Matthew 6:2 Therefore when you give charity,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Whenever you really perform a kindness, you do not want to blow your horn before you. The same as the actors perform in the meeting places and on the crowded streets. This is so that they are recognized by the people. Truly I'm tell you: they have hall the compensation they are due.

Explanation of Greek: 

What is hidden here in sight is the real meaning of several words that have been adopted into English with one meaning but meaning something else,"hypocrites" and "synagogues". Note also the that "you" here switches from the plural of the last verse (Mat 6:1) to the singular here. Also notice that this verse doesn't say anything about the "hypocrites" giving to charity. The idea is inferred because the places mentioned might be places where charity is given. However, these places are also where actors, the real meaning of hypocrites, also act.

The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative. Either works here, but the "really" seems to make difference between real and false charity here.

The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition. The issue is time as much as a set of conditions.

The Greek word translated as "thou doest" has the primary meaning of "making", "performing", or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, when associated with a play, it means "to perform." Christ is making a play on words here comparing the performance of good deeds and the performance of actors.

There is no word in the Greek that can be translated as "thine".

The Greek word translated as "alms" is the Greek source for our word "eleemosynary", which in English means "charitable", but the Greek word primarily means "pity" or "mercy." It is another form of the word used in the Beatitudes as "merciful" and "obtain mercy." It is not the word translated as "alms" in the previous verse, Mat 6:1.

The "do not" here comes from the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done or don't think something that might be true.

The word translated as "sound a trumpet" means to announce in the same sense that we say "blow your own horn" in English. It is not a command or a prohibition, but a simple statement. In English, the same idea is capture by the phrase "blowing your own horn", which probably came from the Bible.

The Greek word translated as "before" when used to apply to time means "beforehand." However, the main sense is the idea of "in front of."

The Greek word translated as "as" does not have the same broad sense as our "as" in English. It specifically means "the same as".

The Greek word translated as "the hypocrites" is a great example of a word that has taken its English meaning from how it is used in the Bible rather than the original Greek. It means "actor" from its literal meaning, "under separation," which describe the separation between what is said and reality. Interesting enough, it also means "interpreter," which is another separation between what is said and reality.

The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making", "performing", or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

The Greek word translated as "synagogues" is the source of our English word but it simply means an assembly or place of assembly. It comes from a Greek word Christ uses commonly, sunagô, to mean "gather" or "bring together."

The Greek word translated as "streets" is not a simple word for street. Its primary meaning is the "force" and "rush" of a body of moving people. It means "streets" in the sense that they hold these people.

The word translated as "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation. It can be translated as a dependent clause, but if we start a new sentence with it, we get fewer run-on sentences.

The Greek term translated as "to have glory" is a word that primarily means "to imagine" and "to expect." It also means "to honor" in a sense. However, the word that it comes closest to in English is "to recognize" since that word captures both the mental imaging and the feeling of the word. "Recognize" works especially well with actors because they seek fame and recognition from the audience.

The Greek word translated as "of" is a preposition that mean "by" or "before." This also works well with "recognize."

The Greek word for "man" in the plural means "people" and "humanity" in general.

The "verily" phrase is used frequently by Christ. Its meaning is discussed in detail in this article.

The word translated as "verily" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."

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 word translated as "they have" is not the Greek word meaning "to have." It primarily means "to keep off or away from." It is a compound word "To have/hold from/away from". The "hold away from" means to "keep off", but the "to have from" means to be paid. Christ uses it here because it has the special meaning in business translations of "to receive payment in full." this is the sense that it is used here. The "to have from" or "to hold away from" and, amusingly,  almost contradictory meanings. 

The Greek word translated as "reward" really means "compensation," what you receive for doing work. In Christ's teaching, there is spiritual compensation and worldly compensation.

In this verse, Christ focuses on the social value of fame. When we "sound a trumpet," we want others to notice us. We are looking for approval, not from those who know us, from the crowd, from society.


 A comparison of the performance of services with the performance of actors. 

There is a play on the word for actor, ", literally,  "by judgment" and hypo anthropos, "by people.".

The Spoken Version: 

“But I want others to see how kind I am!” She protested.
“When you truly perform a kindness,” he advised her, “you don’t want to trumpet it in front of people. The same as actors, performing in the meeting places—.” He took the exaggerated pose of an actor blowing a horn. “And in the crowded streets,” he said, blowing his imaginary horn again.
This got people chuckling.
“So that they might be recognized by the people,” he continued. “Honestly, I’m telling you, they are getting paid in full.” He put his hand up to his chin and patted his stomach, signaling being full. “That pay of theirs.” He said these words with obvious distaste.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὅταν (conj) "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

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

ποιῇς (2nd sg pres subj act) "Thou doest" is from 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."

ἐλεημοσύνην, (noun sg fem acc) "alms" is from eleemosyne, which means "pity", "mercy", "charity," and "alms." It is the noun for of the verb eleeo, which means "to have pity on," "to show mercy to," and "to feel pity." In the passive, "to be shown pity," and "to be pitied."

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.

σαλπίσῃς (2nd sg aor subj act) "Do sound a trumpet" is from salpizo, which means "blow a trumpet", "sound a trumpet", "give a signal by trumpet", "to announce," and "to proclaim."

ἔμπροσθέν (adv) "Before" is from emprosthen, which as an adverb means [of place]"in front of", "before", "forwards," [of time] "before", "of old," and as a preposition, "facing", "opposite", "in front," [of time] beforehand," and [of degree] "preferred before." It also denotes a ranking.

σου, (pron 2nd sg gen) "Thee" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

ὥσπερ (adv) "As" is from hosper, which means "the very man who", "the very thing, which", "the same as", "wherefore," and "although."

οἱ ὑποκριταὶ (noun pl masc nom ) "The hypocrites" is from hypokrites means "interpreter" or "actor."

ποιοῦσιν (3rd pl pres ind act) "Do" is from 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."

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".

ταῖς συναγωγαῖς (noun pl fem dat) "Synagogue" is from synagoge, which means a "bringing together", "assembly", "place of assembly", "contracting", "collection", "combination", "conclusion," and "demonstration." It comes from a Greek word Christ uses commonly, sunagô, to mean "gather" or "bring together."

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."

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".

ταῖς ῥύμαις, (noun pl fem dat) "The streets" is from rhyme, which means "force", "swing", "rush [of a body in motion]", "rush", "charge [of soldiers]", "street", "lane," and "alley."

ὅπως (conj) "That" is from hopos, which is a conjunction that means "in such a manner as", "in order that", "in the manner in which", "how," [with negative] "there is no way that," and [in questions] "in what way."

δοξασθῶσιν (3rd pl aor subj pass) "They might have glory" is from doxazo, which primarily means "to think", "to expect", "to imagine," or "to suppose." Secondarily, it means "to magnify" or "to extol," which is where we get the "glorify" used most often in NT the translation. The English term "to recognize" carries the same sense of both seeing a person in the mind and honoring them.

ὑπὸ (prep) "Of" is from hypo, which means "by", "before,' and "under," (with genitive and passive verbs of cause, as here).

τῶν ἀνθρώπων: (noun pl masc gen) "Man" 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.

ἀμὴν (exclam) "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from llego 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."

ὑμῖν, (adj pl masc dat) "To you" is from humin the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ἀπέχουσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "They have"" is from apecho, which means "to keep off or away from", "to hold one's hands off or away from", "to hold oneself off a thing", "to abstain or desist from it," "to project", "to extend", "to be far from," and "to receive payment in full." From the preposition apo, meaning "from" and "away from" and the verb meaning "to have" or "to hold." So, "to have from" or "to hold away from", two almost contradictory meanings. 

τὸν μισθὸν (noun sg masc acc ) "Reward" is from misthos, which means "wages" in the sense of compensation for work done, "pay", "hire", "fee", "recompense," and "reward."

αὐτῶν. (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Their" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."they h

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Feb 19 2017