Matthew 21:16 Yes, haven't you read that out of the mouths

KJV Verse: 

Mat 21:16 Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Yes, don't you at any time recognize that "from the cries of children and those nursing you have prepared a tale."

Hidden Meaning: 

This verse uses a number of words that Christ uses rarely, but the reason why is that he is quoting the Greek Septuagint, Psa 8:2. In the bigger picture, in the last verse, Christ makes it clear that prayer is not bargaining with God. This raises the question about what is prayer really?

The word translated as "never" is the combination of the word for "never" and "at any time."

"Have you...read" is from a verb that means to "know well", "recognize," and "know again." It is not from the verb meaning "to read."

The Greek preposition translated as "of out" means "out of" and "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

"Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct.

The word translated as "of babies" is not one of the usual words Christ uses to refer to children (see article here). In the KJV, it appears only in one other place (Mat 11:26) but in today's sources, it doesn't appear at all except here. The reason it appears is that it is an exact quote of the Greek version of the Jewish psalms of the period.

"Sucklings" is from a noun form of the verb that means "to suck." We would say, "those nursing."

"Thou hast perfected" is from a verb which means "to furnish", "to equip," and "to prepare." It is a metaphor from being restored to one's right mind. In the original verse in Psalms, the Hebrew word here means to "found", "fix," and "establish," and it is translated in the KJV as "ordained."

The word is translated as "praise," is Either a Greek noun that means "tale" or "story" especially stories with a moral. More generally, it means "saying" a "proverb" and it came to be a "decree" and "praise" (as in a story praising someone). It comes from the verb of approving of someone and complementing them on what they have done. It means making recommendations and advise, but ultimately accepting the decision of a superior. In the original Hebrew this word means "might," and "strength."

Prayer is the same as a child crying for milk. Like babies, we cry out to God for what we need. And like babies, we do not question what we are given, but accept it gratefully, knowing that God would not give us what is bad for us.

The Spoken Version: 

Okay, don't you ever see that "from the crying of babies and those nursing you written a heroic tale."

Vocabulary: 

Ναί: "Yes" is from nai, which means "yea,""yes", "truly," and similar ideas.

οὐδέποτε "Never" is from oudepote, which means "and not ever", "nor ever", "not even ever," and "never." It is from two words, oude , which means "but not", "neither", "nor,"and "not even." And pote, which means "when", "at what time", "at some time or other", "at some unknown time, and "at some time in the future."

ἀνέγνωτε (verb 2nd pl aor ind act) "Have ye...read" is from anaginosko, which means "to recognize", "to know well", "to know certainly", "to know again", "to own," and "to acknowledge."

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."

​“Ἐκ "Out of" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from."

στόματος (noun sg neut gen) "Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct.

νηπίων (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Babies" is from nepios, which mean "infant", "child", "minor" of children up to puberty, "infancy", "the young" of an animal, of the understanding "childish", "silly," and of bodily strength, "like that of a child."

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."

θηλαζόντων (part pl pres act masc gen) "Sucklings" is from thelazo, which means "to suckle", "to nurse," and "to suck (for animals)."

κατηρτίσω (verb 2nd sg aor ind) "Thou hast perfected" is from katartizô, which means "to adjust", "to put in order", "to restore", "to mend," "to furnish", "to equip," and "to prepare." It is a metaphor meaning to "restore to a right mind," It also means to "compound," or "prepare" dishes or medicines,

αἶνον (noun sg masc acc) "Praise" is from ainos, which means "tale", "story," esp. "story with moral", "fable," generally, "saying", "proverb," also "praise" "decree," and "resolution." It is from the verb, aineô, which means "to praise" and "to approve." It means "to be content with" and "to acquiesce in " a decision. It means "to recommend", "to advise," and "to approve."

Related Verses: