Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat,

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A long condemnation of the religious leaders of the time. their focusing on small things, not big ones.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Blind guides, filtering for that gnat, that, however, camel? Drinking it down.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse, clearly humorous, may seem out of place in what the KJV translates as an angry diatribe, but it fits perfectly into the entertaining arguments that Jesus actually was making when correctly translated. This is the second time that he uses the name, "blind guides," in this section. Three of the words, "gnat," "strain," and "swallow," are only used by Jesus here. The "gnat" and "camel" both representing violations of the law, but contrasting their size.

The issue here is that Jewish law forbids eating most flying insects, except those like grasshoppers and crickets. According to Jewish law, camels are prohibited as food just like flying insects. As we saw in Matthew 19:24, the camel is Jesus's go-to image for describing a large size.

The language is straightforward, but  the word translated as "swallow" literally means "drink down." This makes the joke more clear since no one drinks a camel.

NIV : 

Matthew 23:24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

My Takeaway: 

Don't worry about small mistakes. Avoid the big ones.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὁδηγοὶ [3 verses](noun pl masc voc/nom) "Guides" is hodegos, which means "guide" and "pilot."

τυφλοὶ [15 verses](adj pl masc voc/nom) "Blind" is typhlos, which means "blind", "lacking vision of the future," [of things]"dim", "obscure", "dark," [of passages] "blind", "enclosed", "with no outlet," and is a metaphor for lacking sense."

διυλίζοντες [1 verse] (part pl pres act masc nom) "Strain" is from diylizo, which means "strain," and "filter thoroughly."

τὸν [692 verses](article sg masc acc) "Untranslated is the Greek definite article, "the."

κώνωπα [1 verse] (noun sg masc acc) "Gnat" is konops, which means "gnat," and "mosquito."

τὴν Untranslated is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one." Here it is separated from the noun by a conjunction.

δὲ [446 verses](conj)"And" 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").

κάμηλον [4 verses] (noun sg masc acc) "Camel" is from kamelos, which means "camel."

καταπίνοντες. [1 verse](part pl pres act masc nom) "Swallow" is from katapino, which means "gulp", "swallow down", "absorb", "consume", "spend," and "waste in tippling."

KJV Analysis: 

Ye e - This is from the vocative form of the noun, "blind guides," that means it names the person being talked to.

blind  - "Blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses.

guides,  - "Guides" is from a noun, which means "guide" and "pilot" in the sense of the person that guides a ship through dangerous waters.

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

strain  - (WF) The word translated as "strain" means "strain" and "filter thoroughly." It is not an active verb, but in the form of an adjective, a participle, "filtering." This is an uncommon word in Greek generally, but probably more common among the Jews because of their dietary rules.

at -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "at" in the Greek source. The prefix of the verb means "for" with an accusative object.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the," 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. 

gnat,  - The word for "gnat" means a gnat or mosquito. The issue here is that Jewish law prohibits eating insects.

and -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" 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. 

swallow  - (WF) The word for "swallow" means "gulp," and "swallow down." It is a form of the word meaning "drink" (literally, "drink down"). Again, it is not in the form of an active verb, but an adjective, "gulping."

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the," 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. 

camel. -- The word translated a "camel" means "camel."

KJV Translation Issues: 

7
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "which" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "strain" is not an active verb but a participle, "filtering for."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "at" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the" or "that."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "but" or "however."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "swallow" is not an active verb but a participle, "drinking down."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the" or "that."

NIV Analysis: 

You - This is from the vocative form of the noun, "blind guides," that means it names the person being talked to.

blind  - "Blind" is a word that means both physically and mentally blind. It also means all things that are obscure. It is also a metaphor for disabilities of the other senses.

guides,  - "Guides" is from a noun, which means "guide" and "pilot" in the sense of the person that guides a ship through dangerous waters.

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

strain  - (WF) The word translated as "strain" means "strain" and "filter thoroughly." It is not an active verb, but in the form of an adjective, a participle, "filtering." This is an uncommon word in Greek generally, but probably more common among the Jews because of their dietary rules.

out -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "out" in the Greek source. The prefix of the verb means "for" with an accusative object.

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the," 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. 

gnat,  - The word for "gnat" means a gnat or mosquito. The issue here is that Jewish law prohibits eating insects.

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. 

swallow  - (WF) The word for "swallow" means "gulp," and "swallow down." It is a form of the word meaning "drink" (literally, "drink down"). Again, it is not in the form of an active verb, but an adjective, "gulping."

a -- (WW) The word translated as "a" is the Greek definite article, "the," 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. 

camel. -- The word translated a "camel" means "camel."

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "you" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "strain" is not an active verb but a participle, "filtering for."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "out" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the" or "that."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "swallow" is not an active verb but a participle, "drinking down."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "a" should be "the" or "that."

The Spoken Version: 

"Blind guides," Christ said, closing his eye and taking a few steps with his hands stretch out before him.

The crowd chuckled.

"Filtering out...." he said, pretending to sip from a cup through his sleeve. Then he looked in his sleeve, plucking out something, and holding up two pitched fingers and said triumphantly, "The gnat!"

The crowd laughed. Many had made fun, secretly, of the way the most self-righteous religious sipped their wine through gauze so they wouldn't swallow the gnats that fell into it.

"The camel, however," Christ continued, pointing at a camel standing off in the distance. He then mimicked picking up a huge container with both hands and drinking from it.

Finishing his big drink, he wiped his lips with satisfaction, "You gulp down!"

The crowd laughed.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 15 2021