Matthew 23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing;

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever swears by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And those who promise at the altar are nothing but those who swear by [putting] gifts on it are owed [something in return].

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Again, the sense is that these attacks are primarily humorous, getting people to laught at the scribes and Pharisees. The humor here is partly repetition, Mat 23:16, and partly the images and double meanings. A lot of the images are lost in translation because the key words, "altar" and "gift" don't mean today what they did in Christ's time.

The word translated as "whosoever" is a demonstrative pronoun, ("this", "that,") but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

There is an untranslated word here that conveys the sense of something that might or could happen.

The word translated as "shall swear" means "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is an uncommon word for Christ but doesn't have any double meanings. It is not in the future tense, but a form indicating something that might happen.

The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

The Greek word translated as "nothing" also means "no one" and other negatives nouns.

The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way.

The words for "whoever swears on" are identical to the first part of the phrase until we come to the word for "gift."

The word translated as "gift" means "gift," or "offering" but it has the special meaning of an offering to the gods. These gifts were "burnt" offerings, offerings that were burnt upon the grill that was the altar.

"He is a debtor" is from a verb that means "to owe," and "to have to pay." The form of this verb means "he owes." There is not verb "is" or "debtor" here.

Greek Vocabulary: 

καί "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."

Ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἂν Untranslated is an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

ὀμόσῃ [uncommon] (verb 3rd sg aor subj act) "Swear" is from omnyo, which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

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

τῷ θυσιαστηρίῳ, (uncommon] (noun sg masc dat) "The altar" is from thysiastērion , which means "altar."

οὐδέν (adj sg neut nom) "Nothing" is from oudeis which means "no one", "not one", "nothing", "naught", "good for naught," and "no matter."

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

ὃς (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

δ᾽ "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").

ἂν Untranslated is an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

ὀμόσῃ [uncommon] (verb 2nd sg fut/aor ind/subk mid "Swear" is from omnyo, 2nd sg aor imperat mid) which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

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

τῷ δώρῳ (noun sg neut dat) "Gift" is from dôron (doron) which means "gift", "present," and specifically a "votive gift" or "offering" to a god. The simpler term without the sense of a votive offering is "dorea."

τῷ (pron sg dat) "That is" 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."

ἐπάνω "Upon" is from epano, which is an adverb meaning "above", "on the upper side", "[former] times", "more [of numbers]", "in front of," and "in the presence of."

αὐτοῦ (adj masc/neut gen) "It" 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."

ὀφείλει: [uncommon] (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Debtor" is from opheilo, which means "to owe", "to have to pay," "to account for," and, in the passive, "to be due," "to be bound", "to be obliged (to do)"

The Spoken Version: 

"And," he continued, switching back into the funny voice mimicking his accusers. "Anyone who might make promises on the temple is a nothing."

He repeated the blind swipe of his arms indicating the crowd as he said "nothing." The crowd laughed again.

"But whoever promises on the offering on it," he continued, drawing out the word gift and sniffing as if smelling something good cooking and licking his lips.

The crowd laughed again.

Then he struck a pose as if deciding something profound, "He has to pay."

The crowd laughed.

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