Matthew 23:5 But all their works are done to be seen by men:

Spoken to: 

audience

Context: 

Jesus is speaking to a crowd including his disciples.

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

However, they do all their deeds for the viewing of others. Because they broaden those protections of theirs and magnify those borders of theirs.

My Takeaway: 

People use their possesions to protect their personal space.

KJV : 

Matthew 23:5 But all their works are done to be seen by men: they broaden their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

NIV : 

Matthew 23:5 Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long;

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The first part of this verse uses common words to make the point of being seen by others, but the examples given all use a very unusual vocabulary, seemingly referring to the dressing habits particular to Jews, but all of the words have a broader double meaning. The words translated as "phylacteries" means "protections" and the word "fringe" means "borders" to there is a sense of protecting their boundaries with their clothing.

The people who Christ is criticizing want to set themselves above most people. They do this with their clothes, but they also do it with the places they take at feasts, in the temple, and how they are addressed in markets. It is all about being seen as higher in status.

However, in the area of relationships, this is a problem with society that arises over and over. Christ defines personal relationships as the one-to-one relationships we have with those who are physically close by. Social relationships are one-to-many and include people who are distant. In many of these discussions regarding the defects of society, the issue is our "getting our reward" from these social relationships. Christ never criticizes the rewards we get from personal relationships, but the rewards that people look for from social relationships are different.

Wordplay: 

The word for "phylacteries" generally means a defensive position. 

The for for "fringe" also refers to the borders of one's authority. 

Greek Vocabulary: 

πάντα [212 verses](adj pl neut acc) "All" 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."

δὲ [446 verses](conj) "But" 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").

τὰ (article pl neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἔργα [31 verses] (noun pl neut nom/acc) "Works" is ergon, which means "works", "tasks", "deeds", "actions", "thing," and "matter."

αὐτῶν [720 verses](adj pl masc gen) "Their" is 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."

ποιοῦσιν [168 verses](verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "are done" is poieo, which means "to make", "to produce", "to create", "to bring into existence", "to bring about", "to cause", "to render", "to consider", "to prepare", "to make ready," and "to do."

πρὸς [92 verses](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."

τὸ (article sg neut nom/acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

θεαθῆναι (verb aor inf mp) "To be seen" is theaomai, which means "to behold", "to gaze with a sense of wonder", "view as a spectator", "to see clearly," and "to contemplate."

τοῖς  (article pl masc dat)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

ἀνθρώποις: (noun pl masc dat) "Of man" is from anthropos, which is "man," and, in plural, "mankind." It also means "humanity" and that which is human and opposed to that which is animal or inanimate.

πλατύνουσι [1 verse] (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Broaden" is platyno, which means to "widen," of the pupils, "to be dilated," open wide", "pronounce broadly", "use amplification, in the passive, "grow broad," and "widen out."

γὰρ [205 verses](partic) "For" comes from gar which is the introduction of a clause explaining a reason or explanation: "for", "since," and "as." In an abrupt question it means "why" and "what."

τὰ (article pl neut nom/acc)  Untranslated is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

φυλακτήρια [1 verse] (noun pl neut nom/acc) "Phylacteries" is from phulaktêrion, which means a "guarded post", "fort", "safeguard," and "security."

αὐτῶν [720 verses](adj pl masc gen) "Their" 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 [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."

μεγαλύνουσι (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "Enlarge" is from megalyno, which means to "make great or powerful", "exalt", "make great by word", "extol", "magnify," "boast oneself," and "exaggerate."

τὰ (article pl neut nom/acc)  "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the"). 

κράσπεδα, (noun pl neut nom/acc) "The borders" is from kraspedon, which means "edge", "border", "skirt," especially of cloth, of the "fringe" or "tassel" worn by Jews, mostly in pl., "skirts" or "edge" of a country, on the skirts of the army.

KJV Analysis: 

But  - The Greek word translated as "but" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better.

all  - The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything."

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

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. 

works  - The Greek word translated as "works" means "deeds", "actions," and "things" in the sense of "every thing." The form can be either that subject or the object of the verb, the verb. "They do their deeds" or "their actions accomplish."

are  - -- (WV) This helping verb "be" seems to indicate that the verb is passive but it isn't.

done  - The Greek word translated as "done" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. The form is present  tense, active voice, so "they do" or "they perform."

to  - (WW) The word translated as "to" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," and "against."

be -- This helping verb "be" indicates that the verb is passive. Helping or auxiliary verbs are needed to translate the Greek verb forms into English. The form could also be the middle voice, "see themselves."

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. 

seen  - (CW, WF)  "Seen" is from a verb (used as a noun) that means "to behold", "to gaze with a sense of wonder", " and "to contemplate." It is an infinitive, used as a noun, introduced by an article "the." This is not the common word translated as "seen" but a more theatrical one, the root of our word "theater."

by -- This word "by" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object. However, the translator can choose other prepositions: "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at," or "on" depending on the context.

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. 

men:  - The Greek word for "men" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural. The form is dative.

missing "for"  -- (OS) The untranslated word i"for" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause". It did not exist in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.

they  - -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

broaden  - "Broaden" is from is a Greek word Jesus only uses once meaning to "widen," and "use amplification."

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

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. 

phylacteries,  - (UW) "Phylacteries" is from an uncommon word that means a "guarded fort", "safeguard," and "security." It is an untranslated Greek word meaning "protections," the source word for "prophylactic." In Jesus's time, it was used to refer to protective verses from the Bible actually worn as clothing. The broader sense is referring to a person's defenses.

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

enlarge  - "Enlarge" is from another uncommon Greek verb that means to "magnify," "boast oneself," "magnify," and "exaggerate."

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. 

borders  - The Greek word translated as "borders" means "edge", "border," and refers to the "fringe" or "tassel" worn by Jews, however, it also refers to a border of a country and therefore of one's authority. The "fringe" used on Jewish shawls was a distinctive design feature of Jewish garments (from Numbers 15:38-39) which was made distinctive to help them remember the commandments.

of their garments, -- (OS) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "of their garments" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

KJV Translation Issues: 

11
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "works" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as passive but it is active.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "for."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "viewing" is not shown in the English translation.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "seen" does not capture the specific meaning of the word.
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "seen" is not an active verb but an infinitive noun, "the seeing."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "men" is not shown in the English translation.
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word "for" did not exist in the KJV Greek source but does in the one we used today.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "phylacteries" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "phylacteries" means "protections." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • OS -- Outdated Source -- The Greek word translated as "of their garments" existed in the KJV Greek source but not the one we used today.

NIV Analysis: 

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

Everything - (WW) The word translated as "everything" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything," but here it modifies "deeds
 so "all."  The form is plural.

they -- (WF) The word translated as "they" is the Greek word commonly translated as third-person pronouns in English, but it is not in the form of a subject but a possessive. This pronoun follows the noun so "of theirs."

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. 

do -- (WW) The Greek word translated as "do" means "deeds", "actions," and "things" in the sense of "every thing." The form can be either that subject or the object of the verb, the verb. "They do their deeds" or "their actions accomplish." The word is a noun not a verb.

is - -- (WV) This helping verb "be" seems to indicate that the verb is passive but it isn't.

done  - The Greek word translated as "done" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service. The form is present  tense, active voice, so "they do" or "they perform."

for - The word translated as "for" means "towards", "by reason of (for)," and "against."

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. 

people   - The Greek word for "people " in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural. The form is dative.

to -- (WW)  This helping verb "to" indicates that the verb an infinitive, which it is, but it is a verbal noun. The word here 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. 

seen  - (CW, WF)  "Seen" is from a verb (used as a noun) that means "to behold", "to gaze with a sense of wonder", " and "to contemplate." It is an infinitive, used as a noun, introduced by an article "the." This is not the common word translated as "seen" but a more theatrical one, the root of our word "theater."

by -- This word "by" comes from the dative case of the following word that requires the addition of a preposition in English. The most common is a "to" for the English indirect object. However, the translator can choose other prepositions: "with,"  "in,"   "of,"  "as," "by," "for," "at," or "on" depending on the context.

missing "because"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "because" introduces a reason or explanation so "because" and, in questions, "why." However, since this word always appears in the second position, it is more like an aside remark like, "consequently" or "as a cause".

They - -- This is from the third-person, plural form of the verb.

make - "Make wide" is from is a Greek word Jesus only uses once meaning to "widen," and "use amplification."

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

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. 

phylacteries,  - (UW) "Phylacteries" is from an uncommon word that means a "guarded fort", "safeguard," and "security." It is an untranslated Greek word meaning "protections," the source word for "prophylactic." In Jesus's time, it was used to refer to protective verses from the Bible actually worn as clothing. The broader sense is referring to a person's defenses.

wide -- This word completes the sense of the verb.

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

missing "enlarge"  -- (MW) The untranslated word "enlarge" is from another uncommon Greek verb that means to "magnify," "boast oneself," "magnify," and "exaggerate."

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. 

tassels - The Greek word translated as "tassels " means "edge", "border," and refers to the "fringe" or "tassel" worn by Jews, however, it also refers to a border of a country and therefore of one's authority. The "fringe" used on Jewish shawls was a distinctive design feature of Jewish garments (from Numbers 15:38-39) which was made distinctive to help them remember the commandments.

on their garments long, -- (IP) There is nothing in the Greek that can be translated as "on their garments long" in the source we use today.

NIV Translation Issues: 

15
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "but" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "everything" should be "all."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "they" should be "of theirs."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "do" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "do" should be "deeds."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "people" is not shown in the English translation.
  • WW - Wrong Word -- The word translated as "to" should be "the."
  • WV - Wrong Voice - The verb here is translated as passive but it is active.
  • CW - Confusing Word -- The "seen" does not capture the specific meaning of the word, "viewing."
  • WF - Wrong Form -  The "seen" is not an active verb but an infinitive noun, "the viewing."
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "because" is not shown in the English translation.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "the" before "phylacteries" is not shown in the English translation.
  • UW - Untranslated Word -- The word "phylacteries" means "protections." It is the untranslated Greek word adopted into English.
  • MW - Missing Word -- The word "enlarge" is not shown in the English translation.
  • IP - Inserted Phrase-- The phrase "on their garments long" doesn't exist in the source.

Front Page Date: 

Jul 27 2021