Matthew 12:12 How much better then is a man

KJV Verse: 

Matthew 12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

How much, really, does a man differ from a sheep? Therefore, it is allowed on the Sabbath beauty to produce. 

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

It is easy to miss the inherent humor here. The verse begins with a question. The answer can be "a lot" or "very little", but both answers make Christ's point. The fact that there are two answers is funny. 

"Is better than" is a verb that means "to carry over", "to be different from," and "to quarrel." Here, the "be different from" meaning is the strongest.

The Greek word translated as "therefore" primarily means :"certainly" and "really". This word creates the humor, indicating that there isn't that much difference. 

"A" man" is the Greek word for "man" and, in the plural, "people". 

"A sheep" is Christ's symbol for his followers. The Greek word refers to any domesticated animal.

The "wherefore" here is a different adverb from the one above. Its primary meaning is "therefore", expressing the result of a thing, 

"Lawful" is a verb, which means "it is possible" and "it is allowed." It generally refers to something within someone's power, or, in this case with the negative, something outside of someone's power. It is a rare word, but we saw it used recently in Matthew 12:4.

The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

The word translated as "good" means "beautiful," "noble," or "of good quality." See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πόσῳ" (adj sg masc dat) How much" is from posos) which means "of what quantity," [in distance] "how far." [of number] how far," [of time] "how long," [of value] "how much", "how great", "how many," and "how much."

οὖν (adv) "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

διαφέρει (3rd sg pres ind act) "Is...better than" is from diaphero, which means to "carry over or across", "carry from one to another", "go through life [of Time]", "bear through", "bear to the end", "go through with", "carry different ways", "spread...fame abroad", "tear asunder," "defer or reserve for judgment", "differ", "make the difference", "to be of importance", "have an interest at stake," "prevail", "quarrel," "struggle", "come between", "intervene," and, Pass. "be at variance and maintain on the contrary." quarrel." When uses as a noun, "that which makes a difference", "the difference," and "the odds.

ἄνθρωπος (noun sg masc nom ) "A man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

προβάτου. (noun sg neut gen) "Sheep" is from probaton, which means any domesticated four-footed animal, "sheep", "cattle", "herds," and "flocks.

ὥστε (adv)  "Wherefore" is from hoste, which marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing, "as being", "inasmuch as," expresses the the actual or intended result of the action in the principal clause: "as", "for," implying "on condition that," at the beginning of a sentence, to mark a strong conclusion, "and so", "therefore," and with subj. "in order that."

ἔξεστιν (3rd sg pres ind act) "It is l awful" is from exesti, which means "to be allowed", "is possible," and, in the passive, "to be in one's power."

τοῖς σάββασιν (noun sg masc dat) "The Sabbath " is from sabbaton, which means "Sabbath", "seven days of week," and "first day of week."

καλῶς (adj pl masc acc) "Good" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."

ποιεῖν. (verb pres inf act) "Do" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider," "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

Wordplay: 

The phrase "how great is a man [compared with] a sheep?" also means "how different is a man [from] a sheep.

Related Verses: 

Jul 22 2017