Matthew 18:28 But the same servant went out

KJV Verse: 

Mat 18:28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Marching out, the slave there found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred silver coins. Conquering him, he choked him, saying, "Pay it back if you owe it!"

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The KJV generally approximates the idea here, but it isn't that close to the Greek. It also minimizes the debt here to "improve" the lesson by making it more extreme. The debt owed is significant. Because the size of the debt is minimized (a problem corrected in many more modern translations), we miss an important point of the story: that the original servant could have collected this debt earlier, but if he had done so, he would have had to pay it to his master. Once he is free and can keep the money, collecting it becomes a much higher priority.

Again, this verse teaches us something about the differences between the modern view of slavery and slavery in Christ's time. These men were enslaved because of their debts, but these debts were not minor amounts, especially at the time. A "slave" of a king could be much better off in terms of life style and future expectations than a freeman, especially one without property. Slaves, even slaves because of their debts, could have a great deal of money or assets, as this part of the story expresses.

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

The word translated as "the same" is not the Greek word for "the same," which is the word that acts as a pronoun and appears as "his" and "him" in this verse. This word is an adjective that highlights its noun as in a specific place from a word that means "there."

The word translated as "servant" is the word for slave, but it also means a person held in slavery for a debt.

The word translated as "went out" means literally "to go or come out," but it is not an active verb here, but a verb in the form of an adjective, "having gone out." This word actually starts the verse.

There is no "and" here. It is added because of the active form of the verb "went out" the KJV uses.

The term used for "found" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover."

The word translated as "fellow servants" means literally "slaves together."

"Owed" (and "owest" later in the verse) are from a Greek verb that means "to owe", "to have to pay," and "to account for."

The "hundred pence" is a great deal more money than a hundred pennies. It was a hundred denarius (silver coins). Each coin was worth around $70-$80 in today's money, so a hundred would be worth seven to eight thousand dollars. This is a substantial debt but clearly much less than "immense sum of money" that the first servant owed in Mat 18:24.

"Laid hands on" is from a word that means "rule", "hold sway", "conquer", "prevail", "lay hold of", "secure", "control," and "command." It is not an active verb, but an adjective, "ruling" or "conquering."

"Took him by the throat" is from the verb that means "to choke," and "to strangle." It also mean to "torture" in the sense of strangling, not to kill, but to punish until someone does your will.

The word translated as "pay" means "to give back." In a financial sense, it means to "pay back." This is the word translated as "paid" in Mat 18:25.

The word Greek word for "if" appears here in the source, but it is not translated.

The word translated as "owest" is the same verb as "owed" above, but it is an active verb.

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἐξελθὼν (part sg aor act masc nom) "Went out" is from exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth", "go out on", "to stand forth", "to exceed all bounds", "to come to an end", "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true."

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").

δοῦλος (noun sg masc nom) "The servant" is from doulos, which means a "slave," a "born bondsman," or "one made a slave."

ἐκεῖνος (adj sg masc nom) "The same" 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."

εὗρεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind) "Found" is from heurisko, which means "to find", "to find out", "to discover", "to devise", "to invent", "to get," and "to gain."

ἕνα (noun sg masc acc_ "One" is from heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

τῶν συνδούλων (noun pl masc/fem gen) "Fellow servants" is from syndoulos, which means "slave of the same master", "companion in slavery," and "fellow slave."

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."

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

ὤφειλεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Owed" is from opheilô, which means "to owe", "to have to pay", "to be bound to render", "to be bound", "to be obliged," and "to account for."

αὐτῷ (adj sg masc dat) "Him" 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."

ἑκατὸν "An hundred" is from hekaton, which is the number "a hundred."

δηνάρια,( noun pl neut acc) "Pence is from denarion, which was the principle silver coin of the Roman Empire in NT times. It was not a small coin, but one work "ten asses" (denarius is from the Latin word for ten), when it was first minted that its value went up over the years.

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."

κρατήσας (part sg aor act masc nom) "He laid hands on him" is from krateo, which means to be strong, powerful: "to rule", "to hold sway", "to be the lord and master", "to conquer", "to prevail over", "to get the upper hand", "to seize", "to control," and "to command."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc)"Him" 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."

ἔπνιγεν (verb 3rd sg imperf ind act) "Took him by the throat" is from pnigo, which means to "choke", "throttle", "strangle", "cook in a close-covered vessel", "bake", "stew," and metaphorically "vex," and "torment."

λέγων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Saying" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

Ἀπόδος "Pay" is from apodidomi which means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." It has the economic sense of "to sell" or "to give something for one's own profit." It begins with apo the preposition of separation and origin, the idea of "from" in English, didômi which means "to give", "to grant", "to hand over," and "to describe."

εἴ Untranslated is ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever", "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions. τι (pron sg neut acc) "That" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

ὀφείλεις. (verb 2nd sg pres/imperf ind act) "Owest" is from opheilô, which means "to owe", "to have to pay", "to be bound to render", "to be bound", "to be obliged," and "to account for."

Wordplay: 

The term translated as "fellow servant" is a friendly one, with the sense of a fellow companion, someone with whom you share things. 

The Spoken Version: 

Leaving [the king], the man enslaved there for his debts discovered one of his fellow slaves who owed him several thousand dollars. Overpowering him, he strangled him, saying, "Pay it back if you owe it!"

Related Verses: