Matthew 12:6 ...That in this place is [one] greater than the temple.

Spoken to: 

The Pharisees

Context: 

Pharisees attack, violating the Sabbath

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

I, however, am telling you because, of the consecrated, a greater? It is here. 

KJV : 

Matthew 12:6 But I say unto you, That in this place is [one] greater than the temple.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is a great example of the translators wanting Jesus to say something that he clearly didn't. There is a problem with "greater" referring to a person. The "greater" is neuter not masculine. The "something" of the NIV is more honest in this that the "one," or "One" of the KJV and most other translations. There is not "one" in the verse, but comes from the singular form of the verb, but the neuter form of the "greater" that comes before the verb assures no one would have heard it as referring to a person.

In Greek, this reads like a clever quip, but that feeling is lost in the translation.  The punchline ending the phrase is translated as "in this place" or "here." The field in which Jesus and his students are when approached by the Pharisees. If David can use the temple for sustenance, Jesus's students can use the field.

This verse looks like several recent ones that seem to start the same, but the beginning of Matthew11:24 and Matthew 11:22 used a different word translated as "but." The word here is the more common Greek word translated as "but," however, that doesn't stop translations like the NIV for omitting it. Often this phrase contains the pronoun for "I" emphasizing it, but it doesn't here.

NIV : 

Matthew 12:6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "temple" also means "a sacrifice." Literally it means "consecrated" which applies both to holy places and the sacrifices in them. 

My Takeaway: 

The sky and earth are greater than the temple..

Related Verses: 

Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the law,

class="views-field-title">Matthew 12:4 How he entered into the house of God, class="views-field-field-alternative-value">

Greek Vocabulary: 

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "Say" is from lego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount," "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of," "recite," "nominate," and "command."

δὲ"  (partic) But" is from 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"). -- The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

ὑμῖν "(pron 2nd pl dat)  You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ὅτι (conj/adv) "That" 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."

τοῦ (article sg neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἱεροῦ (noun sg neut gen ) "The temple" is from hieron, means which means "filled with or manifesting divine power", "holy," "consecrated", "under divine protection", "holy place", "sacred principle," and "supernatural." It also means "victim" or "sacrifice." It is related to the word used for "priest." Both come from the word hieros, which means "super-human", "mighty", "divine", "wonderful" and "holy."

μεῖζόν (adj sg neut nom/acc comp) "Greater than" is from meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

ἐστιν (3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

ὧδε. (adv) "In this place"  is from hode, the demonstrative adverb that means in manner, "in this wise," "thus," "so very", "so exceedingly," of Place, "hither," and "here."

KJV Analysis: 

But -- The term translated as "but" means that, but since it always appears in the second position in a phrase, it feels more like our word "however," which can appear in the second position. The effect is to change the direction of the phrase after it is started. This is a change from the last several phrases

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

say -- The word translated as "I say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

you, -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc. 

That  - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause. Translating it as "because" often makes its meaning a little clearer.  The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause. Translating it as "because" often makes its meaning a little clearer. 

in this place  - (WP) "In this place" is the adverb that means "here," which is how it is almost always translated in the Bible. This is the "punchline" of the phrase, the surprise ending.

is  - The verb "is" 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. Again, this word is at the very end, right before the Greek word meaning "here". The verb contains information about the subject so it can be translated as "it is". 

one  - (IW) There is no Greek word "one" in the original. It was added by the translators.

greater  - "Greater" is an adjective that means "bigger," "mightier," "stronger,"  and "greater" from a root that means "big" and "great."

than - This word "than"  comes from the genitive case of the "temple" that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. Here, the listeners would not understand the "than" sense until the "greater" word is spoken after the word "temple."

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") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

temple.  - "Temple" from a noun that means "consecrated". It is used to describe a "holy place" and it related to the word used for "priest." However, it also means "sacrifice" or "victim." That definition didn't work in the previous post, Matthew 12:5, because the reference was to being "in the temple", a place.  However, here it creates a perfect play on words, a "greater consecrated". This word appears in the middle of the verse. The double meaning isn't obvious until the end of the sentence because it is clear that a "temple" is "here". 

KJV Translation Issues: 

2
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "he" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "in  this place" doesn't appear here at the end of the verse.

NIV Analysis: 

untranslated "but"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is "but", but since it always appears in the second position in a phrase, it feels more like our word "however," which can appear in the second position. The effect is to change the direction of the phrase after it is started. This is a change from the last several phrases

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

tell -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you, -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc. 

that  - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause. Translating it as "because" often makes its meaning a little clearer.  The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause. Translating it as "because" often makes its meaning a little clearer.

something -  This is from the neuter form of the following "greater."

greater  - "Greater" is an adjective that means "bigger," "mightier," "stronger,"  and "greater" from a root that means "big" and "great."

than - This word "than"  comes from the genitive case of the "temple" that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. Here, the listeners would not understand the "than" sense until the "greater" word is spoken after the word "temple."

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") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

temple.  - "Temple" from a noun that means "consecrated". It is used to describe a "holy place" and it related to the word used for "priest." However, it also means "sacrifice" or "victim." That definition didn't work in the previous post, Matthew 12:5, because the reference was to being "in the temple", a place.  However, here it creates a perfect play on words, a "greater consecrated". This word appears in the middle of the verse. The double meaning isn't obvious until the end of the sentence because it is clear that a "temple" is "here". 

is  - The verb "is" 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. Again, this word is at the very end, right before the Greek word meaning "here". The verb contains information about the subject so it can be translated as "it is". 

here  - "Here" is the adverb that means "here," which is how it is almost always translated in the Bible. This is the "punchline" of the phrase, the surprise ending.

NIV Translation Issues: 

1
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.

The Spoken Version: 

“Are you telling us your students are the same as priests?”
The Master smiled at the question and responded, “I am telling you all.
“How can you compare your students to the priests of our great temple?“
“Because of the temple?” responded the Master, gesturing to the sky and surrounding fields, “something greater is here!”

Front Page Date: 

Oct 25 2020