Matthew 9:37 The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

After visiting the many cities and teaching in their meeting places.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

This [is] , on one hand, a  harvest, a great one. There [are],  on the other hand, workers, a few.

KJV : 

Matthew 9:37 The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is a great example of a statement that put the key idea at the end of the phrase, as a punchline,  rather than the beginning as proper Greek requires. Verbs are added to make complete sentences in the translation, because the Greek has no verbs. It is easier to imagine spoken. The phrase does have a special Greek construction in it that is untranslated into English that is used like we "on one hand...on the other hand."

NIV : 

Matthew 9:37 The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

My Takeaway: 

The more people think the right way, the

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

(article sg masc nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." -

μὲν (partic) "Truly" is men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly." Used with the conjunction de, as it is here, it points out the specific word being contrast after the conjunction. In English, we usually say, one one hand...on the others... See the article here for specific uses with other particles.  However, with the conjunction de below, it works like "on one hand."

θερισμὸς (noun sg masc nom) "Harvest" is from therismos, which means "mowing", "reaping", "harvest time", "harvest," and "crop."​

πολύς, (adj sg masc nom) "Many" is polus, which means "many (in number)", "great (in size or power or worth)," and "large (of space)." As an adverb, it means "far", "very much", "a great way," and "long." 

οἱ (article pl masc nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

δὲ (conj/adv) "But" is de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if"). With the particle men above, it works like "on the other hand.

ἐργάται (noun pl masc nom) "Laborers" is ergates, which means "workman", "one who works the soil", "husbandman", "hard-working", "strenuous", "one who practices an art", "practitioner", "doer," and "producer."

ὀλίγοι: (adj pl masc nom) "Few" is oligos, which means "little", "small", "slight", "few," and "weak." As an adverb it means "a little", "slightly," and "little."

KJV Analysis: 

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

harvest  - "Harvest" is from a noun which means "mowing", "reaping", "harvest time", "harvest," and "crop." In John 4:35, Christ uses this term to refer to the gathering of the fruits for eternal life. Think of this word with its article as a question, "this harvest?" 

untranslated "on one hand"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "on one hand" here is a particle, which. when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" take on the meaning "one one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.​  So, the sense here is "On one hand". 

is -- There is no verb "is" in the Greek source. It is implied by the equating of "harvest" with "plenteous" both in the Greek form of subjects.

plenteous,  - The word translated as "plenteous" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.​ This is the answer, "large!" 

but  - (MM) The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. However, with the word translated as "truly" above, it has the sense of "on the other hand."

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

labourers  - "Laborers" is from a word that means "workman", "one who works the soil", "husbandman", and "producer."  Think of this word with its article as a question, "these workers?" 

are -- There is no verb "are" in the Greek source. It is implied by the equating of "laborer" with "few" both in the Greek form of subjects.

few;  - The Greek word translated as "few" means "little", "small", "slight", "few," and "weak." 

KJV Translation Issues: 

2

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "truly" has several different meanings that work here but "on one hand" is the best.

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "but" has several different meanings that work here but "on the other hand" is the best.

NIV Analysis: 

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

harvest  - "Harvest" is from a noun which means "mowing", "reaping", "harvest time", "harvest," and "crop." In John 4:35, Christ uses this term to refer to the gathering of the fruits for eternal life. Think of this word with its article as a question, "this harvest?" 

untranslated "on one hand"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "on one hand" here is a particle, which. when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" take on the meaning "one one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.​  So, the sense here is "On one hand". 

is -- There is no verb "is" in the Greek source. It is implied by the equating of "harvest" with "plenteous" both in the Greek form of subjects.

plentiful,  - The word translated as "plentiful" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.​ This is the answer, "large!" 

but  - (MM) The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. However, with the word translated as "truly" above, it has the sense of "on the other hand."

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

workers- "Workers" is from a word that means "workman", "one who works the soil", "husbandman", and "producer."  Think of this word with its article as a question, "these workers?" 

are -- There is no verb "are" in the Greek source. It is implied by the equating of "laborer" with "few" both in the Greek form of subjects.

few;  - The Greek word translated as "few" means "little", "small", "slight", "few," and "weak." 

NIV Translation Issues: 

2

MW - Missing Word -- The Greek  word meaning "on one hand" is not shown in the English translation.

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "but" has several different meanings that work here but "on the other hand" is the best.

The Spoken Version: 

They wanted to talk to the Master about the new students he had taken on it the last few months since the Master had called the tax collector. Their numbers had doubled and all of the or gin al six were unhappy about it.
They asked the Master why so many were needed.
The Master answered simply.
“One one hand, this harvest?” he said, indicating the field around the farm, “Great!”
Though he indicated the fields around them, they understood that he meant the world around them. They had seen the big crowds he was attracting as they all visited the cities and towns of Galilee.
“On the other hand, these workers?” he added, looking over the students critically as if trying to select the best work. “Meager.”
All the students laughed at this characterization.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 19 2020