Matthew 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

See, it has let itself fall on you. this house that seemed to be true,

Hidden Meaning: 

This short verse is a wonderful play on words. The key words, "house" and "is left" could well have very different meanings. Another key word is untranslated. The Greek word translated as "desolate" doesn't appear in today's Greek sources, but all current Bibles, even those based on more modern sources, keep it, but I am not sure why, since the verse works perfectly well without it. A lot going on for such a short verse.

"Behold" is from an adverb meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!" In a humorous vein, this about how Christ uses this like we use the phrase "tah-dah" in a magic show, or the French, "See!"

The untranslated word appears before the Greek translated as "house". It is either the article "the", if the next word is "house", or the pronoun, "this", if the next word means "seeming to have been true."

The word translated as "house" could be the word that means a "dwelling place", "room", "meeting hall", "substance," and "ruling family." It is any dwelling place but not exclusively a separate house. It is not another Greek work, also translated as "house" that has more of the sense of an "estate". It is, however, the word Christ uses (Mat 10:6 and Mat 15:24) to describe "the house of Israel."

However, this could also be another Greek word meaning "seeming to have been truth."

Normally, we could tell which of the above two nouns was right which by the form of the word before it, but in this case, that word two meanings. This seems like an intentional play on words. One that comes, at the end of the verse, like a punch line, unlike the English, where it appears in the middle.

"Unto you" is a form of the second person pronoun that is usually an indirect object, but which has several other uses as well. It can be "to you", "for you", "by you", or "as you" in a comparison.

The word translated as "Is left" primarily means "to let fall", "to let go" or "to send away." This same word is usually translated as "leave", "forgive", "suffer", and "let" in the New Testament. It is in the present tense but the form indicates the subject is acting on itself, "leaves itself."


The word translated as "house" means "house" but also "seeming to be true." 

The Spoken Version: 

"See!" he declared, addressing the crowd and motioning as though he was exposing his opponents.

"It has let itself fall down on you," he said, making a gesture of a house falling with both hands. "This house, that seemed to be true."


ἰδοὺ "Behold is from idou, which means "to behold", "to see," and "to perceive." It acts as an adverbial phrase in this form meaning "Lo! Behold!" and "See there!' It is a form of the verb eido, which means "to see."

ἀφίεται (verb 3rd sg pres ind mp))"Is left" is from aphiemi, which means "to let fall", "to send away", "give up", "hand over", "to let loose", "to get rid of", "to leave alone", "to pass by", "to permit," and "to send forth from oneself."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "Unto you" is from humin the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

” Untranslated. It is either the Greek article, (article sg masc nom) "the," which usually proceeds a noun or (pron sg neut nom) the pronoun from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. -- The word translated as "that" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

οἶκος "House" is from one of two words. The noun, (noun sg masc nom) oikos, which means "house", "dwelling place", "room", "home", "meeting hall", "household goods", "substance," and "ruling family." It is any dwelling place but not exclusively a separate house. OR the participle, used as a noun [uncommon] (part sg perf act neut nom) eoika, a verb that means "to be like," or, as a participle "seeming like", "fitting", "seeming truth", i.e. "probable", "reasonable", "likelihood", "probability", "reasonable", "fair", and "equitable."

ὑμῶν”. (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." -- The word translated as "your" is plural addressing a group of Jesus's listeners.

Related Verses: 

Jul 9 2016