Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatever

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Jesus is speaking to a crowd including his disciples.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

All things, certainly, as much as, when they tell you, do and observe. After, however, those deeds of theirs you don't want to do. Because they talk and they don't really do.

My Takeaway: 

We like to tell others what to do but we don't follow our own advice.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

NIV : 

Matthew 23:3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The KJV translation leaves out, skips over, rearranges, or conflates a number of key ideas here.  Hidden in this verse is a test for authority which is very consistent with the rest of Jesus's teaching: that what we do matter more than what we say. However, Jesus's very clear emphasis on "doing," so evident in this verse since the word is used three times, does not fit comfortably with some denominations. The NIV version didn't like many of Jesus's words so rewrote the line entirely.

The last two phrases are a lot clearer if we make them stand alone as their own sentences. "After, however, those deeds of theirs you don't want to do. Because they talk and they don't really do." The second part like the answer to an unrecorded question, given Jesus's speaking style.

Wordplay: 

The "after" is used to apply to both the watching and the "don't do" by the placement of the conjunction, however. 

Two different "nots" are used here, one of opinion and one of fact. 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πάντα [212 verses](adj pl neut acc)"All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything."

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

ὅσα [28 verses](adj pl neut acc) "Whatsoever" is hosos (with ean below), which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἐὰν [162 verses](conj) "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.

εἴπωσιν [162 verses](3rd pl aor subj act) "They bid" is eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is from hymin (humin), which is the 2nd person plural dative pronoun. Dative is the case which indicates to whom something is given.

ποιήσατε , [168 verses](2nd pl aor imperat act or 2nd pl aor ind act) "Do" is 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."

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."

τηρεῖτε, [17 verses](2nd pl pres ind act or 2nd pl imperf ind act or 2nd pl pres imperat act) "Observe" is from têreô, which means "to watch over", "to guard", "to take care of", "to give heed to", "to keep", "to test by observation or trial," and "to observe."

κατὰ [60 verses](prep or adj pl neut nom/acc) "After" is from kata, which means as an adjective "the following," and. as a preposition, "downwards", "down from", "down into", "against", "down toward", "opposite", "separately", "individually", "at a time", "towards", "in accordance with", "concerning", "corresponding with", "during the course of a period," and "severally."

δὲ [446 verses](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").

τὰ (article pl neut acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἔργα [31 verses] (noun pl neut acc) "Works" is from ergon, which means "work", "deeds", "[peaceful] contests", "works of industry", "deed", "property", "wealth," and "occupation."

αὐτῶν [720 verses](adj pl masc/fem gen) "Their" 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."

μὴ [447 verses](partic) "Not" is 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.

ποιεῖτε, [168 verses](2nd pl aor imperat act 2nd pl aor ind act) "Do" is 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."

λέγουσιν [264 verses](3rd pl pres ind act) "They say" is lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." Another Greek word spelled the same means "to pick up", "to choose for oneself", "to pick out," and "to count."

γὰρ [205 verses](partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

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."

οὐ [269 verses](partic) "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ποιοῦσιν. [168 verses](3rd pl pres ind act) "Do" 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."

KJV Analysis: 

All  - The word translated as "all" means "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. Since it is the object of the phase, "everything" works best in English. The word is in the neuter plural, so the sense is "all things."

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

whatever  - (WW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as", ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word the KJV leaves out a word here is the Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. Both this "if" and the verb "bid" are in the form that describes something that probably will happen but may not. Good practice is to add a "might" to such phrases.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

bid  -(CW)  "They bid" is from a Greek word that means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming. "Bid" has the sense of "ask" and that is not the sense here.

you - . --  (WF) The "you" here is from the plural, dative, second-person pronoun, and indirect object, not the subject that it appears.

observe, -- (OS) There is only one "observe" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

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

observe - (WP) The Greek word translated as "observe" means "to watch over,""to observe," and "to test by observation or trial." It does not mean "observe" in the sense of performing an obligation. This last idea, observe to test, is its most likely meaning. However, this word appears after the "do", not before it. The idea is to observe as test of authority.

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

do;  - The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, "do" works well here, especially since this word is used repeatedly in this verse. Most importantly, however, this word appears before the "observe," not after it. The idea is that you do it so you can observe.

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. 

do -- The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do", which covers all actions, productive or not. It is not used as a helping verb. The word translated as "do" here, is the same as the one above, and, again, the form could be a command or it could be a statement. Since it is used with a negative of opinion (see below), the sense is more of a statement.

not -- (CW) The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.  

after  - (WP) The word translated as "after" appears here, not later in the verse as in the KJV. It plays a duel role. Initially, the listener would hear "watch what follows." However, when the conjunction is added after this word, it becomes part of the next phrase, changing from an adjective to a preposition meaning "afterward."

their -- The word translated as "theirs" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English. This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

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. 

works:  -  "Their works" is translated from a Greek word that means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

for  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause. Jesus often uses it to start the answer to a question, working like our "because."

they  - -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

say,  - The word translated as "they 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 Jesus uses it more frequently. It is different than the other common word for "speak" which is translated above as "they bid."

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

do  - The "do" here is the same verb as used two times previously in this verse.

not.  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact, different from the other negative above

KJV Translation Issues: 

9
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "bid" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "you" is not a subject but an indirect object, "to you."
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek first word translated as "observe" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "that" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "observe" doesn't appear here but after the second "do."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is the subjective negative of opinion with the sense of "not wanting," "not thinking" or not seeming when used with a non-opinion verb.
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "after" doesn't appear here but begins the clause.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "works" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

So   - (CW) The Greek word translated as "therefore" either emphasizes the truth of something ("certainly", "really") or it simply continues an existing narrative. We would say "then" to continue the narrative. It is not the Greek word used to mean "so."

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

must -- (CW) The verb is a command (imperative), which is not usually indicated by a "must" in English.

missing "do"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, "do" works well here, especially since this word is used repeatedly in this verse. Most importantly, however, this word appears before the "observe," not after it. The idea is that you do it so you can observe.

be careful - (CW) The Greek word translated as "be careful" means "to watch over," " to observe," and "to test by observation or trial."This last idea, observe to test, is its most likely meaning. However, this word appears after the "do", not before it. It could be translated as "watch out" but that is a stretch.

to -- (WF) This "to" is added to indicate an infinitive form of the verb , but that is not the verb form of "do."

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

do - The Greek word translated as "do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, "do" works well here, especially since this word is used repeatedly in this verse. Most importantly, however, this word appears before the "observe," not after it. The idea is that you do it so you can observe.

everything - The word translated as "all" means "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. Since it is the object of the phase, "everything" works best in English. The word is in the neuter plural, so the sense is "all things."

missing "whatever"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "whatsoever" means "as great as", ""as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word the KJV leaves out a word here is the Greek word meaning "if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. Both this "if" and the verb "bid" are in the form that describes something that probably will happen but may not. Good practice is to add a "might" to such phrases.

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

tell - "They bid" is from a Greek word that means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming. "Bid" has the sense of "ask" and that is not the sense here.

you - The "you" here is from the plural, dative, second-person pronoun, and indirect object.

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.

do -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not -- (CW) The negative used here is the Greek negative of a subjective opinion, commands, and requests. The sense is that "you don't want" or "think" something, not that it isn't done or thought.  

do -- The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "performing" as service. It describes a productive action.  It is not as broad a word as the English "do", which covers all actions, productive or not. It is not used as a helping verb. The word translated as "do" here, is the same as the one above, and, again, the form could be a command or it could be a statement. Since it is used with a negative of opinion (see below), the sense is more of a statement.

missing "after"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "after" appears her However, when the conjunction is added after this word, it becomes part of the next phrase, changing from an adjective to a preposition meaning "afterward."

what -- (WW) The word translated as "what" 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. 

they -- (WF) The word translated as "they" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English, but it is a genitive not a subject. This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

do,   -  (WF) "Do" is translated from a Greek noun that means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

for  - The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause. Jesus often uses it to start the answer to a question, working like our "because."

they  - -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

do  - -- This helping verb is used to create questions, commands, negative statements, and smooth word flow in English, but the Greek could be either a question or a statement.

not.  - The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact, different from the other negative above.

practice  - - (CW) The Greek word translated as "practice" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. However, "do" works well here, especially since this word is used repeatedly in this verse. Most importantly, however, this word appears before the "observe," not after it. The idea is that you do it so you can observe.

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

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

they -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

preach,  - (WW) The word translated as "they 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 Jesus uses it more frequently. It is different than the other common word for "speak" which is translated above as "they bid."

NIV Translation Issues: 

17
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "so" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "must" does not capture the specific form of the verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "do" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "be careful" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "to" should not indicate an infinitive verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "whatever" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "not" is the subjective negative of opinion with the sense of "not wanting," "not thinking" or not seeming when used with a non-opinion verb.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "after" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "what" should be "the."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "they" should be "their."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  This verb "do" should be the noun "deeds."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "practice" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and is not shown in the English translation.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "what" doesn't exist in the source."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "preach" should be "say."

Front Page Date: 

Jul 25 2021