Matthew 18:4 Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

The Apostles ask who is greatest in realm of the skies.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

That one who really will lower himself, like the little child, this one, that one is the greatest in the realm of the skies.

KJV : 

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Here, the play on words here is lost almost entirely in translation. First, notice the tenses. The "will lower himself" is the future tense but the "is the greatest" is the present tense. Does this mean that Jesus sees the realm as coexisting with earth or that everything in the realm of the skies is in the present tense?

The verb translated as "humble/takes a lowly position" means "lower." Jesus only uses it three times. The realm of the skies is obviously higher than earth so we would assume that the greatest is also the highest, but Jesus says that the greatest there is the lowest. The word "little child" is more emphasized in Greek. the play on words here is that "greatest" also means "full grown."   In this case, when you lessen yourself on earth, you don't become great but are great in the higher realms. If you can grow into a child on earth, then you are an adult in the higher realms. .

NIV : 

Matthew 18:4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Wordplay: 

A play on the word for "make small" against the idea of being "the largest." The word "greater" also means "full grown" which contrasts with little child. There is a contrast of "this one" to "that one."

My Takeaway: 

Growing is a higher sense means become more childlike, more trusting and believing in magic.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὅστις (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

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

ταπεινώσει [4 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "Humble" is tapeinoo, which means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble."

ἑαυτὸν [75 verses](adj sg masc acc )"Himself" is heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ὡς (adv) "As" is from hos, an adverb which means to "thus", "as", "how", "when", "where", "like", "just as", "so far as", "as much as can be", "that", "in order that", "nearly (with numbers)," and "know that."

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc/voc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

παιδίον [13 verses](noun sg neut acc) "Child" is paidon. which means "little child" or "young child," (up to seven years) "infant" or "young slave."

τοῦτο, 92 verses](adj sg neut nom/acc/voc) "This" is touto, which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

οὗτός [90 verses](adj sg masc nom) "The same" is hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

ἐστιν [90 verses](verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" 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.") --

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

μείζωνἐν [22 verses](adj sg masc nom) "Greatest" is meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

ἐν (prep) "In" is en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," "during,"  and "with".With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for."

τῇ (article sg fem dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

βασιλείᾳ [98 verses](noun sg fem dat) "The kingdom" is basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign.

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

οὐρανῶν: [111 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Of Heaven" is from the Greek 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Whosoever -- "Whosoever" is a pronoun that means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever." 

therefore  - The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative.

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

humble  - "Humble" is from a verb that means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble." Jesus only uses this word four times.

himself  - -- "Himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.

as -- The word translated as "as" has a very broad meaning, translating as "how", "when", "where", "just as", "like," and related words.

this  - -- The word translated as "this" means "from here" or "this/that thing. Jesus uses this word to refer to something at hand. in this case, the child with him.

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

little child,  - "Little child" is translated from a Greek word that means "a young child" or "little child." It is one of several words that Jesus uses that are translated as "child" or "children." (See this article.) One unique aspect of this word is that it is neither masculine nor feminine, but neuter What is the difference between a young child and an older child? Young children live much more "in the moment" than older ones do. They do not see the world through a layer of assumptions. They accept that they don't know anything about the world, but they are excited to discover what the world holds.

the same - (WW) "The same" is a pronoun that means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever." This is the same word that started the verse translated as "whosoever."

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

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. 

greatest  - "Greatest" is from an adjective which is the comparative adjective form of great, which means "big", "full grown", "great", "might" and "strong."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

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. 

kingdom -- The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Jesus does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

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

untranslated "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. 

heaven: - (WN) The word translated as "heaven" means "sky," the "climate," and the "universe."     It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.  This word is plural, not singular, so "skies."

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "little child" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "greatest" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "the same" should be "that one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "heaven" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but he Greek word is plural, "skies."

NIV Analysis: 

Therefore, - The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative.

whoever -- "Whoever" is a pronoun that means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever." 

takes the lowly position  - (WT) "Takes the lowly position" is from a verb that means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble." Jesus only uses this word four times. This verb is in the future tense.

missing "himself"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.

of -- (WW) The word translated as "as" has a very broad meaning, translating as "how", "when", "where", "just as", "like," and related words.

this  - -- The word translated as "this" means "from here" or "this/that thing. Jesus uses this word to refer to something at hand. in this case, the child with him.

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

child,  - (CW) "Child" is translated from a Greek word that means "a young child" or "little child." It is one of several words that Jesus uses that are translated as "child" or "children." (See this article.) One unique aspect of this word is that it is neither masculine nor feminine, but neuter What is the difference between a young child and an older child? Young children live much more "in the moment" than older ones do. They do not see the world through a layer of assumptions. They accept that they don't know anything about the world, but they are excited to discover what the world holds.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

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.

greatest  - "Greatest" is from an adjective which is the comparative adjective form of great, which means "big", "full grown", "great", "might" and "strong."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within", "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here.  With the accusative, it means "into," "on," and "for." When referring to time, it means "during." It can mean "on," "at," or "by" in the sense of "near." 

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. 

kingdom -- The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Jesus does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

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

untranslated "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. 

heaven: - (WN) The word translated as "heaven" means "sky," the "climate," and the "universe."     It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. More about the word in this article.  This word is plural, not singular, so "skies."

NIV Translation Issues: 

8
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb is in the present tense, but it should be the future tense,
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "himself" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "of" should be "as."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "child" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "child" is not the common word usually translated as "child " but a specific one meaning "a little child."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "the same" should be "that one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "heaven" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but he Greek word is plural, "skies."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

This line is typical of Jesus's teaching that the permanent, hidden spiritual world reverses the physically seen, temporary world.

Front Page Date: 

Mar 6 2021