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Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatever
Context:

Jesus is speaking to a crowd including his disciples.

Spoken to:
audience
Greek Verse:

Matthew 23:3  πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν εἴπωσιν ὑμῖν ποιήσατε καὶ τηρεῖτε, κατὰ δὲ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν μὴ ποιεῖτε, λέγουσιν γὰρ καὶ οὐ ποιοῦσιν.

KJV Verse:

Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

NIV Verse:

Matthew 23:3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Literal Alternative:

All things, certainly, as much as, when they tell you, do and observe. After, however, those deeds of theirs you don't want to do. Because they talk and they don't really do.

Hidden Meaning:

The KJV translation leaves out, skips over, rearranges, or conflates a number of key ideas here.  Hidden in this verse is a test for authority which is very consistent with the rest of Jesus's teaching: that what we do matter more than what we say. However, Jesus's very clear emphasis on "doing," so evident in this verse since the word is used three times, does not fit comfortably with some denominations. The NIV version didn't like many of Jesus's words so rewrote the line entirely.

The last two phrases are a lot clearer if we make them stand alone as their own sentences. "After, however, those deeds of theirs you don't want to do. Because they talk and they don't really do." The second part like the answer to an unrecorded question, given Jesus's speaking style.

Wordplay:

The "after" is used to apply to both the watching and the "don't do" by the placement of the conjunction, however. 

Two different "nots" are used here, one of opinion and one of fact. 

My Takeaway:

We like to tell others what to do but we don't follow our own advice.

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About this Site

I started this site fifteen years ago.  My original award-winning work as a "techno-linguist" was in ancient Chinese. I wanted to bring the same computer search and analysis techniques to explore something more important: the original Greek of Jesus's words. To understand why this was important to me, you may want to read this article on how Jesus's meaning is lost.

This site does not promote any religious point of view. On the contrary, it seeks to avoid the competing and evolving religious dogmas that have shaped Biblical translation for centuries.  I purposely use "nonreligious" sources for Greek word meaning, rejoining the study of Biblical Greek with the broader study of ancient Greek. My goal is simply to identify how listeners of Jesus's time would have heard him.

Jesus' words are unique for three reasons.

  1. His words were spoken, not written. Spoken language is inherently different than written language.
  2. His words changed the meaning of words, determining even how later NT authors' used the Greek.
  3. His words were the basis of a unique historical revolution in the way people think.

Most of the on-line material on "Biblical Greek" is largely tautological. It explains the Greek only in terms of how it has been translated into English in the Bible. It flows from the ways that the  Gospel was taught from the Latin Vulgate. I respect this work and use it daily. However,  most of my work takes place outside of this tradition, researching the use of the Greek closer to the time of Jesus, especially the Greek OT, the Septuagint.

The Bible has been such a powerful force in history that it has changed the meaning of many words in English, Latin, and Greek. However, the Greek of Jesus's words has been faithfully preserved for centuries despite the changing religious fashions. These fashions, unfortunately, affect each successive English translation of the Bible, moving it further and further from the Greek.  I stopped analyzing the NLT version because so much of it fails to connect to anything in Jesus's Greek. It is not a translation but how a group of people today feel about the ideas in other English translations. The Message Bible version is even worse.

This site is offered for those who care about fidelity to Scripture as passed down for two thousand years.

Most Recent Question

Question:
Does John 6:37 mean that once I’m saved, no matter what sin I do, if I come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and repent from that sin, I will not be cast out?
Answer:

I don't see anything about asking forgiveness and repenting nor anything about "being saved." All of these are Christian concepts invented after Jesus. He doesn't use these ideas at all. What is translated as "forgive" means "let go" as in dropping something. What is translated as "repent" means "change your mind" as in thinking differently. What gets translated as "being saved" is the idea of being "rescued" not from "evil" but from "worthlessness."

None of this is in the verses. Or in its context. His ideas in John 6:37 are simpler.  You are either returning to Jesus or moving away from him. Those who the Father has given him...