Matthew 5:37 But let your word be, Yes, yes;

KJV Verse: 

Mat 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

It must be, however, the reasoning of yours: truly, not really. So the excess of these from the worthless it is.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse is interesting because hidden in it are translation problems with two key words in the Gospels: the Greek word translated as "word" (article about it here) and the Greek word translated as "evil" (article about it here). Also once of its keywords "cometh" doesn't exist at all in the Greek.

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 "let...be" is the verb "to be" in the form of a "third-person command". Such a form is common in Greek, but rare in English where commands are in the second person, to those being spoken to. In English we use the word "must" to capture this idea: "It must be."

However, "let...be" is a play on words, because it is also a form of another very common vwerb that Christ uses that means "to make a stand", "to place", and many related meanings. The form means "you stand up for yourselves.

The Greek word translated as "communication" is the word usually translated as "word" (article about the meaning and use of this word here). This word means "calculation" or "explanation", but Christ uses how we use "concept" or "idea" in English. This word is the Greek source of our word "logic." In the KJV, it is almost always translated as "word." Translating it as "word" makes sense in this context because "swearing an oath" is the same in English as "giving your word", but, unlike English, the Greek word here doesn't mean "promise" like our "word" does. This word is the subject of the sentence, so the sense is "it must be, your explanation."

The word translated as "yea" can be translated as "yes," or "truly". Interestingly, tt is not a common word for Christ to use.

The word translated as "nay" is the common word translated as "no". i and "nay" can be translated as "no", "not," or"no truly." It is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

The Greek word translated as "for" is the same word translated as "but" at the beginning of this verse. Christ uses another Greek word to mean "for" or "because." However, this word can also be used as an explanation of a cause, "so", which is closer here.

The word translated as "whatsoever" is from the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun but it separated from its "noun" be the word translated as "for".

The verb "is" appears at the end of the sentence and seems to be translated as "cometh." It doesn't appear here at all.

The Greek word translated as "more" means "beyond the regular number of size", "out of the common", "extraordinary" "more than sufficient", and "superfluous." Since it is preceded by an article, it acts like a noun, so "the superfluous" or, more simpley, "the excess" works in English.

The Greek word translated as "than these" is the word that means "these" in a form that can be used as a comparative.

There is no verb "cometh" here. The verb at the end of the sentence is "is". However, because of the following word meaning "from" makes "come" fit, even if it is pretty inaccurate.

The Greek word translated as "of" primarily means "out of" and "from." It indicates moving from a source or location.

The Greek word translated as "evil" is closer in meaning to "worthless." This Greek word is discussed extensively on this page. It is introduced with an article so, "the worthless". As in English, this would describe a class of people as well as of actions.

One interpretation of this line is that making excessive statement signals dishonestly. Like a salesperson that uses the word "honestly" most often when he isn't telling the truth, the offering of an oath to support our words is in itself evidence of our own doubts. This line is also a warning to us about our need to suspect deception from others. Words are just words. When people swear, it doesn't prove anything about their honesty. As a matter of fact, it should make us suspect their honesty.

Wordplay: 

The duplication of "yes" and "no" to create the sense of "truly yes" and "really no." this is similar to the double "amen" phrase used throughout John. 

The word translated as "let...be" also means "stand up for yourselves". 

The Spoken Version: 

“Stand up for yourselves!” He continued. “It must be—that thinking of yours—Yes!” He said nodding his head enthusiastically. “Or really no!” He added shaking his head just as enthusiastically. “Because more than this is from—.” Using one hand to hide an accusing finger pointed at the Dedicated, he said, “The worthless!”

Vocabulary: 

ἔστω (3rd sg pres imperat act) "Let... be" could be from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." OR (verb 2nd sg aor ind mid) "Let...be" could from histemi, which means "to make to stand", "to stand", "to set up", "to bring to a standstill", "to check", "to appoint", "to establish", "to fix by agreement", "to be placed", "to be set", "to stand still", "to stand firm", "to set upright", "to erected", "to arise," and "to place."

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").

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

ὑμῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ναὶ [uncommon](adv) "Yes" is from nai, which means "yea,""yes", "truly," and similar ideas.

οὒ (adv) "Nay" 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.

τὸ... (article sg neut nom/acc ) "Whatever" is the Greek article, "the," which usually proceeds a noun. Here it is separated from its noun by a particle.

δὲ (partic) "For" 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").

περισσὸν (adj sg neut nom/acc) "More" is from perissos, which means "beyond the regular number of size", "out of the common", "extraordinary" "more than sufficient", "superfluous", "useless", "excessive", "extravagant", "over-wise", "over-curious", "abundantly," and "remarkable."

τούτων (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Than these" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer."

ἐκ (prep) "Of" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from."

τοῦ πονηροῦ (adj sg masc gen) "Evil" is from poneros, which we discuss extensively in this page. In a moral sense, it means "worthless", "base," and "cowardly."

ἐστίν. (verb 3rd sg pres ind) "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.") -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." -- The verb here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

Related Verses: 

class="views-field-title">Mat 5:34 ...Swear not at all;

Feb 2 2017

evidence: 

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