Matthew 17:25 What do you think, Simon?

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

Simeon is asked by the tax collectors if Jesus pays tribute and he says, "yes." This is Christ's response.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

What do you yourself expect, Simon? Do the rulers of the planet from someone get an end or this tax from those children of theirs, or from those strangers?

KJV : 

Matthew 17:25 What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Taxes were apparently as big an issue in Jesus's time as they are now. Taxes are a form of compulsion. The absence of taxes is the absence of compulsion. This verse, however, sets up a clever play on the idea relating to Jesus's own situation. Notice, this question is about "kings of the earth" not "kings of the world." This is the critical word in this verse because Jesus usually refers to worldly leads as "worldly," that is, as "kings of the world," that is, lords of society, not the planet. Why that change here? The answer is in the next verse.

NIV : 

Matthew 17:25 What do you think, Simon?  From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?

Wordplay: 

The form of the word "whom" means "whom" in this context because it is the object of the preposition, but it also means "the one paying the price" (as a participle of the Greek verb tinon) as the subject of a sentence. This could be a coincidence or a very clever play on words. 

My Takeaway: 

Taxes are not collected out of love but to demonstrate power, that ability to coerce.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Τί (irreg sg neut nom/acc) "What" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

σοι (pron 2nd sg dat) Untranslated is soi which is the singular, second-person pronoun indirect object, "you".

δοκεῖ, [17 verses](verb 2nd sg pres ind mp) "Thinkest thou" is from dokeo, which means "expect", "suppose", "imagine", "have an opinion", "seem", "seem good," and "to be reputed."

Σίμων; [5 verses](part sg pres act masc voc) "Simon " is Simon, which is the Greek for the name "Simon," but it also a verb used as a noun that means "to bend up," and "turn up one's nose," and, in the passive, "to become." Metaphorically, it means "to blame" and "to censure."

οἱ (article pl masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

βασιλεῖς (noun pl masc nom) "Kings" is from basileus, which means a "king", "chief", "prince", "lord", "master", "a great man," and "the first and most distinguished of any class." It is a form of the world used for "kingdom."

τῆς (article sg fem gen)  "The" 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 the planet.

ἀπὸ ​(prep) "From" is apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done.  Usually takes the genitive object.

τίνων (pron pl gen) "Whom" is tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

λαμβάνουσιν [54 verse](verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Take" is lambano means to "take", "take hold of", "grasp", "seize", "catch", "overtake", "find out", "detect", "take as", "take [food or drugs]", "understand", "take in hand", "undertake", "take in", "hold", "get", "receive [things]", "receive hospitably", "receive in marriage", "receive as produce", "profit", "admit", "initiate", "take hold of", "lay hold on", "seize and keep hold of", "obtain possession of", "lay hands upon", "find fault with", "censure," "to apprehend with the senses", "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

τέλη [11 verses](noun pl neut acc) "Custom" is telos, which means "consummation", "expenditure", "end", "achievement", "fulfillment", "product", "service rendered by a citizen," and "dues extracted by the state."

(article sg masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")

κῆνσον; [2 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Tribute" is kênsos, which means "tax", "census," and "poll-tax," but this word is only used in the New Testament.

ἀπὸ (prep) "From" is apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done.  Usually takes the genitive object.

τῶν (article pl masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")

υἱῶν [157 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Children" is huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." It is used generally to refer to any male descendant.

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Their own" 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."

(conj) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." -- "Than" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

ἀπὸ (prep) "From" is apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done.  Usually takes the genitive object.

τῶν (article pl masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")

ἀλλοτρίων;[3 verses] (adj pl masc gen) "Stranger" is allotrios, which means "belonging to another", "stranger", "foreign", "hostile", "alien", "unfavorably disposed", "abnormal," and "foreign to the purpose," and "strange."

KJV Analysis: 

What  -- The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

thinkest  - (WW) The word translated as "thinkest" doesn't mean "think" as much as it means "expect" or "imagine." It is in a form where the subject acts on himself.

thou, -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

missing "for yourself"-- (MW) There is a second-person pronoun here in the form of that requires an introductory pronoun in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object. However, the translator can choose other prepositions: "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at," or "on" depending on the context. The case can indicate a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "about" (or "for" or "against") indicating interest, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, "at" or "on" a time, and an "in" for area of affect. -

Simon? -- "Simon" is assumed to be a Hebrew name. Strangely enough, the word also has a meaning in Greek, it is a verb that means "turning up a nose" and this form could also be the noun, "flat nose" or adjective, "snub-nosed". It also means, interestingly, "a confederate in evil".  The name only appears in the New Testament, where twelve different people have this name. This is interesting given that everyone there would recognized the word's Greek meaning. There is also something very entertaining about a man named "Flat-nose" being renamed "Rocky." 

of -- (CW) The word translated as "of" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

whom -- The word translated as "whom" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

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

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

kings  - "Kings" is translated from a Greek word which means a "king" or "chief."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Jesus describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. This is the critical word in this verse because Jesus usually refers to worldly leads as "worldly," that is, as "kings of the world," that is, lords of society, not the planet. Why the change here? The answer is in the next verse.

take  - The word translated as "take" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is often translated as "receive" in the NT.

custom  - "Custom" is a word that means the purpose or goal of something. It means consummation", "achievement", "fulfillment," "product", "service rendered by a citizen," and "dues extracted by the state."

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

tribute?  - "Tribute" is translated from a Greek word that means "tax", "census," and "poll-tax," but this word is only used in the New Testament.

of -- (CW) The word translated as "of" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

their -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

own  - -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "own" in the Greek source.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

children, -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children". It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

of -- (CW) The word translated as "of" means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

strangers?  - "Strangers" is from a Greek word that means "belonging to another." So it refers to possessions that belong to others, not just those that are unknown.

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "think" should be "expect."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "for yourself" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" is not the common word form usually translated as "of."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "tribute" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" before "children" is not the common word form usually translated as "of."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "of" before "strangers" is not the common word form usually translated as "of."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "strangers" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

What  -- The word translated as "what" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

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

you , -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

think  - (WW) The word translated as "think" doesn't mean "think" as much as it means "expect" or "imagine." It is in a form where the subject acts on himself.

missing "for yourself"-- (MW) There is a second-person pronoun here in the form of that requires an introductory pronoun in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object. However, the translator can choose other prepositions: "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at," or "on" depending on the context. The case can indicate a "with" for instruments, an "in" for locations, an "as" for purposes, an "about" (or "for" or "against") indicating interest, an "of" for possession, a "by" for agents, an "as" for comparisons, "at" or "on" a time, and an "in" for area of affect. -

Simon? -- "Simon" is assumed to be a Hebrew name. Strangely enough, the word also has a meaning in Greek, it is a verb that means "turning up a nose" and this form could also be the noun, "flat nose" or adjective, "snub-nosed". It also means, interestingly, "a confederate in evil".  The name only appears in the New Testament, where twelve different people have this name. This is interesting given that everyone there would recognized the word's Greek meaning. There is also something very entertaining about a man named "Flat-nose" being renamed "Rocky."

From -- The word translated as "from " means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

whom -- The word translated as "whom" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

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

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

kings  - "Kings" is translated from a Greek word which means a "king" or "chief."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

earth  - The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Jesus describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. This is the critical word in this verse because Jesus usually refers to worldly leads as "worldly," that is, as "kings of the world," that is, lords of society, not the planet. Why the change here? The answer is in the next verse.

collect - The word translated as "take" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is often translated as "receive" in the NT.

duty - "Duty" is a word that means the purpose or goal of something. It means consummation", "achievement", "fulfillment," "product", "service rendered by a citizen," and "dues extracted by the state."

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

taxes?  - (WN)"Taxes" is translated from a Greek word that means "tax", "census," and "poll-tax," but this word is only used in the New Testament. It is singular, not plural.

from --  The word translated as "from " means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

their -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

own  - -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "own" in the Greek source.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

children, -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children". It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

from -- The word translated as "from " means "from" in both locations and when referring to a source or a cause. It also means the instrument "by" which a thing is done and "away from."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

others?  - (CW) "Others" is from a Greek word that means "belonging to another." So it refers to possessions that belong to others, not just those that are unknown.

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "think" should be "expect."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "for yourself" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "taxes" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "taxes" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "others" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "others" is not the common word usually translated as "others."

Front Page Date: 

Mar 2 2021