Mat 5:26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
I teach you of a truth. Never are you going to get out of there until you possibly have handed over your last penny!
This is another example of a phrase whose purpose was both to educate and entertain. Notice the catchphrase that introduces it.
The "verily I tell you" phrase is used frequently by Christ as a personal signature. Its vocabulary and meaning are discussed in detail in this article. Jesus seems to make fun of his frequent use of it. The different here is that the "you" is singular.
The word translated is as "verily" is an exclamation that means "truly" or "of a truth." It is an untranslated Aramaic word that is echoed by a similar Greek word, and a good piece of evidence that Christ taught in Greek, not Aramaic.
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.
The Greek pronoun "you" here is singular and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc.
The two Greek words translated as "by no means" are a combination of the two negatives. The first is an objective "not" referring to facts and the second is a subjective not, referring to opinions. When Christ uses them together, the sense is a strong negative, something like our word "never."
The Greek word translated as "come out" means both "to come out" and "to go out." However, in English, when we are talking about being in jail, we usually say "to get out."
The word translated as "thence" literally means "from the place." Here, the place being referred to is the jail.
The word translated as "till" means "until" but it also means "in order that."
The next Greek word is ignored in the KVJ. Since it adds a sense of something possibly happening, we usually translated it as "might."
The word translated as "thou hast paid" doesn't have any economic meaning of "to pay" though it does have a meaning of "to sell." It literally means "to give back." However, it also means "to hand over," which works best here.
"The uttermost" is a Greek word that means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."
The coin referenced in this verse was the smallest denomination of Roman currency. We would describe it as a penny.
Christ's view of the legal system was that it was expensive, more expensive that being friendly with people and coming to an agreement with them. Little has changed in that regard in two thousand years.
The Spoken Version:
The speaker gripped imaginary bars, stared with a woe-be-gone face at the audience, and said sadly, “Honestly, I’m telling you. Never are you getting out of there, until—possibly.” He paused. “You have turned over—. ” He reached into his belt and pulled out a copper coin. “Your last penny!” He kissed the coin good-bye and tossed it into a group of children.
ἀμὴν (adv) "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek of this meaning before the NT. However, this is also the infinitive form of the Greek verb amao, which means "to reap" or "to cut."
λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" 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."
οὐ μὴ (partic) "By no means" is from ou me, the two forms of Greek negative used together. Ou is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. Mê (me) is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.
ἐξέλθῃς (2nd sg aor subj act) "Thou shalt...come 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."
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."
ἀποδῷς (2nd sg aor subj act) "Thou hast paid" is from apodidomi which means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." It has the economic sense of "to sell" or "to give something for one's own profit." It begins with apo the preposition of separation and origin, the idea of "from" in English, didômi which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over," and "to describe."
τὸν ἔσχατον (adj sg masc acc) "The last" is from eschatos. In space, this means "furthest." In degree, it means "uttermost" and "highest." In persons, it means "lowest" and "meanest." Of time, it means "last" and "ending."
κοδράντην. (noun sg masc acc) "Farthing" is from kodrantes, which is the Greek for the Latin quadrans, which means "one quarter of an assarion (a larger coin)." The quadrans was a bronze coin and the least valuable form of Roman currency.