Matthew 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant man,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 13:45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The rule of the universes is similar to a traveling trader looking for beautiful pearls of wisdom.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Here, the pearl is a symbol of the intellectual realm. As in "pearls of wisdom" or "pearls before swine," it is Christs symbol for powerful intellectual ideas. The lesson here is a little different from the last because the sense of selling here is more negative.

The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Here, it is plural and in a form that could be either the object or subject of the verb. Christ does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "rule" seems more appropriate.

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

"Unto merchant man" is from a noun that "one who goes on ship-board as a passenger", "trader", "a trafficker,""a traveler", "a merchant," and "a dealer." It has a strong sense of one who travels as he trades, not someone who just buys and sells.

The Greek verb translated as "seeking" has a variety of meaning, but "to look for" comes the closest to capturing most of them in English.

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

The word for "pearl" is a metaphor in Greek for "wisdom" as we would say in English "pearls of wisdom."

Greek Vocabulary: 

Πάλιν "Again" is from palin (palin), which means "back", "backward", "contradiction", "again", "once more," and "in turn."

ὁμοία (adj pl neut acc) Like is from homoios, which means "like", "resembling", "the same", "equal in force, "a match for one", "suiting", "of the same rank", "alike", "in like manner," and "equally."

ὁμοία (adj pl neut acc) Like is from homoios, which means "like", "resembling", "the same", "equal in force, "a match for one", "suiting", "of the same rank", "alike", "in like manner," and "equally."

ἐστὶν (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.")

βασιλεία (noun sg fem nom )"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." --

ἐμπόρῳ (adj sg masc dat) "Unto a merchant man" is from emporos, which means "one who goes on ship-board as a passenger", "trader", "a trafficker,""a traveler", "a merchant," and "a dealer."

ζητοῦντι (part sg pres act masc dat) "Seeking" is from zeteo, which means "inquire for", "search for", "seek after", "desire", and "feel the want of."

καλοὺς (adj pl masc acc) "Goodly" 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."

μαργαρίτας: (noun pl masc acc) "Pearls" is from margarites, which means "pearl," and "a precious stone." It is a metaphor for "wisdom."

Wordplay: 

The word for "pearl" is a metaphor for "wisdom." 

The word for "merchant man" means a traveling traders, not just one who buys and sells, but one who physically searches. 

Related Verses: