Matthew 19:23 Truly I tell you, That a rich man shall...

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

Man told to sell his stuff to follow Jesus cannot do it.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Truly I tell you that an wealthy person enters with difficulty into realm of the skies.

My Takeaway: 

Earthly wealth creates a tie to the worldly that is hard to break.

KJV : 

Matthew 19:23 Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

NIV : 

Matthew 19:23 Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The word translated as "hardly" and "hard" has the primary sense of "with difficult," not that it isn't often done. However, it also has the sense of "peevishly" and "discontentedly," which describes as state of mind. This is a good example of why "the kingdom of heaven" might be best expressed as a state of mind rather than a place. It perhaps tells us more about the "kingdom of heaven" than it does "the rich."

This phrase "in the realm of the skies" takes two different forms in Greek. The form here with the preposition eis is only used three times by Jesus. See this article about this phrase and its uses. This phrase is not as common as you might think, used by Jesus only four times in this form.

Wordplay: 

The "verily" phrase indicates this statement would be hard for those in Christ's time to accept. 

The word translated "can hardly" means refers to a discontented state of mind as much or more than something being done with difficulty.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ἀμὴν [88 verses](exclaim)"Verily" is from amen, which is from the Hebrew, meaning "truly," "of a truth," and "so be it." It has no history in Greek before the NT.

λέγω [264 verses](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) "You" is from humas the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

ὅτι (adv/conj) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that," "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore." -- In the Greek source, this is a word here that means "that" or "because." So what follows is a dependent clause, indicating either what they were "saying" or why they were saying it.

πλούσιος [11 verses] (adj sg masc nom) "Rich man" is from plousios, which is an adjective that means "rich," "wealthy," and "opulent." It very much has the sense of ostentatiously rich.

δυσκόλως [4 verses](adv) "Hardly" is dyskolos, which means "hard to satisfy with food," "hard to please," "difficult to explain," "discontented," "fretful," "peevish," (of animals) "intractable," (of things) "troublesome," "harassing," and, generally, "unpleasant." Add an "-ly" to these words to create adverbs with this sense but common adverbial meanings are "hardly," and "with difficulty."

εἰσελεύσεται [68 verses](verb 3rd sg fut ind mid) "Enter" is from eiserchomai which means both "to go into," "to come in," "to enter," "to enter an office," "to enter a charge," (as in court) and "to come into one's mind." -- "Ye shall enter" is from a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind."

εἰς (prep) "Into" is from eis, which means "into (of place)," "up to (of time)," "until (of time)," "as much as (of measure or limit)," "as far as (of measure or limit)," "towards (to express relation)," "in regard to (to express relation)," "of an end or limit," and "for (of purpose or object)."

τὴν (article sg fem acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")

βασιλείαν [98 verses](noun sg fem acc) "The kingdom" is from basileia, which means "kingdom," "dominion," "hereditary monarchy," "kingly office," (passive) "being ruled by a king," and "reign."

τῶν (article pl masc gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the")

οὐρανῶν (noun pl masc gen) "Of 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."

KJV Analysis: 

Verily -- 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." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

say -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

unto -- This word "unto" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English, but the translator must decide which preposition to use: a "to" as an indirect object.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

That -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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.

rich  - "Rich " is from an adjective that means "rich," and "opulent." It very much has the sense of ostentatiously rich. Here, it is used with an article, "the rich" but unlike English the sense is not a group of people, which would be plural, not singular, but "one who is wealthy."

man  - -- This "man" is from the masculine, singular form of the previous word.

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

hardly  - "Hardly" is an adverb, modifying the verb. Since its form is that of an adverb it describes the way one enters as "with difficulty.""hard to satisfy" or "hard to please."

enter  - "Enter" is from a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind."

into -- The word translated as "into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

he -- 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. 

kingdom -- The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Jesus does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

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

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. 

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. More about the word in this article.  This word is plural, not singular, so "skies."
 

KJV Translation Issues: 

2
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "heaven" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but the Greek word is plural, "skies."

NIV Analysis: 

Truly -- The word translated as "truly " 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." See this article discussing this "amen phrase."

I -- This is from the first-person, singular form of the following verb.

tell -- The word translated as "say" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but it also means "to teach," which seems to be the way Christ uses it more frequently. It also has many ancillary meanings such as "to count" ("to number" or like we might say, "to recount" a story) or "to choose for yourself." Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching.

you,  -- The Greek pronoun "you" here is plural and in the form of an indirect object, "to you," "for you," etc.

missing "that"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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

hard   - (WF) "Hard" is an adverb, modifying the verb. Since its form is that of an adverb it describes the way one enters as "with difficulty.""hard to satisfy" or "hard to please."

for someone who is-- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "for someone who is" in the Greek source.

rich  - "Rich " is from an adjective that means "rich," and "opulent." It very much has the sense of ostentatiously rich. Here, it is used with an article, "the rich" but unlike English the sense is not a group of people, which would be plural, not singular, but "one who is wealthy."

to -- (WT)  The form of the word is not an infinitive, but an active verb in the future tense. This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

enter -  Enter" is from a word that means "go or come into" and has the double meaning of "coming into one's mind." The form is the future tense, indicative.

missing "into"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"into" means "into" a place, "towards" as a direction, "in regards to" a subject, and "up to" limits in time and measure.

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. 

kingdom -- The word translated as "kingdom" can be the region, the reign, the castle or the authority of a ruler. Jesus does not seem to use it to mean a physical region, so its translation as "reign" or "realm" seems more appropriate. This is especially true because the "reign" of a king means the execution of his will.

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

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. 

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. More about the word in this article.  This word is plural, not singular, so "skies."

NIV Translation Issues: 

8
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "that" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "it is" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "hard" is not a adjective but an adverb "with difficulty."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "for someone who is" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "will" should indicate the future tense here.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "into" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "heaven" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "heaven" is translated as singular but the Greek word is plural, "skies."

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

What Jesus may be saying here is that a rich person cannot enter into the state of perceiving the hidden order of the universal rule. This is realm of pure "spirit" or "mind" not a physical place. The rich, more than anyone else, are distracted by the "real" world because they have so much involved in it. As Christ says clearly in Matthew 6:21, your heart (symbol for relationships) is where your treasure is. Those who have worldly treasure are more strongly tied to the material world.

This connects to the previous discussion of marriage again because a serious commitment to a family is a similar barrier. However, as Jesus assures us both earlier in the chapter, neither marriage nor wealth is a complete barrier to understanding the real order of things because God is always there to help.

Front Page Date: 

Apr 29 2021