Matthew 6:19 Do not Lay up treasures for yourselves on earth,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Don't accumulate for yourselves an accumulation on the ground where a moth and eating erase and where robbers tunnel in and rob.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse has several "problem" words, which may work better if spoken. It also has a lot of its wordplay that is hidden in translation. It not only has word play within itself, but it also plays off of words used in the previous verse, Mat 6:18, which seems unrelated. This verse is also a shift back to the plural "you" rather than the singular "you" used in the few previous verses.

The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" or "do think" to do something, not that it isn't done. If it wasn't done, the objective negative of fact would be used. More about the Greek negative in this article.

The word translated as "lay up" primarily means "to store", "accumulate" and "hoard". It is a fancy form of the word that means "to place" or "to pile". It has the more specific meaning of storing valuables, which is captured best perhaps by "hoard" but it is a polysyllabic word like "accumulate". While Christ uses this word elsewhere, it is not the most common word he uses for either "store". this is the verb form of the noun used below translated as "treasures." It is a plural command, addressing the audience generally.

The Greek "for yourselves" is the second person pronoun in a form that is that is usually an indirect object, "to yourselves." However, the same form can, as translated in the KJV, mean a beneficiary, "for yourselves", but it can also indicate agency, "by yourselves."

The word translated as "treasures" is the noun form of the word translated above as "lay up." IIt is plural, which As with the verb form, its primarily meaning is a "stores" of something and its secondary meaning is "valuables". Christ clearly uses both words as wordplay.In order to capture the play on words, we go with the "to store the stores" primary meaning.

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet or more simply, "the ground". See this article for more on these words. With the planet, Christ uses the preposition "upon" rather than "in" as he does with "the world." So the meaning here is physical valuables, not social standing.

The word translated as "moth" means the type of moth that eat cloth and whose larva eats books. It is a metaphor for academics as "bookworms". It is singular, that is, a single moth.

The problem word here is translated as "rust". The Greek word means "meat", "food", "pasture", "eating, "taste," and "flavor." It is also singular. It is only translated as "rust" or "decay" in the NT. It is unequivocally used as "food" or "meat" by Christ in John 4:34 and John 6:55. Here, the sense seems to be "eating." Only in this context of the NT is it translated as "corrosion", "rust, or "decay," nowhere else in Greek literature. The Greek word, ios, means "rust" (and "poison") in ancient Greek and it is translated as "rust" in James 5:3 and in the Greek Septuagint, for example, Ezekiel 24:6, which is a reliable guide for Christ's personal use of Greek.

There is not Greek word that means "doth" or "does" here. A common Greek word is usually translated as "does" in the NT and it is not used here.

Another problem is the Greek verb translated as "corrupt". The primary meaning of the Greek word used encompasses many different forms of hiding and concealing something. It only has a secondary meaning of "to destroy." The idea that things on earth "disappear" is central to the point Christ is making. Moths and eating make things disappear. We saw this verb most recently in Mat 6:16, where it was translated as "disfigure". It is the negative of the verb used in the previous verse, Mat 6:18, translated in KJV as "appear".

The Greek word translated as "thief" primarily means "thief" but it also encompasses other forms of theft by fraud. It is the noun form of the following word translated as "steal".

The choice of the Greek word translated as "break through" means "digging through" and seems to have been chosen because it focuses on the idea of digging or tunneling through dirt, that is, "the earth," which is where the stores are kept.

The Greek word translated as "steal" is the verb form of the noun translated as "thieves." To capture the play on words, we would say "where robbers rob."

Wordplay: 

 A play words using both the noun and verb forms of the same word, not once, but twice: "storing stores" and "robbers robbing." 

The Spoken Version: 

At this point, several people were calling out questions at once. Several of those questions were skeptical.
“Payment in the skies?” Someone scoffed.
“Aren’t our sky clothes and food going to fall to the ground?” Another asked.
In response, the speaker gave these critics a confused stare.
“You don’t want to accumulate for yourselves accumulations—on the earth,” he said, emphasizing the last words as if the idea was silly. “Where insect and eating—wipe out? And where robbers tunnel in and rob?” His tone indicated that the idea was crazy.

Vocabulary: 

Μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me, which 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.

θησαυρίζετε (2nd pl pres imperat act)"Lay up" is from thesaurizo, which means to "store", " treasure up", "hoard", "lay up treasure", "lay up a store of", "store up for oneself," and "to be reserved[passive]."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "For yourselves" is from humin, which is the 2nd person plural dative pronoun. Dative is the case which indicates to whom something is given.

θησαυροὺς (noun pl masc acc) "Treasures" is from thesauros, which means a "store", "treasure", "strong-room", "magazine, "granary", "receptacle for valuables", "safe", "casket", "offertory-box", "cavern," and "subterranean dungeon."

ἐπὶ (prep) "Upon" is from epi which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τῆς γῆς, (noun sg fem gen) "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.

ὅπου (adv)"Where" is from hopou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

σὴς (noun sg masc nom) "Moth"i s from ses, which means "moth" and is a metaphor for "book worms."

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."

βρῶσις (noun sg fem nom) "Rust" is from brosis, which means "meat", "pasture", "eating, "taste," and "flavor." The Greek word used for "rust" in the NT and the Septuagint OT is ios. The Greek word used in ancient classical Greek (Homer) for "rust" is aza, which means "dry patch". The modern Greek word is skouria.

ἀφανίζει, (3rd sg pres ind act) "Corrupt" is from aphanizo, which means "to make unseen", "to hide", "to vanish" "to hush up", "to do away with", "to reject, "to remove", "to destroy", "to obliterate [writing], "to spirit away [a witness]", "to secrete", "to steal", "to obscure", "to mar", "to disguise [by dyeing]", "to spoil", "to make away with", "to drain [a cup of wine]," or "deprive of luster." It is the opposite of the word that means "shine" and "appear".

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."

ὅπου (adv) "Where" is from hopou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

κλέπται (noun pl masc nom ) "Thieves" is from kleptes, which means a "thief", "cheat," and "knave."

διορύσσουσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Break through" is from diorysso, which means "digging through, "having dug a trench across or along," metaph "undermine", "ruin", "worm out," and Pass., "to be shut up in a funeral vault."

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."

κλέπτουσιν: (3rd pl pres ind act) "Steal" is from klepto which means "to steal", "to cheat", "to spirit away", "to conceal", "to keep secret", "to do secretly", "to seize or occupy secretly", "to bring about secretly", and "to do secretly or treacherously."

Related Verses: 

Mar 8 2017

evidence: 

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