Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

If, when you yourselves being worthless have seen worthwhile gifts to give the kids of yours, how much better the Father of yours, the one in the skies, is going give worth to those begging him.

 

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse is essentially a play on words that says that those who are worthless are given worth. this is lost in translation. This verse also is a great example of the problem with translating the Greek word translated as "evil" when it means "worthless" or "second-rate" (see this article about this Greek word and related concepts such as "good" used here). Again, this verse tells us more about Christ's humor more than it does about his idea of "evil".

The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not. It

The pronoun "ye" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say, "your yourselves". The "you" here is plural, indicating all Christ's listeners.

The Greek word translated as "then" is usually translated as "therefore." It can also mean "surely. Here, it simply continues the existing narrative started in Mat 7:9.

The word translated as "being" is the adjective form of the verb "to be." It modifies "you" with the "evil" below as its

The word translated as "evil" means "second-rate" or "worthless." This article explores it meaning in more detail. This verse is interesting because the term translated as evil primarily means burdened and full of hardship. It also means physically bad, like we would use the term handicapped.

The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. It is in a form indicating an action completed in the past: "have seen" or "have known."

The verb translated as "give" here is different from the word translated as "give" in the related verses (see Mat 7:10). The change seems intended to make the giving seem less formal.

The word translated as "good" means "good" in the sense of beneficial. However, here the word is contrasted with the word translated as "evil" which really means "worthless" so the contrast would be a word such as "first-rate." If we translated the earlier word as "worthless", the translation of "worthwhile" would work best.

The word for "gifts" also means "gift" and "payments."

The adjective translated as "good" means "useful", "worthwhile," and "of high quality. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

The verb "to give" is the future tense, indicating what will be given in the future.

The word translated as "which" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause. Here, it acts as a pronoun, "the one." There is no verb "is" here saying "which is."

The Greek translated as "heaven" is never used by Christ to simply mean "the afterlife." It means the greater universe, God's creation outside of our planet. See this article for more on these words.

The word translated as "good things" is the same as "good" or "worthwhile" above. However, it is not really a noun, which would be indicated by the use of an article. So "worthy" works best here, completing the wordplay of "worthless", "worthwhile," and "worthy."

The Greek word translated as "to them that ask" is the verb translated as "ask" in Mat 7:10 and Mat 7:9, which has shades of meaning from "demand" to "beg" to "claim." It is in the form of an adjective, "asking", used as a noun, "the ones asking".

Wordplay: 

 A play on the ideas of worthless [beings], worthwhile [gifts] and the more worth that comes from the divine. 

The Spoken Version: 

“If, when you yourselves,” the speaker said, making his sweeping gesturing taking in the whole crowd, “being—.” He paused, looked them over, waved his hand indecisively, shrugged, and said in a resigned way, “Worthless.”
Everyone laughed.
“Have recognized worthwhile gifts to give those kids of yours,” the speaker continued sincerely. “How much better will that Father of yours, the one in the skies,” he said grandly. “Give worth to those begging Him?”

Vocabulary: 

εἰ (conj) "If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

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

ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom ) "You" is from humeis, which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you."

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

ὄντες (part pl pres act masc nom) "Being" 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.")

οἴδατε (2nd pl perf ind act) "Know" is from oida which is a form of eidon which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

δόματα (noun pl neut acc ) "Gifts" is from doma, which means "gift" and "payment."

ἀγαθὰ (adj pl neut acc) "Good" is from agathos which means "good" and, when applied to people, "well-born", "gentle", "brave," and "capable." When applied to things, it means "serviceable", "morally good," and "beneficial." Agathos is not the usual term translated as "good," in the Gospels, which is kalos, meaning "beautiful."

διδόναι (pres inf act) "How to give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

τοῖς τέκνοις (noun pl neut dat ) "Children" is from teknon, which means "that which is born", "child," and "the young."

ὑμῶν, (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

πόσῳ (adj sg neut dat) "How much" is from posos, which means "of what quantity," [in distance] "how far." [of number] how far," [of time] "how long," [of value] "how much", "how great", "how many," and "how much."

μᾶλλον (adv) "More" is from mallon, which is the comparative form of mala which means "very", "exceedingly", "more certainly", "especially," "more", "to a greater degree," and "rather."

πατὴρ (noun sg masc nom) "Father" is from pater, which means "father", "grandfather", "author", "parent," and "forefathers."

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, which are the plural forms of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

(article sg masc nom) "Which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. --

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".

τοῖς οὐρανοῖς (noun pl masc dat) "Heaven" is from ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate."

δώσει (3rd sg fut ind act) "Give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

ἀγαθὰ (adj pl neut acc) "Good things" is from agathos which means "good" and, when applied to people, "well-born", "gentle", "brave," and "capable." When applied to things, it means "serviceable", "morally good," and "beneficial." Agathos is not the most common term translated as "good," in the Gospels, which is kalos, meaning "beautiful." See this article for more information about good and evil and related Greek.

τοῖς αἰτοῦσιν (part pl pres act masc dat) "To them that ask" is from aiteo, which means "to ask", "to demand", "to beg", "to claim," and "to ask for one's own use."

αὐτόν. (adj sg masc acc) "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: 

Mar 3 2017

evidence: 

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