Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A parable comparing the realm of the skies to hiring workers throughout the day.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

About, however, the eleventh, going out, he discovered others having stood and he said to them, "Why here have you stood in this way all the day idle?"

My Takeaway: 

If you are not working for the Divine, you aren't working at all.

KJV : 

Matthew 20:6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and said to them, Why are you standing here all the day idle?

NIV : 

Matthew 20:6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Every time the vineyard owner goes out, there are more people in the market, even though he hires all he sees at every other visit. Where were these people earlier? See the previous verse for an explanation, but here, that suggestion is called into question. The vineyard owner says they have been standing there all day. This is clearly impossible because he did not hire them earlier. Jesus adds the word "whole" to the word day to make this impossibility even clearer.

As we saw in Matthew 20:3, the Greek word for "idle/doing nothing" is the punchline, the last word in the verse. This criticism of the workers seems more comical than real. The employer knew that these workers were not there all day long because he had been there. He is teasing them in saying that they were. However, his tease is just a prelude to something else. His assumption that these workers were idle all day arises from the fact that they were not working for him, but they were clearly doing other things. This mistake would have been more obvious to people of Jesus's time who would know how a labor marketplace worked, while a landowner might not.

Sometimes, I really don't understand why translators just want to ignore the original Greek. The NIV version here is like someone said, "We can say something similar with different words accenting ideas differently than Jesus did." But why do that? It doesn't even make any religions points, maybe it clarifies the time better for those that don't want to understand how the people of the era saw the time then, but doesn't that help to understand what people heard?

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

περὶ (prep) "About" is from peri, which means "round about (Place)," "around," "about," "concerning," "on account of," "in regard to," "before," "above," "beyond," and "all around."

δὲ (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").

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

ἑνδεκάτην [2 verses](adj sg fem acc) "Eleventh" is hendekatos, which means "eleventh."

ἐξελθὼν [54 verses](part sg aor act masc nom) "He went out" is exerchomai, which means "to come or go out of " "to march forth," "go out on," "to stand forth," "to exceed all bounds," "to come to an end," "to go out of office," and [of dreams or prophecies] "to come true."

εὗρεν [43 verses]((verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Found" is heurisko, which means "to find," "to find out," "to discover," "to devise," "to invent," "to get," and "to gain."

ἄλλους [34 verses](adj pl masc acc) "Others" is from allos, which means "another," "one besides," "of another sort," "different," "other than what is true," "as well," "besides," {with numerals: "yet," "still," "further"), "of other sort," "other than what is," "untrue," "unreal," "other than right," "wrong," "bad," "unworthy," [with an article] "the rest," "all besides," and [in series] "one...another."

ἑστῶτας, [28 verses](part pl perf act masc acc) "Standing" is histemi, which means "to make to stand," "to stand," "to set up," "to bring to a standstill," "to check," "to appoint," "to establish," "to fix by agreement," "to be placed," "to be set," "to stand still," "to stand firm," "to set upright," "to erected," "to arise," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]," "to bury," "to establish," "to make," "to cause," and "to assign."

καὶ (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.

λέγει [264 verses](verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Saith" 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."

αὐτοῖς (adj pl masc dat) "Unto them" 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."

Τί (irreg sg neut nom) "Why" is from tis which can mean "someone," "any one," "everyone," "they [indefinite]," "many a one," "whoever," "anyone," "anything," "some sort," "some sort of," "each," "any," "the individual," "such," and so on. In a question, it can mean "who," "why," or "what."

ὧδε [29 verses] (adv) "Here" is hode, the demonstrative pronoun which means "this" in the sense of "what is present" and "what can be seen." With verbs of action and with a person (its use here), it means "here" as in "here I am" in the sense of "I am present."

ἑστήκατε [28 verses](verb 2nd pl perf ind act) "Stand ye" is histemi, which means "to make to stand," "to stand," "to set up," "to bring to a standstill," "to check," "to appoint," "to establish," "to fix by agreement," "to be placed," "to be set," "to stand still," "to stand firm," "to set upright," "to erected," "to arise," and "to place." Like the English words "put" and "set," it has a number of specific meanings from "to put down [in writing]," "to bury," "to establish," "to make," "to cause," and "to assign."

ὅλην [23 verses](adj sg fem acc) "All" is holos, which means "the whole," "entire," "complete," "complete in all its parts," "wholly," "altogether," "on the whole," "speaking generally," "utter," "actually," "really, "the universe," and "safe and sound."

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

ἡμέραν [96 verses](noun sg fem acc) "Day" is from hemera, which, as a noun, means "day" "a state or time of life," "a time (poetic)," "day break" and "day time." It is also and also has a second meaning, of "quiet," "tame (animals)," "cultivated (crops)," and "civilized (people)."

ἀργοί; (adj pl masc nom) "Idle" is argos, which means "not working the ground," "lazy," and "idle" when applied to people, but when applied to things (like words) "lying idle," "yielding no return," and "fruitless."

KJV Analysis: 

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

about -- The Greek word translated as "about" means "around" when referring to a place, but in referring to a subject, it means "about," "concerning," "on account of," and "in regard to."

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. 

eleventh -- This word is the number "eleventh." The text doesn't have the word "hour" in it. It says simply "eleventh." The eleventh hour was one hour before sunset, the end of the workday.

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

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

went  - (WF) The word translated as "he went" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." Here, it is in the form of an adjective, "going."

out -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "out of."

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

found -  The term used for "he found" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover." In the previous verses of this parable, this was the more common word "saw."

others - The "others" here is masculine, plural, making it clear that it refers to a group of people.

standing - (WT) The word translated as "standing" is from a verb that has a lot of different meanings in context, but primarily means "to make to stand," "to stand," and "to set up." However, it also has the sense of "to bring to a standstill," so it can apply idleness, like we say "standing around." The tense is the past perfect, so "having stood around." So they did not come to the market after working somewhere else.

idle, -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "idle" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used. There is no "idle" here now in the current Greek source that we use. It appears only at the end of the verse.

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

said -- The word translated as "said" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak,"  but when used with an objective noun or pronoun, the sense is "say of" or "speak of."  When two accusative objects are used, the sense is  "say of him this," or "call him this."

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.

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

Why  - The word translated as "why" is a demonstrative pronoun that is used as several questioning words: who, why, or what.

are -- (WT) This helping verb indicates the present tense of the verb. The tense of the verb is the past perfect.

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

standing  - (WF) The word for "stand ye" is the same words as above, but its form is a tense that indicates something completed in the past. "Have you stood."

here = The word translated as "here" means in manner, "in this way," referring to the manner, or "here," referring to place.

all  - The word translated as "all" means "whole." In Greek, "all" is used to refer more to a multitude. The word used here indicates completeness.

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. 

day -- The Greek word translated as "day" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

idle?  - The word used for "idle" is more negative, having the sense of "lazy."

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "hour" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "went out" is not an active verb but a participle, "going out."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The second word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "standing" is the present tense, but Greek is in the completed past "having stood".
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "idle" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "are standing" is the present tense, but Greek is in the completed past "have you stood".
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "standing" is not a participle, but an active verb "have you stood."

NIV Analysis: 

About -- The Greek word translated as "about" means "around" when referring to a place, but in referring to a subject, it means "about," "concerning," "on account of," and "in regard to."

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  "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. 

five -- (WW) This word is the number "eleventh." The text doesn't have the word "hour" in it. It says simply "eleventh." The eleventh hour was one hour before sunset, the end of the workday.

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

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

went  - (WF) The word translated as "he went" means literally "to go or come out," but it has a secondary meaning of "making something come true." Here, it is in the form of an adjective, "going."

out -- This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "out of."

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

found -  The term used for "he found" is the source of our word, "heuristic," meaning enabling a person to find out something for themselves. It means "find out" and "discover." In the previous verses of this parable, this was the more common word "saw."

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

others - The "others" here is masculine, plural, making it clear that it refers to a group of people.

standing - (WT) The word translated as "standing" is from a verb that has a lot of different meanings in context, but primarily means "to make to stand," "to stand," and "to set up." However, it also has the sense of "to bring to a standstill," so it can apply idleness, like we say "standing around." The tense is the past perfect, so "having stood around." So they did not come to the market after working somewhere else.

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

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

He -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

asked -- The word translated as "asked" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak,"  but when used with an objective noun or pronoun, the sense is "say of" or "speak of."  When two accusative objects are used, the sense is  "say of him this," or "call him this."

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

Why  - The word translated as "why" is a demonstrative pronoun that is used as several questioning words: who, why, or what.

have -- This helping verb indicates the present tense of the verb. The tense of the verb is the past perfect.

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

been - (WV) The verb here is translated as passive but it is active.

standing  - (WF) The word for "stand ye" is the same words as above, but its form is a tense that indicates something completed in the past. "Have you stood."

here = The word translated as "here" means in manner, "in this way," referring to the manner, or "here," referring to place.

all  - The word translated as "all" means "whole." In Greek, "all" is used to refer more to a multitude. The word used here indicates completeness.

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "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.

day -- The Greek word translated as "day" also means "time," in general, and refers specifically to the "daytime."

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

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

nothing. - (CW) "Nothing" is an adjective that means "not working the ground," "lazy," and "idle" when applied to people, but when applied to things (like words) "lying idle," "yielding no return," and "fruitless." This is the last word in the verse.

NIV Translation Issues: 

12
  1. MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "eleventh" is not shown in the English translation.
  2. WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "five" should be "eleventh."
  3. IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "in the afternoon" doesn't exist in the source.
  4. WF - Wrong Form -  The "went out" is not an active verb but a participle, "going out."
  5. IW - Inserted Word -- The second word "and" doesn't exist in the source.
  6. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "still" doesn't exist in the source.
  7. WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "standing" is the present tense, but Greek is in the completed past "having stood".
  8. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "around" doesn't exist in the source.
  9. WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as passive but it is active.
  10. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "long" doesn't exist in the source.
  11. IW - Inserted Word -- The word "doing" doesn't exist in the source.
  12. CW - Confusing Word -- The "nothing" is not the common word usually translated as "nothing."

Front Page Date: 

May 10 2021