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

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Sermon on Mount, law and fulfillment, visible and hidden, temporary and permanent

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Don't stockpile for yourselves a stockpile on the ground where a moth also a meal, erases and where robbers tunnel in and rob.

KJV : 

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

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse has several "problem" words, which may work better when the words area spoken rather than written.

The word translated as "rust/vermin" doesn't mean "rust/vermin" but "meal." It is unequivocally used as "food" or "meat" by Jesus 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. This word is first used in the Greek OT in Genesis 25:28  where it clearly means "food" and "eating."

The word translated as "corrupt/destroy" means as "hide" or "conceal,"  which connects to Jesus's repeated instruction to give charity, pay, and fast "in secret." It was translated as "disfigure" in Matthew 6:16. Jesus only uses this word three times, so the fact that two of its uses are so close is unlikely to be a coincidence.  This is the negative form of the common verb that means "to shine," which was used in the previous verse,  Matthew 6:18, and translated as "appear." There is also a connection among these ideas and the "in secret" used in Matthew 6:18 and earlier in Matthew 6:4  and Matthew 6:6. The idea that things on earth "disappear" is central to the point Jesus is making. Moths and eating make things disappear but that God and goodness are "hidden."

This verse also has a lot of its wordplay that is hidden in translation. For example, the word translated at "lay up" or "store up" is the verb form of the word translated as "treasures.' The sense is a play on words, something like "stockpiling piles of stock."   Another version of this word was used in  Matthew 6:6 where is was used to describe a storeroom where you go to pray.

The verse also used the noun and verbs forms of another Greek root that is translated as "thieves" and "steal," so "robbers robbing."

Also unusual, the "for yourselves" is from a pronoun here rather than incorporated in the verb form. Greek has a middle voice for verbs that express this idea, but that is not the voice here.  There is an "and" between the words "moth" and "rust," but the verb is singular, not plural.

NIV : 

Matthew 6:19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

Wordplay: 

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

Related Verses: 

Greek 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 (article sg fem gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --  

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 this planet.

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

σὴς [4 verses](noun sg masc nom) "Moth" is 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 [6 verses](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 et al) for "rust" is aza, which means "dry patch". The modern Greek word is skouria.

ἀφανίζει,[3 verses] (verb 3rd sg pres ind act or verb 2nd sg pres ind mp) "Corrupt" is from aphanizo, which means "to make unseen", "to hide", "to conceal" "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," metaphorically, "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."

KJV Analysis: 

Lay --  (CW) 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.

not -- The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. 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.

up -- Though not literally part of the verb, this word completes the concept of the verb.

for -- This word "for" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, "at" or "on" a time, and an "in" for area of affect.

yourselves -- The Greek "yourselves" is the second-person, plural pronoun in a form that is that is usually an indirect object.

treasures -- (WW) The word translated as "treasures" is the noun form of the word translated above as "lay up." It the word  As with the verb form, its primary meaning is a "stores" of something and its secondary meaning is "valuables". While "treasure" works as both a verb and noun, the sense of the verb is not simple to store but to value. The Greek verb doesn't mean that. Jesus clearly uses both words forms to play off of each other. In order to capture the play on words, we go with the "to store the stores" primary meaning.

upon -- The word translated as "upon" means "on", "over", "upon", "against", "before", "after", "during", "by" or "on."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.

earth, -- 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, Jesus uses the preposition "upon" rather than "in" as he does with the Greek term usually translated "the world," which refers to the social order.  So the meaning here is physical valuables, not social standing.

where " -- The word translated as "where"  means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

moth -- 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.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). The first problem word here is the Greek word translated as "and", which is most commonly used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis  "even", "also," and "just." Here, it doesn't work as a conjunction because of the singular verb. See below. The sense is "just" or "also". 

rust -- (WW) The next problem word here is translated as "rust". It is the Greek noun that means "meat", "food", "pasture", "eating, "taste," and "flavor." It is also singular. It is only translated as "rust" or "decay" in the NT.

doth  -- This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but here just represents the present tense.

corrupt, -- (WW) 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 has a secondary meaning of "to destroy." 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". There is also a problem with the number of the verb. This verb is singular, which does not agree with two subjects. While a group of neuter nouns (and neuter plural words) can have a singular verb, neither of the supposed compound subjects here ("moth" and "rust") are neuter. Some claim that a singular verb can be used to accent one of the subjects, but how does that work here? The sense here is that the verb matches "a moth just eating". 

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

where -- The word translated as "where"  means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

thieves -- 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".

break through -- (WW) The choice of the Greek word translated as "break through" means "digging through" or "trenching." It 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.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

steal: -- 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."

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "lay up" is a form of the word "to place," but it specifically means "to store" and "to hoard."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "treasures" should be "stores" or "piles of stock."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "rust" should be "meal" or "food."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "corrupt" should be "hide" or "conceal."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "break through" should be "dig in" or "tunnel."

NIV Analysis: 

Do -- This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not -- The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. 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.

store up--  The word translated as "store 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.

for -- This word "for" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object, a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, "at" or "on" a time, and an "in" for area of affect.

yourselves -- The Greek "yourselves" is the second-person, plural pronoun in a form that is that is usually an indirect object.

treasures -- (WW) The word translated as "treasures" is the noun form of the word translated above as "lay up." It the word  As with the verb form, its primary meaning is a "stores" of something and its secondary meaning is "valuables". While "treasure" works as both a verb and noun, the sense of the verb is not simple to store but to value. The Greek verb doesn't mean that. Jesus clearly uses both words forms to play off of each other. In order to capture the play on words, we go with the "to store the stores" primary meaning.

on -- The word translated as "on" means "on", "over", "upon", "against", "before", "after", "during", "by" or "on."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more.

earth, -- 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, Jesus uses the preposition "upon" rather than "in" as he does with the Greek term usually translated "the world," which refers to the social order.  So the meaning here is physical valuables, not social standing.

where " -- The word translated as "where"  means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

moths -- (WN) 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.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). The first problem word here is the Greek word translated as "and", which is most commonly used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis  "even", "also," and "just." Here, it doesn't work as a conjunction because of the singular verb. See below. The sense is "just" or "also". 

vermin-- (WW) The next problem word here is translated as "vermin". It is the Greek noun that means "meat", "food", "pasture", "eating, "taste," and "flavor." It is also singular. It is only translated as "rust" or "decay" in the NT.

destroy, -- (WW) Another problem is the Greek verb translated as "destroy". The primary meaning of the Greek word used encompasses many different forms of hiding and concealing something. It has a secondary meaning of "to destroy," but Jesus commonly uses another Greek word when he wants to say "destroy." 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". There is also a problem with the number of the verb. This verb is singular, which does not agree with two subjects. While a group of neuter nouns (and neuter plural words) can have a singular verb, neither of the supposed compound subjects here ("moth" and "rust") are neuter. Some claim that a singular verb can be used to accent one of the subjects, but how does that work here? The sense here is that the verb matches "a moth just eating".

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

where -- The word translated as "where"  means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

thieves -- 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".

break in -- (WW) The choice of the Greek word translated as "break through" means "digging through" or "trenching." It 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.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

steal: -- 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."

NIV Translation Issues: 

8
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "treasures" should be "stores" or "piles of stock."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "earth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "moths" is translated as plural but it is singular.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "vermin" should be "meal" or "eating."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "destroy" should be "hide" or "conceal."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "break in" should be "dig in" or "tunnel."

The Spoken Version: 

“You focus on what is hidden, but doesn’t the Divine visibly reward us for our virtue?” inquired Enoch in his big, confident voice. “As a fabric trader, my goal is to build more and larger warehouses stocked with cloth. Isn’t our our ability to pile up wealth like that a sign of divine favor?”
The Master smiled and signaled Enoch to stand up in his place near the speaking area, but he addressed his answer to all of us.
“Don’t stockpile piles of stock for yourselves,”  the Teacher responded.
As he paused, some laughed at the funny redundancy in his answer.  
 “On the earth,” the Teacher added distastefully, scooping up  a handful of dirt, showing it to us, then sprinkling it back on the ground and brushing it from his hands.
“My cloth would get dirty!” observed Enoch from his place standing at the foot of the speaking area. “Or do you mean not to I should stop store up cloth anywhere?”
“Anywhere,” the Master answered him with a sweeping gesture.
“Can you give me a little reason why not?” the cloth trader asked reasonably, holding his fingers an inch apart.
“A moth,” the Teacher suggested to him, also holding his fingers an inch apart but then fluttering his hand away through the air like a moth.
We laughed. A moth was one little reason not to store a lot of fabric.
“Truly, the bigger my stores, the more damage from moths, the damp, or whatever,” Enoch responded reasonably. “But why not build up stores of things like jars of olives? What destroys them?”
“Just eating,” the Teacher observed, pretending to toss an olive in his mouth and chewing.
We laughed.
“Cloth, food, all disappearing,” Enoch concluded.
“It steals away!” suggested the Teacher, fluttering his hand upward again like a moth.
 We laughed. Enoch laughed as well.
“The faster my stock moves, the better,” Enoch confirmed, “when it is needed.”
“And where,” the Teacher added.
“But,” Enoch challenged, “what about gold? Gold doesn’t spoil. What’s wrong with stockpiling gold?”
“Robbers,” the Teacher pointed out sensibly.
“What if we build strong walls?” Enoch asked.
“They tunnel in,” the Teacher noted, making a digging motion.
“Or bribe our guards,” Enoch added thoughtfully. “The wrong people find out where valuables are stored”
“And they rob,” the Teacher finished for him.
We laughed.

evidence: 

66.00

Front Page Date: 

Jun 11 2020