Matthew 7:10 Or if he ask a fish,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Certainly! Also a fish, he might beg, no snake will he offer.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse, as in the previous one, Mat 7:9, contains a hidden negative that is untranslated in the KJV and other translations. It creates a play on words. Interestingly, in English, changing from a statement to a question, changes the meaning of the sentences.

The Greek word translated as "or" that begins this verse can also mean "surely" or "doubtless". The "or" seems unlikely because of the untranslated word that follows. We a similar issue with this word in the previous verse, Mat 7:9.

The second word in this verse is the Greek word usually translated as "and". It is also used to mean "also".

There is no Greek word for "if" in the Greek source used today.

The verb "ask" has shades of meaning from "demand" to "beg" to "claim." It is in a tense that indicates something that happens a specific point in time. Its mood indicates something that "might" happen. 

The Greek word translated as "fish" means "fish". Galilee was a fishing area. "Fish," as a protein, was a luxury in Christ's era compared with bread. It also later became a metaphor for Christ, but only because of its spelling was a code for Christ's name.

The word translated as "will he give" is not from the normal verb translated as "give", but a more complicated word meaning "give besides" or "bestow." The form of the verb could be the third person future, "he will give", but it could also be the second person future, "you will give".

The word translated as "serpent" is also a kind of fish. The "serpent" was used by Christ both as a metaphor for wisdom (Mat.10:16) and, of course, an evil cunning.


 Contrary meanings of the phase in English depending on whether it is a statement or a question. 

The Spoken Version: 

“I might offer a fish. I’m a fisherman,” the sunburnt man responded.
The crowd laughed.
“Certainly!” The speaker agreed, dropping the stone like a rock. “And a fish!” He again indicated the boy. “He might ask?”
The fisherman nodded in agreement. The speaker picked up something else from the ground.
“No snake?” The teacher asked, showing a small garden snake to the crowd. “Are you going to want to hand out?”
The fisherman agreed. The teacher playfully offered the snake to the boy. Instead of drawing back in fear, the boy laughed and reached for it eagerly. The teacher looked to the father for approval. When the man nodded, the teacher gave the boy the snake.


(conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." OR (adv) "Or" is from e which means "surely, "doubtless".

καὶ (conj/adv) Untranslated is 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."

ἰχθὺν (noun sg masc acc) "Fish" is ichthys, which means "fish" and, in the plural, "fish market."

αἰτήσει (3rd sg aor subj actat a ) "He ask" is aiteo, which means "to ask", "to demand", "to beg", "to claim," and "to ask for one's own use."

μὴ (partic) Untranslated is 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.

ὄφιν (noun sg masc acc) "Serpent" is from ophis, which means "serpent", "a serpent-like bracelet", "a specific constellation", "a creeping plant," and "a type of fish." It is a metaphor for "an arrow."

ἐπιδώσει (3rd sg fut ind act or verb 2nd sg fut ind mid) "Will he give" is from epididōmi which means to "give besides", "give afterwards", "contribute as a `benevolence'", "give freely", "bestow", "give oneself up", "devote oneself", "give into another's hands", "deliver", "take as one's witness", "increase", "advance", "improve", "give in," and "give way." -

αὐτῷ; (adj sg masc dat) "Him" 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."

Related Verses: 

Apr 2 2017