Luke except once in John. It appears here for the first time in Jesus's words here. It means "in front of". 

The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Christ often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

Wordplay: 

Vocabulary: 

Ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "Ye" is hymeis (humeis), which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you." --

ἐστὲ (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Are" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.") 

οἱ δικαιοῦντες (part pl pres act masc nom ) "They which justify" is from dikaioo, which means to "set right", "hold or deem right", "proved", "tested," "claim or demand as a right", "that which is ordained", "pronounce judgment", "have right done one", "chastise," and "punish." 

ἑαυτοὺς (adj pl masc acc) "Yourselves" is heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos. -- 

ἐνώπιον [uncommon](prep) "Before" is from enopionwhich means " facing" and "to the front".  

τῶν ἀνθρώπων, (noun pl masc gen) "Men" is anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate. 

(article sg masc nom) Untranslated is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by a conjunction. 

δὲ (conj/adv) "But" is de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if"). 

θεὸς (noun sg masc nom) "God" is theos, which means "God," the Deity."

γινώσκει verb 3rd sg pres ind act)  "Knoweth," is ginosko which means "to learn to know", "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive."

τὰς καρδίας (noun pl fem acc ) "The hearts" is kardia, which means "heart (the physical organ)", "the seat of emotions (especially passion, rage, and anger)", "inclination", "desire," "purpose", "mind", "the pith (in wood), and "the deep (of the sea)." 

ὑμῶν: (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." 

ὅτι (adv/conj) "For" is hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore." 

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc ) "That" is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by a conjunction.

ἐν (prep) "Among" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with". --

ἀνθρώποις (noun pl masc dat) "Men" is anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ὑψηλὸν [unique](adj sg neut nom/acc) "Highly esteemed" is hypsēlos,  which means "high, "lofty", "stately", "proud", "upraised" and "mighty". 

βδέλυγμα [uncommon](noun sg neut nom/acc)"Abomination" is from bdelugma , which means "abomination," but this word appears only in the NT. A related word, bdelugmia, means "sickness", "nausea," "filth," and "nastiness." The verb form, bdelussomai, means "to feel loathing for food", "to make stink," and "to make loathsome." The most common word of this base is the adjective, bdeluros, which means "disgusting" and "loathsome." In the Old Testament reference, Dan 12:11, the Hebrew word is shiqquwts, which means "detestable things", "idol", "impure clothing," and "flesh of victims." The root, shaqats, means "to contaminate," and "to pollute." 

ἐνώπιον [uncommon](prep) "Before" is from enopionwhich means " facing" and "to the front".   

τοῦ θεοῦ. (noun sg masc gen) "God" is theos, which means "God," the Deity." --

Related Verses: 

Aug 19 2018