Matthew 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 17:27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Since, however, we don't want to trip them up. Having departed, toss a fish hook into the seawater. Not only lift out the first ascending fish but also, having opened its mouth, you are going to discover a coin. Taking that, give [it] to them for mine and yours.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is loaded with words Christ uses to make points about knowledge and understanding, but they don't seem to have anything to do with the topic, which is purely functional, even if it is a miracle. However, since common alternative terms were available, this symbolism does seem to be intentional.

"Notwithstanding" is from the conjunction that is normally translated as "but." It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

The Greek word translated as "lest" is from two words normally translated as "in order that" and "not." The first is a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that." The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done. If it wasn't done, the objective negative of fact would be used. More about the Greek negative in this article.

The key word translate as "offend" here is an Araimaic word in Greek form that is found only in the Bible. It refers to putting a stumbling block before someone so that they trip. In English, we would simply say, "trips you up." Though it doesn't sound like it in English translation, Christ uses this word to make light of his affect on the thinking of others.

The Greek verb translated as "go thou" isn't the common verb almost always translated as "go" in the NT. This word means "to lead over", "depart," and "to carry over." It is usually transalted as "depart." This word, however, uniquely means both "to pursue a course" and "to depart from life." However this word is not a verbal command as transalted in the KJV. It is in the form of a verbal adjective in the passive, "having departed."

There is no conjunction "and" here because the previous verb is not in the form of a verb but an adjectival phrase.

The "into the sea" phrase comes before the verb "cast" but it could be part of that verb phrase. Christ uses the sea as a symbol for the ignorance and turmoil of the world. Much of this relates to Mat 4:19.

The word translated as "cast" has a number of meanings revolving around "throw" as we do in English with both "throw" and "toss." In dice, it means "to throw" the dice, but with the sense of being lucky.

The word for "hook" here is uncommon, at least for Christ. This is the only time it is used. It specifically means a "fish hook" so it suits the context. This word has not other meaning, making it the dog that doesn't bark here. Two other word Christ uses other places, but not here, also mean hook, the word translated as "keys" (which refers to a latch or hook used to close a door, not to the keys to a lock) and the word that is translated as "wolves," which means "hook" (or anythign hook shaped) like a meat hook, that "bites" into something.

"Cometh up" is from a verb which means "go up", "shoot up," and "ascend." It is in the form of an adjective, modifying "fish." It is also a word that means "ascending to higher knowledge." Again, the symbolism is similar to that evoked by Mat 4:19.

The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also."

The one word translated as for "when thou has opened" means "to disclose" or "to lay open." The form of the verb is another adjectival phrase, "opening up." Again, this word is used for revealing truths.

The term used for "thou shalt find" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover." It is usually used by Christ to refer to discovering knowledge.

Here is the second "and" in the series, so more the sense of "but also."

The word translated as "that" is an adjective that highlights its noun as in a specific place.

The word translated as "take" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It too is in the form of an adjectival phrase, not a regular verb.

There is no "and" here because there is only one verb, the following one.

"Give" is the standard word for "give" and "grant." It is in the form of a command.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἵνα "Lest" is from hina, (with me below) which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

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").

μὴ "Lest" is from me (with hina above) which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

σκανδαλίσωμεν (verb 1st pl aor subj act) "Offend" is from skandalizo, which means "to cause to stumble", "to give offense," and "to scandalize."

αὐτούς, (adj pl masc acc) "Them" 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."

πορευθεὶς (part sg aor pass masc nom) "Go thou" is from poreuo which means "make to go", "carry", "convey", "bring", "go", "march," and "proceed." It is almost always translated as "go" or "depart" in the NT. Christ almost always used it to mean "depart."

εἰς "To" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)", "until (of time)", "as much as (of measure or limit)", "as far as (of measure or limit)", "towards (to express relation)", "in regard to (to express relation)", "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

θάλασσαν (noun sg fem acc) "Sea" is from thalassa (thalassa), which means also means "sea", "channel", "well of saltwater," or "sea water."

βάλε (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Cast" is from ballo, which means "to throw", "to let fall," "to cast," "to put", "to pour", "to place money on deposit", "push forward or in front [of animals]", "to shed", "to place", "to pay,"to throw [of dice,]" "to be lucky", "to fall", "to lay as foundation", "to begin to form", "to dash oneself with water," and "to bathe."

ἄγκιστρον (noun sg neut acc) "Hook" is from agkistron which means "fish-hook", "hook of a spindle," and "surgical instrument."

καὶ "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."

τὸν ἀναβάντα (part sg aor act masc acc) "Cometh up" is from anabaino, which means "go up", "mount", "ascend," [of ships] "go onboard", "rise to speak", "ascend to higher knowledge," [of plants] "shoot up," [of events] "result from," [of a male] "mount," and [of hearts] "enter."

πρῶτον (adj sg masc acc) "That first" is from proton, which means (of place) "before,""in front," (in time) "former", "earlier," (of rank) "superior", "foremost," and (philosophically) "first in order of existence,".

ἰχθὺν (noun sg masc acc) "Fish" is from ichthys, which means "fish" and, in the plural, "fish market."

ἆρον (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Take up" is from airo, which means "to lift up", "to raise", "to raise up", "to exalt", "to lift and take away," and "to remove."

καὶ "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."

ἀνοίξας (part sg aor act masc nom) "When thou has opened up" is from anoigo, which means "to open", "to throw open," and "to disclose."

τὸ στόμα (noun sg neut acc) "The mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth", "the organ of speech", "speech", "utterance," "any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen) "His" 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."

εὑρήσεις (verb 2nd sg fut ind act) "Thou shalt find" is from heurisko, which means "to find", "to find out", "to discover", "to devise", "to invent", "to get," and "to gain."

στατῆρα: (noun sg masc acc) "A peice of money" is from stater, which means "standard coin", "one who owes money," and "debtor."

ἐκεῖνον (adj sg masc acc) "That" is from ekeinos (kakeinos), which means "the person there", "that person", "that thing", "in that case", "in that way", "at that place," and "in that manner." "

λαβὼν (part sg aor act masc nom) "Take" is from lambano means to "take", "take hold of", "grasp", "seize", "catch", "overtake", "find out", "detect", "take as", "take [food or drugs]", "understand", "take in hand", "undertake", "take in", "hold", "get", "receive [things]", "receive hospitably", "receive in marriage", "receive as produce", "profit", "admit", "initiate", "take hold of", "lay hold on", "seize and keep hold of", "obtain possession of", "lay hands upon", "find fault with", "censure," "to apprehend with the senses", "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

δὸς (verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Give" is from didomi, which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over", "appoint", "establish," and "to describe."

αὐτοῖς "Unto them" 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."

ἀντὶ "For" is from anti (anti) which means "opposite", "over against", "instead", "in place of", "at the price of", "in return for", "for the sake of", "against", "in return", "equal to", "corresponding to," and "mutually."

ἐμοῦ (adj sg masc gen) "Me" is from emou, which means "me", and "mine".

καὶ "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."

σοῦ (adj sg neut gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

adj pl masc acc

noun sg masc acc

verb 2nd sg aor imperat act

verb 2nd sg aor imperat act

Wordplay: 

Many of the words here refer to knowledge and learning. 

Related Verses: