Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear [you, then]

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

The addition of new ideas in the context of those like the Sermon on the Mount.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

When, however, he doesn't want to listen, take with you, more, one or two, because upon two witnesses or three, stands every word.

My Takeaway: 

Don't trust the word of anyone without collaboration.

KJV : 

Matthew 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

NIV : 

Matthew 18:16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’

What is Lost in Translation: 

If you think of this verse as spoken speech, the entire flow of this verse makes perfect sense, as Jesus plays with the words, putting the numbers out one at a time. It starts out with a humorous line, that means "doesn't want to listen" or "doesn't want to be silent."  In Jewish law and as a practical matter, you cannot be considered a witness about your own situation unless you have others offering to support your testimony. Jewish courts and judges didn't even listen the testimony unless there was more than one person supporting it.

Wordplay: 

The last "two or three" adds the person with the problem to the list of witnesses. One or two observers plus the person bringing them in. it is the number that make them "witnesses" under Jewish law. There cannot be fewer than two. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ἐὰν (conj/adv) "If" is from ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if)and an (might)) which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

δὲ (conj/adv) "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 an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

μὴ (partic) "Not" is from me , which is the negative used in prohibitions and expressions of doubt meaning "not" and "no." As οὐ (ou) negates fact and statement; μή rejects, οὐ denies; μή is relative, οὐ absolute; μή subjective, οὐ objective.

ἀκούσῃ, [95 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj act) "Ye hear" 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,  and amusingly, it also means "to be silent."

παράλαβε [8 verses](verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Take" is from paralambanô, which means "to take to oneself," "to associate with," "to call in," and "to invite." With the word for witness, martys, it specifically means "to call in witnesses."

μετὰ (prep) "With" is from meta, which means "in the midst of," "among," "between," "in common," "along with," "by the aid of," "in one's dealings with," "into the middle of," "coming into," "in pursuit of," "after," "behind," "according to," and "next afterward"

σοῦ (adj sg neut gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

ἔτι (conj/adv) "More" is from eti, which means "yet" and "still" (with the Present), "already" (with the Past), "yet" and "longer" (with the Future), "no longer" (with a negative), and"still" and "besides" (of degree).

ἕνα (noun sg masc acc) "One" is from heis, which means "one," "single," and "one and the same." This adjective is irregular, having a number of forms depending on gender and case: heis, henos, heni, hen, hena, mia, mias, miai, mian; hen, henos, hen. The form is mia, feminine singular.

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

δύο, [36 verses](numeral) "Two" is from duo, which means the number "two," "a couple," and "a pair."

ἵνα (conj/adv)"That" is from hina, which means "in that place," "there," "where," "when," "that," "in order that," "when," and "because."

ἐπὶ (prep) "In" is from epi. which means "on," "upon," "at," "by," "before," "across," and "against." -- The word translated as "unto" means "against," "before," "by" or "on."

στόματος [12 verses ](noun sg neut gen) "The mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth," "the organ of speech," "speech," "utterance," "any outlet or entrance," and "the foremost part" of something. For example, the blade or point of a weapon is a stoma.

δύο [36 verses](numeral) "Two" is from duo, which means the number "two," "a couple," and "a pair." -- The Greek word for "two" means "two" or a "couple."

μαρτύρων [5 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Witnesses" is from martys, which means "witness" or "witnesses" and later came to mean "martyr."

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

τριῶν [5 verses] (numeral pl fem nom) "Three" is from treis, which means the number three.

σταθῇ [28 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj pass) "Stand" is histemi, which means "to make to stand," "to stand," "to set up," "to bring to a standstill," "to check," "to appoint," "to establish," "to fix by agreement," "to be placed," "to be set," "to stand still," "to stand firm," "to set upright," "to erected," "to arise," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]," "to bury," "to establish," "to make," "to cause," and "to assign."

πᾶν [212 verses](adj sg neut nom) "Every" is from pas, which means "all," "the whole," "every," "anyone," "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way," "on every side," "in every way," and "altogether." -

ῥῆμα:” [10 verses](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Word" is rhema, which means "that which is spoken," "word," "saying," "word for word," "subject of speech," and "matter."

KJV Analysis: 

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

if  - The Greek word meaning "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

will  -- (WT) This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense, but the verb is not the future. The form is one of possibility, further confused by the opinion negative used.

not  - The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done. If it wasn't done, the objective negative of fact would be used. More about the Greek negative in this article.

hear  - "Hear" is translated from a Greek word that has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding. It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear." It also, amusingly, means "to be silent."

thee, then  -- -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "thee then" in the Greek source.

take  - (CW) "Take" is a verb that means "to take to oneself," "to associate with," "to call in," and "to invite." With the word for witness, it specifically means "to call in witnesses." It is in the form of a command, but there is a use of the imperative in Greek in a conditional statement (one introduced by an "if" or "when as it is here), that we do not have in English. The Greek word usually translated as "take" is the root of this word.

with -- "With" is the Greek word that. with a genitive object,  means generally, "with," "together with," "in the midst of," "among," "between." "in common," "along with," "by the aid of," and "in conjunction with." With dative, "between," "among," "in company with," with a number "complete," and "over and above."

thee -- The word translated as "thee" is the genitive form of the singular, second-person pronoun, which determines the meaning of the preposition.

one  - The word for "one" is also used, like the English "one" as a pronoun, referring to a person. However, the number "two" doesn't have the same sense so it is used in context.

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

two  --- The Greek word for "two" means "two" or a "couple."

more,  - (WP) "More" is from a word that means "yet" and "still" (with the Present), "already" (with the Past), "yet" and "longer" (with the Future), "no longer" (with a negative), and "still" and "besides" (of degree). This word comes before the "one or two."

that -- The word translated as "that" is an adverb "in that place," "there," "where," "when," or as a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

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

the   - (IW) The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

mouth -- The Greek word translated as "mouth" is  means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

two -- The Greek word for "two" means "two" or a "couple."

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

three - "Three" is the Greek word that means the number three.

witnesses  - "Witnesses" is from the Greek word that means "witness" or "witnesses" and later came to mean "martyr." It is the noun form of the verb that means "to testify" or "bear witness."

every  - The word translated as "every" is one word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas.

word -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "words" specifically means spoken words, that is, a "saying." The English word "remarks" is the same base and captures this idea well. This is not the Greek word commonly mistranslated as "word" in the Bible.

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

established. -- (CW) "Established" is from the Greek word for "to set," "to stand," "to put," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]," "to bury," "to establish," "to make," "to cause," and "to assign." It is most commonly translated as "stand," which has a wide variety of similar meanings.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "thee then" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "take" is not the common word usually translated as "take."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "more" appears before the word "one."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "in" should be something more like "upon."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "mouth" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "word" is not the common word usually translated as "word."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "established" is the common word usually translated as "stand."

NIV Analysis: 

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

if  - The Greek word meaning "when" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. It is like we use the word "when."

they -- (WN) This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

will  -- (WT) This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense, but the verb is not the future. The form is one of possibility, further confused by the opinion negative used.

not  - The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" to do something, not that it isn't done. If it wasn't done, the objective negative of fact would be used. More about the Greek negative in this article.

listen - "listen" is translated from a Greek word that has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding. It is the most common verb that Christ uses meaning "to hear." It also, amusingly, means "to be silent."

take  - (CW) "Take" is a verb that means "to take to oneself," "to associate with," "to call in," and "to invite." With the word for witness, it specifically means "to call in witnesses." It is in the form of a command, but there is a use of the imperative in Greek in a conditional statement (one introduced by an "if" or "when as it is here), that we do not have in English. The Greek word usually translated as "take" is the root of this word.

missing "more"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "more" is from a word that means "yet" and "still" (with the Present), "already" (with the Past), "yet" and "longer" (with the Future), "no longer" (with a negative), and "still" and "besides" (of degree). This word comes before the "one or two."

one  - The word for "one" is also used, like the English "one" as a pronoun, referring to a person. However, the number "two" doesn't have the same sense so it is used in context.

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

two  --- The Greek word for "two" means "two" or a "couple."

along-- "Along" is the Greek word that. with a genitive object,  means generally, "with," "together with," "in the midst of," "among," "between." "in common," "along with," "by the aid of," and "in conjunction with." Here, it is with the genitive, but the object is not translated.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "thee" is the genitive form of the singular, second-person pronoun, which determines the meaning of the preposition.

so that -- The word translated as "so that" is an adverb "in that place," "there," "where," "when," or as a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause  "that," "in order that" or "because."

every  - The word translated as "every" is one word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas.

matter -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "words" specifically means spoken words, that is, a "saying." The English word "remarks" is the same base and captures this idea well. This is not the Greek word commonly mistranslated as "word" in the Bible.

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

established. -- (CW) "Established" is from the Greek word for "to set," "to stand," "to put," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]," "to bury," "to establish," "to make," "to cause," and "to assign." It is most commonly translated as "stand," which has a wide variety of similar meanings.

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

the   - (IW) The word "the" doesn't exist in the source.

testimony -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "testimony " is  means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct.

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

two -- The Greek word for "two" means "two" or a "couple."

or -- "Or" is translated from a Greek word that means primarily "or" but serves as "than" in a comparison.

three - "Three" is the Greek word that means the number three.

witnesses  - "Witnesses" is from the Greek word that means "witness" or "witnesses" and later came to mean "martyr." It is the noun form of the verb that means "to testify" or "bear witness."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "they" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "take" is not the common word usually translated as "take."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "more" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "matter" has more the sense of spoken words.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "established" is the common word usually translated as "stand."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "the" before "mouth" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "testimony" should be something more like "mouth."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "take" is not the common word usually translated as "take."

Front Page Date: 

Mar 29 2021