Matthew 25:12 But he answered and said,

KJV Verse: 

Mat 25:12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

The one, however, answering said, "Truly I tell you, I never really saw you."

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The joke here is crystal clear to anyone familiar with Christ's words. It is not as obvious to those not looking for humor in Christ's words.

"Answered" is a verb that means to "set apart," "choose", "answer" a question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself." In the NT, in this form, it means "answering", but the adjective "answering" is preceded by a "the", the sense is "the one answering" or "the answerer."

The word translated as "said" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

The "verily" phrase is used frequently by Christ. Its meaning is discussed in detail in this article. He uses it like someone would say, "Tell you true!" Here, it is the beginning of the punch line. Only one person uses this line, Christ himself. Until now, he has been telling the story as if the "bridegroom" was a character. The joke now is that it was him, all along.

The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. It is in the tense that indicates something completed in the past. The joke is the double meaning. He didn't "see" them because they weren't ready, their lamps weren't working, but Christ uses this word to also means "see."

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea. This word, coming before the verb in the Greek, is also part of the job because it means he isn't expressing an opinion but a fact.

Greek Vocabulary: 

(article sg masc nom) "He" is from 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." When it preceded an adjective (the "answering" below), it makes the adjective work like a noun.

δὲ (conj) "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").

ἀποκριθεὶς (part sg aor pass masc nom) "Answered" is from apokrinomai that means to "set apart," "choose", "exclude," "reject on examination", "decide", "answer" the question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself" and, in the passive, "to be parted or separated." In the Gospels, it is always translated as "answered."

εἶπεν "And said" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer." -- "Speak you" is from means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

Ἀμὴν "Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly", "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek of this meaning before the NT. However, this is also the infinitive form of the Greek verb amao, which means "to reap" or "to cut." -- The word translated as "verily" is from the Hebrew word that means "truly" or "certainly," but it sounds like the Greek word with the same meaning. In Greek, the word also means "to reap."

λέγω (1st sg pres ind act) "I tell" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

ὑμῖν, (pron 2nd pl dat) "Unto you" is from humin the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

οὐκ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

οἶδα (verb 1st sg perf ind act) "Know" is from oida which is a form of eido, (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."

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

Wordplay: 

The double meaning of the word translated as "know" is that it also means "see". 

The Spoken Version: 

When the laughter died down, he delivered the punch line.

He said, "But, the one answering said, 'Tell you true..."

At this point, the laughter erupted again. There was only one person that always says, "Tell you true."

"Never really knew you, Never really saw you!" he shouted over the laughter, finishing the joke and laughing himself.

Sep 26 2016