Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

 

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Lift off this yoke of mine onto yourselves. And you all learn from me because gentle am I and pathetic this heart. And you all are going to discover a breathing space for that awareness of yours. 

Hidden Meaning: 

There is a hidden balancing of opposites in this verse. It also says something very important about studying Christ. Several of the Greek words have different meanings than what is offered in the KJV.

"Take" is translated from a Greek word means "to raise up", "to elevate", "to take up and carry," and "to elevate." It can mean "exalt," as we would use praise, or "to rear" as in raising a child. It can also mean "to take away" or "to carry off." It doesn't mean "take" nor is it normally translated that way in the NT. 

The Greek word for "yoke" describes the yoke that holds an ox or horse to a plow or carriage, but it was also a metaphor for slavery and the beam in a balancing scale. It is introduced by an article so "the yoke". See this article about how the Greek "the" is more like "this" or "that" in English.  

The "my" here can mean either a yoke that is worn by Christ owned by another or owned by Christ. "Yoke" indicates servitude, it can either mean the servitude of Christ to God or the servitude to Christ.

"Learn" is a word that means "to learn especially by experience or study."

The word translated as "of" in "of me" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. In English, we would say "from me" to indicate a source. 

The word translated as "for" introduces a statement of fact or cause. We would commonly say "because". 

"Meek" if from a word that means "mild", "soft," "gentle," and "meek." When addressed to an individual (i.e. "gentle one") it is a term of affection.

The conjunction usually translated as "and" appears here. 

The word translated as "lowly" is usually a derogative term describing many forms of weakness. Here, it is clearly self-deprecating. Since it is applied to a "heart" here, a thing, the common meanings would be "mean", "low," and "poor." In English, "pathetic" seems t cover this idea well. Especially if means to be self-deprecating. 

The word means "heart," but which was in Greek, as in English, the seat of the emotions and feelings but the higher emotions, especially bravery and pride. It is not in the possessive form here ("of heart"). The form matches the subject so Christ is saying literally, "I am the heart." It is introduced by an article ("the"), which, in Greek works more like "this" or "that" in English, 

The term used for "find" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover."

"Rest" is  a Greek noun that means "rest", "repose", "relaxation," and "recreation." It is a compound word meaning a "pause between," what we describe as a "work break," but here, because the context is "breath" (see below).

The word translated here as "souls" is from psyche, means literally "breath" but it is a common word in Greek meaning "life", "soul", "consciousness," and "a sense of self." Christ uses it to mean primary "spirit" or "mind" where "mind" is contrasted with "body". This Greek word is our source of the English word "psyche." More about Christ's use of this word and related words here. It is introduced by an article so "the awareness" or "that awareness". The form here is an indirect object which can be used to describe what something benefits.

Wordplay: 

The "my yoke" can either mean a yoke that is on Christ or one that has been put on him by another. 

The first phrase is a setup seeming to say, "lift off my yoke" but then changing to "onto yourselves."

The phrase translated in KJV "lowly in heart" is clearly a self-deprecating joke as we would say, "soft to the core." 

Vocabulary: 

ἄρατε (2nd pl aor imperat act) "Take" is from airo, which means "to lift up", "to raise", "to raise up", "to exalt", "to lift and take away," and "to remove."

τὸν ζυγόν (noun sg masc acc) "Yoke" is zugos (or zugon), which is the yoke that holds an ox or horse to a plow or carriage. It was used as a metaphor for slavery. It also means the beam in a balancing scale. It is from a root word (zeugnumi) that means "to join."

μου (pron 1st sg masc gen) "My" is from mou, which mean "my," or "mine."

ἐφ᾽ (prep) "Upon" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas which is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

καὶ (prep) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

μάθετε (2nd pl aor ind act) "learn" is from manthano, which means "to learn" especially by study or practice, "acquire a habit of", "perceive", "understand," and "notice."

ἀπ᾽ (prep) "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. --

ἐμοῦ, (pron 1st sg masc gen ) "Me" is from emou, which means "me", and "mine".

ὅτι (conj/adv) "For" is from 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."

πραΰς (adj sg masc nom) "Meek" is from praus, which means "mild", "soft", "gentle", "meek", "making mild," and "taming." When addressed to an individual (i.e. "gentle one") it is a term of affection. When applied to an action, it describes a "caress."

εἰμι (1st sg pres ind act ) "I am" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

κα (prep) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

ταπεινὸς (adj sg masc nom) "Lowly" is tapeinos, which means "low," humble", "submissive", "poor," and "weak;" of persons, "humbled", "abased in power, pride", "small", "poor", "weak", "of low intelligence;" of the spirits, "downcast", "dejected;" in moral sense, "bad", "mean", "base", "abject;" of things, "mean", "low," and "poor."

τῇ καρδίᾳ, (noun pl fem nom ) "In heart" is from 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)."

καὶ (prep) "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

εὑρήσετε (2nd pl fut ind act) "Ye shall find" is from heurisko, which means "to find", "to find out", "to discover", "to devise", "to invent", "to get," and "to gain."

ἀνάπαυσιν (noun sg fem acc) "Rest" is anapausis, which means "cessation of motion", "rest", "rest from a thing," and "relaxation."

ταῖς ψυχαῖς (noun pl fem dat ) "Soul" is from psyche, which means "breath", "life", "self", "spirit," and "soul." It has the clear sense of the conscious self and is often translated as "life" in the Gospels. It is also used to describe "the spirit" of things. It is often translated as "soul."

ὑμῶν:” (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

Related Verses: 

Jul 12 2017