Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them: for your Father knows

KJV Verse: 

Mat 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

You all don't want really to become like them. Since he has perceived, [God,] the Father of yours, what needs you have before anyone. Yours? Ask him.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There are a number of words that are not translated in the KJV. They are in the middle of this phrase. What is lost here is the sense that we do not really see our own needs. These words create a lot more meaning from it than what is offered in the KJV.

The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion. 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.

The "ye" here is a part of the verb, but it is not singular as we have seen in the earlier verses about praying addressed to "you" (Mat 6:5 , Mat 6:6). Though translated as "you" in the KJV, the previous verses verb was in the first person (Mat 6:)

The Greek word translated either as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative. either works here, but the "really" seems to make difference between real and false charity here.

The verb translated as "" is a verb that means "to make like" and, in the passive, as used here, "to become like."

The "them" refers to the Greek word "foreigners" in the previous verse, Mat 6:7.

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

The Greek for "God" appears in some sources but not others, which is why it is shown in brackets. It appears before "the Father of yours". Both appear after the verb.

The verb translated as "knoweth" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." Here, the verb is the perfect tense, meaning something completed in the past. This verb comes before the word "God" and "the Father", which is common, but here the verb is separated from the noun by the "for" so Christ's audience would have heard it long before the explanation of who sees.

The word translated as "what things" is a demonstrative pronoun. However, there is a problem with making it the object of the sentence, that is, what God sees, because it is the wrong case. This and the following word, "needs", are used primarily as a comparison, which accounts for their form. The comparison compares the needs you see with the ones that God sees.

The noun that the KJV translates as "need of" means "needs." It is plural matches the form of the "what" above. So the sense is "what needs."

The "you have" is the Greek word usually translated as "have". However, "needs" is not its object. The phrase just describes the needs, "what needs you have."

The Greek word translated as "before" here means "before" both in position and in time.

There is an untranslated Greek word here meaning "anything," "something" or "what" or it is an article, which, without a noun, means "the one". However, as an article, it doesn't match any of the words around it. As a pronoun, referring to previous words, it is irregular so it can match any form of a word.

There is another word that is either translated incorrectly as "you" or left untranslated. The word means "your" as an adjective and "you" as an object. The form it is in at first looks odd because it is a feminine plural object. However, this matches the form of the "needs" above, so its use in this form implies those needs.

The Greek word translated as "ask" is in the form of a command. "Ask!". It is singular, which represents a change from the beginning of the sentence, which uses the plural "you".

Greek Vocabulary: 

μὴ (partic) "No" is from me, which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no."

οὖν (adv) "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

ὁμοιωθῆτε (2nd pl aor subj pass) "" is from homoioo, which means "to make like", "to become like", "to liken," and "to compare.

αὐτοῖς, (adj pl masc dat) "Them" 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."

οἶδεν (3rd sg perf ind act) "Knowth" is from eido which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

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." It always appears in the second position in a phrase.

[ὁ θεὸς] (noun sg masc nom) "God" is from theos, which means "God," the Deity."

πατὴρ (noun sg masc nom) "The Father" is from pater, which means "father", "grandfather", "author", "parent," and "forefathers."

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

ὧν (pron pl fem gen) "What things" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

χρείαν (noun pl fem gen) "Need of" is from chreia, which means "need", "want", "poverty", "a request of a necessity", "business", "military service", "a business affair", "employment", "familiarity", "intimacy," and "maxim."

ἔχετε (2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye have" is from echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

πρὸ (prep/adv) "Before" is from pro, which means (of place) "before", "in front of," (of time) "before," (of preference) "before", "rather than", "more than," and do on. As a preposition, it takes a genitive object.

τοῦ (pron sg gen attic indeclform) Untranslated is 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." OR (article sg masc gen) It is the Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ὑμᾶς (adj sg fem gen or pron 2nd pl acc or adj pl fem acc) Untranslated is the adjective form of humas, which is the 2nd person plural pronoun.

αἰτῆσαι (verb 2nd sg aor imperat mid ) "Asked" is from aiteo, which means "to ask", "to demand", "to beg", "to claim," and "to ask for one's own use."

αὐτόν. (adj sg masc acc ) "Him" 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."


 The use of "to have" where it it creates a play on words, "Want what you have" inside of the verse. 

The Spoken Version: 

“You all don’t want,” he continued more seriously, “really, to become like them. Because He has seen, the Divine—that Father of yours—what needs you all have before anyone.”
“Why should He care about my needs?” A cranky-sounding woman’s voice called out.
“Yours?” The speaker asked, pointing at her. Then indicating the sky with both hands, he told the woman, “Ask Him!”

Related Verses: 

Feb 25 2017