Matthew 6:27 Which of you by worrying

KJV Verse: 

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

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

What, however, from all of your worrying has the power to add to his age eighteen inches?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Even in the different standard versions of the Bible, this phrase has a dizzying array of translations, from adding time to your life, or adding height to your stature, and so on. However, they miss the point: that Christ was using humor, associating an overly large measurement of size to a measurement of time and age. Even if we accept the idea that the Greek word might mean size, though it doesn't, why would Christ suggest that someone would want to add eighteen inches to their height rather than one? Of course, most bibles cannot translate this verse because it is so obviously a joke.

Another possibility is that Christ was hinting at the existence of Einstein's "space-time", where both are connected and both the measurements of time and space depend upon speed. Now, I am joking.

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."

Untranslated is the Greek word translated usually as "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.

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."

"By 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."

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.

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.

The word translated as "stature" is primarily concerned with age and time. 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.

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.



Greek Vocabulary: 

τίς (irreg) "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 from 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 (part sg pres act neut nom) "By 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 (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 ἡλικίαν (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 (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 from 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.


 A play of size against age. 

The Spoken Version: 

“Who, from your worrying.” He held one hand as high as a child sitting by the stage. “Has the power to add to his stature.” He held his other hand as high as a man next to the child. He compared the difference in height between his two hands and added, “Eighteen inches?

Related Verses: 

Mar 16 2017