Matthew 12:44 Then he says, I will return to my house...

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Pharisses attack, Casting out spirits,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Then it says, "Into that house of mine, I am going to return from where I came out." And, arriving, it discovers it unoccupied, having been wiped out and well-ordered. 

KJV : 

Matthew 12:44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The beginning and end of this verse have some double meanings.  The beginning verb could the third-person, but it could also mean "you say to yourself." The actual speaker isn't revealed until the end of the next phrase.

This verse makes more sense if we think of "evil spirits" as the addictions and other such "demons" that plague people of every era. Jesus seems to be answering a question about why people fall prey to the same demons after their addiction seems cured.  More about demons and evil spirits in this article the explains some aspects of this verse in more detail.

The three adjectives in this last section ("empty, swept, and garnished") are all verbs but in different tenses and forms. The first word which means "unoccupied" both in the sense of "idle" and "empty" is the present tense and active. While the later two are a pair, as indicated by the "and' between them. They are both the past perfect tense, something finished in the past, and passive. The double meaning of the "swept" is "having been cleaned" and "having exhausted himself." The double meaning of "garnished" is "having been put in order", or "having been assigned."

NIV : 

Matthew 12:44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.

Wordplay: 

The  Greek word translated as "empty" means "unoccupied" in two senses, both "having nothing to do" and, of a place, "not having an occupant." Interestingly, when applied to learning, it means "to study" or "giving lectures." 

The Greek word translated as "swept" means both "having swept himself clean" and "having exhausted himself." 

The Greek word translated as "garnished" means both "having adorned himself," and "having honored himself." 

My Takeaway: 

We can stop bad habits, but we must fill up their place with something stronger.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τότε (adv) "Then" is from tote, which means "at that time" and "then."

λέγει (3rd sg pres ind act or verb 2nd sg pres ind mp) "He saith" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out, ""choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelled the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

Εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place), ""up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὸν  (article sg masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

οἶκόν (noun sg masc acc) "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.

μου (pron 1st sg masc gen) "Me" is from emou, which means "me", and "mine". -- "Me" is from the regular first-person pronoun in Greek.

ἐπιστρέψω [9 times](verb 1st sg fut ind act) "I will return" is from epistrepho, which means "to turn about", "to turn around", "turn towards", "return", "curve", "twist", "go back-and forwards", "pay attention to, ""to turn one's mind towards  ", "regard", "conduct oneself," and "behave," and in the passive to "be converted", "to be distorted", "turn oneself round", "are turned," and as an adjective, "earnest", "vehement."

ὅθεν [4 verses](adv) "From whence" is from hothen, which means "whence, ""from whom or which", "from whatever source", "in what manner soever", "from any other place whatsoever", "where or whither", "whence, "for which reason," and "for what reason."

ἐξῆλθον: (verb 1st sg aor ind act) "I came out" 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."

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."

ἐλθὸν (part sg aor act neut nom) "When he is come" is from erchomai, which means "to start, ""to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

εὑρίσκει (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "He findeth" is from heurisko, which means "to find", "to find out", "to discover", "to devise", "to invent", "to get," and "to gain."

σχολάζοντα [2 verses](part sg pres act masc acc) "Empty" is the verb, scholazô, which means "to loiter", "to be at leisure", "to have spare time", "to have nothing to do", "to loiter linger, "to have rest or respite", "to devote one's time to a thing," of a place: "to be vacant", "unoccupied", "to be reserved for," and, of students, "to devote oneself to learning: hence, give lectures."

[καὶ] "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."

σεσαρωμένον [3 verses](part sg perf mp masc acc) "Swept" is saroô, which means "to sweep", "to clean", "sweep clean," and, metaphorically, "to be exhausted."

καὶ (conj) "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."

κεκοσμημένον. [2 verses](part sg perf mp masc acc) "Garnished" is kosmeô, which means "arrange", "order", "prepare", "adorn", "equip", "adorn", "dress", "embellish", "honour," and, in the passive, "to be assigned," and "to ascribed to." However, whenever applied to people or institutions, it means "orderly."

KJV Analysis: 

Then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then". 

he  - (WW)  This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb. However, it should be "it." the verb is neuter, not masculine because the subject, "spirit" is neuter.

saith,  - The word translated as "He saith" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it has many other meanings including "to decide or choose for oneself," which seems closer to the meaning here since he isn't speaking out loud to anyone. The "he" is added by the KJV translators.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

return  - "I will return" is translated from a Greek word "to turn about" or "to turn around," but also means "cause to return" and "to turn one's mind towards" something. In the passive, it means "to turn oneself around" or "be turned around."

into -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

my-- "My" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes 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. 

house  - "House" is the male version of the word for "house" as opposed to the female version that we see much more commonly. This version is used for two reasons. First, the spirit left a man (Matthew 12:43). Second, this word also means "substance," so Jesu is referring to a return to the world of the physical world.

from whence - "From whence" is an adverb that means "whence, ""from whom or which", "from whatever source", and so on. It is used only four times by Jesus.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

came  - The word translated as "came out" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." This is the same word translated as "gone out" earlier in KJV Matthew 12:43.

out; -- This is from the prefix that means "out"of the previous verb.

and  - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

when -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "when" in the Greek source.

he -- (WW)  This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb. However, it should be "it." the verb is neuter, not masculine because the subject, "spirit" is neuter.

is -- (CW) This helping verb indicates the present tense or a passive voice of the verb, which is expressed here as an adjective. However,  the voice is active and the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).

come, -- (WF)  The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more. It is not an active verb, but a participle, coming.

he -- (WW)  This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb. However, it should be "it." the verb is neuter, not masculine because the subject, "spirit" is neuter.

findeth  - The term used for "findeth" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover." This is the same word used in the previous verse as "findeth" at tje end.

it -- This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

empty,  - (MM) The word translated as "empty" means "having not occupied himself" both in the sense "having found nothing to do" and, of a place, "not having an occupant." Since it refers to a person who an "evil spirit" has left, it has both the sense not finding another better to take its place and the person having nothing else to do, as in "idle hands are the devil's playground." This is an uncommon word for Jesus.

untranslated "and"  -- In some versions "and" appears here.  The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

swept, - (WT, MM))   - The Greek word translated as "swept" means "to sweep", "to clean", "sweep clean," and, metaphorically, "to be exhausted." The form is the past, perfect passive, so "having been cleaned" or  "having exhausted himself." It works like our "wiped out."  This is an uncommon word for Jesus.

and  -  The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

garnished.  - (WT, MM) The Greek word translated as "garnished" means to  "arrange", "order", "prepare". It is a participle, "garnished," but in n the  past  perfect so "having been ordered", or "having been assigned."  Like our "ordered" can mean "put on order" or "ordered for someone." It is the verb form of the more common kosmos, which is usually translated as "world" but more clearly means "world order."

KJV Translation Issues: 

12
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "it."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "house" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "it."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "is" does not mean a passive or present tense verb.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "come" is not an active verb but a participle, "coming."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "he" should be "it."
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "empty" and "idle."
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "clean out" and "exhausted."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "swept" should be the past perfect tense.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "set in order" and "assigned."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "garnished" should be the past perfect tense.

NIV Analysis: 

Then -- The Greek word for "then" means "at this time" or "then". 

it - This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

saith,  - The word translated as "He saith" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it has many other meanings including "to decide or choose for oneself," which seems closer to the meaning here since he isn't speaking out loud to anyone. The "he" is added by the KJV translators.

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

return  - "I will return" is translated from a Greek word "to turn about" or "to turn around," but also means "cause to return" and "to turn one's mind towards" something. In the passive, it means "to turn oneself around" or "be turned around."

to -- The word translated as "to" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

person -  (WW) "Person" is the male version of the word for "house" as opposed to the female version that we see much more commonly. This version is used for two reasons. First, the spirit left a man (Matthew 12:43). Second, this word also means "substance," so Jesu is referring to a return to the world of the physical world.

untranslated "of mine"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "of mine" is the first-person possessive singular pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of mine."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

came  - The word translated as "came out" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." This is the same word translated as "gone out" earlier in KJV Matthew 12:43.

from - "From" is an adverb that means "whence, ""from whom or which", "from whatever source", and so on. It is used only four times by Jesus.

So - (WW) The Greek word translated as "so" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

it - This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

returns -- (WW, WF) The word translated as "returns" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more. It is not an active verb, but a participle, coming.

and -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source.

finds - The term used for "finds" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover." This is the same word used in the previous verse as "findeth" at tje end.

its -- This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

former home -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "former home" in the Greek source.

empty,  - (MM) The word translated as "empty" means "having not occupied himself" both in the sense "having found nothing to do" and, of a place, "not having an occupant." Since it refers to a person who an "evil spirit" has left, it has both the sense not finding another better to take its place and the person having nothing else to do, as in "idle hands are the devil's playground." This is an uncommon word for Jesus.

untranslated "and"  -- In some versions "and" appears here.  The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

swept, - (WT, MM))   - The Greek word translated as "swept" means "to sweep", "to clean", "sweep clean," and, metaphorically, "to be exhausted." The form is the past, perfect passive, so "having been cleaned" or  "having exhausted himself." It works like our "wiped out."  This is an uncommon word for Jesus.

and  -  The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

in order.  - (WT, MM) The Greek word translated as "in order" means to  "arrange", "order", "prepare". It is a participle, "garnished," but in n the  past  perfect so "having been ordered", or "having been assigned."  Like our "ordered" can mean "put on order" or "ordered for someone." It is the verb form of the more common kosmos, which is usually translated as "world" but more clearly means "world order."

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "person" should be "house."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "of mine" after"house" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "so" should be "an."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "returns" should be "comes."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "returns" is not an active verb but a participle, "coming."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "former home" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "is" does not mean a passive or present tense verb.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "empty" and "idle."
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "clean out" and "exhausted."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "swept" should be the past perfect tense.
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word has two different meanings both "set in order" and "assigned."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "garnished" should be the past perfect tense.

The Spoken Version: 

“Then it says,” continued the Master, changing into a ghostly voice, “‘Into that house of mine, I am going to return from which I left.’”
The Nazarene rolled his eyes as the word, “left,” and did his throwing-out-the-trash gesture from his lessons.
Everyone laughed.
“And, having arrived,” the Master continued, showing surprise, “it discovers it unoccupied...”
At this point, he stifled a little yawn, and began twiddling his fingers.
“Idle hands are the demons’ tools,” someone shouted.
“Having been,” the Master continued, stretching, giving a big yawn, and rubbing his eyes sleepily, “ wiped out.”
He paused again and nodded at one of the young men who had struggled against drinking.
“Struggling against your personal demons every day wears you down,” the young man observed.
“And having been,” the Master continued again, standing like a Roman legionnaire at attention and saluting, “well-ordered.”
As he paused, he nodded at the other young man.
“I held myself so rigid,” the young man commented.

Front Page Date: 

Nov 18 2020