Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing...

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Sermon on the Mount, visible and invisible, the disguised

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Hold out from these fake luminaries!  Those who show up before you in coverings of sheep. Inwardly, however, they are rapacious wolves!

KJV : 

Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse is constructed of double meanings, most of which are lost in translation. As we have seen for the last several verses, the Greek has an economic meaning that is hidden in translation. The phrase "in sheep's clothing" also means "under cover of the herd" while "ravening wolves" also means a "hook for robbing." The image is someone trying to get close to you so that they can get their claws into you.

The first Gree word translated as "beware/watch out" is a funny one because its primary meaning is to "hold to" and "cling to." It is more commonly used as  "devoted to" and "pay attention to," than the sense that Jesus uses always uses it which is "hold from" or, as we would stay in English, "stay away from." "Hold out from" might capture the feeling best in English, since it uses the primary sense of "hold" the word has.

The word translated as "wolves" and "ravening" both have a secondary meaning of a "hook" or "grappling hook."
 

NIV : 

Matthew 7:15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

Wordplay: 

 "In sheep's clothing" also means "under cover of the herd." 

"Ravening wolves" also means a "hook for thieves." Both the Greek word for "wolves" and "ravening" also mean a "hook". 

My Takeaway: 

Neither the easy to see nor the hard to see is a lie, but what is intentionally hidden is a lie.

Greek Vocabulary: 

Προσέχετε [9 verses](2nd pl pres imperat act) "Beware" is the Greek prosecho, which means "hold to", "to offer", "turn to or toward," "to turn your mind toward," "to be on one's guard against", "to take heed", "to pay attention", "to devote oneself to", "to attach oneself", "to continue", "to hold fast to [a thing]," "to have in addition," or "pay court to." It is from the root of the Greek word "to have" with a prefix that means "toward", "for", and "before".

ἀπὸ (prep) "Of" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τῶν (article)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). --

ψευδοπροφητῶν, [5 verses] (noun pl masc gen) "False prophets" is from pseudoprophētēs which means a "false" or "lying" prophet, which means "one who speaks for a god and interprets his will", "interpreter", "keepers of the oracle", "the highest level of priesthood in Egypt," and "herald." In the Septuagint, this word is used to translated the Hebrew nabiy' (נָבִיא), which is the same word translated as "prophet." It seems to have been used to separate Israel's true prophets from those the Septuagint translators saw as pretenders.

οἵτινες (pron pl masc nom) "Which" is hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

ἔρχονται (3rd pl pres ind mp) "Come" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place. The English phrase "show up" captures many of its meanings.

πρὸς (prep) "To" is from pros, which means "on the side of", "in the direction of", "from (place)", "towards" "for", "before", "in the presence of", "in the eyes of", "in the name of", "by reason of", "before (supplication)", "proceeding from (for effects)", "dependent on", "derivable from", "agreeable,""becoming", "like", "at the point of", "in addition to", "against," and "before."

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas , which is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

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

ἐνδύμασι [6 verses] (noun pl neut dat) "Clothing" is from endyma, which means "garment," and "covering."

προβάτων (noun pl neut gen ) "Sheep" is from probaton, which means any domesticated four-footed animal, "sheep", "cattle", "herds," and "flocks.

ἔσωθεν [9 verses](adv) "Inwardly" is esothen, which means "from within", "inside", "within," and "inward."

δέ (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").

εἰσιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "They are" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." It can also mean "must" with a dative.

λύκοι [3 verses](noun pl masc nom ) "Wolves" is lykos, which means "wolf," and "jackal." Its secondary meaning is "anything shaped like a hook", "a meat hook," and "the bit of a horse." As an adjective in various phrases, it was used to means "vain", "treacherous," and "inescapable."

ἅρπαγες. [2 verses](noun pl masc nom ) "Ravening" is harpax, which means "robbing", "rapacious," "rapine", "robber", "peculator", "a type of wolf", "grappling-iron," and "meat hook."

KJV Analysis: 

Beware  - The word translated as "beware" means"hold to", "offer", "turn toward", "attend to", "pay attention," and "be on your guard against. Its root is the Greek word meaning "have" and "hold". It works somewhat like our phrase "hold fast". The word "guard" might  It is a command to the group of listeners.

of -- The word translated as "from" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. It also means "against" which is the sense here. In English, we use a different preposition,  saying "beware of," "watch out for," or "guard against."

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. 

false prophets,  - (UW) "False prophets" a hybrid Greek word that means "lying interpreters of god's will" or "fake interpreters." This Greek word appears for the first time in the Septuagint, the Greek OT in Jeremiah.  -

which  - (WW) The "which" that appears in this verse is not the common Greek word that means "which" or "who", but a more complex that means "anyone who" and which is often translated in the NT as "whosoever". This phrase may indicate the start of a definition of the previous term. This word is plural.

come  -- (WV) The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas.  See this article for more. However, this word is in a form that makes it  the middle voice, so "comes for/by yourself."

to  - The Greek word translated as "to" indicates all types of relationship from "towards" to "in the presence of" to "against." So this phrase could mean "toward you" or "against you" or "like you." It is not the common Greek prepositions that are usually translated as "in" and "into".

you  - The word "you" is plural, indicating all of Christ's listeners.

in - The word translated as "in" means "in", "within", "among," or "at".

sheep's  - The word translated as "sheep" means any domesticated animal and their herds. The appostrophe comes from its genitive form.

clothing,  - The word translated as "clothing" means "clothing" or "covering." Remember, clothing indicated social status in Christ's time much more than it does today.

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

inwardly  - "Inwardly" is a Greek adverb meaning "from within" and "inside". This word is only used by Jesus twice.

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

are -- The verb "are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the clause before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." 

ravening  - The word translated as "ravening" means "robbing", "rapacious," "rapine", "robber", "peculator", "a type of wolf", "grappling-iron," and "meat hook."

wolves. -- The Greek word for "wolves" means wolves or jackals, but it is also the name for anything shaped like a hook. It is in the possessive modifying "midst", "competition," and "difference." The wolves are not a flock or a group, though many, but separated and in competition with a group.

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "false prophets" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "false prophets" means "false luminaries." "Prophets" is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "which" should be "anyone who."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "by/themselves" as its object.

NIV Analysis: 

Watch out- The word translated as "beware" means"hold to", "offer", "turn toward", "attend to", "pay attention," and "be on your guard against. Its root is the Greek word meaning "have" and "hold". It works somewhat like our phrase "hold fast". The word "guard" might  It is a command to the group of listeners.

for -- The word translated as "for" means "from" in both location and when referring to a source. It also means "against" which is the sense here. In English, we use a different preposition,  saying "beware of," "watch out for," or "guard against."

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. 

false prophets,  - (UW) "False prophets" a hybrid Greek word that means "lying interpreters of god's will" or "fake interpreters." This Greek word appears for the first time in the Septuagint, the Greek OT in Jeremiah.  -

They - (WW) The "they" that appears in this verse is not the common Greek word that means "which" or "who", but a more complex that means "anyone who" and which is often translated in the NT as "whosoever". This phrase may indicate the start of a definition of the previous term. This word is plural.

come  -- (WV) The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Jesus usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas.  See this article for more. However, this word is in a form that makes it  the middle voice, so "comes for/by yourself."

MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "false prophets" is not shown in the English translation.

UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "false prophets" means "false luminaries." "Prophets" is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.

WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "which" should be "anyone who."

WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "by/themselves" as its object.

to  - The Greek word translated as "to" indicates all types of relationship from "towards" to "in the presence of" to "against." So this phrase could mean "toward you" or "against you" or "like you." It is not the common Greek prepositions that are usually translated as "in" and "into".

you  - The word "you" is plural, indicating all of Christ's listeners.

in - The word translated as "in" means "in", "within", "among," or "at".

sheep's  - The word translated as "sheep" means any domesticated animal and their herds. The apostrophe comes from its genitive form.

clothing,  - The word translated as "clothing" means "clothing" or "covering." Remember, clothing indicated social status in Christ's time much more than it does today.

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

inwardly  - "Inwardly" is a Greek adverb meaning "from within" and "inside". This word is only used by Jesus twice.

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

are -- The verb "are" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the clause before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are." 

ferocious - The word translated as "ferocious" means "robbing", "rapacious," "rapine", "robber", "peculator", "a type of wolf", "grappling-iron," and "meat hook."

wolves. -- The Greek word for "wolves" means wolves or jackals, but it is also the name for anything shaped like a hook. It is in the possessive modifying "midst", "competition," and "difference." The wolves are not a flock or a group, though many, but separated and in competition with a group.

NIV Translation Issues: 

4
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "false prophets" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "false prophets" means "false luminaries." "Prophets" is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "they" should be "anyone who."
  • WV  - Wrong Voice - The verb is in the middle voice requiring the concept of "by/themselves" as its object.

The Spoken Version: 

As the crowd quieted, a leader of the Dedicated shouted out, “This man is a fool! He is no shining light!”
“Hold fast against fake shining lights!” The speaker countered, seemingly agreeing with his accuser.
This confused everyone. A few chuckled.
“Those who make their way toward you in coverings of sheep,” the teacher clarified. “Inwardly, however, they are wolves!” He made his hands into claws, snarling, and rending the air. “Rapacious!”

evidence: 

96.00

Front Page Date: 

Jul 10 2020