Matthew 10:42 And whoever shall give to drink

KJV Verse: 

Mat 10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Also, whoever might water one of these little ones with a cold cup alone in the name a student, honestly, I'm telling you all, never ever loses that reward of his.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is full of wordplay in Greek and, on the face of it, it says something very different than the KJV and most other biblical translations offer. Most Bibles add a key word to make sense of it, but that word isn't there for a good reason if the verse is read as Christ said it. It also has a lot in it that is missing from the version in Mark, Mar 9:41. It is phrased somewhere between a promise of forgiveness and a threat punishment.

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also."

The word translated as "whoever" is a demonstrative pronoun("this", "that"), but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

An untranslated Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone.

The interesting part starts with "should give to drink," which is from a word that means "to give a drink", "to water", "to moisten," and metaphorically "to saturate one's mind. It is not the word the Christ always uses for
give" or "to drink" but a word that he rarely uses. This is an indication that he is using it for its metaphorical meaning. It is also not in the future tense, but in a form that indicates something that might happen at some time, past, present, or future.

"Little ones" is from an adjective that means "small" or "little." It is also used to mean "the least" of a group.

The word for "cup" also generally means "receptacle."

The word translated as "cold," has a number of negative meanings: "ineffectual", "vain", "cold-hearted", "heartless," and "silly." However, it is an uncommon word that Christ uses to play on a word he uses commonly that he uses to mean "mind" and "soul."

There is not Greek word for "water" in this verse. The cup is described by the previous adjective used as a noun. "Water" is added in the KJV to create a certain meaning here and that translation is repeated by all other translations. This is not the meaning here, unless we assume Christ meant it but didn't say it. However, Christ uses "water" as a major symbol, so this seems unlikely.

The Greek phrase translated as "in the name" is much more complicated than it might at first appear. It can simply means a "name" as in English, this can be many things. It doesn't mean the thing itself, but what people call it. For example, it can mean a "false name," or "a pretense" as we say "this is a marriage in name only." It can also mean representing another person's authority, as we say, "he is acting in the name of the boss."

The word translated as "disciple" means learner, disciple). Methetes is not the words used in the previous verse to describe either a "prophet" or a "righteous" man, which were terms used to describe one connected to God and one connected to society.

The "verily I say unto you" phrase is used frequently by Christ. Its meaning is discussed in detail in this article.

"In no wise" is from the use of two different Greek negatives, one that negates facts and another that negates opinions.

The word translated as "he shall lose" means to destroy or demolish. It is not the future tense, but in a form indicating something that happens at some time past, present, or future.

The Greek word translated as "reward" really means "compensation," what you receive for doing work. In Christ's teaching, there is spiritual compensation and worldly compensation. Its use raises the question, what is the reward of someone who offers a "cold cup" of learning? It is punishment or reward?

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ (conj) "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."

ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Whoever" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἂν (particle) "Untranslated is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

ποτίσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "Should give to drink" is potizo which means "to give a drink", "to water", "to moisten," and metaphorically "to saturate one's mind."

ἕνα (noun sg masc acc) "One" is from heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

τῶν μικρῶν (adj pl masc gen ) "Of little ones" is from mikros, which means "small", "little," and "young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

τούτων (adj pl masc gen) "These" is from toutou, which is a demonstrative pronoun that means "this", "here", "the nearer," and "the familiar."

ποτήριον (noun sg neut acc) "Cup" is from potêrion (poterion), which means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple.

ψυχροῦ (adj sg neut gen) "Cold" is from psychros, which means "cold", "ineffectual", "vain", "cold-hearted", "heartless", "indifferent", "flat", "lifeless", "insipid", "feeble," and "silly."

There is no Greek word for "water" in this verse.

μόνον (adj sg neut acc) "Only" is from monos, which means alone,""solitary," "only," "single," "unique," "made in one piece," "without [someone]," "only [something]", "unique", "one above all others," and "on one condition only."

εἰς (prep) "In" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

ὄνομα (noun sg neut acc) "Name" is from onoma, which means "name." It means both the reputation of "fame," and "a name and nothing else," as opposed to a real person. Acting in someone's name means to act on their behalf, as their representative.

μαθητοῦ, (noun sg masc gen ) "Disciples" is from mathetes which means "learner", "pupil", "apprentice," and "student."

ἀμὴν (exclaim) "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep." -- The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

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

οὐ μὴ (partic) "In no wise" is from ou me, the two forms of Greek negative used together. Ou is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. Mê (me) is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

ἀπολέσῃ (3rd sg aor subj act) "He shall...lose" is from apollymi, which means "to demolish", "to lay waste", "to lose", "to perish", "to die", "to cease to exist," and "to be undone."

τὸν μισθὸν (noun sg masc acc ) "Reward" is from misthos, which means "wages" in the sense of compensation for work done, "pay", "hire", "fee", "recompense," and "reward."

αὐτοῦ. (adj sg masc gen) "His" 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."


 The word translated as "give water" metaphorically means "saturate the mind." The word translated as "cold' is a negative adjective that is very close to the word Christ uses for "mind" and "soul." 

The Spoken Version: 

Jon smiled at this and asked, “And what about those who get stuck with Judas?”
Everyone laughed again but the teacher raised his glass in a toast.
“Also, whoever might refresh one of these little ones with a cold cup alone!” he said, raising his wine cup. “In the name a student! Honestly, I’m telling you all, he never ever loses that reward of his.”
Everyone applauded and this toast ended the formal part of the meeting.

Related Verses: 

Jun 17 2017