Matthew 13:17 For truly I tell to you,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

this is because I tell you the truth. Great shining lights and the virtuous have longed to witness those[things] you view and they did not witness [them]. And to hear [and understand] what [things] you hear [and understand] and they did not hear [them].

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse includes two different Greek words both translated as "see." The KJV adds many words that are not part of the original.

The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

The "verily" phrase is used frequently by Christ. Its meaning is discussed in detail in this article.

The word translated as "many" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.

The Greek word translated as "prophets" means "one who speaks for God", "interpreter" and was the highest level of priesthood in Egypt. Christ uses it to refer not only to divine spokespeople but their books in the OT. It is the verb that means "to shine before."

"Righteous [men]" is a Greek adjective, used as a noun, that means "observant of tradition", "civilized," and "observant of duty." The word for "men" doesn't appear, but the adjective is in the masculine form.

"Have desired" is a verb that means "to set one's heart up," and, more generally, to "desire", "yearning," and "longing after." The tense indicates something that happens at some specific point in time, past, present, or future. The more common Greek word meaning "to desire" is used Luke 10:24.

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."

The word translated as "those things which" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. It is plural so we add "things" to make it clear that it isn't just one thing.

"Ye see" is a different verb that means the more tangible sense of seeing, such as seeing what is right in front of you rather than understanding.

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

The verb translated as "see" means "see" in the sense of "to know" or "to perceive." It is the same as the first "to see" above.

"To hear", "ye hear," and "have heard" are all from the same Greek verb, which means "to hear", "to listen," and "to understand."

Wordplay: 

In using two different verbs to means "see", Christ is subtly suggesting that his followers did not understand what they were seeing. 

Vocabulary: 

ἀμὴν "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

γὰρ "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I say" 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 spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep." -- 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.
ὑμῖν "Unto you" is from humas the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."
ὅτι "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." -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause.

πολλοὶ (adj pl masc nom) "Many" is from polus, which means "many (in number)", "great (in size or power or worth)," and "large (of space)." As an adverb, it means "far", "very much", "a great way," and "long."

προφῆται (noun pl masc nom) "Prophets" is from prophetes, which means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will", "interpreter", "keepers of the oracle", "the highest level of priesthood in Egypt," and "herald."

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."

δίκαιοι (adj pl masc nom) "Righteous [men]" is from dikaios, which means "observant of tradition", "civilized," and "observant of duty."

ἐπεθύμησαν ( verb 3rd pl aor ind act ) "Have desired" is from epithumia, which means "set one's heart upon", "long for", "covet", "eagerness for," "desire", "yearning," and "longing after." Passive, "to be desired." It is not the more common word meaning "desire" which is used in the Luke version (

ἰδεῖν (verb 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."

(pron pl neut acc) "Those things which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

βλέπετε (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye see" is from of blepo, which means "to look", "to see", "to look to", "to look like", "to rely on", "to look longingly", "to propose", "to beware", "to behold," and "to look for."

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." --

οὐκ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective. -

εἶδαν, (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Seen" 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."

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." --

ἀκοῦσαι (verb aor inf act) "To hear" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

(pron pl neut acc) "Those things which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἀκούετε (2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye hear" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

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." --

οὐκ ​"Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective. -

ἤκουσαν. (verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Have...heard" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

Related Verses: