Matthew 21:16 Yes, haven't you read that out of the mouths

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

The Chief priests and scribes complain that children are cheering Jesus in the temple.

Greek : 

Matthew 21:16 Ναί: οὐδέποτε ἀνέγνωτε ὅτιἘκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον;”

Psalm 8:2. ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον

Literal Verse: 

Yes, don't you ever recognize that "out of a mouth of children and those nursing you prepared a tale."

My Takeaway: 

The cry of a child is the world's purest prayer.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:16 Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

NIV : 

Matthew 21:16  “Yes, haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse uses a number of words that Jesus uses rarely, but they teach us little about Jesus's use of language because he is quoting the Greek Septuagint, Psalm 8:2. Both the KJV and NIV translations of this verse, however, depart from the OT version to translate the OT word "strength" as "praise." We can also learn that Jesus is selective about what language from the OT he regularly uses.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ναί: [8 verses](adv) "Yes" is from nai, which means "yea,""yes," "truly," and similar ideas.

οὐδέποτε [5 verses](adv) "Never" is from oudepote, which means "and not ever," "nor ever," "not even ever," and "never." It is from two words, oude , which means "but not," "neither," "nor,"and "not even." And pote, which means "when," "at what time," "at some time or other," "at some unknown time, and "at some time in the future."

ἀνέγνωτε [9 verses](verb 2nd pl aor ind act) "Have ye...read" is anaginosko, which means "to recognize," "to know well," "to know certainly," "to know again," "to own," and "to acknowledge."

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."

​“Ἐκ (prep) "Out of" is from ek, which means 1) [of motion] "out of," "from," "by," "away from;" 2) [of place] "beyond," "outside of," "beyond;" 3) [of succession] "after," "from;" 4) [of rest] "on," "in," 5) [of time] "since," "from," "at," "in;" 5) [of materials] "out of," "made from."

στόματος [12 verses ](noun sg neut gen) "Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct.

νηπίων [3 verses]((adj pl masc/fem/neut gen) "Babies" is from nepios, which mean "infant," "child," "minor" of children up to puberty, "infancy," "the young" of an animal, of the understanding "childish," "silly," and of bodily strength, "like that of a child."

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."

θηλαζόντων [4 verses](part pl pres act masc gen) "Sucklings" is thelazo, which means "to suckle," "to nurse," and "to suck (for animals)."

κατηρτίσω [2 verses](verb 2nd sg aor ind) "Thou hast perfected" is katartizô, which means "to adjust," "to put in order," "to restore," "to mend," "to furnish," "to equip," and "to prepare." It is a metaphor meaning to "restore to a right mind," It also means to "compound," or "prepare" dishes or medicines,

αἶνον [1 verse](noun sg masc acc) "Praise" is ainos, which means "tale," "story," esp. "story with moral," "fable," generally, "saying," "proverb," also "praise" "decree," and "resolution."

KJV Analysis: 

Yea;  - -- The word translated as "yea" can be translated as "yes," or "truly." Interestingly, tt is not a common word for Jesus to use.

have  - -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

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

never  - (CW) The word translated as "never" is the combination of the word for "never" and "at any time."

read,  - (WW) "Have you...read" is from a verb that means to "know well," "recognize," and "know again." It is not from the verb meaning "to read."

Out of  - The Greek preposition translated as "of out" means "out of" and "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

the -- (WW)  There is no indefinite article in Greek, but when a word doesn't have a definite article, the indefinite article can be added in English translation.

mouth  - "Mouth" is stoma, which means "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct. The word is singular as translated.

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.

babes  - The word translated as "babes" is not one of the usual words Jesus uses to refer to children (see article here). In the KJV, it appears only in one other place (Matthew 11:26) but in today's sources, it doesn't appear at all except here. The reason it appears is that it is an exact quote of the Greek version of the Jewish psalm..

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

sucklings  - "Sucklings" is from a noun form of the verb that means "to suck." We would say, "those nursing." It has no definite article, but in English, we use a definite article before the plural more commonly than Greek.

thou -- This is from the second-person, singular form of the verb.

hast -- (WT) This helping verb "hast" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

perfected  - (CW) "Thou hast perfected" is from a verb which means "to furnish," "to equip," and "to prepare." It is a metaphor from being restored to one's right mind. In the original verse in Psalms, the Hebrew word here means to "found," "fix," and "establish," and it is translated in the KJV as "ordained." This word is not related to the common word for "perfect."

praise?  - The word is translated as "praise," is a Greek noun that means "tale" or "story" especially stories with a moral. More generally, it means "saying" a "proverb" and it came to be a "decree" and "praise" (as in a story praising someone). It comes from the verb of approving of someone and complimenting them on what they have done. It means making recommendations and advice, but ultimately accepting the decision of a superior. In the original Hebrew, this word means "might," and "strength."

KJV Translation Issues: 

6
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "never" is not the common word usually translated as "never."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "read" should be "recognized."
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "the" should be "a."
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "hast" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "perfected" is not the common word usually translated as "perfected."

NIV Analysis: 

Yes;  - -- The word translated as "yeas can be translated as "yes," or "truly." Interestingly, tt is not a common word for Jesus to use.

have  - -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

n’t -   - The word translated as "not ever" is the combination of the word for "never" and "at any time."

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

ever  - - The word translated as "not ever" is the combination of the word for "never" and "at any time."

read,  - (WW) "Have you...read" is from a verb that means to "know well," "recognize," and "know again." It is not from the verb meaning "to read."

the Scriptures For they say, -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "the Scriptures For they say, " in the Greek source.

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

have -- (WT) This helping verb "have" indicates that the verb is the tense indicating an action completed in the past. This is not the tense of the verb here.

taught - (CW) "Taught" is from a verb which means "to furnish," "to equip," and "to prepare." It is a metaphor from being restored to one's right mind. In the original verse in Psalms, the Hebrew word here means to "found," "fix," and "establish," and it is translated in the KJV as "ordained." This word is not related to the common word for "taught."

missing "out of"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"of out" means "out of" and "from." In Greek, they use the genitive case instead of a preposition for the types of phrases with usually use with "of."

missing "mouth"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "mouth" and therefore, "speech" or "utterance." In English, we say someone has a "foul mouth" when we mean they use bad language. The Greek use to mean speech was a little more direct. The word is singular.

children - (WF) The word translated as "children" is not one of the usual words Jesus uses to refer to children (see article here). In the KJV, it appears only in one other place (Matthew 11:26) but in today's sources, it doesn't appear at all except here. The reason it appears is that it is an exact quote of the Greek version of the Jewish psalm. It is in a possessive form modifying the untransated word "mouth."

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

infants - "Sucklings" is from a noun form of the verb that means "to suck." We would say, "those nursing." It has no definite article, but in English, we use a definite article before the plural more commonly than Greek.

to give you - (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "to give you, " in the Greek source.

praise?  - The word is translated as "praise," is a Greek noun that means "tale" or "story" especially stories with a moral. More generally, it means "saying" a "proverb" and it came to be a "decree" and "praise" (as in a story praising someone). It comes from the verb of approving of someone and complimenting them on what they have done. It means making recommendations and advice, but ultimately accepting the decision of a superior. In the original Hebrew, this word means "might," and "strength."

NIV Translation Issues: 

9
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "read" should be "recognized."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "the Scriptures For they say" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WT - Wrong Tense - The verb "have" indicates the past perfect tense, but the tense is something that happens at a specific point in time (past, present, or future).
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "taught" is not the common word usually translated as "taught."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "out of" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "mouth" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "children" is not an object of the verb, but a modifier of "mouth."
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "to give you," doesn't exist in the source.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

Prayer is the same as a child crying for milk. Like babies, we cry out to God for what we need. And like babies, we do not question what we are given, but accept it gratefully, knowing that God would not give us what is bad for us.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 3 2021