Matthew 13:32 Which indeed is the least

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Parables, Parable of the Mustard Seed

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The least truly is of all these seeds. When, however, it might grown up greater than those herbs it is, and it becomes a tree so enabling to show up, those winged ones of sky, and to settle among its branches.

KJV : 

Matthew 13:32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Below the surface, almost many words here refer to a child growing up in a family. This verse uses a different vocabulary than the parallel version in Mark 4:32 The simple point here is that the value (i.e size) of progress does not depend on the size the initial knowledge.

NIV : 

Matthew 13:32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

Wordplay: 

The "smaller of all the seeds" also means "the younger of all offspring." 

A "tree" and its "branches" are symbolic of the family tree. 

The word for "of the air" is usually translated as "heaven" and also means "the universe." 
The word translated as "birds" means "winged one" and are symbolic of spirits, especially when coupled with the word for "heaven" or "universe." 

The word translated as "branch" also means "offshoot." 

My Takeaway: 

The right ideas grow into the base of a whole field of productive though

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

(pron sg neut nom/acc ) "Which" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

μικρότερον [13 verses](adv comp) Least" is from mikros, which means "small", "little," and "young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

μέν (partic) "Indeed" is from men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

πάντων (adj pl neut gen) "Of all" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

τῶν (article pl neut gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

σπερμάτων, [7 verses](noun pl neut gen) "Seed" is sperma, which means "seed", "sperm", "origin", "race", "descent," and "offspring."

ὅταν (adv/conj) "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)." -- The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

δὲ (conj) "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").

αὐξηθῇ [6 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj pass) "It is grown" is from auxano, which means to "increase", "increase in power", "strengthen", "exalt by one's deeds", "glorify", "exalt by one's deeds", "glorify", "amplify", "exaggerate", "bring up," and "sacrifice." In the passive, it means "grow," and "increase" is size, strength, or power.

μεῖζον (adj sg neut acc comp) "The greatest" is from meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

τῶν (article pl neut gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

λαχάνων [3 verses](noun pl neut gen) "Among herbs" is lachanon, which generally means "garden plants" as an opposite of wild plants, "garden herbs," and "vegetables"

ἐστὶν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

καὶ (prep) "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."

γίνεται (verb 3rd sg pres ind mp) "Becometh" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to happen", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

δένδρον, [9 verses](noun sg neut nom/acc) "A tree" is from dendron (more commonly spelled dendreon), which means "tree", "fruit-tree", "tall plants (such as rattan) ""stick," and "timber."

ὥστε [9 verses](adv/conj) "So that" is from hoste, which marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing, "as being", "inasmuch as," expresses 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." With the infinitive, it shows the actual or intended results of a thing.

ἐλθεῖν (verb aor inf act) "Come" is from erchomai, which means "to start, ""to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

τὰ (article pl neut nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -

πετεινὰτοῦ [10 verses](adj pl neut nom) "Birds" is peteinon, which as an adjective means "able to fly", "full-fledged," and "winged," and, as a noun, "winged fowl," and "a bird."

οὐρανοῦ” (noun sg masc gen) "Of the air" 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."

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.

κατασκηνοῖν [3 verses] (verb aor inf act)"Lodge" is from kataskênoô, which means "to camp" and "to take up quarters" but specifically means "to settle" when applied to birds.

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".

τοῖς (article pl masc dat))  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").  -

κλάδοις (noun pl masc dat) "Branches" is klados, which means "branches", "twig", "shoot," and "branch" of a blood vessel.

αὐτοῦ.” (adj sg neut gen)"thereof" 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Which -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "which" in the Greek source. The verse  begins with an article "the" before "least."

indeed -- The "indeed" here is a particle, which. when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" take on the meaning "one one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the - -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

least - (WF) The word translated as "least" is the comparative not superlative form ("smaller") of the word for "small" and 'young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

all -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas

seeds: -- "Seeds" also means "source' and "offspring." They are Christ's symbol for the "source" of knowledge and of the offspring of families.

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

when -- The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

grown,--  "It is grown" is from a passive form of a Greek verb that means "to grow large", "to increase in power," and "to grow up." It is phrased as something that might happen. In English, this is assumed from the "when" that introduces the clause.

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

greatest  -- (WF) "Greatest" is an adjective which is the comparative form of the word meaning "big" or "great." It means "bigger", "higher", "longer", "greater" and simply, "superior." When it is introduced by an article, it means "the greater." It is not the superlative form but the comparative.

among -- (WW) This word "among"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  In a comparison,  as we have here, it means "than". It is not usually translated as "among."

herbs,  - The term translated as "herbs" but generally means "garden plants" as an opposite of wild plants. The point here is cultivation. "Cultivation" was a sign of civilization rather than the wild state of things. Mustard plant are one of the oldest known cultivated plants. Cultivation is also symbolic of educating children.

and - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

becometh -  The word translated as "becometh" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is a verb where the subject affects itself as opposed to someone else changing it.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tree,  - The word for "tree" most commonly means fruit bearing trees. However, mustard plants are not "trees" in this sense, but bushes that must be replanted every year.

so that -- "So that" is an adverb that marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing. -- "So that" is an adverb that marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing. With the infinitive,  as we see here, it shows the actual or intended results of a thing, "so enabling."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

birds  - The Greek word translated as "birds" is normally an adjective means "able to fly" and "winged," but it is used as a noun here, so "those that can fly" or, more simply, "birds." Jesus always uses this word to refer to birds generally, not the one of the more common normal Greek words that means "bird," but those other words are not used inthe Septuagint.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the -- (IW) There is  nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

air  - (CW) The word translated as "air is from a word that is almost always translated as "heaven" in te NT. It also 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. Though heaven is used in Christianity as the place of the afterlife, Christ never uses it that way though he does use it to mean the home of the Father.

come  - -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more. It is an infinitive, but the introductory adverb makes infinitives work like active verb.

and  -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

lodge  - The word translated as "lodge" is a verb that means "to camp" and "to take up quarters" but specifically means "to settle" when applied to birds.

in  - The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

branches  -  The word translated as "branches" also means "twigs" or "offshoots."

thereof.  - --  The word translated as "thereof" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. Here it is possessive. This pronoun follows the noun so "of it."

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "smallest" is not a superlative, but a comparative, "smaller" or "lesser."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "greatest" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "greatest" is not a superlative, but a comparative, "greater" or "bigger."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "among" should be "than."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "air" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "air" is usually translated as "heaven" but it means "sky."

NIV Analysis: 

Though -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "though" in the Greek source. The verse  begins with an article "the" before "least."

untranslated "indeed"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  particle, which. when used alone. expresses certainty, "truly" and "certainly". However, when used with the conjunction translated here as "but" take on the meaning "one one hand..." with the "on the other hand" identified by the "but" phrase.

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the - -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

smallest - The word translated as "smallest" is the comparative not superlative form ("smaller") of the word for "small" and 'young." It is one of several words Christ uses to refer to children.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

all -- The word translated as "all" is the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas

seeds: -- "Seeds" also means "source' and "offspring." They are Christ's symbol for the "source" of knowledge and of the offspring of families.

yet -- The Greek word translated as "yet " means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. 

when -- The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

grows,--  (WF)  "It is grown" is from a passive form of a Greek verb that means "to grow large", "to increase in power," and "to grow up." It is phrased as something that might happen. In English, this is assumed from the "when" that introduces the clause.  However, this is a passive form, "is grown."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

the -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source.

largest -- (WF) "Largest " is an adjective which is the comparative form of the word meaning "big" or "great." It means "bigger", "higher", "longer", "greater" and simply, "superior." When it is introduced by an article, it means "the greater." It is not the superlative form but the comparative.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  In a comparison,  as we have here, it means "than". It is not usually translated as "among."

garden plants ,  - The term translated as "herbs" but generally means "garden plants" as an opposite of wild plants. The point here is cultivation. "Cultivation" was a sign of civilization rather than the wild state of things. Mustard plant are one of the oldest known cultivated plants. Cultivation is also symbolic of educating children.

and - The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

becomes -  The word translated as "becomes" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It is a verb where the subject affects itself as opposed to someone else changing it.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

tree,  - The word for "tree" most commonly means fruit bearing trees. However, mustard plants are not "trees" in this sense, but bushes that must be replanted every year.

so that -- "So that" is an adverb that marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing. -- "So that" is an adverb that marks the power or virtue by which one does a thing. With the infinitive,  as we see here, it shows the actual or intended results of a thing, "so enabling."

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

birds  - The Greek word translated as "birds" is normally an adjective means "able to fly" and "winged," but it is used as a noun here, so "those that can fly" or, more simply, "birds." Jesus always uses this word to refer to birds generally, not the one of the more common normal Greek words that means "bird," but those other words are not used in the Septuagint.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that required the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

untranslated "air"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "air" is from a word that is almost always translated as "heaven" in te NT. It also 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. Though heaven is used in Christianity as the place of the afterlife, Christ never uses it that way though he does use it to mean the home of the Father.

come  - -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more. It is an infinitive, but the introductory adverb makes infinitives work like active verb.

and  -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

perch - The word translated as "lodge" is a verb that means "to camp" and "to take up quarters" but specifically means "to settle" when applied to birds.

in  - The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

its.  - --  The word translated as "its" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. Here it is possessive. This pronoun follows the noun so "of it."

branches  -  The word translated as "branches" also means "twigs" or "offshoots."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "though" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "indeed" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "smallest" is not a superlative, but a comparative, "smaller" or "lesser."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "grows" is an active verb, but a passive one, "is grown."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "greatest" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "smallest" is not a superlative, but a comparative, "smaller" or "lesser."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "air" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "air" is usually translated as "heaven" but it means "sky."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "branches is not shown in the English translation.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

The tree was a symbol for the naturally productive assets of nature as opposed to fields which must be planted each year and, as such, are symbolic of a skilled person. Here, the "tree" is symbolic of the family tree with branches.

The Spoken Version: 

The Master paused again, patiently letter the crowd think.
“But a mustard seed is smaller than anything!” someone complained.
“It is certainly the smaller of all the seeds,” the Master agreed but then he asked. “When, however, it is grown up?”
Many in the crowd answered, “It is big!”
“It is bigger than those garden plant,” the Master agreed again, gesturing toward a garden in the distance. “And it becomes a tree.”
“So the realm of the sky starts small and gets bigger?” someone suggested.
“It reaches to the sky,” someone else suggested.
“Allowing us to climb to the sky?” asked someone else, “Like the massagers on Jacob’s ladder?”
“So enabling those winged ones of sky to show up,” agreed the Master, “And to settle among its branches.”
“So the Father in the skies grows it like an earthly father grows a family tree!” someone else suggested.

Front Page Date: 

Dec 21 2020