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

Greek : 

Literal Verse: 

However, they do all their actions for the viewing of others. This is why they amplyfy their defenses and boast about their borders.

KJV : 

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

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

The first part of this verse is 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 word have a broader double meaning.

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.

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

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."

The Greek word translated as "to do" has the primary meaning of "making" or producing" something or "causing" or "rendering" as service.

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

"To be 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 used as a noun, introduced by an article "the."

The Greek word for "of men" in the singular means "person" and "humanity" and "people" and "peoples" in the plural.

The word translated as "for" can be treated as supporting a dependent clause, or, in written English, as "this is because..." or "this is why" to start a new sentence.

"They make broad" is from ian uncommon Greek word meanong to "widen," and "use amplification.

"Phylacteries" is from an uncommon word that means a "guarded fort", "safeguard," and "security." It is the source word for "prophylactic." In Christ 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.

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

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.

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 relationship. Christ never criticizes the rewards we get from personal relationships, but the rewards that people look for from social relationships are different.


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

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

Greek Vocabulary: 

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

αὐτῶν (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."

ποιοῦσιν (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "They 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."

πρὸς "For" 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 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 ἀνθρώποις: "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 [uncommon] (verb 3rd pl pres ind act) "They make broad" is from 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 "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 φυλακτήρια "Phylacteries" is from phulaktêrion, which means a "guarded post", "fort", "safeguard," and "security."

αὐτῶν (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 "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 κράσπεδα, (noun pl neut nom/acc) "The borders" is from kraspedon, which means "edge", "border", "skirt," especialy 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.