Matthew 23:26 You blind Pharisee, first clean what is within the cup

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

A long condemnation of the religious leaders of the time, their focusing on outward things not the inward.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Blind distinguished, first clean the interior of the cup [and the meat platter] that it might become, as the exterior of it, spotless.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse also changes the "blind pharisee" from the plural to the singular, the verb is singular so it is addressed to an individual, not the group. The word "clean" is a command, which Jesus has not used in this section. In my reading, this indicates that he is answering the question of a specific person.

The "inside" and "outside" here are different words than used in the previous verse, Matthew 23:25, but they are from the same root. The hidden reason for the change of word form is the double meanings of these words. The word translated as "the inside" also has the sense of "insider" and "special."  The word translated as "the outside" also has the sense of "outsider" and "common." The sens is that if the "outsider" or "common man" is clean, he becomes special, an insider for being clean. The context of this section is the comparison of large and small. The interior is always smaller than the exterior.

The verb as "be" actually means "become," in a form that means something transforming by or for itself. This is a keyword here. Mistranslating it destroys Jesus's meaning. It is not the future tense, as translated in the NIV, but in a form of possibility. It doesn't certainly happen but it could or should.

The words, "and the platter," are not in some versions of Greek. The pronoun translated as "of them" later in the verse is singular indicating that this phrase was added the "and the platter" at some later date to make this verse conform to the previous verse.

NIV : 

Matthew 23:26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

Wordplay: 

The word translated as "clean" also has the sense of ritual purification as well as removing dirt. 

The word for "first" also means "primary," "initial," "foremost," etc.

The word translated as "the inside" also has the sense of "insider" and "special." 

The word translated as "the outside" also has the sense of "outsider" and "common." 

My Takeaway: 

If the special insiders are purified, the common outsiders might become purified as well.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

γραμματεῖς [17 verses](noun sg masc voc) "Scribes" is grammateus, which is generally a "secretary", "registrar", "recorder," and "scholar," but specifically means someone who uses gramma which is Greek for "drawings", "a letter," (as in an alphabet)"diagrams," and "letters" (as in correspondence).]

τυφλοὶ [15 verses](adj sg masc voc) "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."

καθάρισον [12 verses](verb 2nd sg aor imperat) "Ye make clean" is from katharizo, which means "to clean", "to clear the ground of weeds,""prune away", "to remove dirt", "to purify,"and "to remove impurities." It is also used to describe the removal of the inedible parts from grain (winnowing), clearing weeds from a field, pruning a plant and so on.

πρῶτον [41 verses](adj sg masc acc) "First" is from protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best."

τὸ [692 verses](article sg neut acc/nom) "That which is" 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. -

ἔντος [2 verses] (adverb) "Within" is entos, which means "within", "inside", "on this side", "acquainted with," of time "within", "short of," i.e. "before."

τοῦ [692 verses](article sg neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ποτηρίου [14 verses](noun sg neut gen) "Cup" is poterion, which means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple.

[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."

τῆς [692 verses](article sg fem gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

παροψίδος], [2 verses]](noun sg fem gen) Platter" is paropsis, which means "platter on which meat is served." It is a metaphor for "fresh tastes."

ἵνα [134 verses](adv/conj) "That" is from hina, which means "in that place", "there", "where", "when", "that", "in order that", "when," and "because."

γένηται [117 verses](verb 3rd sg aor subj mid) "May be" is ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to happen", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

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).

τὸ [692 verses] (article sg neut nom/acc) "The" 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.

ἐκτὸς [1 verse] (adv) "Outside" is from the adverb ektos, which means "without", "outside,"with verbs of motion, "out," as a preposition, "out of", "far from", "beyond", "exempt from", "except", "without the consent of," as a noun, "external things", "strangers", "foreigners", "the vulgar," and "the common herd."

αὐτοῦ [720 verses](adj sg masc/neut gen) "It" 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."

καθαρόν. [5 verses](adj sg masc acc) "Clean" is katharos, which means "physically clean", "spotless", "clear", "pure (water)", "clear of objects", "free of contamination", "clear of debt", "genuine", "pure of birth", "without blemish," and "sound."

KJV Analysis: 

Thou - This is from the vocative form of the noun 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. However, the form is singular so it is addressed to an individual, not the group. In my reading, this indicates that he is answering the question of a specific person.

Pharisee, -- (UW) "Pharisees" is an example of where we use the Greek word as the name of the religious sect, instead of translating it. In Greek, the word means the "separatists" or "the judgmental," but it is a Hebrew word meaning "distinguished" or "elite."

cleanse  - The Greek word translated as "clean," means to remove dirt. It is used for a lot of specific types of "cleaning" including cleansing a person of leprosy but it also has a general meaning of "purifying" anything. It is the word used for Jewish ritual washing for purification. It is in a form of a command.

first  - The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially."

that -- The word translated as "that" 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. 

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

within  - (CW) The "within" is not a noun, but an adverb but Jesus uses it like a noun, the adverb meaning "within," "inside", and "on this side." This is a different form of the same root word used in the previous verse translated as "within" and "inside."

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

cup  - The word for "of the cup" means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple. The cup is used by Jesus as a symbol for sharing burdens.

NOTE: The following words, "and the platter," an not in some versions of the Greek. The pronoun later referring to the "cup and platter" is singular indicating that this phrase was added at some later date to make this verse conform to a previous one.

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

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. 

platter,  - The word translated as "platter" is specifically a platter for meat, and it is a metaphor for "fresh tastes." This word and the preceding "and" do not appear in all Greek manuscripts. It seems likely that is was added to conform with the previous verse.

that  - The word translated as "that" is an adverb or conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

outside  - (CW)  "Outside" is from the adverb that means "outside" and "without." Like the "within" above, this is from the same root words as the "outside" in the previous verse, but it is a different word. More interesting, this word has a number of special meanings when used as a noun as it is here. It means "external part," but it also means "outsider" and "the common people."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

them -- (WN) The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  It is singular, not plural.

may -- This helping verb "may" indicates that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be  - (WW) The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state.

clean  - The Greek word translated as "clean" means "physically clean", "spotless," "free of contamination", "clear of debt", "genuine", "pure of birth", "without blemish," and "sound."

also. -- (WP) The Greek word translated as "also" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). This conjunction does not appear at the end, but before the "outside of them" phrase.

KJV Translation Issues: 

8
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "Pharisee" means "distinguished." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "which is" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "within" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "platter" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "outside" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WN  - Wrong Number- The word "them" is translated as plural but the Greek word is singular.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "be" should be "become."
  • WP -- Wrongly Placed -- The word "also" doesn't appear here but before "the exterior."

NIV Analysis: 

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. However, the form is singular so it is addressed to an individual, not the group. In my reading, this indicates that he is answering the question of a specific person.

Pharisee, -- (UW) "Pharisees" is an example of where we use the Greek word as the name of the religious sect, instead of translating it. In Greek, the word means the "separatists" or "the judgmental," but it is a Hebrew word meaning "distinguished" or "elite."

First - The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially."

clean  - The Greek word translated as "clean," means to remove dirt. It is used for a lot of specific types of "cleaning" including cleansing a person of leprosy but it also has a general meaning of "purifying" anything. It is the word used for Jewish ritual washing for purification. It is in a form of a command.

the -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, without a noun, it has the sense of "the one." The Greek article ist much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those") than the English "the." See this article for more.

inside   - (CW) The "inside " is not a noun, but an adverb but Jesus uses it like a noun, the adverb meaning "within," "inside", and "on this side." This is a different form of the same root word used in the previous verse translated as "within" and "inside."

of -- This word "of"  comes from the genitive case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English.  The most common is the "of" of possession.

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

cup  - The word for "of the cup" means "a drinking-cup", "a wine-cup", "a jar," and "a receptacle" for offerings in the temple. The cup is used by Jesus as a symbol for sharing burdens.

NOTE: The following words, "and the platter," an not in some versions of the Greek. The pronoun later referring to the "cup and platter" is singular indicating that this phrase was added at some later date to make this verse conform to a previous one.

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

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. 

dish,  - The word translated as "dish" is specifically a platter for meat, and it is a metaphor for "fresh tastes." This word and the preceding "and" do not appear in all Greek manuscripts. It seems likely that is was added to conform with the previous verse.

and - (WW) The word translated as "that" is an adverb or a conjunction that starts a subordinate clause "there", "where," and "in order that."

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

the -- The word translated as "the" 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. 

outside  - (CW)  "Outside" is from the adverb that means "outside" and "without." Like the "within" above, this is from the same root words as the "outside" in the previous verse, but it is a different word. More interesting, this word has a number of special meanings when used as a noun as it is here. It means "external part," but it also means "outsider" and "the common people."

missing "of it"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "of it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  It is singular, not plural.

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

will -- (WW) This helping verb "will" indicates the future tense, but this that the verb indicates a possibility. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

be  - (WW) The word translated as "be" means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Jesus, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state.

clean  - The Greek word translated as "clean" means "physically clean", "spotless," "free of contamination", "clear of debt", "genuine", "pure of birth", "without blemish," and "sound."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "Pharisee" means "distinguished." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "inside" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "dish" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "in order that."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "then" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "outside" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "of it" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "will" should be "might."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "be" should be "become."

The Spoken Version: 

"Blind elite," he said addressing his chief accuser. "First, remove the dirt from the special..."

Since this was addressed to them, his accusers reacted angrily, but he clarified, "Inside of the cup."

He made a gesture cleaning the inside of this his imaginary cup. The crowd laughed at the interchange. And this drew more protests from his accusers.

"In order that," he continued, holding up his hand to quiet the conflict.

"The common, " he said, gesturing to the crowd at first, but then to the cup. "Outside of it."

The crowd chuckled at his wordplay.

"Might just possibly become pure." he finished.

Front Page Date: 

Aug 17 2021