Matthew 11:8 But what did you go out to see?

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 11:8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

 

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Still, what did you go out to see? A man in soft having wrapped himself? You see the ones, the soft wearing, in the houses of rulers.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse also illustrates how carefully Christ chooses his words. For example, the word he uses that is translated as "soft" here has the sense of "morally debased" while when he describes himself in terms that can mean "soft" and "gentle" in Mat 11:29, he uses two other words that are self-deprecating, but not in the moral sense.

The word translated as "went ye out" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true."

The verb translated as "to see" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." It is different than the verb used in the previous verse, Matthew 11:7, translated as "to see." The Greek word for "a man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

"Clothed" is a verb in the form of an adjective ("clothing") that means "to put on" or "to put around" so "wrapping". It is also used to mean "to dress oneself in." It is not an active verb, as shown in the KJV. It is in a form where the subject acts on himself, "wrapping himself". Its form matches "a man" so "a man wrapping himself".

The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among." This preposition appears before the word translated as "clothed".

"Soft" is a Greek adjective used to mean soft and gentle in both a good sense and a bad, soft pillow, good, soft man, bad. It was used specifically to describe men as effeminate and morally debased. It is not either of the two words in Matthew 11:29, that could be translated as "gently" or "weak." In the Greek, this adjective appears before the word translated as "clothed" but it is in a form that makes it the object of the preposition "in". The "clothing" is not in that form so the "soft" does not modify the "clothing".

In Greek sources used today, there is no Greek noun here that can be translated as "raiment" or "clothing." There is in the Luke version of this verse (Luke 7:25) and in the Greek source used by the KJV translators. 

"Behold" is an adverb meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!"

The word translated as "they" is an article, used without a noun, so it has the sense of "the ones".

"That wear clothing are" is a Greek verb meaning "to do, to have or to be repeatedly." In reference to clothing, it means "to bear" or "to wear" in the mind and the body. Its form is that of an adjective, "bearing" of the subject of the sentence. There is no Greek word for "clothing" either in the KJV source or in today's source. It was added by the KJV translators.

There is no word for "clothing" here.

The "soft" here is an adjective, but it is used as a noun acting as the object of the sentence, introduced by an article ("the").

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

The Greek word translated as "houses," is any dwelling place but not exclusively a separate house. It means the household or clan that lives in the building as well.

"Kings" is translated from a Greek word which means a "king" or "chief."

Wordplay: 

The words translated as "clothed in soft clothing" can mean "wrapped up in moral depravity."

Vocabulary: 

ἀλλὰ (adv) "But" is from alla, which means "otherwise", "but", "still", "at least", "except", "yet," nevertheless", "rather", "moreover," and "nay." --

τί (pron sg neut nom ) What" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what.

ἐξήλθατε (2nd pl aor ind act) "Went ye" is from exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth", "go out on", "to stand forth", "to exceed all bounds", "to come to an end", "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true."

ἰδεῖν; (aor inf act) "To see" is from eidon which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

ἄνθρωπον (noun sg masc acc) "A man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in the plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

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

μαλακοῖς (adj pl neut dat) "Soft" is from malakos, which means "freshly plowed," but it was used for a lot of ideas for gentleness and softness such as sleeping softly, sitting on a soft pillow, and soft grass. It is used to mean "soft" in a negative sense, for the idea of faint-hearted, and cowardly and lacking self-control. It was used specifically to describe men as effeminate and morally debased.

ἠμφιεσμένον; (part sg perf mp neut nom/acc) "Clothed" is from amphiennumi, which means "to put on" or "to put around." It is also used to mean "to dress oneself in."

ἰδοὺ (verb 2nd sg aor ind mid or verb 2nd sg aor imperat mid) "Behold is from idou , which means "to behold", "to see," and "to perceive." It acts as an adverbial phrase in this form meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!' It is a form of the verb eido, which means "to see."

οἱ (article pl masc nom) "They" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

τὰ μαλακὰ (adj pl neut nom) "Soft" is from malakos, which means "freshly plowed," but it was used for a lot of ideas for gentleness and softness such as sleeping softly, sitting on a soft pillow, and soft grass. It is used to mean "soft" in a negative sense, for the idea of faint-hearted, and cowardly and lacking self-control. It was used specifically to describe men as effeminate and morally debased.

φοροῦντες [uncommon](part pl pres act masc nom) "that wear clothing are" from eisi, which means to "be or do repeated or habitual", "fetch for oneself", "fetch regularly," of clothes, armor, and the like, "bear constantly", "wear," of mind or body, "possess", "hold", "bear," generally "bear", "suffer, and, in the passive, "to be borne along," and "to be carried away."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with". -- The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

τοῖς οἴκοις (noun pl masc dat) "House" is from oikos, which means "house", "dwelling place", "room", "home", "meeting hall", "household goods", "substance," and "ruling family." It is any dwelling place but not exclusively a separate house.

τῶν βασιλέων. (noun pl masc gen ) "Kings" is from basileus, which means a "king", "chief", "prince", "lord", "master", "a great man," and "the first and most distinguished of any class." It is a form of the world used for "kingdom." -- "Kings" is translated from a Greek word which means a "king" or "chief."

Related Verses: 

Matthew 11:7 What did you go out into the wilderness to see?

Luke 7:25 But what went ye out for to see?

Jun 22 2017