Matthew 23:26 You blind Pharisee, first clean what is within the cup

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Sightless elite, initially purify the inside of the cup [and the meat platter] in order that the outside of it might just become pure.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse stands apart from the previous verses in this section for several reasons. First, is uses a couple of key double meanings, while the verses before have been free of wordplay, mostly because they were humorous on their face. This verse also changes the "blind pharisee" from the plural to the singular. It uses a command, which we haven't seen before. The "inside" and "outside" here are different forms than used in the previous verse, Mat 23:25, but are from the same root. The hidden reason for the change of word form is the double meaning of this word. Finally, there was likely something added to this verse from what Christ said. Also, do understand this verse, we should understand that Jewish purification rituals involves pouring water from a container, with is the general meaning of "cup."

"Blind" is from a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses.

"Pharisee" is an example of where we use the Greek word as the name of the relitious sect, instead of translating it. In Greek, the word means the "separatists" or "the judgmental," but it is from a Hebrew word meaning "distinguished" or "elite." Here, it is singular, while previously Christ has been using the plural form of the word.

The Greek word translated as "clean," means to remove dirt. It is used for a lot of specific types of "cleaning" including cleansing a person of leprosy but it also has a general meaning of "purifying" anything. It is the word used for Jewish ritual washing for purification. It is in a form of a command.

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 two words translated as "that which is within" are an article, "the," and an adverb meaning "within," this is a different form of the same root word used in the previous verse translated as "inwardly." The Greek article, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one," so "the one within."

The inside is not a noun, but adverb but Jesus uses it like a noun. As in English, "inside" had the sense of "insider" and "being special" in contrast to "outsider" and "being common." This is the same structure that is used later in the verse translated as "the outside." Both "the inside" and "the outside" are singular.

The word for "of the cup" means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple. The cup is used by Christ as a symbol for sharing burdens.

The word translated as "platter" is specifically a platter for meat, and it a metaphor for "fresh tastes." This word and the preceding "and" do not appear in all Greek manuscripts. It seems likely that is was added to conform with the previous verse. However, because the articles with "inside" and "outside" are singular, it seems this is likely that the original was without the "and the platter" phase.

The word translated as "that" is not the simple demonstrative pronoun, but a word that means "there", "where," and "in order that."

"The outside" is from two Greek words like "that which is within" above. The first is the article, "the" and the second is the adverb that means "outside" and "without." Like the "within" above, this is from the same root words as the outside in the previous verse, but it is a different word. More interesting, this word has a number of special meanings when used as a noun as it is here. It means "external part," but it also means "outsider" and "the common people." This is likely why the word was changed here from the previous verse, since the word used previously does not have these meanings.

The Greek word translated as "clean" means "physically clean", "spotless," "free of contamination", "clear of debt", "genuine", "pure of birth", "without blemish," and "sound."

The word translated as "may be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state. The "may" part comes from the form of the verb which indicates something that "might" happen. The form is singular, which indicates that the "and platter" was NOT part of the original statement, because the number does not agree. In the Greek, the verb follows almost directly after the "cup and platter" phrase.

The "also" is from the word usually used as the conjunction "and" but which means "also" or "just." "Just" fits best here because of the tentative form of the verb.

 

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Φαρισαῖε (noun sg masc voc) "Pharisee" is from Pharisaios, which means "the separated", "the separate ones", "separatist" and refers to the religious sect. The word comes from the Hebrew, pharash, which means "to distinguish." So the sense is also "the distinguished" or "the elite."

τυφλέ, [uncommon](adj sg masc voc) "Blind" is from typhlos, which means "blind", "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim", "obscure", "dark," [of passages] "blind", "enclosed", "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

καθάρισον (verb 2nd sg aor imperat) "Ye make clean" is from katharizo, which means "to clean", "to clear the ground of weeds,""prune away", "to remove dirt", "to purify,"and "to remove impurities." It is also used to describe the removal of the inedible parts from grain (winnowing), clearing weeds from a field, pruning a plant and so on.

πρῶτον (adj sg masc acc) "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."

τὸ (article sg neut acc/nom) "That which is" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here it is separated from the noun by a conjunction. -

ἔντος [uncommon] (adverb) "Within" is from entos, which means "within", "inside", "on this side", "acquainted with," of time "within", "short of," i.e. "before."

τοῦ ποτηρίου (noun sg neut gen) "Cup" is from poterion, which means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple.

[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."

τῆς παροψίδος], [uncommon](noun sg fem gen) Platter" is from paropsis, which means "platter on which meat is served." It is a metaphor for "fresh tastes."

ἵνα "That" is from hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

γένηται (verb 3rd sg aor subj mid) "May be" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

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."

τὸ "The" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here it is separated from the noun by a conjunction.

ἐκτὸς (adv) "Outside" is from the adverb ektos, which means "without", "outside,"with verbs of motion, "out," as a preposition, "out of", "far from", "beyond", "exempt from", "except", "without the consent of," as a noun, "external things", "strangers", "foreigners", "the vulgar," and "the common herd."

αὐτοῦ (adj sg 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."

καθαρόν. (adj sg masc acc) "Clean" is from katharos, which means "physically clean", "spotless", "clear", "pure (water)", "clear of objects", "free of contamination", "clear of debt", "genuine", "pure of birth", "without blemish," and "sound."

Wordplay: 

The word translated as ""clean" also has the sense of ritual purification as well as removing dirt. 

The word for "first" also means "primary," "initial," "foremost," etc.

The word translated as "the inside" also has the sense of "insider" and "special." 

The word translated as "the outside" also has the sense of "outsider" and "common." 

The Spoken Version: 

"Blind elite," he said addressing his chief accuser. "First, remove the dirt from the special..."

Since this was addressed to them, his accusers reacted angrily, but he clarified, "Inside of the cup."

He made a gesture cleaning the inside of this his imaginary cup. The crowd laughed at the interchange. And this drew more protests from his accusers.

"In order that," he continued, holding up his hand to quiet the conflict.

"The common, " he said, gesturing to the crowd at first, but then to the cup. "Outside of it."

The crowd chuckled at his wordplay.

"Might just possibly become pure." he finished.

Related Verses: