Matthew 8:11 ...That many shall come from the east

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Jesus teaching the crowd after the centurion's show of faith as a show of the worth of foreigners.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

I say, however,  to you that many from rising and setting will arrive and they will  recline with Abraham and Jacob and Isaac within the realm of the skies.

My Takeaway: 

You can never be too far away to come to God.

KJV : 

Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

NIV : 

Matthew 8:11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse uses a number of very uncommon words or Jesus. The verses does not begin with an "and". It has a "however" in the beginning. So in Greek, it appears to be the answer to a question from someone who pointed out that the centurion was a foreigner.

The word translated as "come" is not the common word for "come" but one that means "to arrive." It has a number of positive implications such as "to be well off," "to be flourishing, and "to have plenty of a thing." It was used like we use, "he has arrived" to mean someone who has come into their own.

The word translated as "east" means "rising of a heavenly body." It refers to the direction, but it is a play on the rising of the dead. The word translated as "west" means "setting" and a play on the idea of "setting down" at a table.

The word translated as "will sit" means "to lean" but it is passive, which changes its meaning to "recline" or "lie." This reflects the fact that people in Jesus's time reclined at the table while eating.

As with Matthew 5:19, there is a strong sense that Christ is describing a hierarchy within the "realm of the skies". In Luke 13:28, the sense of this verse is combined with the following verse, Matthew 8:12, for a different perspective. 

Wordplay: 

 When applied to the "great" of the world, "rising" and "setting" not only means "east" and "west" but rising and falling in power.  It could also refer to the rising from the dead and sitting down at a table.

The word translated as "come" means "to arrive" in the sense of coming into your own and flourishing.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "Say" is from llego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."

δὲ (partic) "But" is from 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").

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ὅτι (adv/conj) "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."

πολλοὶ (adj pl masc nom) "Many" is from 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."

ἀπὸ (prep) "From" is from 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.

ἀνατολῶν (noun pl fem gen) "East" is from anatole, which means "rising above the horizon (of any heavenly body)", "the quarter of sunrise", "east", "the ascendant (i.e. the point where the eastern horizon cuts the zodiac)", "a phase of new moon," "sources of a river (in pl.), and "growing ( of the teeth)."

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."

δυσμῶν” (noun pl fem gen) "West" is from dysme, which means "setting (mostly in pl.)", "the quarter of sunset," and "west."

ἥξουσιν (3rd pl aor subj act or 3rd pl fut ind act ) "Shall come" is from heko, which means "to arrive", "to have come", "to be present", "to have reached a point, "to pass though a point (geometry)", "to have come back", "returned", "to have come to table", "concern", "relate to", "to depend upon," and, as a metaphor, "to be a follower."

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."

ἀνακλιθήσονται [3 verses](3rd pl fut ind pass) "Shall sit down," is anaklino, which means "to lean one thing upon another", "to cause to recline at a table", "to push", "to put back", "to open," and, in the passive, "to lie", "to sink", "to lean back", "to recline," and "to slope upwards (of ground)."

μετὰ (prep) "With" is from meta, which means "in the midst of", "among", "between", "in common", "along with", "by the aid of", "in one's dealings with", "into the middle of", "coming into", "in pursuit of", "after", "behind", "according to," and "next afterward"

Ἀβραὰμ (Aaramaic) "Abraham" is from Abraam, which is the Greek form of "Abraham."

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."

Ἰσαὰκ (Aramaic) "Isaac" is from Isaak.

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."

Ἰακὼβ (Aramaic) "Jacob" is from Iakob.

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

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

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

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

οὐρανῶν: (noun pl masc gen) "Heaven" is from 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: 

And -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

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

say -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

you, -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc. 

That -- The Greek source of "for" is a word that means "that" or "because." 

many-- The word translated as "many" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size. It is an adjective and does not have an article indicating its use as a noun.

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.

come -- (WW)  The word translated as "come" is not the common word usually translated as "come" in the Gospels. This Greek word indicates a "coming" that has been completed, that is, "to arrive", "to be returned", or, even, "to be present." As a metaphor, it means "to be a follower." However, its tense is in the future or something that might happen in the future. So it describes an activity that might be complete in the future.

from The word translated as "from" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source.

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

east -- (MM) The word translated as "east" primarily refers to the rising of heavenly bodies above the horizon. It comes to mean "east" because that is the direction in which heavenly bodies arise. The uses of "rising" and "setting" as directions is common in many ancient languages.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

west, -- (MM)  The word translated as "west" means "setting," as the opposite of "rising."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

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.

sit down -- (CW) The word translated as "sit down" means to "lean against" or "to be made to recline" by someone else, but here it is in the passive. In that form, it means "to recline" and "to sink" by oneself. Of course, at the time, people reclined to eat, but the sense of sinking below the patriarchs is part of its meaning.

with -- The word translated as "with" has the primary sense of "among" but it also means "after" and behind, which fits with the "sink" meaning of the previous word.

Abraham, -- This is from the Greek spelling of "Abraham." The Hebrew names of the Jewish patriarchs have no special meaning in Greek. However, while Christ is referring to the historical figures in Jewish history, we can also understand his meaning more metaphorically in terms more relevant to use today as discussed in this article.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

Isaac,  "Isaac" is from Isaak.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

Jacob, -- "Jacob" is from Iakob

in -- The word translated as "in" also means "within" as "within" a group or also "among."

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. Christ 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. However, it it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

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..--  The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It is plural here. Jesus often uses it in the plural, though it is never translated that way so "skies". 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.

KJV Translation Issues: 

6

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "come" should be "arrive."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "east" also means "rising of a heavenly body."

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "west" also means "setting."

CW - Confusing Word -- The "sit down" is not common word usually translated as "sit down" but one that means "to recline."

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

untranslated "but"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is "but," but since it always appears in the second position in a phrase, it feels more like our word "however," which can appear in the second position. The effect is to change the direction of the phrase after it is started.

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

say -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

you, -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc. 

that -- The Greek source of "for" is a word that means "that" or "because." 

many-- The word translated as "many" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size. It is an adjective and does not have an article indicating its use as a noun.

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.

come -- (WW)  The word translated as "come" is not the common word usually translated as "come" in the Gospels. This Greek word indicates a "coming" that has been completed, that is, "to arrive", "to be returned", or, even, "to be present." As a metaphor, it means "to be a follower." However, its tense is in the future or something that might happen in the future. So it describes an activity that might be complete in the future.

from The word translated as "from" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source.

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

east -- (MM) The word translated as "east" primarily refers to the rising of heavenly bodies above the horizon. It comes to mean "east" because that is the direction in which heavenly bodies arise. The uses of "rising" and "setting" as directions is common in many ancient languages.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

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

west, -- (MM)  The word translated as "west" means "setting," as the opposite of "rising."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

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.

take -- (WW) The word translated as "take" means to "lean against" or "to be made to recline" by someone else, but here it is in the passive. In that form, it means "to recline" and "to sink" by oneself. Of course, at the time, people reclined to eat, but the sense of sinking below the patriarchs is part of its meaning.

their places at the feast -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "their places at the feast " in the Greek source. This may be implied by the previous mistranslated verb.

with -- The word translated as "with" has the primary sense of "among" but it also means "after" and behind, which fits with the "sink" meaning of the previous word.

Abraham, -- This is from the Greek spelling of "Abraham." The Hebrew names of the Jewish patriarchs have no special meaning in Greek. However, while Christ is referring to the historical figures in Jewish history, we can also understand his meaning more metaphorically in terms more relevant to use today as discussed in this article.

untranslated "and"  -- (MW) The Greek word translated as "and" that appears here is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

Isaac,  "Isaac" is from Isaak.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" over and over again in this verse is the common conjunction translated as "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, In a series, it is best translated as "not only...but also." It is repeated several times in a series later in this verse.

Jacob, -- "Jacob" is from Iakob

in -- The word translated as "in" also means "within" as "within" a group or also "among."

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. Christ 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. However, it it can also mean "belonging to," "part of", "which is", "than" (in comparisons), or  "for", "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

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..--  The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It is plural here. Jesus often uses it in the plural, though it is never translated that way so "skies". 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.

NIV Translation Issues: 

9

MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "come" should be "arrive."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "east" also means "rising of a heavenly body."

IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "west" also means "setting."

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "take" should be "recline."

IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "their places at the feast " doesn't exist in the source.

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Jul 27 2020