Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth?

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Who, consequently, higher, the one reclining or the one serving? Certainly not the one reclining! I, myself, however, in comparison with you? As I am that one serving!

KJV : 

Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse starts with a joke or play on words that is entirely lost in translation. Jesus asks who is higher, the one reclining, as they did at meals in Jesus's time, or the one serving? If we follow what he says, at this point, Jesus was probably standing up, helping serve the meal. The last part doesn't quite follow unless we assume some actions involved.

The word translated as "for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause". 

The word translated as "whether" means primarily "anything" or "anyone," but Jesus often uses it to start a question so it means "who", "what", or even "why". 

There is no "is" in the first part of this verse, but since all the words are in the form of a subject and compared, it can be assumed or added.

The joke is on the multiple meanings of the word translated as "greater." It is an adjective which is the comparative form of the word meaning "big" or "great," but it also means "higher", "longer," and simply, "superior."

The word translated as "he that " is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." See this article for more. 

The word translated as "sitteth" doesn't mean "sit" directly. It means "be laid up" as a votive offering in the temple, "to be dedicated", "lie at table" and "reclining." In Jesus's time, people reclined at meals. It is a verb in the form of an adjective, but with the article before it, it acts as a noun, "the one reclining."

There is no "at meat" in the Greek. It is added to clarify that the word translated as "sitteth" describes how people at.

"Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison. Here it is a comparison and we can see how it works as both.

The word translated as "he that " is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." See this article for more. 

The Greek verb translated as "serveth means "to act as a servant", "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister".  Jesus uses it, however, consistently to describe those serving a meal. This is the punchline. Imagine Jesus pausing afterwards to let his followers figure out his meaning.

There is no "is" here in the Greek. It seems an unnecessary addition.

The word translated as "not" is a different form of the usual Greek negative of fact meaning "no truly", "assuredly not", "not however", "nevertheless," and "notwithstanding."

The word translated as "he that " is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." See this article for more. 

The word translated as "sitteth" doesn't mean "sit" directly. It means "be laid up" as a votive offering in the temple, "to be dedicated", "lie at table" and "reclining." In Jesus's time, people reclined at meals. It is a verb in the form of an adjective, but with the article before it, it acts as a noun, "the one reclining."

There is no "at meat" in the Greek. It is added to clarify that the word translated as "sitteth" describes how people at.

The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  This comes after the "I, myself".

The pronoun "I" is added to add emphasis that he is referring to his own words. It is unnecessary because the first-person indication is part of the verb ending. Christ sometimes uses it humorously to refer to himself.

The verb "am" 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. 

"Among" is two Greek words meaning "in middle." The word translated as "in" also means "within", "with," or "among." The word "middle" has a lot of special meanings with different prepositions. One of those with the "in" is "offer for competition," "in comparison," and "middle point." Since this verse is  about a comparison, the "in comparison" might be most accurate."

The word translated as "your" is plural addressing a group of Jesus's listeners.

The word translated as "as" has a very broad meaning, translating as "how", "when", "where", "just as", "like," and related words.

The word translated as "he that " is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." See this article for more. 

The Greek verb translated as "serveth means "to act as a servant", "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister".  Jesus uses it, however, consistently to describe those serving a meal. This is the punchline. Imagine Jesus pausing afterwards to let his followers figure out his meaning.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

τίς ( irreg sg masc nom ) "Whether" is 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." -- The Greek word translated as "some" in the singular means "anyone", "someone," and "anything." In the plural, it means "some", "they," and "those."  --

γὰρ (partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question, it means "why" and "what."

μείζων, (adj sg masc nom comp) "Greatest" is meizon which means "bigger", "higher", "longer," and "greater" and is the comparative form of megas, which means "big" and "great." The superlative form "greatest" is megistos, μέγιστος.--

(article sg masc nom) "He that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ἀνακείμενος ( part sg pres mp masc nom ) "Sitteth at meat" is from anakeimai, which means to "be laid up" as a votive offering in the temple, "to be dedicated", "to be set up" as a statue in public, "to be put aside", "lie at table," and "recline." --

(conj/adv) "Or" is e which is a particle meaning "either", "or," or "than." --

(article sg masc nom) "He that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

διακονῶν; ( part sg pres act masc nom ) "Serveth" is from diakoneo, which "to act as a servant", "to minister," and "to perform services." --

οὐχὶ (partic) "Not" is ouchi, an adverb which means "no", "no truly", "assuredly not", "not however", "nevertheless," "notwithstanding", "yet", "still", "never yet", "for not", "indeed", "for surely not", "no,—certainly not", "for I don't suppose," and "for in no manner."

(article sg masc nom) "He that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." -- The word translated as "goods" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

ἀνακείμενος ( part sg pres mp masc nom ) "Sitteth at meat" is from anakeimai, which means to "be laid up" as a votive offering in the temple, "to be dedicated", "to be set up" as a statue in public, "to be put aside", "lie at table," and "recline." -- The word translated as "the guests" doesn't mean "guests" directly. It means "be laid up" as a votive offering in the temple, "to be dedicated", "lie at table" and "reclining." It is a verb acting as a noun, "the reclining."

ἐγὼ (pron sg masc nom) "I" is ego, which is the firs-person singular pronoun meaning "I". It also means "I at least", "for my part", "indeed," and "for myself."

δὲ (conj/adv) "But" is 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"). --

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

μέσῳ ( adj sg masc dat )  Untranslated is mesos, which means "middle", "middle point", "midway between", "offered for competition", "deposited," "by the middle", "by the waist", "impartial", "inter-mediate", "indeterminate", "things indifferent (neither good nor bad)", "middling", "moderate", "midst", "intervening space", "intervening", "difference", "in a moderate degree", "in the mean," and "equator." --

ὑμῶν (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." --

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

ὡς (adv/conj) "How" is hos, an adverb which means to "thus", "as", "how", "when", "where", "like", "just as", "so far as", "as much as can be", "that", "in order that", "nearly (with numbers)," and "know that."

(article sg masc nom) "He that" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." -- The word translated as "goods" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

διακονῶν  ( part sg pres act masc nom ) "Serveth" is from diakoneo, which "to act as a servant", "to minister," and "to perform services." -- The Greek verb translated as "serve" means "to act as a servant", "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister". 

Front Page Date: 

Feb 8 2019