Matthew 21:32  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness,

Spoken to: 

group

Context: 

This follows on a statement about how Jesus's opponents will be lead by tax collectors and prostitutes into the realm of the Divine.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Because John made showed up before you with a path of virtue and you didn't trust in him. However, the tax collectors and the prostitutes trusted in him. You yourselves, however, seeing this, didn't even manage yourselves afterward this trusting in him.

My Takeaway: 

We should trust those who the most distrusting trust.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

NIV : 

Matthew 21:32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The phrase translated as "the way of righteousness" is not "the way" but "a way" so Jesus is saying that John's way isn't the only way. 

The word translated as "believe" here has more the sense of trusting especially trusting a person's words. The final "believe" is in the form of an infinitive, not an active verb, so with the article before it, it acts like a noun,"the trusting."

The word translated as "repent" does not mean that. It seems the biblical translators assumed that it was a typo, because it looks like the word for "repented" in Matthew 21:30, which isn't the common word translated as repent, but this word isn't either of those words. This word starts the same, but changes only a single letter, which makes it means to "take care of." Both come from the root of "to care about" but one is the feeling and the other is the action or responsibility for doing it. This verb is in a form where the subject acts on themselves, the sense is "manage yourselves."

Wordplay: 

A play on two sound alike words. Here, the word is  epimeleomai, in the form of metEmelethente which means "taking  charge."It looks like metamelomai, in the form of metAmeletheis (participle, passive, aor), from Matthew 21:30, meaning "to feel regret."  Both are from the root that means "to care about." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἦλθεν [198 verses](verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Came" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

γὰρ (conj) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for," "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

Ἰωάνης [17 verses](noun sg masc nom)"John" is Ioannes, which is the Greek form of the name "John."

πρὸς (conj) "Unto" is from pros, which means "on the side of," "in the direction of," "from (place)," "towards" "before," "in the presence of," "in the eyes of," "in the name of," "by reason of," "before (supplication)," "proceeding from (for effects)," "dependent on," "derivable from," "agreeable,""becoming," "like," "at the point of," "in addition to," "against," and "before."

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas which is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

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."

ὁδῷ [27 verses](noun sg fem dat) "The way" is from hodos, which means literally "the way" or "the road" but which is used symbolically to mean "a way of doing things" or "a philosophy of life."

δικαιοσύνης, [10 verses](noun sg fem gen) "Righteousness" is dikaiosyne, which means "righteousness," "justice," "fulfillment of the law," and "the business of a judge." It carries the sense of virtue but specifically that of fulfilling legal or social requirements.

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."

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἐπιστεύσατε [69 verses](verb 2nd pl aor ind act) "Ye believed" is pisteuo, which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person," "to believe in someone's words," "to comply," "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

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."

οἱ (article pl masc nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

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").

τελῶναι [9 verses](noun pl masc nom) "The publicans" is telônês, which means "farmer," and "collector of toll, custom, and taxes."

καὶ (partic) "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."

αἱ (article pl fem nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

πόρναι [4 verses](noun pl fem nom) "The harlots" is porne, which means "harlot," and "prostitute." It is from a verb that means "for sale," "bought," and "ruined."

ἐπίστευσαν [69 verses](verb 3rd pl aor ind act) "Believed" is from pisteuo, which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person," "to believe in someone's words," "to comply," "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing." -

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."

ὑμεῖς (pron 2nd pl nom) "Ye" is from hymeis (humeis), which are the singular nominative form of the second person, "you."

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").

ἰδόντες [166 verses](part pl aor act masc nom/voc) "When ye had seen" is eido which means "to see," "to examine," "to perceive," "to behold," "to know how to do," "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know." --

οὐδὲ (partic)"Not" is from oude , which means "but not," "and not," "neither," "nor," and "not even."

μετεμελήθητε (verb 2nd pl aor ind mp) "Repented" is epimeleomai, which means to "take care of," "have charge or management of," "take care with respect to a thing," of public commissions, "have charge of," "be inspector or curator of," "to be engaged in," and "to cultivate" any pursuit.

ὕστερον [5 verses](adj sg masc acc) "Afterwards" is hysteros (husteros), which means "latter," "last," "coming after," "after" (in Time), "posterior," "inferior," and "extremely."

τοῦ (article sg masc gen) "That" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

πιστεῦσαι [69 verses](verb aor inf act) "Ye might believe" is from pisteuo, which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person," "to believe in someone's words," "to comply," "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

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."

KJV Analysis: 

For  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

John --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name. 

came -- The word translated as "came" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

unto -- The word translated as "unto" means "towards," "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

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

way  - "Way" is from a noun that means literally the "way" or "road" but which is used symbolically to mean "a way of doing things" or "a philosophy of life." It is interesting that a term joining a path with philosophy exists in many languages from the west to the east. It is not introduced by an article, "a way" or "a path."

righteousness, -- The word translated as "righteousness" also means "justice" and generally "fulfillment of the law." When applied to God or any judge, it works best as "justice," but when applied to people "virtue" or "law-abiding" works better since we don't use "righteousness" must anymore.

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

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

believed -- The Greek word translated as "believed" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact.

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

not: -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.

but -- The Greek word translated as "but" 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.  It also an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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. 

publicans  - The Greek term translated as "publican" means "farmer" and "tax collector." by Jesus's time, they were not tax farmers, that is, private individuals who bought the right to collect taxes. They worked directly for Rome, but the term "farmer" seems to have stuck. Historically, these people were both rich and notoriously corrupt, especially as tax farmers, and they were made into government employees to reform them. They also seem to be associated with having lavish parties. When Christ is accused of being a drunk and a glutton, this idea is supported by the fact he is a friend with tax-collectors.

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

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. 

harlots " - The harlots" is from the Greek word that means "prostitute." It is from a verb that means "for sale," "bought," and "ruined."

believed -- The Greek word translated as "believed" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact.

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

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. 

ye, -- The pronoun "ye" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say "you yourselves." It is plural.

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

ye -- This is from the previous pronoun.

had - (WT) This helping verb "hath" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

seen -- (WF) The verb translated as "seen" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." In the KJV, it is almost translated as many times as "know" as it is "see." The form is a  verbal adjective, a participle, not an active verb.

it, -- This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

repented  - (WW) The word translated as "repented" here is a misreading of a word that looks like the word for "repented" in Matthew 21:30, which isn't the common word translated as repent, but this isn't either word. This word starts the same, but changes only a single letter, which makes it means to "take care of" or "manage." Both come from the root of "to care about" but one is the feeling and the other is the action or responsibility for doing it.

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act on "yourselves," "for yourselves" or "by yourselves."

not -- (CW) The Greek word for "not" is an adverb that means "not at all" or "no even." As a conjunction, it works as both parts of the "neither/nor" constructions.

afterward, -- The word translated as "afterward," means "latter," "last," "coming after," "after" (in Time), "posterior," "inferior," and "extremely." It is technically an adjective, but it works like an adjective.

that - (WW) The word translated as "that" 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. This word, however, is not the "that" that introduces a statement of fact or cause. The form is genitive that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs.

ye might -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "ye might" in the Greek source. The following infinitive has neither person, mood, nor voice.

believed -- (WF) The Greek word translated as "believed" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. This is an infinitive, which, when introduced by an article acts like a verb describing the action of the verb. Here, these sense is "the trusting."

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

KJV Translation Issues: 

11
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "had" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "seen" is not an active verb but a participle, "seeing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "repented" should be "take care of yourselves."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "yourselves" as its object.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "that" should be "the."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "ye might" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The final "believe" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to trust" but since it is introduced by an article, it works like a noun, "the trusting."

NIV Analysis: 

For  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence.

John --  "John" is the Greek word translated as the English proper name. 

came -- The word translated as "came" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

to -- The word translated as "to" means "towards," "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before." With verbs of seeing it specifically means "towards."

you -- The "you" here is the second-person, plural pronoun in the form of an object.

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

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"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 -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "the" in the Greek source.

way  - "Way" is from a noun that means literally the "way" or "road" but which is used symbolically to mean "a way of doing things" or "a philosophy of life." It is interesting that a term joining a path with philosophy exists in many languages from the west to the east. It is not introduced by an article, "a way" or "a path."

righteousness, -- The word translated as "righteousness" also means "justice" and generally "fulfillment of the law." When applied to God or any judge, it works best as "justice," but when applied to people "virtue" or "law-abiding" works better since we don't use "righteousness" must anymore.

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

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

did -- 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.

not: -- The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It means "no," "not," or"no truly." It makes a negative statement of fact.

believe -- The Greek word translated as "believed" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact.

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

but -- The Greek word translated as "but" 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.  It also an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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. 

publicans  - The Greek term translated as "publican" means "farmer" and "tax collector." by Jesus's time, they were not tax farmers, that is, private individuals who bought the right to collect taxes. They worked directly for Rome, but the term "farmer" seems to have stuck. Historically, these people were both rich and notoriously corrupt, especially as tax farmers, and they were made into government employees to reform them. They also seem to be associated with having lavish parties. When Christ is accused of being a drunk and a glutton, this idea is supported by the fact he is a friend with tax-collectors.

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

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. 

harlots " - The harlots" is from the Greek word that means "prostitute." It is from a verb that means "for sale," "bought," and "ruined."

did-- (WW) The Greek word translated as "did" is actually the word used abouve "believed." It implies the verb "believed" or trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact.

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

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. 

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

you , -- The pronoun "ye" is used explicitly as the subject of the sentence. Since it is already part of the verb, its use here creates emphasis on the "you" as we might say "you yourselves." It is plural.

saw -- (WF) The verb translated as "seen" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." In the KJV, it is almost translated as many times as "know" as it is "see." The form is a  verbal adjective, a participle, not an active verb.

this, -- This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

you -- This is from the previous pronoun.

did -- 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.

not -- (CW) The Greek word for "not" is an adverb that means "not at all" or "no even." As a conjunction, it works as both parts of the "neither/nor" constructions.

repent  - (WW) The word translated as "repented" here is a misreading of a word that looks like the word for "repented" in Matthew 21:30, which isn't the common word translated as repent, but this isn't either word. This word starts the same, but changes only a single letter, which makes it means to "take care of" or "manage." Both come from the root of "to care about" but one is the feeling and the other is the action or responsibility for doing it.

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the previous verb is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act on "yourselves," "for yourselves" or "by yourselves."

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

missing "afterwards"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "afterward," means "latter," "last," "coming after," "after" (in Time), "posterior," "inferior," and "extremely." It is technically an adjective, but it works like an adjective.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "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. This word, however, is not the "that" that introduces a statement of fact or cause. The form is genitive that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession. However, it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs.

believe-- (WF) The Greek word translated as "believed" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in contexts, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. This is an infinitive, which, when introduced by an article acts like a verb describing the action of the verb. Here, these sense is "the trusting."

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

NIV Translation Issues: 

11
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "to show you" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "did" should be "trusted."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "even after" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "seen" is not an active verb but a participle, "seeing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "repented" should be "take care of yourselves."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "yourselves" as its object.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The final "believe" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to trust" but since it is introduced by an article, it works like a noun, "the trusting."

Front Page Date: 

Jun 14 2021