Matthew 21:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near...

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

This continues the lesson about authority and trust to a story about how not trusting those in power leads to a predictable result.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

When, however, it drew near, the time of the fruits/profits, he sent those slaves of his to the vine-dressers to get those fruits/profits of his.

KJV : 

Matthew 21:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The word translated as "fruit" is a play on words. Its primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is economic "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors." In this verse, the first use means "fruits", while the second use, the meaning is clearly "profits" since transporting the grapes seems unlikely, especially since there was a wine vat on the property. Since the word "fruits" also means "produce" generally, it could also mean the wine that was produced.

Notice how this play on words is lost completely in the NIV, which translates "of the fruits" as "harvest." If I were Jesus, using all these clever plays on words, a lot of this Biblical translation would make me sad, but, in Jesus's case, he would probably laugh as his plays on words sail right over these translator's heads.

The economic assumption here is that ownership of land (or means of production, if you want to get all Marxian) deserves to profit from the produce of the land. The fact that the "husbandmen" do all the work does not mean that they should get all the benefits. The owner expects a profit.

NIV : 

Matthew 21:34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

Wordplay: 

The word for "time" and "fruit" are sound alikes (kairos, karpon). They both can mean "profit."  The second use clearly means "profit." 

My Takeaway: 

The fruits of our labors must be shared with those who give us the tools.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

ὅτε [19 verses](adv/conj)"When" is from hote, which means "when", "as when", "at the time when," and "sometimes."

δὲ (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").

ἤγγισεν [17 verses](3rd, aor act sng ind) "Drew" is eggizo, which means "to bring near", "to join one things to another," to draw near," and "to approach." This word does not appear in the Perseus dictionary. It comes from an adverb ἐγγύς, eggus, which means 1) (of place) "near", "nigh", "at hand," 2) (of time) "nigh at hand" 3) (of numbers) "nearly", "almost", "coming near," and 4) (of relationship) "akin to."

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

καιρὸς [21 verses](noun sg masc nom) "The time" is kairos, which means "due measure", "proportion", "fitness", "exact time", "season", "opportunity", "time", "critical times", "advantage," and "profit."

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

καρπῶν, [32 verses](noun pl masc gen) "Fruit" is karpos, which means "fruit", "the fruits of the earth", "seed", "offspring", "returns for profit," and "reward."

ἀπέστειλεν [60 verses](verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "He sent" is apostello, which means "to send off", "to send away," or "to dispatch."

τοὺς (article pl masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

δούλους [56 verses](noun pl masc acc) "The servant" is doulos, which means a "slave," a "born bondsman," or "one made a slave."

αὐτοῦ (adj sg masc/neut gen) "His" 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."

πρὸς (prep) "To" is from pros, which means "on the side of", "in the direction of", "from (place)", "towards" "before", "in the presence of", "in the eyes of", "in the name of", "by reason of", "before (supplication)", "proceeding from (for effects)", "dependent on", "derivable from", "agreeable,""becoming", "like", "at the point of", "in addition to", "against," and "before."

τοὺς (article pl masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

γεωργοὺς [13 verses](adj pl masc acc) "The husbandmen" is georgos, which means "tilling the ground," and from that, "husbandman", "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

λαβεῖν [54 verse](verb aor inf act) "That they might 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."

τοὺς (article pl masc acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

καρποὺς [32 verses](noun pl masc acc) "Fruits" is karpos, which means "fruit", "the fruits of the earth", "seed", "offspring", "returns for profit," and "reward."

αὐτοῦ.(adj sg masc/neut gen) "Of 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."

KJV Analysis: 

And  - (WW) The Greek word translated as "and" is usually translated as "but" because it joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

when  - "When" is from an adverb that means "when", "as when", "at the time when."

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. 

time  - "Time" is from a noun that means "due measure", "season", "opportunity", "time," and "profit." The word used sounds like the Greek word for "fruit."

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. 

fruit  -  The word translated as "fruit" primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors." This word is plural here, but we use the singular word to refer to the plural idea.

drew near, - The word translated as "drew near" is an invented verb from an adverb that means "near" in space, time, and relationships. It means In English, we would say "nears" or, in the form here, "has neared," doesn't quite work so perhaps "has gotten close" or, in the case of time, "is nearly here."This is the same verb that is translated as "is at hand" in the phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." It is not seen in written Greek before Jesus and used by him only seventeen times.

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

sent  - The "sent" is from a word that means "to send off" and "dispatch." It is the source of our word "apostle."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

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. 

servants  - "The servant" is from a noun that means a "slave," a "born bondsman," or "one made a slave."

to  - - The word translated as "to" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before."

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. 

husbandmen,  - The word translated as "to husbandmen" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant."

that they might -- (IP) There is nothing that can be translated as "that they might" in the Greek source. This gives the wrong information about the verb.

receive - (WF)  The word translated as "That they might receive" primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is an infinitive, "to get."

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. 

fruits  - The word translated as "fruits" primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors." This word is plural here.

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.

it.  --  The word translated as "it" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   Though the form could be either masculine ("his") or neuter ("it"), there is no antecedent for "it." This seems more likely to refer to the landowner. This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

KJV Translation Issues: 

4
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "and" should be "however."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "servants" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "that they might" doesn't exist in the source.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "receive" is not an active verb but an infinitive, "to get."

NIV Analysis: 

missing "however"  -- (MW) The untranslated word  is usually translated as "but" because it joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

When - "When" is from an adverb that means "when", "as when", "at the time when."

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. 

missing "the"  -- (MW) The untranslated word is the Greek definite article, which appears both before "the fruits/harvest" and "time."

harvest - (WW) The word translated as "fruit" primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors." This word is plural here.

time  - "Time" is from a noun that means "due measure", "season", "opportunity", "time," and "profit." The word used sounds like the Greek word for "fruit."

approached, - The word translated as "approached" is an invented verb from an adverb that means "near" in space, time, and relationships. It means In English, we would say "nears" or, in the form here, "has neared," doesn't quite work so perhaps "has gotten close" or, in the case of time, "is nearly here."This is the same verb that is translated as "is at hand" in the phrase, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." It is not seen in written Greek before Jesus and used by him only seventeen times.

he -- This is from the third-person, singular form of the verb.

sent  - The "sent" is from a word that means "to send off" and "dispatch." It is the source of our word "apostle."

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

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. 

servants  - "The servant" is from a noun that means a "slave," a "born bondsman," or "one made a slave."

to  - - The word translated as "to" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," "before" both in time and place, "in the presence of," "against," and several other types of "before."

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. 

tenants ,  - (WW) The word translated as "tenants" means to those "tilling the ground," and from that, "vine dresser", "gardener," and "peasant." It refers to the profession of growing not the act of renting.

to -- This "to" is added because the infinitive form of the verb requires a "to" in English.

collect -  The word translated as "collect " primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is an infinitive, "to get."

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. 

his -- The word translated as "his" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English.   This pronoun follows the noun so "of his."

fruit  - The word translated as "fruit" primary meaning is "fruit", "seed," or "offspring," but its secondary meaning is "returns," specifically, "profit," as we would say "fruit of our labors." This word is plural here.

NIV Translation Issues: 

6
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "however" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "harvest" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "harvest" should be "frutis."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "servants" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "tenants" should be "vine dressers."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "fruit" is not shown in the English translation.

Possible Symbolic Meaning: 

In this analogy, the landowner is symbolic of God. Again, the landowner is the opposite of evil. He is the one who provides the means of production for those who have nothing but their own time. Without God, we would have no means to be productive.

Front Page Date: 

Apr 16 2021