Matthew 19:21 If you want to be perfect...

Spoken to: 

an individual

Context: 

A man asks which commandments he should keep and he says that he already keeps them.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

If you desire to be complete, go. Trade of yours, those accumulations, and give to those beggars. And you will have a repository in the skies and come on, follow with me.

My Takeaway: 

Being finished with you old live means leaving everything you've accumulated behind,

KJV : 

Matthew 19:21 If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

NIV : 

Matthew 19:21 If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Unlike the previous two verses of "commandments," everything here is phrased as a command.There are two uncommon words that have an entertaining side.

The word translated as "perfect" is only used twice by Jesus but has a lot of meanings, which is always a sign of wordplay. It is an adjective with the same root as the verb that means "fulfill" and "accomplish," and the noun that "result," "achievement," and "product," but that the Gospels misleadingly translates as "end" to make Jesus an "apocalyptic" prophet. The dual meaning is "finished" in the sense of being completed and an accomplishment, but also in the negative sense of being finished with your life.

The other uncommon word is translated as "what thou hast" and "possessions," but it is from a root word that means "begin," and "to already be in existence," being the present participle of the verb used as an adjective introduced by a plural neuter article. So, with the article, the phrase is "the beginnings" or "the things already existing," which is a funny way of implying that whatever you have now is the start of what you will have in the future.

Wordplay: 

 The earlier verses of commandments, were not phrases as commands. These are. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Εἰ (conj) "If" is from ei, which is the particle used to express conditions "if" (implying nothing about its fulfillment) or indirect questions, "whether." It also means "if ever," "in case," and "whenever." It is combined with various conjunctions to create derivative conditions.

θέλεις [64 verses](verb 2nd sg pres ind act) "thou wilt" is thelo, which as a verb means "to be willing (of consent rather than desire)," "to wish," "to ordain," "to decree," "to be resolved to a purpose" "to maintain," "to hold," "to delight in, and "will (too express a future event)."

τέλειος [2 verses](adj sg masc nom) "Perfect" is teleios, which means as an adjective "perfect," "entire," "without spot or blemish," "of full tally or number," "fully constituted," "valid," "full-grown [of animals]," "accomplished [of persons], "perfect in his kind,""absolute," "final [of judgment]," "fulfilled [of prayers]," "having power to fulfill prayer [of gods]," "all-powerful," "full point," and as an adverb "finally," "absolutely," "with full authority," "absolutely," "thoroughly," and "completely."

εἶναι, (verb pres inf act) "Be" is from eimi, which means "to be," "to exist," "to be the case," and "is possible." -- When the verb "to be" appears early in the sentence before the subject, the sense is more like "it is" or, in the plural, "there are."

ὕπαγε [47 verses](verb 2nd sg pres imperat act) "Go" is hypago, which means "to lead under," "to bring under," "to bring a person before judgment," "to lead on by degrees," "to take away from beneath," "to withdraw," "to go away," "to retire," "to draw off," and "off with you." --

πώλησόν [12 verses](verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Sell" is poleo, which means "to sell," "to exchange," "to barter," "to offer to sell," and "to retail." Metaphorically, it means to "give up" and "betray." In the passive, it means "to be sold," "to be offered for sale," and, of persons, "to be bought and sold," and " betrayed."

σου (pro sg masc gen) "Thy" is from sou which means "you" and "your."

τὰ-- (article pl neut acc) "That" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"), which, when not preceding a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones."

ὑπάρχοντα [7 verses](part pl pres act neut acc) "What you have" is hyparchonta, which is the past participle noun form of huparcho, which means "to take the initiative," "to begin,"and "to already be in existence," In this form, it means, "that which is in existence," and "the past record."

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."

δὸς [147 verses](verb 2nd sg aor imperat act) "Give" is didomi, which means "to give," "to grant," "to hand over," "appoint," "establish," and "to describe."

[τοῖς] (article pl masc dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

πτωχοῖς, (adj pl masc dat) "Poor" is ptochos, which is an adjective that means "beggar," "beggar-woman," "beggarly, and "one who crouches and cringes."

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."

ἕξεις [181 verses](verb 2nd sg fut ind act) "Have" is echo, which means "to have," "to hold," "to possess," "to keep," "to have charge of," "to maintain," "to hold fast," "to bear," "to keep close," "to keep safe," and "to have means to do." -- The word translated as "have" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb than the English "have" is.

θησαυρὸν [12 verses](noun sg masc acc) "Treasures" is thesauros, which means a "store," "treasure," "strong-room," "magazine, "granary," "receptacle for valuables," "safe," "casket," "offertory-box," "cavern," and "subterranean dungeon."

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

οὐρανοῖς, [111 verses](noun pl masc dat) "Heaven" is from the Greek ouranos, which means "heaven as in the vault of the sky," "heaven as the seat of the gods," "the sky," "the universe," and "the climate."

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."

δεῦρο [4 verses](adv) "Come" is deuro, which is an adverb that means "hither," "here," "until now," "hither to," and [with an imperative] "come on" and [later] "go away."

ἀκολούθει [22 verses](verb 2nd sg pres imperat act) "Follow" is akoloutheo, which means "to follow," and "to go with." It also means "to be guided by" and means following a leader as a disciple.

μοι. (pron 1st sg masc dat) "Me" is from moi, which means "I," "me," and "my."

KJV Analysis: 

If  - The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not.

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

wilt - (CW) "Wilt" is from a verb that means "to be resolved to a purpose" and "to desire." The "purpose" meaning is important because of the next word. It is not the helping verb "will" that indicates the future tense.

be -- (WF) The verb "be" 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. The form here is an infinitive because the active verb is "wilt" meaning "desire."

perfect,  - (MM) "Perfect" is from a word that means perfect more in the sense of having been made complete and finished. In animals, it means full-grown. Applied to professionals, it means accomplished or trained. Interestingly, when applied to gods, it means all-powerful, specifically having the ability to fulfill prayers. When applied to prayers, it means being fulfilled or answered. Of numbers and things, it means "finished," "complete." Jesus only uses this term one other time, equating it to the perfection of God in Matthew 5:48.

go - "Go" is from a Greek verbal command that means literally "go under" or "bring under," but Christ usually uses it to mean "go away" and "depart."

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

sell  - "Sell" is which means "to exchange" and "to barter." When this word is applied to people (as it is metaphorically here), it means "to betray" or "to give up."

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. It is plural, neuter so the sense is "those things."

thou -- (WF) The word translated as "thou" is the genitive form of the singular, second-person pronoun, which is most commonly the possessive form.It comes before the article, so "of yours."

hast,  - (CW) "Hast" is a verb that means "to already be in existence." It is in the form of a verbal adjective used as a noun, "the things already in existence." In the neutral, plural, past participle, as it is here, it means "existing circumstances,"" present advantages," "according to one's means," "possessions," and "resources." The effect is primarily humorous. Perhaps "accumulations" works best to capture this in English. 

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

give  - The verb translated as "give" means "to give," "to grant," "to hand over," "appoint," "establish," and "to describe." It is almost always translated as some form of "give."

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

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. 

poor,  - "To the poor" is an adjective that means "beggarly." Jesus uses it as a noun with the article, "the ones beggarly."

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

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

shalt -- This helping verb "shalt" indicates that the verb is the future

have  - "Have " is from the future tense of the verb "to have" and "to possess."

treasure  - "Treasure" is from a word that means a "storage area" and "treasury." Also meaning a "strong room," "a granary," "a safe," or "a cavern." It is not the valuables themselves, but the place where they are kept, and the basis for our word, "thesaurus."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven:  - (WN) The word translated as "heaven" means "sky," the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. The sense is "beyond earth" or "the beyond."  The word is plural, "skies."

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

come  - (CW) "Come" is from an adverb that means "here" but can be used in an expression to mean "come on."

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

follow  - "Follow" is from a verb that means "to follow," and "to go with." It also means "to be guided by" and means following a leader as a disciple.

me.  - The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me," though the form has other uses in Greek. 

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "wilt" does not mean the future tense here as it does later.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "be" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to be."
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "perfect" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "thou" is not a subject but a possessive, "of yours."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "hast" is not the common word usually translated as "hast."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but the Greek word is plural, "skies."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "come" is not the common verb usually translated as "come."

NIV Analysis: 

If  - The "if" here expresses a condition but it means nothing regarding whether that condition is met or not.

you -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

want -   "Want" is from a verb that means "to be resolved to a purpose" and "to desire." The "purpose" meaning is important because of the next word. It is not the helping verb "will" that indicates the future tense.

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

be -- (WF) The verb "be" 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. The form here is an infinitive because the active verb is "wilt" meaning "desire."

perfect,  - (MM) "Perfect" is from a word that means perfect more in the sense of having been made complete and finished. In animals, it means full-grown. Applied to professionals, it means accomplished or trained. Interestingly, when applied to gods, it means all-powerful, specifically having the ability to fulfill prayers. When applied to prayers, it means being fulfilled or answered. Of numbers and things, it means "finished," "complete." Jesus only uses this term one other time, equating it to the perfection of God in Matthew 5:48.

go - "Go" is from a Greek verbal command that means literally "go under" or "bring under," but Christ usually uses it to mean "go away" and "depart."

sell  - "Sell" is which means "to exchange" and "to barter." When this word is applied to people (as it is metaphorically here), it means "to betray" or "to give up."

your The word translated as "thou" is the genitive form of the singular, second-person pronoun, which is most commonly the possessive form.It comes before the article, so "of yours."

missing "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. 

possessions  - (WF) "Possessions" is a verb that means "to already be in existence." It is in the form of a verbal adjective used as a noun, "the things already in existence." In the neutral, plural, past participle, as it is here, it means "existing circumstances,"" present advantages," "according to one's means," "possessions," and "resources." The effect is primarily humorous. Perhaps "accumulations" works best to capture this in English.

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

give  - The verb translated as "give" means "to give," "to grant," "to hand over," "appoint," "establish," and "to describe." It is almost always translated as some form of "give."

to -- This word "to" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object.

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. 

poor,  - "To the poor" is an adjective that means "beggarly." Jesus uses it as a noun with the article, "the ones beggarly."

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

you -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future

have  - "Have " is from the future tense of the verb "to have" and "to possess."

treasure  - "Treasure" is from a word that means a "storage area" and "treasury." Also meaning a "strong room," "a granary," "a safe," or "a cavern." It is not the valuables themselves, but the place where they are kept, and the basis for our word, "thesaurus."

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

heaven:  - (WN) The word translated as "heaven" means "sky," the climate, and the universe. It also meant the home of the gods in a physical sense: the sun, moon, and planets were named for the gods. The sense is "beyond earth" or "the beyond."  The word is plural, "skies."

come, follow me.

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

come  - (CW) "Come" is from an adverb that means "here" but can be used in an expression to mean "come on."

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

follow  - "Follow" is from a verb that means "to follow," and "to go with." It also means "to be guided by" and means following a leader as a disciple.

me.  - The "me" is in the indirect object form on the first-person pronoun, so usually "to me," though the form has other uses in Greek. 

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MM -- Many Meanings -- This word "perfect" has several different meanings that work here and is a form of wordplay.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "possessions" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "possessions" is a noun but a participle, "starting" or "already existing."
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but the Greek word is plural, "skies."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "then" should be "come."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "come" is not the common verb usually translated as "come."

Front Page Date: 

Apr 28 2021