Matthew 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A long condemnation of the religious leaders of the time, now focusing on swearing oaths.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The one really promising on the altar, he promises on it and on all the ones upon it.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The keyword here is translated as "therefore," but it also means "really." The idea is that a person "really swearing" on the altar is swearing on more than the altar. The issue is parsing words rather than considering a person's intent.

NIV : 

Matthew 23:20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it.

My Takeaway: 

A person really translating translates the verse and everything in it.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

[692 verses]((article sg masc nom) "Whoso" is the from Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here it is separated from the noun by a particle.

οὖν [82 verses](adv) "Therefore" is from oun, which means "certainly", "in fact", "really", "in fact," "so" and "then" (continuing a narrative), and "then" and "therefore."

ὀμόσας [7 verses] (part sg aor act masc nom) "Shall swear" is omnyo, which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

ἐν [413 verses](prep)  "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

τῷ [692 verses](article sg masc dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

θυσιαστηρίῳ  [7 verses](noun sg masc dat) "The altar" is thysiastērion , which means "altar." It is a derivative of thysia, which means "sacrifice" or "victim."

ὀμνύει [7 verses](verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Sweareth" is omnyo, which means "to swear to a thing", "to take an oath", "to promise one will", "give word of honor", "swear by," and "affirm or confirm by oath."

ἐν [413 verses](prep)  "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

αὐτῷ [720 verses](adj sg masc dat) "It" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

καὶ [1089 verses](conj/adv)  "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."

ἐν [413 verses](prep) "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

πᾶσι [212 verses](adj pl masc dat) "All" 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."

τοῖς [692 verses](article pl masc dat) "things" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

ἐπάνω [8 verses](prep/adv)"Thereon" is epano, which is an adverb meaning "above", "on the upper side", "[former] times", "more [of numbers]", "in front of," and "in the presence of."

αὐτοῦ: [720 verses](adj masc/neut gen) "It" is from autos, which means "the same," and the reflexive pronouns, "myself", "yourself", "himself", "herself", "itself," or the oblique case of the pronouns, "him", "her," and "it." It also means "one's true self," that is, "the soul" as opposed to the body and "of one's own accord."

KJV Analysis: 

Whoso -- (CW) The word translated as "whoso" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

therefore  - The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative.

shall -- (WT) There is nothing that can be translated as "shall" in the Greek source. It is not the future tense.

swear  - (WF) The word translated as "swear" means "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is in the form of an adjective uses as a noun, "the ones swearing." It is an uncommon word for Jesus but doesn't have any double meanings.  It is not a verb, but a participle, with the article above, "the one swearing."

by  - The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

altar,  - The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

sweareth  - "Sweareth" is the same word as above, in the form of a verb,  meaning "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is in the form of an adjective uses as a noun, "the ones swearing." It is an uncommon word for Jesus but doesn't have any double meanings.  This verb is the present tense.

by   - The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

it, - The word translated as "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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

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

all  - The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." "Everything" would work here, but the article should be before it, not after. The word order indicates something else.

things  - (CW)  "Things" is from an article ("the"). Without a noun, which takes the sense of "the ones" or "that."

thereon. -- (CW) The word "thereon" is from a preposition meaning both "on." "on top of," and "in front of."

missing "it"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "whoso" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "shall" indicates the future tense, but that is not the tense here.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "swear" is not an active verb but a participle, "swearing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "things" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "thereon" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "it" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

Therefore,  - - The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative.

anyone -- (CW) The word translated as "anyone " is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more.  This is not the norma word translated as "anything."

who -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "who" in the Greek source. It was added because the next verb was translated as active rather than a participle.

swears  - (WF) The word translated as "swear" means "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is in the form of an adjective uses as a noun, "the ones swearing." It is an uncommon word for Jesus but doesn't have any double meanings.  It is not a verb, but a participle, with the article above, "the one swearing."

by  - The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

altar,  - The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

swears  - "Swears" is the same word as above, in the form of a verb,  meaning "to swear to a thing", "to promise," and "to take an oath." It is in the form of an adjective uses as a noun, "the ones swearing." It is an uncommon word for Jesus but doesn't have any double meanings.  This verb is the present tense.

by   - The word translated as "by" also means "in", "on", "within", "with," or "among." It is used in the sense that we say "swearing on" something, like swearing on the Bible.

it, - The word translated as "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

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

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

everything - The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." "Everything" would work here, but the article should be before it, not after. The word order indicates something else.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is from an article ("the"). Without a noun, which takes the sense of "the ones" or "that."

on. -- (CW) The word "on" is from a preposition meaning both "on" "iontop of," and "in front of."

it  -- The word "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.

  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "anyone" is not the common word usually translated as "anyone."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "who" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "swears" is not an active verb but a participle, "swearing."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "on" is not the common word usually translated as "on."

The Spoken Version: 

"So certainly," he continued.

"The one promising," he said, holding up his hand as if taking a pledge. "On the altar. Swears on it!"

He looked as if he said something profound and paused.

The crowd giggled because the statement was so obvious.

"And, on," he continued. "All the ...."

He didn't say the next word, but instead indicated all types of stuff spread on top of the altar.

"Upon it," he finished.

The crowd laughed again.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 11 2021