Matthew 5:38 You have heard it said, An eye for an eye,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Sermon on Mount, law and fulfillment, visible and hidden, debts and repayment

Greek : 

Matthew 5:38  Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθηὈφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.”

Exo 21:24   ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος χεῗρα ἀντὶ χειρός πόδα ἀντὶ ποδός

Literal Verse: 

You have heard what was pronounced, "[Have] an eye for the price of an eye, a tooth for the price of a tooth."

My Takeaway: 

The beginning of justice is the visible repayment of visible debts.

KJV : 

Matthew 5:38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

NIV : 

Matthew 5:38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.

3rd Translation: 

Matthew 5:38 You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The introductory section is the fifth iteration of this catchphrase. It is repeated one more time. Such repetition is a form of humor but the phrase also uses an uncommon, exaggerated word, which is another form of humor. The verb translated as "said/told" is uncommon for Jesus to use except in this phrase.  This verb has a more serious meaning, "to proclaim" or "to pronounce," and a lighter meaning "to be mentioned" and "to be pronounced." It is contrasted with the normal word for "tell" or "say" that Jesus uses to describe his viewpoint in the next verse.

Though the catchphrase doesn't mention what was written, this is an exact quote of what was written. The verse quotes the Greek OT of Exodus 21:24. Jesus chooses the part of that verse that has a double meaning in the Greek words. The word "eye" is a metaphor for "cheer" and "comfort," while the "tooth" is a metaphor for the "pain of grief." Weeping and gnashing of teeth are connected. The original OT verse mentions hands and feet as well as eyes and teeth, but Jesus chose not to use that part of the verse.

The word translated as "for" actually means "in return for" or "in exchange for." People of Jesus's time, who would have heard the previous topic of "swearing" as concerning creating debts. The topic of repaying debts which is the topic here flows naturally from it. The core meaning of the preposition translated as "for" is "opposite" as in "counterbalancing."  This preposition acts as a prefix in the key verb in the next verse.

Wordplay: 

 A contrast between the eye, which is Greek is a metaphor for comfort and cheer, with a tooth, which in Greek, is a metaphor for the pain of grief. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἠκούσατε (2nd pl aor ind act) "Ye have heard" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

ὅτι (adv) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

ἐρρέθη [9 verses](3rd sg aor ind pass) "It hath been said" is ero, which means "to speak", "to say", "to pronounce", "to tell", "to let suffice", "to announce", "to proclaim," (in passive) "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

Ὀφθαλμὸν (noun sg masc acc) "An eye" is ophthalmos, which means "eye", "sight", "the dearest and best", "light", "cheer", "comfort," and "the bud [of a plant]."

ἀντὶ [9 verses](prep) "For" is anti which means "opposite", "over against", "instead", "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for", "for the sake of", "against", "in return", "equal to", "corresponding to," and "mutually."

ὀφθαλμοῦ (noun sg masc gen ) "An eye" is from ophthalmos, which means "eye", "sight", "the dearest and best", "light", "cheer", "comfort," and "the bud [of a plant]."

καὶ (conj) "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."

ὀδόντα [8 verses](noun sg masc acc) "A tooth" is from odous, which means "tooth", "anything pointed", "prong", "spike", "peak," and "tooth [of a saw]." It is a metaphor for the pain of grief.

ἀντὶ (prep) "For" is from anti which means "opposite", "over against", "instead", "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for", "at the price of", "for the sake of", "against", "in return", "equal to", "corresponding to," and "mutually."

ὀδόντος.” (noun sg masc gen) "A tooth" is from odous, which means "tooth", "anything pointed", "prong", "spike", "peak," and "tooth [of a saw]." It is a metaphor for the pain of grief.

KJV Analysis: 

Ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

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

hath -- (WT) This would be make the tense the past perfect, but it is the simply past.

been -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "it was said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised." There are three other Greek verbs that are much more commonly used to say "said" or "tell".

An -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

eye -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". It is a metaphor for "cheer."

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, is from its primary meaning "opposite."

an -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

eye, -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". In Greek, an eye is a metaphor for comfort and cheer.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tooth -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, has come to mean "against" or "opposite."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tooth: -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "hath" seems to indicate an action completed in the past, but the tense is something happening at a point in time past, present, or future.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for the simple idea of "say."

NIV Analysis: 

You -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

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

was -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "it was said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised." There are three other Greek verbs that are much more commonly used to say "said" or "tell".

Eye -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". It is a metaphor for "cheer."

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, is from its primary meaning "opposite."

eye, -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". In Greek, an eye is a metaphor for comfort and cheer.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

tooth -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, has come to mean "against" or "opposite."

tooth: -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

NIV Translation Issues: 

2
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for the simple idea of "say."

3rd Analysis: 

You -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

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

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

says --  (CW) The verb translated as "says," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised." There are three other Greek verbs that are much more commonly used to say "said" or "tell".

the punishment must match the injury -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "the punishment must match the injury" in the Greek source.

An -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

eye -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". It is a metaphor for "cheer."

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, is from its primary meaning "opposite."

an -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

eye, -- The Greek word for "eye" is the more technical terms for "eye" but it also means "sight". In Greek, an eye is a metaphor for comfort and cheer.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tooth -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

for -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, has come to mean "against" or "opposite."

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tooth: -- The Greek word translated as "tooth" means "tooth" but it is a metaphor for the opposite of comfort and cheer, the pain of grief. Jesus uses the "grinding of teeth" as evidence for suffering in verses such as Matthew 13:42.

3rd Issue Count: 

4
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "the law" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "says" is not one of the common Greek words for the simple idea of "say."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "the punishment must match the injury" doesn't exist in the source.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

The symbolic sense of the eye phrase is "comfort at the price of comfort." The symbolism of the "tooth" phrase is " the pain of grief for the price of the pain of grief."  Not only does the phrase mean paying for body parts with other body parts, it also means that when someone takes away our comfort and cheer, the law allows us to take away their comfort and cheer. If someone created the pain of grief for us, the law allowed the creation of grief in return.

evidence: 

37.00

Front Page Date: 

May 14 2020