Matthew 20:25 You know that the princes of the Gentiles...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 20:25 Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

All of you have seen that the rulers of the foreigners lord over them and the powerful have control over them.

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse is a great example of Christ "koining" words in koine. The two key words here only appear in Greek starting with Christ's words. Christ made them up based upon two other words he commonly uses. In doing so, he says something critical, both in the sense of important and judgmental, about power among men.

The word translated as "ye know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. It is in the second person plural, "all of you see."

"The princes" is from the Greek word that means "ruler," and "magistrate." this is the word used in the phrase "the prince of the world" (John 12:31), who Christ castes down.

The word translated as "Gentiles" does not mean gentiles or even foreigners. Its primary meaning is "a group of people living together," a nation, a tribe, or a cast of people. Later it came to mean "barbarous nations" similar to our idea of ethnic people. It is in the same form as the "them" above, so "to them" or "for them."

Here we have the first invented word. It is translated as "to gain dominion over," and "gain possession," but it is made of two parts. The first means "down from" and the second is a verb form of the word usually translated as "lord." So, "lord over" is the way we would say this in English.

The word translated as "the great" means "big", "high" "great," and "impressive."

This brings us to our other made up word. It is translated as "to have power," but again, it is made of two parts. The first again means "down from" (same root as above) and the second is another verb from of a common word Christ uses that means "authority", "control," and "the ability to choose." In English, we would say, "control over" or perhaps "the ability to decide against."

This continues Christ's explanation of how authority in his kingdom is different than earthly authority. Christ always talks about "gentiles," when referring to the secular government, that is, Roman rule. Christ draws a distinction between physical power of the state and the power of social pressure. Both are forces that we must resist but we deal with them in different ways.

Here, Christ defines what the power of the state is based on: physical coercion. The state has physical control over its subjects. But Christ recognizes that this power is separate from the emotion power of relationships, such as, in the negative sense, social pressure. It is also separate from mental power, what we are free to think, and spiritual power, what we choose to believe.

Wordplay: 

Here, Christ makes up to words which are very like the way we say things in our day, "lord over" and "decide against." 

The Spoken Version: 

All of you have seen how the leaders of nations rule over them and the powerful are able to decide against them.

Vocabulary: 

Οἴδατε (verb 2nd pl perf ind act) "Ye know" is from oida which is a form of eido, (eidon) 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."

ὅτι "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." -- In the Greek source, this is a word here that means "that" or "because."

οἱ ἄρχοντες (noun pl masc nom) "The princes" is from archon, which means "ruler", "commander", "official," and "magistrate."

τῶν ἐθνῶν (noun pl neut gen) "The gentiles" is from ethnos, which means "a number of people living together", "company", "body of men," "tribe", "a people", "nation," and (later) "foreign, barbarous nations."

κατακυριεύουσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Dominion" is from katakurieuô, which means "to gain or exercise complete dominion", "gain dominion over," and "gain possession." This carries the sense of ownership and control. From kata, which means "downwards", "down from", "down into," and "against." And from the verb form of "Lord" kyrios (kurios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Them" 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 ones own accord."

καὶ "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."

οἱ μεγάλοι (adj pl masc nom) "The great" is from megas, which means "big", "full-grown", "vast", "high", "great", "mighty", "strong (of the elements)",l "Loud" (of sounds), "over-great,(with a bad sense), "impressive" (of style), AND "long" ( of days).

κατεξουσιάζουσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Exercise authority" is from katexousiazô, which gets translated "to have power", "to exercise power," and "to be the master of a body." From kata, which means "downwards", "down from", "down into," and "against." And a verb from of exousia which means "control", "the power of choice", "permission", "the power of authority", "the right of privilege", "abundance of means," and "abuse of power."

αὐτῶν.(adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Them" 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 ones own accord."

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