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

KJV Verse: 

Mat 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.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Then it says, "Into that house of mine, I am going to return from which I departed." And, having arrived, it discovers it being unoccupied, having been swept and arranged. 

Hidden Meaning: 

The beginning and end of this verse are filled with double meanings. It makes sense if we think of "evil spirits" as the addictions and other such "demons" that plague people of every era. More about demons and evil spirits in this article the explains some aspects of this verse in more detail.

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.

"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 (Mat 12:43). Second, this word also means "substance," so Christ is referring to a return to the world of the physical world.

"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, which is used here, it means "to turn oneself around" or "be turned around."

The word translated as "I 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 Mat 12:43.

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, is best translated as "not only...but also."

There is no Greek source for the English "when". 

The word translated as "he is come" primarily means "to start out" but it also means "arrive" at a place. Here it is in the past tense, in a form that could be either a verbal adjective ("having arrived") or a regular verb, ("it had arrived"). Since there is no "when" the adjective form works best.

The term used for "he 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.

The "and's" in this section are a good example of a place where the "not only/but also" translation works best.

The three adjectives in this last section ("empty, swept, and garnished") are all verbs in the past tense that are in the form of an adjective where the verb acts on itself. Examples are given below.

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."

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

The Greek word translated as "garnished" means "having ordered himself", "having adorned himself", "having honored himself," or, in the more common passive form, "having ascribed to himself."

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." 

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 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 (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 (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: (3rd pl 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 or verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "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 (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 (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. (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."

Related Verses: 

Aug 10 2017