Matthew 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

KJV Verse: 

Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

That is the high and initial command.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is a word-The adjectives used here have a lot of different meanings, It is interesting that Christ does not use superlatives (greatest") or comparatives ("greater"), though the KJV makes it sound that way. The KJV also reverses the order of the adjectives. The obvious thing is to a say a word like "first" first but he doesn't. He says it second because it is more entertaining that way.

KJV Analysis: 

This -- "This" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer."

is -- The verb "is" 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.

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"). See this article for more. 

first -- The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially." The gender of this adjective matches the gender of the word "commandment" so it clearly refers to it from the question Jesus was asked.

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." After words implying sameness "as".

great -The word translated as "great" means "big", "high" "great," and "impressive."

commandment. -- -- The word translated as "commandments" has the sense of a direct "order" or "command" given by someone as opposed to a body of law or tradition in society.

Greek Vocabulary: 

αὕτη (adj sg fem nom) "This" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

ἐστὶν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

(article sg fem nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")."

μεγάλη (adj sg fem nom) "Great" is from megas, which means "big", "full-grown", "vast", "high", "great", "mighty", "strong (of the elements)",l "Loud" (of sounds), "over-great,(with a bad sense), "impressive" (of style), and "long" (of days).

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

πρώτη (adj sg fem nom) "First" is from protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best."

ἐντολή. "Commandment" is from entole which means "injunction", "order," and "command."

Wordplay: 

Saying the word "first" second. 

Related Verses: