Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

Teaching the apostles that how they must excel is in serving others not being served by them.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Just as the child of the man didn't show up to be served rather to serve and to offer this life of his, a recompense for the sake of many.

My Takeaway: 

We should dedicate our lives to freeing people from the ideas that trap them.

KJV : 

Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

NIV : 

Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

While the second part of this verse comes close to stating the central theme of modern Christianity, that Jesus died for our sins, it doesn't say that. The term translated as "ransom" is the specific term used to describe the freeing of slaves. The term translated as "life" is usually translated in the KJV as "soul." (See this article about its use.) As that article says:

Notice that this is the word translated as "life" in Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 when Jesus say that he came to "give his life" for the ransom of many. I don't think many Christians think that Jesus sacrificed his soul to rescue us. However, it is also the word used in Matthew 16:26, Luke 9:25, and Mark 8:36 to describe gaining the world and "losing your soul." While "losing your life" works in these verses, this doesn't seem to be what Jesus means to convey.

Also note that the phrase "giving your life" doesn't mean dying. You can give your life to teaching or to writing or to anything. The term "giving" means "dedicating" in Greek as much as it does English.  This statement is made as an illustration of service, not an illustration of suffering. Jesus is not asking his followers to suffer but to serve the needs of others. This is the context.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "ransom" has many meanings from the general idea of repayment to the specific idea of the payment used to free a slave or a captive. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὥσπερ [13 verses](adv/prep)"Even as" is hosper, which means "the very man who," "the very thing, which," "the same as," "like as," "even as," "just exactly as," to limit or modify an assertion or apologize for a metaphor, "as it were," "so to speak," and, in references to time, "so long as," "however long," or "as soon as."

(article sg masc nom)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

υἱὸς [157 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child."

τοῦ (article sg masc gen)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἀνθρώπου [209 verses](noun sg masc gen) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate. -- The Greek word for "of man" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

οὐκ (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.

ἦλθεν [198 verses](verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Came" is erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out," "to come," "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

διακονηθῆναι [12 verses](verb aor inf pass)"To be ministered unto" is diakoneô, which "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services." In the passive, it means "to be served."

ἀλλὰ [154 verses](conj)"But" is from alla, which means "otherwise," "but," "still," "at least," "except," "yet," nevertheless," "rather," "moreover," and "nay."

διακονῆσαι [12 verses](verb aor inf act) "To ministered" is from diakoneô, which "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services."

καὶ (conj/adv) "And" is 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."

δοῦναι [147 verses](verb aor inf act) "To give" is didomi, which means "to give," "to grant," "to hand over," "give freely," "to be ready to give," "offer," "appoint," "establish," "grant" another to one's entreaties, "pardon" at one's request, "forgive" one a thing, "condone." "concede" in argument, "give oneself up," "devote oneself," of the laws, "grant permission," and "to describe."

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

ψυχὴν [33 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Life" is from psyche, which means "breath," "life," "self," "spirit," and "soul." It has the clear sense of the conscious self and is often translated as "life" in the Gospels. It is also used to describe "the spirit" of things. It is often translated as "soul."

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc gen)"His" 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."

λύτρον [2 verses](noun sg neut nom/acc) "Ransom" is lutron, which mean "ransom," "the price paid for ransom," "the price paid for the freedom of a slave," "sum paid for redemption of a pledge," "atonement," and generally, "recompense."

ἀντὶ [9 verses](prep) "For" is anti which means "opposite," "over against," "instead," "in place of," "at the price of," "in return for," "for the sake of," "against," "in return," "equal to," "corresponding to," and "mutually."

πολλῶν. [61 verses](adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Many" is from polus, which means "many (in number)," "great (in size or power or worth)," and "large (of space)."

KJV Analysis: 

Even as  - The Greek adverb translated as "even as" indicates a match with a person or thing, "just exactly as."

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant". The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

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, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

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. 

man - The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men," "people", and "peoples". 

came  - -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

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, in fact, which is captured in English with adverbs like "really."

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

ministered  - -- The Greek verb translated as "ministered" means "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister". It means, in the passive, "to be served." The noun form of this word, meaning "servant" appeared in Matthew 20:26 .

unto, -- This completes the idea of the verb.

but  - -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise". Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, not doing something, with a positive one, "instead do this."

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

minister,  - - -- The Greek verb translated as "minister" means "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister". The noun form of this word, meaning "servant" appeared in Matthew 20:26 .

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

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

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

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

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. 

life  - The word translated here as "life" is psyche, a common word in Greek meaning "life," "soul," "consciousness," and "a sense of self." For more about this word, read this article. This is the word we used today to describe the study of consciousness.

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.

ransom  - The word translated as "ransom" means the money paid for a ransom, but it also means the money paid to free a slave, or, more generally, "recompense."

for  - -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of," "at the price of," "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, is from its primary meaning "opposite."

many. The word translated as "many" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

just as  - The Greek adverb translated as "just as" indicates a match with a person or thing, "just exactly as."

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"). See this article for more. 

Son -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "descendant". The phrase "the son of man" is the common way Christ refers to himself. It is discussed in detail in this article. Its sense may be "the child of the man."

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, but it can also mean "belonging to," "part of," "which is," "than" (in comparisons), or  "for," "concerning" or "about" with transitive verbs. 

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. 

Man - The Greek word for "man" means "man", "person" and "humanity" in the singular. In the plural, it means "men," "people", and "peoples". 

did -- 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, in fact, which is captured in English with adverbs like "really."

come  - -- The word translated as "come" primarily means "to start out" but Christ usually uses it to mean "come" but not always. It indicates movement, especially its beginning, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." Our English word "show up" captures both the "start" and "come" ideas. See this article for more.

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

served - -- The Greek verb translated as "served" means "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister". It means, in the passive, "to be served." The noun form of this word, meaning "servant" appeared in Matthew 20:26 .

but  - -- (CW) The Greek word translated as "but" denotes an exception or simple opposition. It is used to emphasize the contrast between things like we use "rather". It is the Greek word "other" like we use "otherwise". Jesus often uses this conjunction to connect a negative clause, not doing something, with a positive one, "instead do this."

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

serve,  - - -- The Greek verb translated as "serve" means "to act as a servant," "to minister," and "to perform services." It is usually translated as "minister". It is from the same root as the Greek word usually translated as "minister". The noun form of this word, meaning "servant" appeared in Matthew 20:26 .

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

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

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

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

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. 

life  - The word translated here as "life" is psyche, a common word in Greek meaning "life," "soul," "consciousness," and "a sense of self." For more about this word, read this article. This is the word we used today to describe the study of consciousness.

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.

ransom  - The word translated as "ransom" means the money paid for a ransom, but it also means the money paid to free a slave, or, more generally, "recompense."

for  - -- The word translated as "for" has many meanings that fit this context: "in place of," "at the price of," "in return for," and "for the sake of." However, in English, this Greek word, anti, is from its primary meaning "opposite."

many. The word translated as "many" means many in number, great in power or worth, and large in size.

NIV Translation Issues: 

3
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "but" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "man" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

May 29 2021