Matthew 11:11 ...Among those that are born of women

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Honestly, I am telling you all, no one has awakened himself among offspring of women higher than John the Dipper. However, the lesser one among the realm of the skies? Higher than he is!

KJV : 

Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is a play on words. The topic is one that Christ addresses more directly in an upcoming verse, Matthew 11:14.

This verse begins with the "verily" phrase, which is used frequently by Jesus to introduce his teachings. Its meaning is discussed in detail in this article.

The word translated as "I say" 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.

The word translated as "among" also means "within", "with," or "among." In the Greek, this phrase appears later in the verse, after the subject and verb. It is translated later in the sentence as "in."

"Them that are born" is an adjective that means "begotten," or "born," and, as a noun, "offspring" or "progeny." Itis, however, plural, so "children" is the only English word that works. 

"Of women" is the word for "woman" in the form of a possessive.

"There hath...risen" is a Greek word that verb "to arouse from sleep", "to raise up," and "to produce." It is the same word as Christ uses to discuss "raising" or "awakening" the dead. Here it appears as in a form which indicates the subject is has been acted by himself. The sense is that he has awakened himself. This communicates that idea that he was among those who had awakened from sleep. Prophets and apostles are those who are in touch with God and arisen from sleep, away to the nature of reality. This word gives the word translated as "greater" the sense of "higher". 

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

"Greater than" is a word that means "greater" in any number of ways, including "higher" which fits with the "raise" verb here. In also means "higher in authority."

"John" is the Greek form of the name "John", Joanon. 

"The Baptist" is a noun that means "one who dips." In English, we would say "the Dipper". 

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

"Least" is a word that means "small" and "little" applied to anything, size, power, age, quantity, rank, or influence. Christ usually uses it to refer to children. It is in a comparative form, meaning "lesser", not the superlative form.  

"Kingdom of heaven" is a common phrase that we have discussed extensively in this article.

The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

The word translated as "heaven" means sky, the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. It is plural, "skies". 

"Greater" is an adjective which is the comparative form of the word meaning "big" or "great." It means "bigger", "higher", "longer", "greater" and simply, "superior." 

The "than he" is the Greek word commonly translated as pronouns in English, but it has a few shades of meaning our pronouns do not have. The word technically means "the same". It is in the form that is used for comparisons. So another sense here could be "higher as the same". 

The final phrase "is greater than he" reads as a joke since Christ is saying that someone is the sky is higher than someone on earth.

Jesus doesn't actually say that John is less than the least of those in heaven, but he says that the small in heaven are greater or higher than he. This first very much with what we see as Jesus explanation of the evolution of spirit that Christ describes in the Beatitudes. "The meek" inherit the earth, but those who are greater go onto make a spiritual climb that starts at the hunger for perfection.


 The term "risen" means both rising in status and being awaken from the dead. The final statement is humorous because on one level he is saying that someone in the sky is higher than someone on earth. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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." --

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

οὐκ (partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἐγήγερται (3rd sg perf ind mp) "There hath...risen" is from egeiro, which means "to awaken", "to stir up," and "to rouse."

ἐν (prep) "Among" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

γεννητοῖς [uncommon](adj pl masc dat) "Them that are born" is from gennetos, which is an adjective that means "begotten", "engendered", "propagated," or "born." When used as a noun, we might translate it as "child", "progeny," or "offspring."

γυναικῶν (noun pl fem gen) "Of women" is from gyne, which means "woman (as opposed to man)", "wife", "spouse", "mortal woman (as opposed to a goddess)," and "female mate (among animals)."

μείζων (adj sg masc nom comp ) "Greater than" is from meizon which means "bigger", "higher," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" "vast", "high,"" long", "mighty," "great" and similar ideas.

Ἰωάνου (noun sg masc gen) "John" is from Ioannes, which is the Greek form of the name "John."

τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ: (noun sg masc gen) "The baptist" is from baptistes, which means "one who dips," and "baptizer."

 (article sg masc nom ) "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." It's noun is after the word below."

δὲ "But" is from de which means "but" and "on the other hand." It is the particle that joins sentences in an adversarial way but can also be a weak connective ("and") and explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

μικρότερος (adj sg masc nom comp ) "Little ones" is from mikros, which means "small", "little", "unimportant," and "young." It is one of the several words Christ uses to refer to children.

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῇ βασιλείᾳ (noun sg fem dat) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom", "dominion", "hereditary monarchy", "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τῶν οὐρανῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Of Heaven" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky", "heaven as the seat of the gods", "the sky", "the universe," and "the climate." -.

μείζων (adj sg masc nom comp ) "Greater than" is from meizon which means "bigger", "higher," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" "vast", "high,"" long", "mighty," "great" and similar ideas.

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen ) "He" 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."

ἐστίν.(3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 25 2017