Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The one, however, having been seeded in the productive ground, this is the one listening to the idea and puts [it] together; those of all persons produces results: this, indeed, a hundred but that sixty and that, thirty.

Hidden Meaning: 

Most of the words in Greek here are very familiar. The first part follows the structure of the previous verse, Mat 13:22. The end is the same as Mat 13:8, the verse this verse explains. This is another verse rich in symbolism much of which is not explained. For example, the "good earth" is symbolic of the physical body while the "putting together" of understanding refers to the body.

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.

"He" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine) which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

"That received the seed" is from the verb meaning "to sow," which itself is a verbal form of the Greek word for "seed." However, here, the verb is in the form of a noun describing something that is sown at sometime, "that which is sown". "Seeds" are Christ's symbol for knowledge or the beginning of knowledge.

The word translated as "into" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

The word translated as "good" referring to the "fruit" means "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality." It is different than the verb above. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet. It also means dirt and the ground generally.

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.

"He that" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer."

"Heareth" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding. However, it is in the form of an adjective, "hearing."

"The word" is translated from a Greek word that means "explanation" or "calculation." It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons.

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 often best translated as "not only...but also."

"Understand" is from a Greek verb which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out. It is in the past or possibly present potential tense, "might never."

"Bears fruit" is from karpophoreô, which means specifically "to bear fruit." It is also a metaphor in Greek, as in English, for virtue. It is the positive from of the term used in the previous verse, akarpos, which means barren.

The word translated as "which" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

"Also" is from a Greek particle de, which is used to give greater exactness, with pronouns to mark them strongly, "like", "of all persons", "be they who they may."

The Greek word translated as "bringeth forth" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

The last phrase is misleading and leaves much of the Greek untranslated as we saw in Mat 13:8.

The word translated as "some" three times is not the word starting the verse, but a demonstrative pronoun, "this," and "that."

An untranslated word meaning "indeed" or "surely" appears in the first part of this phrase. Its appearance in Mat 13:8 was preceded by its use in Mat 13:4 where it was also untranslated.

Another untranslated word appears twice in this phrase, the conjunction that has the meaning "but, ""however," or a weak "and" that begins the verse.

Most interpret this last part as describing different people with different levels of productive skills. However, it is also possible that it describes a field, if replanted with the same seed over and over, produces less and less over time. In other words, it describes the law of diminishing returns. While a new idea may be greatly productive at first, after awhile it produces less and less without fresh ideas.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "good earth" in the original also means "quality dirt" and "productive ground."

Vocabulary: 

(article sg masc nom) "He" is from the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

δὲ "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"). --

ἐπὶ "Into" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τὴν καλὴν "Good" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."

γῆν "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

σπαρείς, (part sg aor pass masc nom) "He that received the seed" is from speirô, which is a verb, that means "to sow seed", "to scatter like seed," and "to beget offspring.

οὗτός (adj sg masc nom) "He that" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such and extent," and "that is why."

στιν (verb 3rd sg pres) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

Untranslated is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

τὸν λόγον (noun sg masc acc) "The word" is from logos, which means "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition, ""word, ""discussion, ""reckoning," and "value."

ἀκούων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Heareth" 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."

συνιείς (part sg pres act masc nom) "Understandeth" is from suniêmi (syniemi) which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out.

ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

δὴ "Also" is from a Greek particle de, which is used to give greater exactness, after adjectives: "quite", "all", "full", "only", " after adverbs quite: "very", "verily", "surely," with verbs, "verily," with pronouns to mark them strongly, "like", "of all persons", "be they who they may", "one or other," to continue a narrative, "so then", "so," to express what is unexpected, "then," with imperative and subjunctive "but", after the conjunction "and: ""what is more," and "above all."

καρποφορεῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Bears fruit" is from karpophoreô, which means specifically "to bear fruit." It is also a metaphor in Greek, as in English, for virtue. It is the positive from of the term used in the previous verse, akarpos, which means barren.

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."

ποιεῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Bringeth forth" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

(pron sg neut acc) "Some" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. -- The word translated as "that" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

μὲν Untranslated is men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

ἑκατὸν "An hundredfold" is from hekaton, which is the number "a hundred."

"Some" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

δὲ Untranslated is 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").

ἑξήκοντα "Sixtyfold" is from hexekonta, which means the number "sixty" or "the sixtieth part."

"Some" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. Untranslated is 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").

δὲ Untranslated is 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").

τριάκοντα. "Thirtyfold" is from triakonta which means "thirty."

Related Verses: