Matthew 5:33 ...You shall not forswear thyself,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Sermon on the Mount, "filling up" the law, making vows and creating debts.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Again, you all have heard that it was proclaimed to the ancients, you might not recant. You are going to give back to the Lord those promises of yours.

KJV : 

Matthew 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The introductory section is the fourth iteration of the catchphrase  for this section on "filling up the law." It is repeated two more times. Such repetition is a form of humor but the phrase also uses an uncommon, exaggerated word, which is another form of humor. The verb translated as "said/told" is uncommon for Jesus to use except in this phrase.  This verb has a more serious meaning, "to proclaim" or "to pronounce," and a lighter meaning "to be mentioned" and "to be pronounced." It is contrasted with the normal word for "tell" or "say" that Jesus uses to describe his viewpoint in the next verse.

This verse has no commands in it according to the form of the verbs. Jesus is not quoting any OT commandments. Note that there is no "it is written" here. This "proclaimed of the ancient" may be a joke aboujt something taught by the Pharisees or others. The source is not OT commands on taking the Lord's name in vain (Exd 20:7), swearing falsely, or swearing by the [Lord's] name falsely." (Lev 19:12). In the Septuagint, the Greek OT, a different word is used for "to swear" in all of these verses. There are no Septuagint verses that contain both the key Greek words used in this verse: "perform/carryout vows/swear falsely" (used in 155 OT verses) or "oath/vows" (40 versus). No verse contains the Greek word translated as "forswear" in this form.

The Greek word translated as "perform" means 'to give back." This idea has much more of a sense of debt in the Greek of the era than it does in English. Much of Jesus's focus on debts is lost in the way the NT is translated. What is being given back? This becomes more clear when we understand the word translated as "oath." This verb is not a command, but a statement about the future, a prophecy, if you like.

The Greek word means "the object upon which is sworn," only secondarily, it means "oath" or "vow." So, the idea is that, if you take an oath on your eyes, for example, you must give your eyes back to the Lord if you swear falsely. This word is used forty times in the OT. The idea is that Lord collects the debts created by swearing. This idea is important in understanding the following verses about taking oaths. This debt is owed to "the Lord" or "the Master" a word used to refer to God. It is in the form of an indirect object.

NIV : 

Matthew 5:33  You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the LORD.

NLT : 

Matthew 5:33  Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’

Wordplay: 

The word "again" also means "back" as in the word "give back" which is a keyword here.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Πάλιν (adv) "Again" is from palin, which means "back", "backward", "contradiction", "again", "once more," and "in turn."

ἠκούσατε (2nd pl aor ind act ) "Ye have heard" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

ὅτι (conj) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

ἐρρέθη (3rd sg aor ind pass) "It hath been said," is from ero, which means "to speak", "to say", "to pronounce", "to tell", "to let suffice", "to announce", "to proclaim," (in passive) "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

τοῖς (article pl masc dat) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which, when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." -- The word translated as "those" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

ἀρχαίοις (adj pl masc dat) "By them of old time" is from archaios, which means as an adjective means "from the beginning", "from the source", "ancient", "simple", "silly", "former", "the Ancients [of people]", "anciently [adverb], and "the principle [in a loan],"

Οὐκ (adv) "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.

ἐπιορκήσεις, [unique](2nd sg aor subj act ) "Thou shalt...forswear thyself," is from epiorkeo, which means "to swear falsely," and "to forswear oneself." To "forswear" means "to recant" or "to renege" on a promise.

ἀποδώσεις(2nd sg fut ind act) "shalt perform" is from apodidomi which means "to give back", "to restore," and "to deliver." It also means to "give an account" of a thing, "explain", or "interpret." 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."

δὲ (partic) "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").

τῷ (article sg masc dat) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

κυρίῳ (noun sg masc dat) "The Lord" is from kurios, which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

τοὺς (article pl masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --

ὅρκους” (noun pl masc acc) "Oaths" is from horkos, which means "the object by which one swears", "oath", "sworn compact," and Horkos, the divinity who punishes the perjurer. This word is used to translated  the word that means "oath" or "curse,"  shĕbuw`ah or shevuwah - שְׁבוּעָה

σου.” (adj sg masc gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

KJV Analysis: 

Again, -- The Greek word translated as "again" means "back," "again," and "contradiction." Here, it is a play on words meaning "again" but also referring to "pay back."

ye -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

hath -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "hath" in the Greek source. The verb could be the simple past.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

by  -- This word "by" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use:.  That preposition could be a  "to,"  "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at" or "on," depending on the context.

them of -- The word translated as "them of" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article.

old  time, -- The word translated as "old time" is an adjective that means "beginning" or "source" as an adjective and, as a noun, "the ancients" or "the beginning". It is in the form that usually means "to the ancients," but which can mean "by the ancients" making them an instrument. It could also mean "from the beginning" but Christ uses a different word to express that idea.

Thou -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

shalt -- (CW) This helping verb "shalt" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

not -- (CW) 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 captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. This is not the negative used with commands and prohibitions. This is proof that this clause here is a command or a request, but a statement.

forswear -- The Greek word translated as "forswear" specifically means "to swear falsely', "recant", or "renege" on a promise. Its meaning is literally "against an oath". Its root word is the same as the noun translated later in this verse as "oath". This word is only used by Jesus here.

thyself, -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "thyself" in the Greek source. The verb is not the middle voice, which is Greek is used to add "thyself."

but -- 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. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

perform --  (WW) The Greek word translated as "perform" means 'give back." However, in referring to information, like an oath, it means "to explain" or "to give an account". It is in the future tense. This word is almost always translated as "pay" in the KJV NT.

unto  -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Lord -- This debt is owed to "the Lord" or "the Master" a word used to refer to God. It is in the form of an indirect object.

thine -- The word translated as "thine" is the possessive form of the second person pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of yours." This is the singular you, not the plural.

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

oaths: The Greek word means "the object upon which is sworn," "oath", "sworn compact," If you take an oath on your eyes, for example, you must give your eyes back to the Lord if you swear falsely. The Lord collects the debts created by swearing. This idea is important in understanding the following verses about taking oaths.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "was" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "hath" is not one of the common Greek words for said, but one that means "announce" or "mention."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shalt" does not mean the future tense.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is not the negative usually associated with prohibitions and commands.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "thyself" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "perform" should be "given back."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "oaths" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Again, -- The Greek word translated as "again" means "back," "again," and "contradiction." Here, it is a play on words meaning "again" but also referring to "pay back."

you -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

it -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

was-- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "was" in the Greek source. The verb could be the simple past.

said--  (CW) The verb translated as "said," means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

to -- This word "by" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use:.  That preposition could be a  "to,"  "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at" or "on," depending on the context.

the  -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article.

people long ago, -- The word translated as "people long ago," is an adjective that means "beginning" or "source" as an adjective and, as a noun, "the ancients" or "the beginning". It is in the form that usually means "to the ancients," but which can mean "by the ancients" making them an instrument. It could also mean "from the beginning" but Christ uses a different word to express that idea.

‘Do -- (WF) This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement. The problem is that this verb is not in the form of a command but something that "should" or "might" happen.

not -- (CW) 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 captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. This is not the negative used with commands and prohibitions. This is proof that this clause here is a command or a request, but a statement.

break your oath -- The Greek word translated as "break your oath " specifically means "to swear falsely', "recant", or "renege" on a promise. Its meaning is literally "against an oath". Its root word is the same as the noun translated later in this verse as "oath". This word is only used by Jesus here.

untranslated "but"-- (MW) The untranslated word "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.
but -- 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. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

fulfill --  (WW, WF) The Greek word translated as "perform" means 'to give back" or, more precisely "to give from." However, in referring to information, like an oath, it means "to explain" or "to give an account". It is in the future tense. This word is almost always translated as "pay" in the KJV NT. The form is not a command nor is it the present tense, "you will give back."

the-- The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

vows: The Greek word translated as "vows" means "the object upon which is sworn," "oath", "sworn compact," If you take an oath on your eyes, for example, you must give your eyes back to the Lord if you swear falsely. The Lord collects the debts created by swearing. This idea is important in understanding the following verses about taking oaths.

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

Lord -- This debt is owed to "the Lord" or "the Master" a word used to refer to God. It is in the form of an indirect object.

you -- The word translated as "your" is the possessive form of the second person pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of yours." This is the singular you, not the plural.

have made.’ -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "have made" in the Greek source.

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "was" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "said" is not one of the common Greek words for said, but one that means "announce" or "mention."
  • WF - Wrong Format -- The word translated as "Do" should be "should" or "might."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is not the negative usually associated with prohibitions and commands.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "fulfill" should be "give back."
  • WF - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "fulfill" is not a command or the present tense. It should be "you will give back."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "have made" doesn't exist in the source.

NLT Analysis: 

You -- This is from the second-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verbs here. However, this word is in the form indicating that it is likely, so a "should" or "might" should appear here.

also -- (CW) The word translated as "again" also "back," "again," and "contradiction." Here, it is a play on words meaning "again" but also referring to "pay back." This is not the word usually translated as "also."

heard -- "Heard" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.  It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear". It also means "to listen" and "to understand".

that - The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

 our -- (WW) The word translated as "our" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article.

ancestors -- The word translated as "ancestors " is an adjective that means "beginning" or "source" as an adjective and, as a noun, "the ancients" or "the beginning". It is in the form that usually means "to the ancients," but which can mean "by the ancients" making them an instrument. It could also mean "from the beginning" but Christ uses a different word to express that idea.

were -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "were" in the Greek source. The verb is not plural.

told, (WW) The verb translated as "told" means "to pronounce", "to mention", " "to announce", "to proclaim,"   and, in the passive as used here, "to be pronounced", "to be mentioned", "to be specified", "to be agreed," and "to be promised."

You -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb. Since this is singular,

must-- (WW) This helping verb "must" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

not -- (CW) 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 captures the same idea. When a negative precedes the verb, it affects the whole clause. This is not the negative used with commands and prohibitions. This is proof that this clause here is a command or a request, but a statement.

break your vows -- The Greek word translated as "forswear" specifically means "to swear falsely', "recant", or "renege" on a promise. Its meaning is literally "against an oath". Its root word is the same as the noun translated later in this verse as "oath". This word is only used by Jesus here.

untranslated "but"-- (MW) The untranslated word "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

must -- (WW) This helping verb "must" should be "will" to indicate that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

carry out --  (WW) The Greek word translated as "perform" means 'to give back" or, more precisely "to give from." However, in referring to information, like an oath, it means "to explain" or "to give an account". It is in the future tense. This word is almost always translated as "pay" in the KJV NT.

the-- The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, "the." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

vows: The Greek word translated as "vows" means "the object upon which is sworn," "oath", "sworn compact," If you take an oath on your eyes, for example, you must give your eyes back to the Lord if you swear falsely. The Lord collects the debts created by swearing. This idea is important in understanding the following verses about taking oaths.

you -- The word translated as "you " is the possessive form of the second person pronoun. This pronoun follows the noun so "of yours." This is the singular you, not the plural.

make -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "make" in the Greek source.

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") that the English "the." See this article for more. 

LORD -- This debt is owed to "the Lord" or "the Master" a word used to refer to God. It is in the form of an indirect object.
 

NLT Translation Issues: 

11
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "have" means "should."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "also" is not a word usually translated as "also."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "our" means "the ones."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "were" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "told" means "announced."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "must" means "should."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is not the negative usually associated with prohibitions and commands.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "must" should be"will."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "carry out" should be "given back."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "make" doesn't exist in the source.

The Spoken Version: 

The another woman complained loudly, “Marriage is the one promise that people can cancel with a note.”
The speaker responded more playfully. “Again, you have all heard tell that it was proclaimed by the ancients.” He then pretended to unroll another scroll. “‘Do not renege on a promise,” he read in his old man’s voice. Wagging his finger, he screeched a common line used by the Dedicated to shame people, “You each are going to give back to the Lord—those promises of yours.”

evidence: 

32.00

Front Page Date: 

May 9 2020