Matthew 6:7 But when you pray, do not repeat babble

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Sermon on the Mount on virtue signaling with public prayer. Being fond of talking does not improve prayer.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Offering prayers, however, you might not want to be fond of repeating words repeated the same as the foreigners. Because they imagine that in the verboseness of theirs, they will be heeded.

KJV : 

Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There are three unique words here. Jesus often uses uncommon words for the purpose of humor. Here, the words are clearly humorous. 

The first is  translated as "use vain repetitions/"keep babbling." It is from a root verb that mean "to be fond of talking." The prefix is name of either a famous stammer, Battos, the king of Cyrene, or a wordy and boring poet, Battus. In either case, means "saying the same thing over and over." It word form is long and complicated.

The next one is related to the first. It is translated as "much speaking/many words." It means literally, "much talking." Its root is the noun form of the verb "to be fond of talking." Obviously, the ideas go together.

The last word  "heard" is not the word Jesus commonly uses that means "hear."  Its root is the standard word for "hear," but it has a prefix that means "towards" or "as much as."  This sens is "to heed" what is said, not only to hear it. Jesus uses this word as his punchline to this verse because its form is quite long and complicated and the topic is being fond of speaking.

NIV : 

Matthew 6:7  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

Wordplay: 

A verse on the volume of words using a few words that speak volumes. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Προσευχόμενοι (part pl pres mp masc nom) "When you pray" is from proseuchomai, which means "to offer prayers or vows", "to worship," and "to pray for a thing. It is the combination of two Greek word, pros, meaning "towards" or "by reason of," and euchomai, meaning "to pray to God."

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").

μὴ (particle) "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.

βατταλογήσητε [unique](verb 2nd pl aor subj act) "Use vain repetitions" is battalogeo, which means "to speak stammeringly", "to say the same thing over and over again," and "to prattle." The root is logeo, (λογάω) which means "to be fond of talking."

ὥσπερ (adv) "As" is from hosper, which means "the very man who", "the very thing, which", "the same as", "wherefore," and "although."

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

ἐθνικοί, (adj pl masc nom) "The heathen" is from ethnikos, which means "national", "provincial", "foriegn," and "gentile." It was used in the same way we would describe someone as an "ethnic" or "foreigner." Foreigners, the Greeks and Romans, were the rulers of the nation in Christ's time.

δοκοῦσιν (3rd pl pres ind act) "They think" is from dokeo, which means "expect", "suppose", "imagine", "have an opinion", "seem", "seem good," and "to be reputed."

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."

ὅτι "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."

ἐν (prep) "For" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῇ (article pl fem nom )  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

πολυλογίᾳ [unique](noun pl fem nom ) "Much speaking" is from polylogia, which means "loquacity", "much to say," and "much talk." Its literal meaning is "many words."

αὐτῶν (adj 3rd 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."

εἰσακουσθήσονται: [unique](3rd pl fut ind pass) "They shall be heard" is from eisakouo, which means "to hearken," "to heed,"  "to give ear to one", "to give way", "to yield to a request", "to perceive", "to feel effect of," and "to hear."

KJV Analysis: 

But -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way.

when -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "when" in the Greek source. It was added because the verb is in a form of possibility.

ye  -- (IW) This is from the plural form of the verb so we assume it addresses the audience, but the verb is not active so it is not in the second person.

pray,  -- (WF) The word translated as "pray" means both offering worship and making a request of the divine. The two concepts were closely tied in the Greek. However, its form in not that of an active verb, but a verb acting as an adjective describing someone acting for themselves, "praying for yourself".

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the word is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act "for yourselves" or "pray by yourselves"

use -- (WF) The Greek word that gets translated as "use vain repetitions" means "to stammer" or "to repeatedly be fond of talking." It is an inherently humorous word about words. The root verb means "to be fond of talking." The form is the second-person plural, but it is not a command. Its form is something that "should" or "might" be done.

not - The negative 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 or don't think something that might be true. 

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

repetitions, -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb.

as -- The Greek word translated as "as" indicates a match with a person or thing, "the very thing, which", "the same as."

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. 

heathen  -- The word translated as "heathen" generally refers to everyone who is not a Jew. This is one of two similar words that often get translated as "gentiles," but this is the less common form, which more clearly means "foreigners."  Jesus uses this word in contrast with "friends" so "strangers."

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

for -- The Greek word translated as "for" introduces a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since", and "because" all word.

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

think -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "they think" doesn't mean think as much as it means "expect" or "imagine."

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

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

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.

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

heard -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "heard" is a more complicated word than in translation. It is a compound word meaning "to hear in regard to." The sense "to heed" or  "to listen to." Since it is passive, it means to be heard in regard to something. It means that someone has been listened to and their advice followed or it means that someone has granted a request made of them. It is in the future tense. 

for -- (WW)  The Greek word translated as "for" in "for much talk" is the preposition that means "in" and "on."

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. 

much speaking. -- The Greek word translated as "much speaking," means "loquacity" and literally "many words" or, more precisely, "much talking".

KJV Translation Issues: 

11
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "you" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "pray" is not an active verb but a participle, "praying."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "by/for yourselves" as its object.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "use" is not a command, but a possibility that "should" or "might" happen.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "vain" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "do" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "think" should be "imagine."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "heard" is not the simple "heard" but a version that means "heed."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "for" should be "in."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "much speaking" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

And-- (WW)The Greek word translated as "and" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way.

when -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "when" in the Greek source. It was added because the verb is in a form of possibility.

you -- (IW) This is from the plural form of the verb so we assume it addresses the audience, but the verb is not active so it is not in the second person.

pray,  -- (WF) The word translated as "pray" means both offering worship and making a request of the divine. The two concepts were closely tied in the Greek. However, its form in not that of an active verb, but a verb acting as an adjective describing someone acting for themselves, "praying for yourself".

missing "by/for yourselves"-- (WV) A phrase is necessary because the form of the word is a middle voice, which means that the subject is to  act "for yourselves" or "pray by yourselves"

do -- (WW) This helping verb is used to create commands, negative statements, but the form of this word requires a helping verb of either "should" or "might."

not - The negative 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 or don't think something that might be true. 

keep on babbling -- (WF) The Greek word that gets translated as "use vain repetitions" means "to stammer" or "to repeatedly be fond of talking." It is an inherently humorous word about words. The root verb means "to be fond of talking." The form is the second-person plural, but it is not a command. Its form is something that "should" or "might" be done.

like -- The Greek word translated as "as" indicates a match with a person or thing, "the very thing, which", "the same as."

untranslated "the"-- (MW) The untranslated word "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. 

pagans-- The word translated as "pagans" generally refers to everyone who is not a Jew. This is one of two similar words that often get translated as "gentiles," but this is the less common form, which more clearly means "foreigners."  Jesus uses this word in contrast with "friends" so "strangers."

for -- The Greek word translated as "for" introduces a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since", and "because" all word.

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

think -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "they think" doesn't mean think as much as it means "expect" or "imagine."

untranslated "that"-- (MW) The untranslated word "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

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

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

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

heard -- (CW) The Greek verb translated as "heard" is a more complicated word than in translation. It is a compound word meaning "to hear in regard to." The sense "to heed" or  "to listen to." Since it is passive, it means to be heard in regard to something. It means that someone has been listened to and their advice followed or it means that someone has granted a request made of them. It is in the future tense. 

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

untranslated "in"-- (MW) The untranslated word "in"  is the preposition that means "in" and "on."

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. 

many words. -- The Greek word translated as "much speaking," means "loquacity" and literally "many words" or, more precisely, "much talking".

NIV Translation Issues: 

14
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "you" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "do" should be "should."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "pray" is not an active verb but a participle, "praying."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "by/for yourselves" as its object.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "keep on babbling" is not a command, but a possibility that "should" or "might" happen.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "pagan" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "think" should be "imagine."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The word translated as "heard" is not the simple "heard" but a version that means "heed."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "because of" doesn't exist in the source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "in"  is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "many words" is not shown in the English translation.

The Spoken Version: 

The audience clapped, but a foreigner complained loudly, “What about religious pageantry? Magnificence? Flamboyance?”
“Praying, like that?” The speaker responded cheerfully, “I don’t want to babble like the foreigners because they think that—in their long-windedness—they are going to be listened to.”

evidence: 

54.00

Front Page Date: 

May 30 2020