Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatever you shall ask in prayer...

Spoken to: 

Apostles

Context: 

Responding to the Apostles after they see the fig tree wither away.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

And all things as much as when you ask in this prayer, trusting, you will get for yourselves.

My Takeaway: 

Prayer is powered by trust.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

NIV : 

Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Jesus is saying that our main limitation is our lack of faith. It is our ability to believe that allows us to get things, as in understand them. The issue is not "getting" everything we ask for, but "getting" what prayer does.

This verse is about much more than getting gifts from God. It is about gaining understanding. The meaning is hidden because of the way the word that is translated as "receive," when it actually means the opposite, that is, to take or, more precisely, to get. Interestingly enough, it is more often translated as "receive" in the Gospels, which suggests a passive role on our parts in our relationship with God. In the original Greek, Jesus seems to be saying something very different.

The activity of prayer is designed both to deepen our belief and to open our eyes to what is possible. God gives us all the opportunities to have our dreams come true. It is only through prayer that we realize what those dreams should be and what our opportunities are. And it is only through prayer that we see how we might take advantage of those opportunities.

Wordplay: 

The verse relies on the double meaning of "get" as both receiving something and understanding it. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

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).

πάντα [212 verses](adj pl neut nom/acc) "All things" is from pas, which means "all," "the whole," "every," "anyone," "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way," "on every side," "in every way," and "altogether."

ὅσα [28 verses] (adj pl neut acc/nom) "Whatsoever" is hosos, which means "as many," "as much as," "as great as," "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἂν (conj) Untranslated is ean, which is a conditional particle (derived from ei (if) and an (might), which makes reference to a time and experience in the future that introduces but does not determine an event.

αἰτήσητε[28 verses](verb 2nd pl aor subj or 2nd pl fut ind act) "Ye shall ask" is aiteo, which means "to ask," "to demand," "to beg," "to claim," and "to ask for one's own use."

ἐν (prep) "In" is from en, which means "in," "on," "at," "by," "among," "within," "surrounded by," "in one's hands," "in one's power," and "with". -- The word translated as "in" also means "within," "with," or "among."

τῇ (article sg fem dat)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

προσευχῇ [5 verses](noun sg fem dat) "Prayer" is proseuche, which means "prayer" and also "place of prayer," "sanctuary," and "chapel." Jesus more commonly uses the verb form of the word.

πιστεύοντες [69 verses](part pl pres act masc nom) "Believing" is pisteuo, which means "to trust, put faith in, or rely on a person," "to believe in someone's words," "to comply," "to feel confident in a thing," and "to entrust in a thing."

λήμψεσθε. [54 verse](verb 2nd pl fut ind mp) "Ye shall receive" is lambano means to "take," "take hold of," "grasp," "seize," "catch," "overtake," "find out," "detect," "take as," "take [food or drugs]," "understand," "take in hand," "undertake," "take in," "hold," "get," "receive [things]," "receive hospitably," "receive in marriage," "receive as produce," "profit," "admit," "initiate," "take hold of," "lay hold on," "seize and keep hold of," "obtain possession of," "lay hands upon," "find fault with," "censure," "to apprehend with the senses," "to take hold of," and "to seize." It is also specifically used to mean "seized with emotion."

KJV Analysis: 

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

all  - The word translated as "all " is one word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. As an adverb, it means "in every way," "on every side," and "altogether."

things  - There is no word, "things," in the Greek source, but this word comes from the neuter, plural form of the previous adjective.

whatsoever -- (CW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

missing "when"  -- (MW) The untranslated word"if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when".

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

shall -- (CW) This helping verb "shall" does not indicate the future tense, but that the verb describes a possibility, the subjunctive voice. The form could be future, but the "when" above controls the form. A "might" or "should" in English is more appropriate, but is assumed in an "if" or "when" clause. Helping verbs are not needed in Greek since the main verb carries this information in its form.

ask  - The verb "Ye shall ask" has shades of meaning from "demand" to "claim." However, though it could be the future tense, it is much more likely a form which indicates a possibility, "might ask." This is emphasized by the untranslated word proceeding it.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

prayer,- "Prayer" is from a noun that means "prayer" and also "place of prayer," "sanctuary," and "chapel." Jesus more commonly uses the verb form of the word. He only uses this word five times.

believing,  - The Greek word translated as "believing" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trust in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in a context, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact.

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

shall -- This helping verb "shall" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

receive. -- The word translated as "receive" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. However, its use is more like to "get" having the sense of both taking and receiving. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing" as we might say someone "gets" an idea.

KJV Translation Issues: 

3
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "whatsoever" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "when" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "shall" does not mean the future tense.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "prayer" is not shown in the English translation.

NIV Analysis: 

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

missing "all"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "all " is one word meaning "all," "the whole," "every," and similar ideas. As an adverb, it means "in every way," "on every side," and "altogether."

If -- (CW) The word"if might" indicates more of an expectation of something happening than "if" alone. This is often how we use the word "when".

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

believe,  - (WF) The Greek word translated as "believie" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trust in other people, especially their word. Jesus usually uses it in a context, as the one here, that applies to trusting words. The negation of "belief" with the objective, instead of subjective, negative, equates trust with a fact. It is not an active verb, but a particle.

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

will -- This helping verb "will" indicates that the verb is the future tense. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English.

receive. -- The word translated as "receive" primarily means "take," and has many different uses as we use "take" in English. However, its use is more like to "get" having the sense of both taking and receiving. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing" as we might say someone "gets" an idea.

whatsoever -- (CW) The word translated as "whatsoever" means "as great as," "as much as," and similar ideas of comparison.

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

ask  - The verb "Ye shall ask" has shades of meaning from "demand" to "claim." However, though it could be the future tense, it is much more likely a form which indicates a possibility, "might ask." This is emphasized by the untranslated word proceeding it.

for -- This completes the idea of the English verb.

in -- The word translated as "in" means "in," "within," "with," "during" (time),  or "among"  with a dative object as the one here. 

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. 

prayer,- "Prayer" is from a noun that means "prayer" and also "place of prayer," "sanctuary," and "chapel." Jesus more commonly uses the verb form of the word. He only uses this word five times.
 

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "and" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "all" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "when" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "believe" is not an active verb but a participle, "believing."
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "whatsoever" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "prayer" is not shown in the English translation.

Front Page Date: 

Jun 6 2021