Matthew 5:19 "So whoever breaks one of these smallest commandments...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Whosoever then might untie one of these commands, of the smallest, and might teach people this same way. "The smallest," he is going to be named in realm of the skies. That one, however, who might produce and might teach, "great" he will be called in the realm of the skies.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse provides some logical connections between the "law" as mentioned in the previous verses, and the "commandments." It is also the introduction to a pair of Christ's favorite double meaning words, "least" and "greatest."

The "whosoever" is a pair of Greek words meaning literally, "that one who might possibly."

The "therefore" is a particle that can mean "certainly" or, to continue a narrative, "therefore" or "then."

The Greek verb translated as "shall break" doesn't mean "disobey" in any sense. The word means "to loosen" with the sense of releasing or untying. this is the Greek word used in those verses where Christ talks about "binding" and "loosing" on earth and in heaven (for example, Mat 18:18). Christ almost always used this word to mean undo something that "binds" you to another. In the case of legal agreements, it means to break a contract, but, again, the idea is that contracts are "binding" and binds are untied.

The word translated as "least" also means "smallest, but it is used as a noun, "the smallest one", after the word "command" not as a pure modified of "command". This could well be a description of breaking down general rules into more and more trivial rules, each one less important than the last.

The word translated a "commandments" means an "order" or a "command." this is not the word from the previous verses, meaning "customs", "tradition," or the "law". Commands were components of the law.

The word "shall teach" is the most common word for "teach". It also means to "explain." It also is not in the future tense, but a form that indicates something that might happen at sometime.

The adverb translated as "so" means "in this manner."

Christ uses the word "men" to mean "people" generally.

The word translated as "shall be called" means "to call" in the sense of "summon" or "invite" but also in the sense of "the call by name." This word is in the future tense.

The word "the least" is the same word used to describe the

The phrase, "the kingdom of heavens" generally is discussed in more detail in this article. The simplest translation is "realm of the skies".

The second half of this phrase looks like it begins the same as the first, but it doesn't, quite.

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. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

The "whosoever" here is the simple demonstrative pronoun, "that." Beginning this verse, it was joined with a conjunction but the "but" conjunction is used here along with the particle that means indicates something might happen.

The Greek verb translated as "shall do" means primarily "to make", "to produce," and "to create." It is the "doing" of creating and producing. It is not in the future tense, but a form that indicates something that might happen at some time.

The word "shall teach" is the same word as above. Again, it is not in the future, but a form indicating something that might happen at some time.

"Them, the same" is an adjective that means "this" or "that." It is not plural, but singular. It cannot refer either to "the commands" or to "the men" because both are plural.

The verb translated as "shall be called" is the same one as the above. It is also in the future tense.

The word translated as "great" means "great", "mighty," and "important".

Notice that this last section doesn't say anything about the commandments or law. The law is the larger context here, but the section on making and creating doesn't mention them. The KJV translates houtos ("this") as "them, the same" implying that this is about the commandments mentioned earlier, but it is a reach. It is the wrong pronoun, in the wrong form, in the wrong place. The noun used earlier for commandments was a feminine, plural noun and this is a masculine singular pronoun. This word is masculine, singular, referring to the one creating and it is nominative, making it the subject of the last sentence.

What Christ is contrasted here is two ways of "fulfilling" the law, the topic of the previous verse. The first is the way of the scribes and pharisees, breaking down the commandments of the written law into more and smaller rules and teaching others to do this. The other is creating and making things and teaching others to do that.

finally, we need to look at the idea of their being greater and lesser people in the kingdom of heaven. Like so much of what Christ says, this statement is challenging. Does it indicate that there a status system in heaven? The Greek word translated as "called" is from a word which means "to summon", "to call [by name]" or "to name." Like so many of Christ's words, this seems to be a humorous device of name-calling to make a larger point.

Part of the confusion arises from our idea that "the kingdom of God" refers to to the afterlife. As we have said before, the kingdom of heaven (basileia ouranos, literally, the dominion of the universe or universal) is never described by Christ as the afterlife. When Christ talks about the after life, he talk about the time when people have risen from the dead. The kingdom of heaven is something else.

Christ spends a lot of time describing the universal rule, mostly as a process which will change the world, creating the basis for the separation of the good and evil at the end of that process. The kingdom of heave, for example, is like a field in which weeds are allowed to grow with the grain. It is a net that gathers up both good fish and bad fish. In other words, bad people are never excluded from the process. They are part of it.

For more on the meaning of the Greek phrase translated as "the kingdom of heaven," see this article connecting several different verses on the topic.

Wordplay: 

 A play on small rules and small people. 

The word "call" means both to "invite" and to "name".

The word translated as "so" and "them the same" are the adverb and adjective forms of the same word. 

The Spoken Version: 

“Are the Dedicated wrong when they tell us we can ignore some laws if we make offerings at the temple?” An older man called out,
“Whoever,” the speaker said, pointing toward the Dedicated from behind a concealing hand, “might relax one of these laws—the tiniest.” He said, holding out his little finger and wiggling it.
The adults in the crowd laughed. This was a common rude gesture belittling someone’s manhood.
“And he might teach the people this,” he continued. “‘The tiniest,’ he is going to be called.” He wiggled his little finger again.
This drew more laughter.
“In the realm of the skies!” The speaker added innocently, nodding up at the sky.
This made the whole crowd laugh harder.
“The one, however, who produces and teaches this?” He held up the loaf of bread. “The greatest,’ he is going to be called—in the realm of the skies!”

Vocabulary: 

ὃς ἐὰν (pron pron sg masc nom + conj) "Whosoever" is from two Greek words. The first is the pronoun hos, which is the demonstrative pronoun, "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. The second is the conjunction is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

οὖν (partic) "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

λύσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act "Shall break" is from lyo, which means "unfasten", "unbind", "unyoke", "released by payment or ransom", "deliverance from guilt", "blotting out" of sins"dissolve", "breakup", "break a whole into parts", "break [legal obligations]", "destroy", "solve", "fulfill", "accomplish", "atone", "pay wages in full," and "make up for."

μίαν (adj sg fem acc) "One" is from heis, which means "one", "single," and "one and the same." This adjective is irregular, having a number of forms depending on sex, number, and case: heis, henos, heni, hen, hena, mia, mias, miai, mian; hen, henos, hen. The form here is mia, feminine singular.

τῶν ἐντολῶν (noun pl fem gen) "Commandments" is from entole which means "injunction", "order," and "command."

τούτων (adj pl fem gen) "Of these" is from toutou, which is a demonstrative pronoun that means "this", "here", "the nearer," and "the familiar."

τῶν ἐλαχίστων (adj pl fem gen) "Least" is from elachistos, which is the superlative form of elachus which means "small", "little," and "short." It means "the smallest", "the shortest", "the least," and "the fewest."

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."

διδάξῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Shall teach" is from didasko, which means "to teach", "to instruct", "to indicate", "to explain," and "to give sign of."

οὕτως (adv) "So" is from houtos, which as an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such and extent," and "that is why."

τοὺς ἀνθρώπους (noun pl masc acc) "Men" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

ἐλάχιστος (adj sg masc nom) "The least" is from elachistos, which is the superlative form of elachus which nmeans "small", "little," and "short." It means "the smallest", "the shortest", "the least," and "the fewest."

κληθήσεται (3rd sg fut ind pass) "Shall be called" is from kaleo, which means "call", "summon", "invite", "invoke", "call by name," and "demand."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῇ βασιλείᾳ (noun sg fem dat) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τῶν οὐρανῶν: (noun pl fem gen) "Of heaven" is from ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hos, which is the demonstrative pronoun in its various forms (hê, ho, gen. hou, hês, hou, etc. ; dat. pl. hois, hais, hois, etc. gen. hoou). It means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

δ᾽ (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").

ἂν (partic) Untranslated is an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

ποιήσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Shall do" is from poieô ( 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."

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."

διδάξῃ, (3rd sg aor subj act) "Teach" is from didasko, which means "to teach", "to instruct", "to indicate", "to explain," and "to give sign of."

οὗτος (adj sg masc nom) "Them, the same" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." this is the same word translated as "so" above, but in a different form.

μέγας (noun/adj sg masc nom) "Great" is from megas, which means "big", "full grown", "great", "high", "loud", "mighty" "important," and "strong.

κληθήσεται (3rd sg fut ind pass) "Shall be called" is from kaleô (kaleo), which means "call", "summon", "invite", "invoke", "call by name," and "demand."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῇ βασιλείᾳ (noun sg fem dat) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τῶν οὐρανῶν: (noun pl fem gen) "Of heaven" is from ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

Related Verses: 

Jan 14 2017

evidence: 

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