Matthew 15:20 These are [the things] which defile a man:

KJV Verse: 

Mat 15:20 These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

These are the things exposing a person: but to eat it with unwashed hands does not really expose a person.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Other than the issue with "defile," which doesn't mean "defile," the Greek here is pretty much as translated.

In the Greek the "unwashen" does not described the hands. It is what is eaten.

The "these" is from a pronoun that can mean "this" or "that," the nearer or the further depending on usage.

The "are" verb here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition.

The word translated as "the things that defile" is a verb in the form of a noun or adjective, ending in "-ing" in English. It means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." Only here in Matthew and in the parallel verses in Mark is it translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of sacred as that which is kept separate from that which is common and everyday.

The Greek word for "a man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in plural.

The word translated as "to eat" means "eat" or "devour" It is the form of an infinitive "to eat," which in Greek can be the subject of a sentence.

There is a Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun but here appears in a form that does not match the following noun, "hands" because it is in the form of the object of "eat" so it is translated as a pronoun.

There is not "with" appearing here, but the following two words, "unwashen hands" are in a form that makes them the instrument by which something can be done or "with" that instrument.

The word "unwashen" is an adjective that means that something is "unwashed" or has never been washed.

The Greek word for "hand" means "hand and arm," and like "hand" in English, it has a lot of meanings including "an act or deed", "a body of people," and the measurement "handful."

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. This can be emphasized by adding "in fact" or "really."

The word translated as "defileth" is a verb in the form of a noun or adjective, ending in "-ing" in English. It means primarily "to communicate," and "to share." Only here in Matthew and in the parallel verses in Mark is it translated as "defile," which has little to do with the original Greek, but it is a play on the Jewish concept of sacred as that which is kept separate from that which is common and everyday.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ταῦτά (adj pl neut nom/acc) "These things" is from tauta, which is a referring pronoun meaning "these", "this", "that," and "here." It can mean the nearer or the further depending on usage. As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why." -

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Are" 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.")

τὰ κοινοῦντα (part pl pres act neut nom) The word translated as "defiles" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information", "make common", "share", "undertake together", "make common cause in", "take counsel with", "take counsel with", "consult", "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν ἄνθρωπον, (noun sg masc acc) "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.

τὸ (article sg neut acc) "Who" is the Greek definite article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

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").

ἀνίπτοις (adj pl fem dat) "unwashen" is from anipto,"which means "unwashen", "unprepared," and "not washed out."

χερσὶν (noun pl fem dat) "With...Hands" is from cheir which means "the hand and arm," and "with the help of agency of another." Like "hand" in English, it has a lot of meanings including "an act or deed", "a body of people," and the measurement "handful."

φαγεῖν (verb aor inf act ) "To eat" is from phago (phago), which is a form of the word, phagein, which means to eat", "to eat up," and "to devour."

οὐ "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. --

κοινοῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) The word translated as "defileth" is koinoô, which means to "communicate," impart information", "make common", "share", "undertake together", "make common cause in", "take counsel with", "take counsel with", "consult", "to be partner or partaker," and "have communication with."

τὸν ἄνθρωπον. (noun sg masc acc) "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.

Wordplay: 

Related Verses: