Matthew 20:13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend,

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

But in defending himself to one of them, he said, "Friend, I have not in fact harmed you. Did you not make a bargain with me for a silver coin?

KJV : 

Mat 20:13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

Here, Christ echoes the same words used at the beginning of this parable in Mat 20:2.

"Answered" is from a verb that means to "set apart," "choose", "answer" a question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself." In the Gospels, it is always translated as "answered." However, it is used as a noun and in the passive but our English word "answer" doesn't quite work that way. Perhaps, "defending himself" comes closest in English.

"Friend" is from a noun that means "comrade," "companion", "pupil," "disciple," of political "partisans", "members of a religious guild," and "courtesan." Christ uses it to mean "friend" and usually as an address.

"I do...wrong" is from a word that as a verb, as used here, means "to be or do wrong" "to harm," and "to injure," and as a noun means "wrongdoing," and "harm."

The Greek word translated as "no" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact.

The phrase "Did thou...agree" is from a single word, a verb that "to sound together." It means "to make an agreement or bargain" and it is a metaphor for harmonizing.

The word translated as "not" is a different form of the usual Greek negative of fact meaning "no truly", "assuredly not", "not however", "nevertheless," and "notwithstanding."

"Penny is from the Greek word for a denarius, which was a coin of silver, which had the purchasing power of about $70-$80 today (though comparisons are obviously not very meaningful). It was the standard wage for a day's labor by a general laborer, which for most of human history was an agricultural worker. To offer and agree to work for this wage would be considered the expected practice for hundreds of years around the birth of Christ in the Roman Empire.

Here, Christ sets out the principle that defines a free economy: that the relationships between people should be determined by their agreements. Those agreements define right and wrong in our business relationships. It is right to honor our agreements. It is wrong to fail to honor our agreements. If you agree to something freely, you cannot afterward claim that getting what you agreed to is unfair.

In other words, between people, there is not absolute standard for what is fair other than what people agree to. Note that Christ does not suggest that the payment is fair because of social standards. "The penny" is equal to a standard day's wage for a farm laborer, but the standard of that price is not what makes it fair. The agreement is what makes it fair.

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

(article sg masc nom) This is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun but here it is separated from its "noun" by the conjunction.

δὲ "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").

ἀποκριθεὶς (part sg aor pass masc nom) "Answered" is from apokrinomai that means to "set apart," "choose", "exclude," "reject on examination", "decide", "answer" the question, "answer charges," and "defend oneself" and, in the passive, "to be parted or separated." In the Gospels, it is always translated as "answered."

ἑνὶ (noun sg masc dat) "One" is from heis, which means "one", "single," and "one and the same." This adjective is irregular, having a number of forms depending on sex, number, and case: heis, henos, heni, hen, hena, mia, mias, miai, mian; hen, henos, hen. The form is mia, feminine singular.

αὐτῶν (adj pl masc gen) "Of 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."

εἶπεν "Said" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer." -- "Speak you" (a different Greek word from "I tell" Christ uses to describe his speaking) is from means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

Ἑταῖρε, (noun sg masc voc) "Friend" is from hetairos, which means "comrade," "companion", "pupil," "disciple," of political "partisans", "members of a religious guild," and "courtesan."

οὐκ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἀδικῶ (verb 1st sg pres ind act) "I do...wrong" is from adikeo, which, as a verb means to "be or do wrong," "injure", "harm," in games or contests, "play foul", "sin," and as a noun, "wrong doing", "a wrong", "harm" and "injury."

σε: (pron 2nd sg acc) "Thee" is from su which means "you" and "your."

οὐχὶ "Not" is from ouchi, an adverb which means "no", "no truly", "assuredly not", "not however", "nevertheless," "notwithstanding", "yet", "still", "never yet", "for not", "indeed", "for surely not", "no,—certainly not", "for I don't suppose," and "for in no manner."

δηναρίου (noun sg neut gen) "Penny" is from denarion, which was the principle silver coin of the Roman Empire in NT times.

συνεφώνησάς (verb 2nd sg aor ind act) "Didst thou...agree" is from sumphoneo, which means "to sound together." It means "to make an agreement or bargain" and it is a is a metaphor for harmonizing.

μοι; (pron 1st sg masc dat) "Me" is from emoi, which is 1st person,singular dative pronoun meaning "me' as the indirect object of a verb.