Matthew 6:27 Which of you by worrying

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Sermon on Mount, law and fulfillment, visible and hidden, temporary and permanent, worry and trust

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Who, however, our of you, worrying,  has the power to add to his age eighteen inches?

KJV : 

Matthew 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The word translated as "stature" (KJV) and "life" (NIV) means "age." The word  translated as "cubit" (KJV) and "hour" (NIV) means "cubit." These two key words are only used in this verse and its parallel in Luke. So we have two sources and know there was no mistake. In different  versions of the Bible, this phrase has a dizzying array of translations because they want it to make "sense" in a way that it really doesn't. However, they miss the point: Jesus was using humor, comparing a measurement of size to a measurement of time and age

Humor is also in his exaggeration. Even if we accept the idea that the Greek word "age"  might mean size (though it doesn't), why would Christ suggest that someone would want to add eighteen inches to height rather than one inch? Perhaps because it is a difference in height between an adult and a child.

There are two punchlines here. "Cubit" is the first surprise, because a measurement of time is expected because of the setup, but the "one" follows it as a second punchline, as if eighteen inches was not a large number it itself and the "one" limited it.

NIV : 

Matthew 6:27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life

Wordplay: 

 A play of size against age. 

My Takeaway: 

Focus on the abilities that you have been given rather than worrying about the control you lack.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τίς (pronoun  sg masc nom) "What" is from tis which can mean "someone", "any one", "everyone", "they [indefinite]", "many a one", "whoever", "anyone", "anything", "some sort", "some sort of", "each", "any", "the individual", "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who", "why," or "what."

δὲ (partic) Untranslated is 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").

ἐξ (prep) "Of" is ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of", "from", "by", "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond", "outside of", "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after", "from;" 4) [of rest] "on", "in," 5) [of time] "since", "from", "at", "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of", "made from."

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen) "You" is from humon, a plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

μεριμνῶν  [6 verses] (part sg pres act neut nom) "Taking thought" is from merimanao , which means to "care for", "be anxious about", "meditate upon", "to be cumbered with many cares,"and "to be treated with anxious care [passive]." -

δύναται (3rd sg pres ind mp) "Can" is from the verb, dynamai, which means "to have power by virtue of your own capabilities", "to be able," and "to be strong enough."

προσθεῖναι [7 verses] (aor inf act) "Add" is from prostithemi, which is formed from two root words that mean "to put towards" and means to "put to", "to hold close", "to apply medicine [to a wound]", "to hand over", "to give something more", "to impose upon", "to attribute to", "to add", "to agree", "to associate with", "to bring upon oneself," and "to apply to oneself."

ἐπὶ (prep ) "Unto" is from epi which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --

ἡλικίαν [2 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Stature" is from helikia, which means "time of life", "age," "the prime of life", "manhood" or "maidenhood", "youthful passion", "those of the same age", "comrades", "time", "generation," and "stature [height as a sign of age]."

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen)"His" 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."

πῆχυν [2 verses] (noun sg masc acc )"Cubit" is from pechys, "which means "forearm", "arm", "the centerpiece joining the two horns of the bow", "horns of the lyre", "crosspiece or bridge of a horn", "balance beam," and "distance from the point of the elbow to that of the middle finger," which was a little of 20 inches.

ἕνα; (noun sg masc acc) "One" is heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

KJV Analysis: 

Which  - The Greek word translated as "which" has a lot of uses including singular or plural versions of "anyone", "someone," and "anything" and acting as a question word regarding things and people, "which", "what" or "who." This is an interrogatory pronoun beginning the clause indicating a question.

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "but" that joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

of  - The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

you -- The word translated as "you" is a plural, second-person pronoun in the genitive case required by the preposition.

by -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "by" in the Greek source. This indicates a dative form of the following word, but the word is in the form of a subject, matching the "which" above.

taking thought -- "Taking thought" is a Greek word that means "to care for", "be anxious about," and "to meditate upon." We don't have a word in English that combines caring for something, being anxious, and meditation. When you care for something, you also worry and think deeply about it. It has most of the sense of the way we use "worry" in English. It is a present participle so "worrying."

can  - (CW) In English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. However, in ancient Greek, it indicated having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. This is the active verb in the sentence, not a helper verb.

add  - (WF) The word translated as "add", it means adding one thing to another in a lot of different ways including to give to yourself or give to another. The literal meaning is "to put in addition to", which is pretty cumbersome in English, so here the simple "add" works best. However, the form is an infinitive, not an active verb.

one -- The Greek word translated as "one " means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same."As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

cubit  - (WP) The word translated as "cubit" means "forearm," which is the measure of length used in a cubit, which is 1 1/2 ft., 18 inches. So we have a conflict here between a measure of length, 18 inches, being added or applied to a measure of age. This is why some Bibles translate this phrase as adding inches to a height, others adding time to our lives. This word comes at the end of the line where it is a surprise

unto -- The word translated as "unto" means "on", "over", "upon", "against", "before", "after", "during", "by" or "on."

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

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. 

stature  - (WW) The word translated as "stature" means "age" and "time of life.  It only means "stature" in the sense that people grow up and attain their full stature as grown-ups. It doesn't mean "stature" any more than "grown-up" refers to height.

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "can" is not the helper verb but an active verb that means "have the power" or "have the ability."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "by" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "add" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to add."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "cubit" appears at the end of the verse as the punch line. The "one" follows it.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "stature" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "stature" should be "age."

NIV Analysis: 

Can - (CW) In English, "can" is a helper verb, indicating a possibility. However, in ancient Greek, it indicated having the power or possibly a desire to accomplish something. This is the active verb in the sentence, not a helper verb.

untranslated "however"-- (MW) The untranslated word "but" that joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

any one - The Greek word translated as "anyone " has a lot of uses including singular or plural versions of "anyone", "someone," and "anything" and acting as a question word regarding things and people, "which", "what" or "who." This is an interrogatory pronoun beginning the clause indicating a question.

of  - The Greek preposition translated as "of" means "out of" or "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

you -- The word translated as "you" is a plural, second-person pronoun in the genitive case required by the preposition.

by -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "by" in the Greek source. This indicates a dative form of the following word, but the word is in the form of a subject, matching the "which" above.

worrying -- "Worrying is a Greek word that means "to care for", "be anxious about," and "to meditate upon." We don't have a word in English that combines caring for something, being anxious, and meditation. When you care for something, you also worry and think deeply about it. It has most of the sense of the way we use "worry" in English. It is a present participle so "worrying."

add  - (WF) The word translated as "add", it means adding one thing to another in a lot of different ways including to give to yourself or give to another. The literal meaning is "to put in addition to", which is pretty cumbersome in English, so here the simple "add" works best. However, the form is an infinitive, not an active verb.

a -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

single - The Greek word translated as "one " means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same."As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

to your life

hour - (WW, WP) The word translated as "cubit" means "forearm," which is the measure of length used in a cubit, which is 1 1/2 ft., 18 inches. So we have a conflict here between a measure of length, 18 inches, being added or applied to a measure of age. This is why some Bibles translate this phrase as adding inches to a height, others adding time to our lives. This word comes at the end of the line where it is a surprise

to -- The word translated as "unto" means "on", "over", "upon", "against", "before", "after", "during", "by" or "on."

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

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. 

life - (WW) The word translated as "life" means "age" and "time of life, but this is a very different word than the word translated as "life" in Matthew 6:25.

NIV Translation Issues: 

8
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "can" is not the helper verb but an active verb that means "have the power" or "have the ability."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "by" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "add" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to add."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "hour" should be "cubit."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "hour/cubit" appears at the end of the verse as the punch line. The "single" follows it.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "life" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "life" should be "age."

The Spoken Version: 

“Like children, a bird does think about the future,” argued Yellow Cloak stubbornly. “As adults, we have to worry about year after year, decade after decade.”
“Who, however, from your worrying,” the Teacher countered sympathetically, “has the power to add on to that age of his?”
 “But isn’t there a huge difference between adult worries and childlike trust?” responded the trader.
Instead of answering, the Master went to the front of the crowd. Then he used his arm to measure the difference in the height between a child and adult seated together there.
We wondered what he was doing.
“A forearm!” he announced, answering the man’s question about the difference between an adult and a child. Holding up a finger, he added, “One!”
We laughed.

evidence: 

74.00

Front Page Date: 

Jun 19 2020