Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Parables, Sower, Explanation

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The one, however, on the beautiful ground being seeded, this is the one hearing the message and putting it together; this one of all people bears fruit and produces: this one, indeed, a hundred. This one, however, sixty. This one, however, thirty.

KJV : 

Matthew 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The ending of this verse is humorous in the way the productivity declines instead of grows.  Most of this is left out of translation. If we imagine the actual words spoken, we can see how it is part of a performance. This ending is the same as Matthew 13:8, where it is about the seed not the message ("word"). So it is more humorous because of its repetition. 

This ending describes different people with different levels of productive skills. However, it also describes a field, if replanted with the same seed over and over, produces less and less over time. In other words, it describes the law of diminishing returns. In terms of information theory and Jesus's teaching, this emphasizes the value of the new idea. While a new idea may be greatly productive at first, as that idea spreads, its value spreads through society, but its relative advantage for a given person decreases. A new idea, innovation, is needed to build on the original idea to continue the increate of personal productivity. You might also be interesting in this article on Jesus and Information Theory, which mentions this verse and its connection to productivity.

NIV : 

Matthew 13:23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "good earth" in the original also means "quality dirt" and "productive ground."

My Takeaway: 

Only those who received and put together the message can make it productive to one degress or another.

Related Verses: 

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."

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"). --

ἐπὶ (prep) "Into" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τὴν (article)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

καλὴν (adj sg fem acc) "Good" is from kalos, which means "beautiful", "good", "of fine quality", "noble," and "honorable." It is most often translated as "good" juxtaposed with "evil" in the New Testament, but the two ideas are closer to "wonderful" and "worthless", "noble" and "base."

γῆν (noun sg fem acc) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

σπαρείς, (part sg aor pass masc nom) "He that received the seed" is from speirô, which is a verb, that means "to sow seed", "to scatter like seed," and "to beget offspring.

οὗτός (adj sg masc nom) "He that" 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."

στιν (verb 3rd sg pres) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible."

(pron sg neut nom) Untranslated is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

τὸν (article sg masc acc)   "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

λόγον (noun sg masc acc) "The word" is from logos, which means "computation", "relation", "explanation", "law", "rule of conduct", "continuous statement", "tradition," "word," "discussion," "reckoning," and "value."

ἀκούων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Heareth" is from akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand." -

καὶ (conj) "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."

συνιείς (part sg pres act masc nom) "Understandeth" is from suniêmi (syniemi) which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out.

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

δὴ [1 verse](partic) "Also" is from a Greek particle de, which is used to give greater exactness, after adjectives: "quite", "all", "full", "only", " after adverbs quite: "very", "verily", "surely," with verbs, "verily," with pronouns to mark them strongly, "like", "of all persons", "be they who they may", "one or other," to continue a narrative, "so then", "so," to express what is unexpected, "then," with imperative and subjunctive "but", after the conjunction "and: ""what is more," and "above all."

καρποφορεῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Bears fruit" is from karpophoreô, which means specifically "to bear fruit." It is also a metaphor in Greek, as in English, for virtue. It is the positive from of the term used in the previous verse, akarpos, which means barren.

καὶ (conj) "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."

ποιεῖ (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Bringeth forth" is from poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

(article sg masc nom) "Some" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings. -- The word translated as "that" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

μὲν (partic) Untranslated is men, which is generally used to express certainty and means "indeed", "certainly", "surely," and "truly."

ἑκατὸν ( numeral ) "An hundredfold" is from hekaton, which is the number "a hundred."

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

δὲ (conj) Untranslated 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").

ἑξήκοντα  ( numeral ) "Sixty" is from hexekonta, which means the number "sixty" or "the sixtieth part."

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

δὲ Untranslated 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").

τριάκοντα. ( numeral ) "Thirty" is from triakonta which means "thirty."

KJV Analysis: 

But  - -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

he  - (CW) "He" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine) which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

that -- The word translated as "that" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

received seed  - (WW, WF) "Received seed" is from the verb meaning "to sow," which itself is a verbal form of the Greek word for "seed." Here, the verb is in the passive form of a adjective describing something that is sown at some time, "being sown". Christ Jesus a different form of this same word when referring to the sower (active, not passive). The word is not a form of the Greek word translated as "received," which plays an important role in the previous few verses.

into -- (WW) The word translated as "into" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

good  - The word translated as "good" referring to the "fruit" means "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality." It is different than the verb above. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

ground -- The word translated as "earth" means "ground," "land," "country," and "dirt". Translated as "earth", it refers to the physical planet, not society, which Jesus describes as the world. See this article for more on these words.

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.

he   (CW) "He" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine) which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

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

heareth  - (WF) "Heareth" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding. However, it is in the form of an adjective, "hearing."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

word;  - (CW) "The word" is translated from a Greek word that means "explanation" or "calculation." It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. It translated best as "message" or "idea" in the way Jesus uses it.

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, it is best translated as "not only...but also."

understandeth  - (WF) "Understandeth" is from a Greek verb which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out.  It is not an active verb, but a participle, "hearing."

which  - The word translated as "which" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

also  - "Also" is from a Greek particle which is used only here that means to give greater exactness, with pronouns to mark them strongly,  "like", "of all persons", "be they who they may."

beareth fruit,  - "Bears fruit" is from a Greek verb that specifically "to bear fruit." It is also a metaphor in Greek, as in English, for virtue. It comes from the word for fruit combines with the verb "to bear." It also means "to make a profit." It is the positive from of the term used in the previous verse, which means "barren," "unprofitable," or "fruitless."

and -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

bringeth forth,  - (WW) The Greek word translated as "bringeth forth" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. This word is usually translated as "do," but the English "do" is more general that this work.

some  - (CW) The word translated as "some" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). This article is singular not plural.  See this article for more.

untranslated "indeed"  -- (MW) An untranslated word meaning "indeed" or "surely" appears in the first part of this phrase. It was not translated in Matthew 13:8 was preceded by its use in Matthew 13:4 where it was also untranslated.

an  - -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hundredfold, -  "Hundredfold" is the number "a hundred."

some    - (CW) The word translated as "some" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). This article is singular not plural.  See this article for more.

untranslated "however"  -- (MW)  Another untranslated word appears twice in this phrase, the conjunction that has the meaning "but," "however," or a weak "and" that begins the verse.

sixty,  - "Sixty" means the number "sixty" or "the sixtieth part."

some  -  - (CW) The word translated as "some" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). This article is singular not plural.  See this article for more.

untranslated "however"  -- (MW)  Another untranslated word appears twice in this phrase, the conjunction that has the meaning "but," "however," or a weak "and" that begins the verse.

thirty. - "Thirty" is from the Greek number "thirty."

KJV Translation Issues: 

14
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "he" is usually translated as "the" or "the one."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "received seed" is not an active verb but a participle, "being sown."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "into" should be "on."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "he" is usually translated as "the" or "the one."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "heareth" is not an active verb but a participle, "hearing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" is better translated as "message" or "idea."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "understandeth" is not an active verb but a participle, "hearing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "bringeth forth" should be "produces."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "some" is usually translated as "this" or "this one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "indeed" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "some" is usually translated as "this" or "this one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "some" is usually translated as "this" or "this one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

But  - -- The Greek word translated as "but" means "but", "however", and "on the other hand". It joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.  

the  - (CW) "The" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine) which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." "The" is from the Greek article, "the," (masculine) which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here there is no noun so it should be "the one."

untranslated "that"  -- (MW) An untranslated words "that" is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

seed  -  (WF) "Seed" is not a noun but a verb meaning "to sow," which itself is a verbal form of the Greek word for "seed." It does not contain the Greek word usually translated as "receive." which appears below.  The verb is in the form of an adjective, describing something that is sown at sometime. The verb is passive, so "being seeded."

falling -- -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "falling" in the Greek source.

on -- The word translated as "on" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

untranslated "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word 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. 

good  - The word translated as "good" referring to the "fruit" means "beautiful", "noble," or "of good quality." It is different than the verb above. See this article on the real Greek meaning of the terms translated as "good" and "evil."

soil -- The word translated as "soil" means "ground," "land," "country," and "dirt". Translated as "earth", it refers to the physical planet, not society, which Jesus describes as the world. See this article for more on these words.

refers to - (CW) The verb "refers to" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It is singular present.

someone -- (CW) "Someone" is is the Greek definite article, which when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. This is not the pronoun usually translated in Greek as someone.

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

untranslated "the one"  -- (MW) The untranslated word 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. 

hears - (WF) "Hears" is from a Greek verb that means "to hear" and "to listen." It has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding. However, it is in the form of an adjective, "hearing."

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") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

word, -- (CW) "Word" is translated from a Greek word that means "calculation," or "reasoning," but it has many, many specific meanings from "deliberation" to "narrative."  It is the source of our word "logic" and is the root word for all the English words that end in "-ology." Most biblical translations translated it as "word" for somewhat poetic reasons. More about this word in this article. In English, we would say "idea" to describe it but it also means communication of various types so "message" often works better.=

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

understands  - (WF) "Understands" is from a Greek verb which means "to bring together" or "to set together." It is also a metaphor for "perceive", "hear," and "understand" as we would say that we "put it all together" when figuring something out.  It is not an active verb, but a participle, "hearing."

it. -- This English objective pronoun is added and not in the Greek source.   In Greek, pronoun objects are not repeated after each verb because they are implied by their first occurrence.

This - The word translated as "this" is a demonstrative pronoun, but it often acts as a pronoun, especially a connective pronoun introducing a dependent clause.

is the one who - (WW) This phrase is the Greek particle which is used only here that means to give greater exactness, with pronouns to mark them strongly,  "like", "of all persons", "be they who they may." This is not a phrase with a verb.

produces a crop, ,  - "Produces a crop" is from a Greek verb that specifically "to bear fruit." It is also a metaphor in Greek, as in English, for virtue. It comes from the word for fruit combines with the verb "to bear." It also means "to make a profit." It is the positive from of the term used in the previous verse, which means "barren," "unprofitable," or "fruitless."

untranslated "and"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also").

yielding  --  (WF) "Yielding" is the verb that word has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. This word is usually translated as "do," but the English "do" is more general that this work. This is an active verb, not a participle.

untranslated "this one"  -- (MW) An untranslated word means "this one," the demonstrative pronoun, "this," and "that."

untranslated "indeed"  -- (MW) An untranslated word meaning "indeed" or "surely" appears in the first part of this phrase. It was not translated in Matthew 13:8 was preceded by its use in Matthew 13:4 where it was also untranslated.

a  - -- There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

hundred, -  "Hundred" is the number "a hundred."

untranslated "this one"  -- (MW) An untranslated word means "this one," the demonstrative pronoun, "this," and "that."

untranslated "however"  -- (MW)  Another untranslated word appears twice in this phrase, the conjunction that has the meaning "but," "however," or a weak "and" that begins the verse.

sixty,  - "Sixty" means the number "sixty" or "the sixtieth part."

untranslated "this one"  -- (MW) An untranslated word means "this one," the demonstrative pronoun, "this," and "that."

untranslated "however"  -- (MW)  Another untranslated word appears twice in this phrase, the conjunction that has the meaning "but," "however," or a weak "and" that begins the verse.

thirty. - "Thirty" is from the Greek number "thirty."

NIV Translation Issues: 

21
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "the" is usually translated as "the one."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "seed" is not an active noun but a participle, "being sown."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- There is nothing that can be translated as "falling" in the Greek source.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the " modifying "good soil" is not shown in the English translation
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "refers to" is the verb "is."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "someone" is not the word usually translated as "someone."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the one" modifying "hearing" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "hears" is not an active verb but a participle, "hearing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" is better translated as "message" or "idea."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "but" should be "and."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "understands" is not an active verb but a participle, "understanding."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "of all persons" should be "is the one who."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "yielding" is not an active verb but a participle, "produces."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "this one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "indeed" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "this one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "this one" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

This is another verse rich in symbolism much of which is not explained. For example, the "good earth" is symbolic of the physical body while the "putting together" of understanding refers to the body. "Seeds" are Christ's symbol for knowledge or the beginning of knowledge.

The Spoken Version: 

“The one, however, being seeded on the beautiful?” continued the Master, cupping his ear, “This is the one hearing the message.”
He then paused, and looked, rubbing his chin as if thinking. Then suddenly, his eyebrows shot up, he smiled and he held up a finger.
“And putting it together,” he explained cheerfully.
The crowd chuckled.
“This one,” he said, gesturing to include the whole crowd, including the Distinguished.  “of all person bears fruit and produces.”
He paused while surveying the crowd. People chuckled nervously as he looked them over.
“The one, indeed,” he said, indicating a young woman. “a hundred.”
The woman blushed and looked down modestly as the crowd chuckles and applauded.
“This one, however,” the Master continued, selecting an old man, “sixty.”
The 0ld man laughed and shouted, “I just turned sixty!”
The crowd laughed.
“This one, however,” the Master said more doubtfully, indicating a young teen, teetering a hand in the air, “Thirty?”.
The teen looked offended by the crowd laughed harder.

Front Page Date: 

Dec 12 2020