Matthew 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Therefore, the one promising on the altar, promises on it and on all that upon it.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is a simple statement, using words that are uncommon for Christ, but the same ones he has been using in the related verses. It seems to be missing a word, but that ideas are so simple that they are best undersood as spoken.

"Whoso" is from the article that proceeds the verb, making it a noun. See below.

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

The word translated as "shall swear" means "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is in the form of an adjective uses as a noun, "the ones swearing." It is an uncommon word for Christ but doesn't have any double meanings. It is not in the future tense, but a form indicating something that might happen.

The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

"Sweareth" is the same word as above, in the form of a verb. This verb is the present tense.

The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." "Everything" would work here, but the article should be before it, not after. The word order indicates something else.

"Things" is from an article ("the"). Without a noun, which takes the sense of "the ones."

The word "thereon" is from a preposition meaning both "on" and "in front of."

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

(article sg masc nom) "Whoso" is the from Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here it is separated from the noun by a particle.

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

ὀμόσας [uncommon] (part sg aor act masc nom) "Shall swear" is from omnyo, which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

ἐν "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ (uncommon] (noun sg masc dat) "The altar" is from thysiastērion , which means "altar." It is a derivative of thysia, which means "sacrifice" or "victim."

ὀμνύει [uncommon] (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Sweareth" is from omnyo, which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

ἐν "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

αὐτῷ (adj sg masc dat) "It" 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."

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."

ἐν "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

πᾶσι (adj pl masc dat) "All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

τοῖς (article pl masc dat) "things" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

ἐπάνω "Thereon" is from epano, which is an adverb meaning "above", "on the upper side", "[former] times", "more [of numbers]", "in front of," and "in the presence of."

αὐτοῦ: (adj masc/neut gen) "It" 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."

The Spoken Version: 

"So certainly," he continued.

"The one promising," he said, holding up his hand as if taking a pledge. "On the altar. Swears on it!"

He looked as if he said something profound and paused.

The crowd giggled because the statement was so obvious.

"And, on," he continued. "All the ...."

He didn't say the next word, but instead indicated all types of stuff spread on top of the altar.

"Upon it," he finished.

The crowd laughed again.

 

Related Verses: