Matthew 21:38  But when the husbandmen saw the son,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

This continues the lesson about authority and trust to a story about how not trusting those in power leads to a predictable result.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

The vine keepers, however, seeing the son, spoke among themselves, "This is the heir. We should kill him and have his inheritance."

KJV : 

Matthew 21:38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

For some reason, Biblical translators insert a "let us" phrase before these verbs when the verb form is one of possibility, correctly translated as "we might" or "we should." The verb form is ambiguous at this point in the story. The vine-dressers could just be considered a possibility, "we might," or thinking about what would be in their advantage, "we should." In either case, the decision has not been made. Jesus is leaving his listeners in suspense in telling the story. This is lost in translation.

The words "heir" and "inheritance" are from the same root and only used by Jesus in the analogy.

NIV : 

Matthew 21:38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’

My Takeaway: 

People see possibilities before they make decisions.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

οἱ (article pl masc nom) "the" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun but is separated here by the conjunction.

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").

γεωργοὶ [13 verses](adj pl masc nom) "Husbandmen" is georgos, which means "tilling the ground," and from that, "husbandman", "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

ἰδόντες [38 verses](part pl aor act masc nom) "Saw" is eido which means "to see", "to examine", "to perceive", "to behold", "to know how to do", "to see with the mind's eye," and "to know."

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

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

εἶπον [162 verses] (verb 3rd pl aor ind act​) "They said" 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."

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

ἑαυτοῖς  [75 verses](adj pl masc dat) "Themselves" is heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

Οὗτός [137 verses](adj sg masc nom) "This" is from houtos, which means "this", "that", "the nearer." As an adverb, it means "in this way", "therefore", "so much", "to such an extent," and "that is why."

ἐστιν (verb 3rd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

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

κληρονόμος: [3 verses] (noun sg masc nom) "Heir" is klêronomos, which means "heir" and "heir apparent."

δεῦτε [8 verses](adv) "Come" is an adverb deute, which means "come here" and "come hither."

ἀποκτείνωμεν [31 verses](verb 1st pl pres subj act) "Let us kill" is apokteino, which means "to kill," and "to slay." It combines the word for "to slay" (kteino) with the proposition, apo, indicating separation, meaning "from" or "away from."but it is a stronger form than the normal verb kteino. It is more like our "destroy."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Him" 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 (conj) "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."

σχῶμεν [181 verses](verb 1st pl aor subj act) "Seize" is echo, which means "to have", "to hold", "to possess", "to keep", "to have charge of", "to maintain", "to hold fast", "to bear", "to keep close", "to keep safe," and "to have means to do."

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

κληρονομίαν [3 verses] (noun sg fem acc) "Inheritance" is klêronomia, which means "inheritance", "property," and "possession."

αὐτοῦ: (adj sg masc acc) "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."

KJV Analysis: 

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.  It also an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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

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. 

husbandmen -  The word translated as "to husbandmen" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

saw  - (WF) The verb translated as "saw" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." It is in the form of a verbal adjective, "seeing" or "knowing."

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. 

son, -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children". It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

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

said  - "They said" is from means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

among  - The word translated as "among " also means "within", "with," or "in." It is usually translated a "in."

themselves, - "Themselves" is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.

this  - "This" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer."

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

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. 

heir;  - "Heir" is from a noun which means "heir" and "heir apparent."

come, - "Come" is not from a verb but from an adverb used like saying "over here!" in English to call someone to where you are.

let -- (WW) This is from the subjunctive form of the verb, which is expressed in English with the helping verb "should" or "would."

us -- (WF) This is from the first-person, plural form of the verb. Since it is a subject, it should be "we."

kill  - "Kill" is translated from a Greek word that means "destroy" more than just "kill" because the base word means "slay." The Greek source has the sense of "kill off," that is, destroy in a more thorough way. It is in a form that indicates something that might happen.

him, -- The word translated as "him" 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").

let -- (WW) This is from the subjunctive form of the verb, which is expressed in English with the helping verb "should" or "would."

us -- (WF) This is from the first-person, plural form of the verb. Since it is a subject, it should be "we."

seize  - (WW) The word translated as "seize" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

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

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. 

inheritance.  - "Inheritance" is from a noun that means "inheritance", "property," and "possession." It is from the same root as the word for "heir" above.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "saw" is not an active verb but a participle, "seeing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "let" should be "should."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "us" is not an object but a subject, "we."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "let" should be "should."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "us" is not an object but a subject, "we."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "seize" should be "have."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "on" doesn't exist in the source.

NIV Analysis: 

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.  It also an explanation of cause ("so") and a condition ("if").

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

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. 

tenants -  (WW) The word translated as "tenants " means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

saw  - (WF) The verb translated as "saw" means "to see" but it is used like we use the word "see" to mean "to know" or "to perceive." It is in the form of a verbal adjective, "seeing" or "knowing."

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. 

son, -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child" or "children". It can refer to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Jesus also used it metaphorically to describe those who follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

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

said  - "They said" is from means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

to - (CW) The word translated as "among " also means "within", "with," or "in." It is usually translated a "in."

each other, - "Each other" is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on.

This - "This" is translated from a Greek word that means "this", "that", "the nearer."

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. 

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. 

heir;  - "Heir" is from a noun which means "heir" and "heir apparent."

Come, - "Come" is not from a verb but from an adverb used like saying "over here!" in English to call someone to where you are.

let -- (WW) This is from the subjunctive form of the verb, which is expressed in English with the helping verb "should" or "would."

's -- (WF) This is from the first-person, plural form of the verb. Since it is a subject, it should be "we."

kill  - "Kill" is translated from a Greek word that means "destroy" more than just "kill" because the base word means "slay." The Greek source has the sense of "kill off," that is, destroy in a more thorough way. It is in a form that indicates something that might happen.

him, -- The word translated as "him" 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").

let -- (WW) This is from the subjunctive form of the verb, which is expressed in English with the helping verb "should" or "would."

's -- (WF) This is from the first-person, plural form of the verb. Since it is a subject, it should be "we."

take - (WW) The word translated as "seize" means "to possess" or "to keep" but it isn't used in the same way as a "helper" verb that the English "have" is.

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. 

inheritance.  - "Inheritance" is from a noun that means "inheritance", "property," and "possession." It is from the same root as the word for "heir" above.

NIV Translation Issues: 

10
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "when" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "tenants" should be "vine-dressers."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "saw" is not an active verb but a participle, "seeing."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "among."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "each other" should be "themselves."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "let" should be "should."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "us" is not an object but a subject, "we."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "let" should be "should."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "us" is not an object but a subject, "we."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "take" should be "have."

Front Page Date: 

Jun 19 2021