Matthew 20:25 You know that the princes of the Gentiles...

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

After answering the question about the places of James and John, the other apostles were made at them for asking for special places.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

You-all have seen that the rulers of the foreigners' overlord them and the great overpower them.

My Takeaway: 

The overlords must overpower until overthrown.

KJV : 

Matthew 20:25 Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

NIV : 

Matthew 20:25 You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

There are two very long, very similar, and very rare words, Jesus uses here, perhaps even making them up. He often does this for the sake of humor.  The common form of these words is used in Luke 22:25. The two keywords here only appear in Greek writing after the time of the Gospels so Jesus may gave coined them or "koined" them, making them more common.

The Greek of these two words looks amusing, κατακυριεύουσιν and κατεξουσιάζουσιν. Notice that both have the same initial prefix, meaning "down" or "under." They also both have the same ending, but that is because they are the same verb form. Both these words are also found in Mark 10:42, but both are made into more common words, their prefixes removed, in Luke 22:25. So Luke may be the first one to start simplifying Jesus's words, making them more serious and easier to understand. Something that continues today in English translation. The root of the first word is the common word for "lord." With the prefix, the sense is "lording over," which has its own humorous uses in English. The root of the second is a less common word, used by Jesus twenty-three times, meaning "power," specifically legal authority, and again, we have a similar verb in English "to overpower."

Wordplay: 

Here, Christ makes up to words which are very like the way we say things in our day, "lord over" and "decide against." 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οἴδατε [38 verses](verb 2nd pl perf ind act) "Ye know" is from oida which is a form of eido, (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."

ὅτι (adv/conj) "That" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that," "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore." -- In the Greek source, this is a word here that means "that" or "because."

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

ἄρχοντες [5 verses](noun pl masc nom) "The princes" is archon, which means "ruler," "commander," "official," and "magistrate."

τῶν (article pl neut gen)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

ἐθνῶν (noun pl neut gen) "The gentiles" is from ethnos, which means "a number of people living together," "company," "body of men," "tribe," "a people," "nation," and (later) "foreign, barbarous nations."

κατακυριεύουσιν [2 verse](verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Dominion" is katakyrieuô, which means "to gain or exercise complete dominion," "gain dominion over," and "gain possession." This carries the sense of ownership and control. From kata, which means "downwards," "down from," "down into," and "against." And from the verb form of "Lord" kyrios (kurios), which means "having power," "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord," "master of the house," and "head of the family."

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "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."

καὶ (con/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."

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

μεγάλοι [47 verses](adj pl masc nom) "The great" is megas, which means "big," "full-grown," "vast," "high," "great," "mighty," "strong (of the elements)",l "Loud" (of sounds), "over-great,(with a bad sense), "impressive" (of style), AND "long" ( of days).

κατεξουσιάζουσιν [2 verses](verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Exercise authority" is katexousiazo, which gets translated "to have power," "to exercise power," and "to be the master of a body." From kata, which means "downwards," "down from," "down into," and "against." And a verb from of exousia which means "control," "the power of choice," "permission," "the power of authority," "the right of privilege," "abundance of means," and "abuse of power."

αὐτῶν.(adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "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."

KJV Analysis: 

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

know  - (WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. It is in the second person plural, "all of you see." The tense is the past perfect, so "have seen," an action completed in the past.

that -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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. 

princes  - "Princes" is from the Greek word that means "ruler," and "magistrate." This is the word used in the phrase "the prince of the world" (John 12:31), who Jesus castes down.

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. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Gentiles  - The word translated as "Gentiles" means "a group of people living together," a nation, a tribe, or a cast of people. Later it came to mean "barbarous nations" similar to our idea of foreigners.

exercise dominion  - (CW) Here we have the first invented word. It is translated as "to gain dominion over," and "gain possession," but it is made of two parts. The first means "down from" and the second is a verb form of the word usually translated as "lord." So, "lord over" is the way we would say this in English.

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

them, -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The form is genitive, but that is to form of object used by the prefix of the verb to indicate "downward."

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

they -- (CW) The word translated as "they" 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. 

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

great  - The word translated as "the great" means "big," "high" "great," and "impressive."

exercise authority  - This brings us to another word Jesus may have coined. It is translated as "to have power," but again, it is made of two parts. The first again means "down from" (same root as above) and the second is a verb of a common word Jesus uses that means "authority," "control," and "the ability to choose." In English, we would say, "control over" or perhaps "the ability to decide against." This word is the verb form of word Jesus commonly uses as a noun and it appears without the prefix in Luke 22:25. However, this version, with the prefix, can only be found in one other Greek document before Christ so it may have been in use or an example of independent creation.

upon -- (CW) This is from the prefix of the previous verb that means "over."

them. -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The form is genitive, but that is to form of object used by the prefix of the verb to indicate "downward."

KJV Translation Issues: 

5
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "see" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have seen."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "exercise dominion" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "they" is not the common word usually translated as "they."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "that are" doesn't exist in the source.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "upon" is not the common word usually translated as "upon."

NIV Analysis: 

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

know  - (WT) The word translated as "know" means primarily "to see" and is used to mean "know' as we use the word "see" to mean "know" in English. It is in the second person plural, "all of you see." The tense is the past perfect, so "have seen," an action completed in the past.

that -- The word translated as "that" introduces a statement of fact or cause, "for what," "because," "since," and "wherefore."

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. 

rulers - "Rulers " is from the Greek word that means "ruler," and "magistrate." This is the word used in the phrase "the prince of the world" (John 12:31), who Jesus castes down.

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. The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this," "that," "these," "those") than the English "the." See this article for more. 

Gentiles  - The word translated as "Gentiles" means "a group of people living together," a nation, a tribe, or a cast of people. Later it came to mean "barbarous nations" similar to our idea of foreigners.

lord   - Here we have the first invented word. It is translated as "to gain dominion over," and "gain possession," but it is made of two parts. The first means "down from" and the second is a verb form of the word usually translated as "lord." So, "lord over" is the way we would say this in English.

it -- (IW) There is nothing that can be translated as "it" in the Greek source. Though we can often assume objects in Greek when they are repeated, there is no noun for this pronoun to match to.

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

them, -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The form is genitive, but that is to form of object used by the prefix of the verb to indicate "downward."

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

their -- (CW) The word translated as "their" 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. 

high officials.  - (CW) The word translated as "the great" means "big," "high" "great," and "impressive."

exercise authority  - This brings us to another word Jesus may have coined. It is translated as "to have power," but again, it is made of two parts. The first again means "down from" (same root as above) and the second is a verb of a common word Jesus uses that means "authority," "control," and "the ability to choose." In English, we would say, "control over" or perhaps "the ability to decide against." This word is the verb form of word Jesus commonly uses as a noun and it appears without the prefix in Luke 22:25. However, this version, with the prefix, can only be found in one other Greek document before Christ so it may have been in use or an example of independent creation.

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

them. -- The word translated as "them" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.  The form is genitive, but that is to form of object used by the prefix of the verb to indicate "downward."

NIV Translation Issues: 

4
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The English verb "see" is the present tense, but Greek is in the past perfect, a completed action, "have seen."
  • IW - Inserted Word -- The word "it" doesn't exist in the source.."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "their" is not the common word usually translated as "their."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "high officials" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

This continues Christ's explanation of how authority in his kingdom is different than earthly authority. Christ always talks about "gentiles," when referring to the secular government, that is, Roman rule. Christ draws a distinction between physical power of the state and the power of social pressure. Both are forces that we must resist but we deal with them in different ways.

Here, Christ defines what the power of the state is based on: physical coercion. The state has physical control over its subjects. But Christ recognizes that this power is separate from the emotion power of relationships, such as, in the negative sense, social pressure. It is also separate from mental power, what we are free to think, and spiritual power, what we choose to believe.

Front Page Date: 

May 26 2021