Matthew 16:6 Take heed and beware of the leaven

KJV Verse: 

Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Observe and guard from the self-propagating of the dedicated and the aristocrats.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The Greek word for "spirit" means "breath" and leaven puts breath, that is, air, into dough, making it rise. The use of Herod is unusual. This seems to be the only reference to him in Jesus's words.  The key word in this verse is mistranslated as "of" when it actually means "from" in a very specific way. The point of this verse is that we cannot see the "leaven" in dough. To see if dough is leavened or not, we must observe how it behaves. The leaven itself is a symbol. Jesus only mentions the Sadducees here and in a followup to this statement in Matthew 16:11.

KJV Analysis: 

Take heed "Take heed" is from a Greek verb, which means "to see with the eyes", "to look," and "to observe." It is a metaphor for mental seeing, that is, perceiving. However, it is one of the many words that Christ uses to mean "see." He seems to use this word more in the sense of "observe," in the sense of watching closely.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

beware "Beware" is from a Greek verb which means "to hold to", "to offer", "to turn toward a thing," and "to pay attention." Only in the NT is it ever translated as "beware." The idea is not to be distracted.

of -- The word translated as "of" is not the normal "of" that indicates possession. It is a very different word that means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. Here, it is referring to the "leaven" as the source.

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"). See this article for more. 

leaven "Leaven" means "yeast" the culture that spreads through flour to create the "bubbles" that make bread rise. It is Christ's symbol for ideas that propagate themselves. Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to leaven as well and the ideas of the Pharisees.

of -- The word translated as "of" is not the normal "of" that indicates possession. It is a very different word that means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. Here, it is referring to the "leaven" as the source.

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"). See this article for more. 

Pharisees -- The Pharisees is a Greek word that means "dedicated," "distinguished,"  or "separated". The root is an Aramaci word that means "distringhish." They saw themselves "separated from common people as those more dedicated to following all the purity rules of tradition. These snes is 

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

of  -- There is no "of" in the Greek. It is added for grammatical reasons.

the   --  -- There is no "the" in the Greek. It is added for grammatical reasons.

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

Sadducees.

 

The Sadducees were the aristocrats of Jewish society, associated with the temple priests, who did not believe in an afterlife, but that purity was rewarded in this life, so their status as aristocrats itself was a sign of God's favor.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὁρᾶτε (verb 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Take heed" is from horao, which means "to see with the eyes", "to look", "to observe," "see", "aim", "have sight", "behold", "keep in sight," and as a metaphor of mental sight, "discern," and "perceive."

καὶ (conj/adv) "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."

προσέχετε (verb 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Beware" is the Greek prosecho, which means "hold to", "to offer", "turn to or toward, ""to turn your mind toward, ""to be on one's guard against", "to take heed", "to pay attention", "to devote oneself to", "to attach oneself", "to continue", "to hold fast to [a thing], ""to have in addition," or "pay court to."

ἀπὸ (prep) "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τῆς ζύμης (noun sg fem gen)"Leaven" is sometimes translated as "yeast." It is from the Greek zyme, which means any kind of bread or beer "yeast." It is from a root word meaning "to mix." This was a time when yeast didn't come in little packets but was maintained as a live culture, in this case, in the raw bread dough itself.

τῶν Φαρισαίων (noun pl masc gen) "Pharisees" is from Pharisaios, which means "the separated", "the separate ones", " separatist" and refers to the religious sect. The word comes from the Hebrew, pharash, which means "to distinguish." This is the primary meaning of the Greek word krino, which is usually translated as "judge" in the Gospels. What we describe as "pure" or "sacred" was described in Hebrew as "separate," that is, separate from everyday items.

καὶ (conj/adv) "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."

Σαδδουκαίων. "Sadducees" is from Saddoukaios, which was the name of a Jewish sect that believed that all law came from the Torah, rather than Jewish tradition as the Pharisees believed. They represented the wealthy aristocracy of Jewish society. Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife or the existence of spirits or angels.

 

Wordplay: 

Leaven is Christ's symbol for self-propagating ideas. 

Related Verses: 

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

What keeps a culture alive? What is the inner essence that maintains a culture? Jesus uses the symbolism of leaven to capture the idea of the inner spirit of a culture.  He uses it to describe both the kingdom of heaven (in a verse discussed here) and the spirit behind the Pharisees and Saducees.