Matthew 21:27 Neither shall I tell you by what authority...

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

Neither am I telling you in whose power I perform these.

KJV : 

Mat 21:27 Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is one of those verse where Christ seems to he having fun with word sounds. He uses the "ego lego" construction when "ego" is alreay understood. He also uses "poia...poio" (what...I do) alliteration. What is interesting is that when his questioners admit that "they do not know" that answer to his question, he simply refuses to answer theirs. The implication is that their ignorance makes it unnecessary for him to answer. However, in his answer, his phrasing implies the truth: that he is doing these things under the power of someone else.

"Neither" is from a Greek negative meaning "but not" and as both parts of "neither...nor."

The pronoun "I" is added to add emphasis that he is referring to his own words. It is unnecessary because the first person is part of the verb ending. Christ sometimes uses it humorously to refer to himself.

The word translated as "I tell" is the most common word that means "to say," and "to speak," but Christ usually uses this word to refer to his own speaking or teaching. This is a different word used by Jesus asking his questioners to answer his question and it is also different from the word they used.

The word translated as "by" also means "within", "with," or "among." It means "by" in a physical sense of closeness, not "by" as a cause. The sense is of being in one's power.

The word translated as "what" also means "whose."

The term translated as "authority" is the idea authority, control, and the ability to choose.

The "these things" is from a pronoun that can mean "this" or "that," the nearer or the further depending on usage. It is in the plural so simple "these."


The "ego lego" and "poia...poio" play on word sounds. 

Related Verses: 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὐδὲ "Neither" is from oude , which means "but not", "neither", "nor,"and "not even."

ἐγὼ (pron 1st sg masc nom) Ἐγὼ "I" is from ego, which is the first person singular pronoun meaning "I". It also means "I at least", "for my part", "indeed," and "for myself."

λέγωv (verb 1st sg pres ind act) "Tell" is from lego, which means "to recount", "to tell over", "to say", "to speak", "to teach", "to mean", "boast of", "tell of", "recite," nominate," and "command." It has a secondary meaning "pick out," "choose for oneself", "pick up", "gather", "count," and "recount." A less common word that is spelt the same means "to lay", "to lay asleep" and "to lull asleep."

ὑμῖν (pron 2nd pl dat) "You" is from humin, the 2nd person pronoun.

ἐν "By" is from en, which means "in", "on", "at", "by", "among", "within", "surrounded by", "in one's hands", "in one's power," and "with".

ποίᾳ (adj sg fem dat) "What" is from poios, which means "of what kind", "whose", "what," and "which."

ἐξουσίᾳ (noun sg fem dat) "Authority" is from exousia which means "control", "the power of choice", "permission", "the power of authority", "the right of privilege", "abundance of means," and "abuse of power."

ταῦτα (adj pl neut acc) "These things" is from tauta, which is a referring pronoun meaning "these", "this", "that," and "here." It can mean the nearer or the further depending on usage. As an adverb it can mean "therefore" and "that is why."

ποιῶ. (verb 1st sg pres ind act) "I do" is from 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."