Matthew 18:4 Whoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,

KJV Verse: 

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Really, the one who is going to make himself small like this little child is the one who is the fullest grown in the universal state.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This line is typical of Christ's teaching that the the spiritual world reverses the physical world. Here, the play on words here is lost almost entirely in translation. In this case, if you lessen yourself on earth, you become great in heaven. If you become a child on earth, then you become an adult in heaven.

The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative.

"Humble" is from a verb that means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble."

The word used for "child" means specifically a little child.

"Greatest" is from an adjective which is the comparative adjective form of megas (great), which means "big", "full grown", "great", "might" and "strong."

The phrase "kingdom of heaven" is one of those used frequently by Christ. It is discussed in detail in this article.

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

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὅστις (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

οὖν "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

ταπεινώσει (verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "Humble" is tapeinoô, which means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble."

ἑαυτὸν (adj sg masc acc )"Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ὡς "As" is from hos, an adverb which means to "thus", "as", "how", "when", "where", "like", "just as", "so far as", "as much as can be", "that", "in order that", "nearly (with numbers)," and "know that."

τὸ παιδίον (noun sg neut nom/acc/voc) "Child" is from paidon. which means "little child" or "young child," (up to seven years) "infant" or "young slave."

τοῦτο, (adj sg neut nom/acc/voc) "This" is from touto, which means "from here", "from there", "this [thing]," or "that [thing]."

οὗτός (adj sg masc nom) "The same" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

ἐστιν (verb 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.") --

μείζωνἐν (adj sg masc nom) "Greatest" is from meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

τῇ βασιλείᾳ (noun pl fem nom/dat/voc) "Greater than" is from meizon which means "bigger," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great."

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."

Wordplay: 

A play on the word for "make small" against the idea of being "the largest." 

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