Matthew 6:16 Moreover when you fast,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Sermon on Mount, law and fulfillment, visible and hidden, debts and repayment, virtue and virtue signaling

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

When, however, you abstain, don't want to become like the actors: sad-eyed. Because they mask that character of theirs so that they might shine among men: fasting. Truly I tell you: they have received that compensation of theirs.

KJV : 

Matthew 6:16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.​

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse echoes Matthew 6:2 and Matthew 6:5 in its reference to hypocrites, and it ends in that same catchphrase, "they have their reward," used here for the third time. But Matthew 6:2 was spoken to an individual while this verse and Matthew 6:5 are spoken to the crowd.  So Jesus takes catchphrases developed in individual encounters and works them into his lessons and uses of their repetition for humor.

There are subtle changes here from Matthew 6:5 and subtle references to it that are lost in translation. In the earlier verse, the verb "to be" was used in the statement, "you will not be like the actors." In this verse, the verb "become" is used and the negative are changed to one of desire and opinion. Here, the phrase is a command, "don't want to become like the actors."  Of course, The fact that all of these verses reference "actors" is hidden in translation, which does not translate to the word "hypocrites."

When referring to actors, the word translated as "face" specifically means the "dramatic part" and "character." Ancient Greek actors wore masks to represent that part there were playing So this is a play on words, comparing how actors hide their characters to the parts they act.  The word translated as "disfigure" actually means to "make unseen" and "to mask."  It is the negative form of a verb we talk about next.

A key connection between this verse and Matthew 6:5 is that they both use the same uncommon verb that means "shine," but Matthew 6:5 translated that word as "be seen" and here it is translated as "appear." The verb form is "they might be shining among men." The image is of actors wanting to shine among men. This is still a pretty good description of what actors want.

NIV : 

Matthew 6:16  When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

Wordplay: 

 A play of the word "face" which means a "face" but also means "character" the part and actor plays. 

My Takeaway: 

Virtue signaling is a form of play acting, which is a form of lying.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὅταν (conj) "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

δὲ (partic) "Moreover" 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").

νηστεύητε, (2nd pl pres subj act) "Fast" is from nesteuo, which means "fast" and "to abstain from."

μὴ (partic) "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.

γίνεσθε (2nd pl pres imperat) "Be" is from ginomai), which means "to become", "to come into being", "to happen", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

ὡς (conj/adv) "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."

οἱ (article) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("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. 

ὑποκριταὶ (noun pl masc nom) "Hypocrites" is from hypokrites means "interpreter" or "actor."

σκυθρωποί, [2 verses](adj pl masc nom) "Of sad countenance" come skythropos, which means "of sad or angry ", "sullen", "with greater severity," of things: "gloomy", "sad", "melancholy," and "dark and dull [of color]."

ἀφανίζουσιν [3 verses](3rd pl pres ind act) "They disfigure" is from aphanizo, which means "to make unseen", "to hide," "to vanish" "to hush up", "to do away with", "to reject, "to remove", "to destroy", "to obliterate [writing], "to spirit away [a witness]", "to secrete", "to steal", "to obscure", "to mar", "to disguise [by dyeing]", "to spoil", "to make away with", "to drain [a cup of wine]," or "deprive of luster."

γὰρ (partic) "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."

τὰ (article pl neut acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

πρόσωπα [8 verses](noun pl neut acc ) "Face" is from prosopon, which means "face", "countenance." "in front", "facing", "front", "façade", "one's look", "dramatic part", "character", "in person", "in bodily presence", "legal personality", "person," and "feature [of the city, of a person]."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc 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."

ὅπως (conj) "That" is from hopos, which is a conjunction that means "in such a manner as", "in order that", "in the manner in which", "how," [with negative] "there is no way that," and [in questions] "in what way."

φανῶσιν (3rd pl aor subj pass ) "They may appear" is from phaino , which means "to shine", "to give light," and "to appear." In its transitive form, not used here, it means "bring to light."

τοῖς (article pl masc dat)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). It dative form usually requires an introductory preposition in English: to, by, etc.

ἀνθρώποις (noun pl masc dat) "Unto men" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate. -

νηστεύοντες: (part pl pres act masc nom) "To fast" is from nesteuo, which means "fast" and "to abstain from."

ἀμὴν (exclam) "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from llego means "pick up", "choose for oneself", "pick out," and "count," "recount", "tell over", "say", "speak", "teach", "mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," "nominate," and "command."

ὑμῖν, (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is from humas and humon, which is a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ἀπέχουσιν 8 verses] (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "They have received" is from apecho, which means "to keep off or away from", "to hold one's hands off or away from", "to hold oneself off a thing", "to abstain or desist from it," "to project", "to extend", "to be far from," and "to receive payment in full."

τὸν (article sg masc acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --

μισθὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Reward" is from misthos, which means "wages" in the sense of compensation for work done, "pay", "hire", "fee", "recompense," and "reward."

αὐτῶν. (pron 2nd pl 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Moreover -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "moreover" is commonly translated as "but" or "however" since it joins phrases in an adversarial way. It always appears in the second position, so translating it as "however" works better in English.

when -- The Greek word translated as "when" means "when" or "since" and introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition under which something takes place.

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

fast, -- The word translated as "you fast" generally means "to abstain." Its form of something that might happen is dictated by the "when" that begins the phrase. It is plural. This verse is directed at all of his listeners. During the sermon, Christ addresses both the group and individuals in the second person ("you all" and "you").

be -- (WW) The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, this is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It describes a change in character.

not, -- The negative "not" used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. 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.

as -- The Greek word translated as "as" is an adverb that has the sense here of "just as" and "like".

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. 

hypocrites -- (UW) The Greek word translated as "the hypocrites" is a great example of a word that has taken its English meaning from how it is used in the Bible rather than the original Greek. It means "actor" from its literal meaning, "under separation," which describes the separation between what is said and reality.

of a - (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "of a" in the Greek source.

sad  -- The Greek word translated as "of a sad countenance" is an adjective that literally means "a sullen look." It means a "sullen-eyed." It is an adjective, not a noun.

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

for -- The word translated as "for", means "because". It can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence in written English.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

disfigure  --  (WW) The Greek verb translated as "to disfigure" means primarily "to make unseen" and it encompasses many different forms of hiding or concealing something. It can also mean "disguise" but the English word that best captures all these ideas is "mask".

their  -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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. 

faces, -- The Greek word translated as "faces" primarily means "face" but it also has many other more general meanings. When referring to actors, it specifically means the "dramatic part" and "character." This is a play on words, comparing how actors hide their characters to the parts they play in a drama.

that -- The word translated as "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation, "in order that" or "so that".

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

appear --  The Greek verb translated as " appear" primarily means in its transitive form "to bring light", but in the passive, it can mean "appear." However, the word primarily means "to shine" and "to give light" so "to be shining" or "to be giving light" also works in the passive. The word "prophet" comes from this root word. It is in the passive and in a form indicating something that "might" happen, "they might shine".

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: the "to" of the indiract object is the most common.

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. 

men. The Greek word for "man" in the plural means "people" and "humanity" in general.

to -- (WF) This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English. However, the following verb is not an infinitive. 

fast.  --  The Greek verb translated as "to fast" is the same word as above, meaning "to abstain" but it is in the form of an adjective, "fasting", the present participle of the verb. However, the form matches the subject of the sentence.

Verily -- The word translated as "verily" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

say -- The word translated as "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 also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

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.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc.

They -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

have -- (WW)  The Greek word translated as "have" is not the Greek word meaning "to have." This verb literally means "to have from" or "to keep from." The "have from" meaning in business translations becomes "to receive payment in full." The sense of "keep from" means  "to keep off or away from" or "to hold away from." So this word not only has a double meaning but , amusingly,  almost contradictory meanings. 

their -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

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. 

reward. -- The Greek word translated as "reward" really means "compensation," what you receive for doing work. In Christ's teaching, there is spiritual compensation and worldly compensation.

KJV Translation Issues: 

11
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "moreover" is more like "however" but it is usually translated as "but." 
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "be" should be "become."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "hypocrites" means "actors." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "of a" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "countenance" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "disfigure" should be "hide" or "mask."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "faces" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "men" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "fast" is not an infinitive but a participle, "fasting."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The verb translated as "have" should be "collect."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "reward" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

When -- The Greek word translated as "when" means "when" or "since" and introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition under which something takes place.

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "however" is commonly translated as "but" or "however" since it joins phrases in an adversarial way. It always appears in the second position, so translating it as "however" works better in English.

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

fast, -- The word translated as "you fast" generally means "to abstain." Its form of something that might happen is dictated by the "when" that begins the phrase. It is plural. This verse is directed at all of his listeners. During the sermon, Christ addresses both the group and individuals in the second person ("you all" and "you").

do -- This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English,

not, -- The negative "not" used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done.

look -- (WW) The word translated as "look" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, this is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. It describes a change in character.

somber -- The Greek word translated as "somber" is an adjective that literally means "a sullen look." It means a "sullen-eyed." It is an adjective, not a noun.

as -- The Greek word translated as "as" is an adverb that has the sense here of "just as" and "like".

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. 

hypocrites -- (UW) The Greek word translated as "the hypocrites" is a great example of a word that has taken its English meaning from how it is used in the Bible rather than the original Greek. It means "actor" from its literal meaning, "under separation," which describes the separation between what is said and reality. Interestingly enough, it also means "interpreter," which is another separation between what is said and reality.

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

for -- The word translated as "for", means "because". It can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." to start a new sentence in written English.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

disfigure  --  (WW) The Greek verb translated as "to disfigure" means primarily "to make unseen" and it encompasses many different forms of hiding or concealing something. It can also mean "disguise" but the English word that best captures all these ideas is "mask"

their  -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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. 

faces, -- The Greek word translated as "faces" primarily means "face" but it also has many other more general meanings. When referring to actors, it specifically means the "dramatic part" and "character." This is a play on words, comparing how actors hide their characters to the parts they play in a drama.

untranslated "the"-- (MW) The untranslated word "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation, "in order that" or "so that".

to --  (WW) This helping verb "to " indicates that the verb is an infinitive, but it isn't. It is however in a for that requires a "should" or "might" in English.

show--  (WW, WF) The Greek verb translated as " show" primarily means in its transitive form "to shine" and "to bring light", but in the passive, as it is here, so "to be shining" or "to be giving light." The word "prophet" comes from this root word. It is in the passive and in a form indicating something that "might" happen, "they might shine".

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. 

others -- (WW) The Greek word for "other" in the plural means "men," "people" and "humanity" in general.

they are -- This verb "to be" could be implied by the following adjective fasting" in the form of a subject because it has no obvious related verb.

fasting.  --  The Greek verb translated as "to fast" is the same word as above, meaning "to abstain" but it is in the form of an adjective, "fasting", the present participle of the verb. The form matches the subject of the sentence.

Truly -- The word translated as "truly " is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

tell -- The word translated as "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 also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you", "for you", etc. This is the first time Jesus addresses an individual with his catch phrase.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

have received -- The Greek word translated as "have" is not the Greek word meaning "to have." This verb primarily means "to keep off or away from." It is a compound word "To have/hold from/away from". The "hold away from" means to "keep off", but the "to have from" means to be paid. Christ uses it here because it has the special meaning in business translations of "to receive payment in full." This is the sense that it is used here. The "to have from" or "to hold away from" and, amusingly,  almost contradictory meanings. 

their -- The word translated as "their" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

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. 

reward. -- The Greek word translated as "reward" really means "compensation," what you receive for doing work. In Christ's teaching, there is spiritual compensation and worldly compensation.

in full. -- These words are part of the concept of the verb.

NIV Translation Issues: 

13
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "look" should be "become."
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "hypocrites" means "actors." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "do" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "disfigure" should be "hide" or "mask."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "faces" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "hide" or "mask."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "show" should be "give light" or "shine."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "show" is passive, "to be giving light" or "to be shining."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "others," which should be "men," is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "others" should be "men" or "people.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "reward" is not shown in the English translation.

The Spoken Version: 

A young man called out, “Does fasting atone for the missteps of those people?”
I should explain, among the Judean people, fasting is a form of penance. It began with one day a year, their Day of Atonement, but fasting grew more popular over time. More and more fasting days became part of their annual religious cycle.  
The youth who asked this question looked frightful. We never discovered his real name, but we witnesses came to call him “Messy Face” in our testimony. He was fasting, and when Judeans fast, they make a public show of it. They mess up their hair. They cover their faces with ashes. They wear torn, disheveled clothes. This young man looked more like a scarecrow than a citizen. Young people were especially inclined to fast so they could go around looking like the risen dead to get attention.
When the Master saw Messy Face, he broke into a broad grin and happily nodded, agreeing that fasting does atone for mistakes, but that wasn’t where the Master left the matter.
“When, however, you all fast,” he started, speaking not to the young man, but to all of us in the crowd, “you don’t want to become like those actors!”
He indicated the young Messy Face and struck his tragic pose. Then he made a gloomy face and said mournfully, “Sorrowful!”
We laughed.
The Master returned to his big smile.
“Since they mask those faces of theirs,” the Teacher continued, passing his hand over his face visage and changed his expression to an exaggerated smile. Then he passed it again and changed back to his sorrowful face.
“So that they might be shining,” he explained, waving his outstretched hands as if calling for attention, “to those people!”
This time, he said, “those people,” in the piping voice of a youth.  
We laughed.
The Master then passed his hand over his sad face again, returning to his a smiling face.  Then he passed his hand over his face again, resuming his gloomy look.
He announced woefully, “Fasting!
“Honestly, I am talking to you all,” the Teacher continued confidently, putting his hand to his heart.
The familiar line and gesture drew another laugh.
“They are getting paid in full that reward of theirs,” he announced triumphantly.
He again began bowing as if he were accepting applause.
We began laughing and applauding.

evidence: 

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Front Page Date: 

Jun 8 2020