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

KJV Verse: 

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

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

And everything as much as possibly you might ask [in that prayer, trusting, you are going to get.

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.

KJV Analysis: 

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

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

An untranslated word appears here that means something like "under the circumstances."

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.

The Greek word translated as "believing" does not apply to religious belief as much as it does trusting in other people, especially their word.

The word translated as "Ye shall 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.

Greek Vocabulary: 

καὶ "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 (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 "Whatsoever" is from hosos, which means "as many", "as much as", "as great as", "as far as," and "only so far as."

ἂν Untranslated is an, which is a particle used with verbs to indicate that the action is limited by circumstances or defined by conditions. There is no exact equivalent in English, but it is translated as "possibly," "would have", "might", "should," and "could."

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

ἐν "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 προσευχῇ (noun sg fem dat) "Prayer" is from proseuche, which means "prayer" and also "place of prayer," "sanctuary," and "chapel." Christ more commonly uses the verb form of the word, proseuchomai.

πιστεύοντες (part pl pres act masc nom) "Believing" is from 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. (verb 2nd future ind act) "Ye shall receive" is from 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."

Wordplay: 

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

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