Matthew 18:26 The servant therefore fell down

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Lessons about letting go of people's errors, which amount to debts.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Falling then, this bondslave prostrated to him saying, "Withhold anger against me and all things I will give back."

KJV : 

Matthew 18:26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The unusual word here is "be patient/have patience," which Jesus uses only three times. It more literally means "delay anger" or "withhold anger." The word translated as "worship/on his knees" is also uncommon, used only seven times. But the word that reoccurs again and again in this parable is the word that means "give back," which is translated in a variety of ways, here, as "pay."

NIV : 

Matthew 18:26 At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’

Wordplay: 

There is a subtle little joke here. After using two words indicating going to the ground (fell down, prostrate), a homonym for "saying" means "laying down" and even "falling asleep."  These plays on words are less apparent in the future verse Matthew 18:29, where it is one servant begging from another. 

My Takeaway: 

We can never pay back everything we owe to God.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πεσὼν [36 verses](part sg aor act masc nom) "Fell down" is from the verb pipto, which means "to fall", "to fall down", "to be cast down," "fall upon", "intersect (geometry)", "meet", "pass through", "fall violently upon", "attack", "fall in battle", "sink{in water)", "fall short i.e. fail", " fall out of", "lose a thing", "escape from", "fall asleep", "to be accessible to perception", "to fall (between her feet, i.e. to be born)", "to let fall[dice)", "turn out," and "fall under (belong to a class)."

οὖν [82 verses](adv) "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

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

δοῦλος [56 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The servant" is doulos, which means a "slave," a "born bondsman," or "one made a slave by owning a debt."

προσεκύνει [7 verses] (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Worship" is proskyneo, which means "make obeisance", "fall down and worship," and specifically means to prostrate yourself before authority, as we might use the Chinese term, "kowtow."

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."

λέγων [264 verses](part sg pres act masc nom) "Saying" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

Μακροθύμησον [3 verses](verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Be patient" is makrothymeo, which means "to be long-suffering", "to persevere," "to be slow (to help)," and "to bear patiently."

ἐπ᾽ (prep) "With" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against." --

ἐμοί, (noun sg masc dat) "Me" is from emoi, which is 1st person,singular dative pronoun meaning "me' as the indirect object of a verb.

καὶ (conj/adv) "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."

πάντα [212 verses](adj pl neut acc) "All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

ἀποδώσω [22 verses](verb 1st sg fut ind act) "I will pay" is from apodidomi which means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." It has the economic sense of "to sell" or "to give something for one's own profit." It begins with apo the preposition of separation and origin, the idea of "from" in English, didômi which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over," and "to describe."

σοι. (pron 2nd sg dat) "Thee" is from soi which is the singular, second person pronoun, "you".

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

servant  - The word translated as "servant" is the word for slave, but it also means a person held in bond for a debt, which is clearly its meaning here.

therefore -- The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative, "then," "therefore." Jesus uses it to respond positively to questions, but in parables, it can continue the story.

fell down,  - (WF) "Fell down" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." Here the form is of an adjective, "falling down." It begins the verse, appears before the word for "servant."

and -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "and" in the Greek source. It was added because the previous verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

worshipped  - (CW) "Worshiped" is from a verb that means "make obeisance", "fall down and worship," and specifically means to prostrate yourself before authority, as we would use the Chinese term, "kowtow."

him, -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

saying,  - The word translated as "saying" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," and it is in the form of an adjective, "saying," as translated here. However, it also has the sense of repeating something, which works well in this story.

Lord, -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "also" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

have patience  - "Have patience" is from a Greek verb that "to be long-suffering", "to persevere," and "to bear patiently." It means literally "remote anger," so patience is a matter of putting off anger, as we say "long-suffering."

with  - The word translated as "with" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

me, -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek. 

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

pay  - "Pay" is from the word that means literally, "give back" or "give up." It is in the future tense.

thee -- The word for "you" is the indirect object form of the singular, second-person pronoun. 

all.  - The word translated as "all", it means "all", "the whole", "every." It is neuter plural so the sense is "all things."

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "fell down" is not an active verb but a participle, "falling down."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "worship" is not the common word usually translated as "worship."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "Lord" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.

NIV Analysis: 

At this -- - (WW) The Greek word translated as "at this" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative, "then," "therefore." Jesus uses it to respond positively to questions, but in parables, it can continue the story.

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. 

servant  - The word translated as "servant" is the word for slave, but it also means a person held in bond for a debt, which is clearly its meaning here.

therefore -

fell ,  - (WF) "Fell down" is translated from a Greek word that means "to fall" and "to fall down." Here the form is of an adjective, "falling down." It begins the verse, appears before the word for "servant."

on his knees before - (CW) "On his knees before" is from a verb that means "make obeisance", "fall down and worship," and specifically means to prostrate yourself before authority, as we would use the Chinese term, "kowtow."

him, -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

‘Be patient  - "Be patient" is from a Greek verb that "to be long-suffering", "to persevere," and "to bear patiently." It means literally "remote anger," so patience is a matter of putting off anger, as we say "long-suffering."

with  - The word translated as "with" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

me, -- The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me", though the form has other uses in Greek. 

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

begged,  - (WW, WF) The word translated as "begged" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," and it is in the form of an adjective, "saying," as translated here. However, it also has the sense of repeating something, which works well in this story.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the verb.

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

pay  - "Pay" is from the word that means literally, "give back" or "give up." It is in the future tense.

back -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "back."

everything.  - The word translated as "everything" means "all", "the whole", "every." It is neuter plural so the sense is "all things."

NIV Translation Issues: 

5
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "fell " is not an active verb but a participle, "falling down."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "on his knew before" is a description of kowtowing but it has not relationship to the words used, which is a verb.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "begged" should be "saying."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "begged" is not an active verb but a participle, "saying."

The Spoken Version: 

Then, dropping to the floor, the one enslaved by his debt kowtowing to him [the king] reciting, "Stick with me and I will give everything back."

Front Page Date: 

Apr 7 2021