Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatever

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:3 All therefore whatever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not after their works: for they say, and do not.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Everything, then, as much as they might proclaim to you, do and observe what follows. Afterword, however, you don't want to do their deeds. This is because they teach and don't really do.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The KJV translation leaves out, skips over, reaaaranges, or conflates a number of key ideas here. The better Greek sources that we use today have words that were missing from the KJV Greek source. Hidden in this verse is a test for authority which is very consistent with the rest of Christ's teaching. The form of the verbs in this verse works either as a command "do" or simply as a statement "you don't want to do."

The word translated as "all" means "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. Since it is the object of the phase, "everything" works best in English.

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

The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as", ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

The KJV leaves out a word here. The Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. Both this "if" and the verb "bid" are in the form that describes something that probably will happen but may not. Good practice is to add a "might" to such phrases.

"They bid" is from a Greek word that means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

There is no "that" in the Greek, it is added to clarify the English since the object "all" starts the sentence.

The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, "do" works well here, especially since this word is used repeatedly in this verse. Most importantly, however, this word appears before the "observe," not after it. The idea is that you do it so you can observe.

The Greek word translated as "observe" means "to watch over,""to observe," and "to test by observation or trial." It does not mean "observe" in the sense of performing an obligation. This last idea, observe to test, is its most likely meaning. However, this word appears after the "do", not before it. The idea is to observe as test of authority.

The word translated as "after" appears here, not later in the verse as in the KJV. It plays a duel role. Initially, the listener would hear "watch what follows." However, when the conjunction is added after this word, it becomes part of the next phrase, changing from an adjective to a preposition meaning "afterward."

The last two phrases are a lot clearer if we make them stand alone as their own sentences. As we have mentioned before many of the "conjunctions" in Greek actually introduce ideas that are separate enough to stand on their own in English. Creating run-on sentences by treating them all as conjunctions can dilute and confuse their meaning.

The Greek word translated as "but" always falls in the second position, so translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. The word before it becomes part of the following phrase.

The word translated as "do" here, is the same as the one above, and, again, the form could be a command or it could be a statement. Since it is used with a negative of opinion (see below), the sense is more of a statement.

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.

"Their works" is translated from a Greek word that means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, to prevent a run-on sentence, as a "this is because..." to start a new sentence. This is another conjunction that always fall in the second position in the phrase.

The word translated as "they say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It is different than the other common word for "speak" which is translated above as "they bid."

The "do" here is the same verb as used two times previously in this verse.

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea. this is

In the Greek, this entire verse reads much more like warning about religious authorities rather than a pure endorsement of them. Respect what they tell you, yes. Follow what they tell you and make your own judgments about them.

Greek Vocabulary: 

πάντα (adj pl neut acc)"All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything."

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

ὅσα (adj pl neut acc) "Whatsoever" is from hosos (with ean below), which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἐὰν "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

εἴπωσιν (3rd pl aor subj act) "They bid" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is from hymin (humin), which is the 2nd person plural dative pronoun. Dative is the case which indicates to whom something is given.

ποιήσατε (2nd pl aor imperat act or 2nd pl aor ind act) "Do" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

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."

τηρεῖτε, (2nd pl pres ind act or 2nd pl imperf ind act or 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Observe" is from têreô, which means "to watch over", "to guard", "to take care of", "to give heed to", "to keep", "to test by observation or trial," and "to observe."

κατὰ (prep or adj pl neut nom/acc) "After" is from kata, which means as an adjective "the following," and. as a preposition, "downwards", "down from", "down into", "against", "down toward", "opposite", "separately", "individually", "at a time", "towards", "in accordance with", "concerning", "corresponding with", "during the course of a period," and "severally."

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").

τὰ ἔργα (noun pl neut acc) "Works" is from ergon, which means "work", "deeds", "[peaceful] contests", "works of industry", "deed", "property", "wealth," and "occupation."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc/fem gen) "Their" 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."

μὴ "Not" is from me, 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.

ποιεῖτε, (2nd pl aor imperat act 2nd pl aor ind act) "Do" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

λέγουσιν (3rd pl pres ind act) "They say" 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." Another Greek word spelled the same means "to pick up", "to choose for oneself", "to pick out," and "to count."

γὰρ "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

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."

οὐ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ποιοῦσιν. (3rd pl pres ind act) "Do" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

Wordplay: 

The "after" is used to apply to both the watching and the "don't do" by the placement of the conjunction, however. 

Two different "nots" are used here, one of opinion and one of fact.