Matthew 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

So, anyone who is going to lift himself up is going to be lowered and anyone who is going to lower himself is going to be lifted up.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse it typical of Christ's use of double meanings and reversals. The double meaning is lost entirely as is the primary meaning of the words, and the reversal is muffled. The first part echos an earlier such phrase, Mat 18:4. Some of the sense of it being a parallel is lost because there KJV translators translated the same Greek word differently in the first phrase and the second.

The word translated as "whosoever" means "anyone who," or "anything which," acting both within a primary clause and a dependent one.

The Greek word translated as "and" joins phrases in an adversarial way. Here, it acts more as an explanation, "so."

The word translated as "shall exhalt" is from a verb that means "to lift high", "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt." It is in the future tense. Christ uses several words to mean "lift" or "raise" up but he uses this one primarily when making a play on words.

"Himself" is a special reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself," and so on. There is a verb form that indicates someone acting on themselves, but the use of this pronoun puts more emphasis on the fact he is doing this to himself rather than to another.

"Shall be abased" is a verb that means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble." It is in the future tense but passive.

The "and" here is the normal conjunction, "and."

The second phrase in this verse, is identical to the first, but reverses the verbs and their forms.

 

Greek Vocabulary: 

Ὅστις (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

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").

ὑψώσει (verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "Shall exhalt" is from hypsoo (hupsoo), which means "to lift high", "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt."

ἑαυτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ταπεινωθήσεται, (verb 3rd sg fut ind pass) "Shall be abased" is tapeinoô, which means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble."

καὶ  (conj)"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."

ὅστις (pron sg masc nom) "Whosoever" is from hostis, which means "that", "anyone who", "anything which", "whosoever," "whichsoever" and "anybody whatsoever."

ταπεινώσει (verb 3rd sg fut ind act) "Shall humble" is tapeinoô, which means "to lower", "to reduce", "to lessen", "to disparage", "to minimize," and "to humble."

ἑαυτὸν (adj sg masc acc) "Himself" is from heautou, is a reflexive pronoun that means "himself", "herself", "itself" "themselves," and "ourselves." It is an alternative to autos.

ὑψωθήσεται. (verb 3rd sg fut ind pass) "Shall be exhalted" is from hypsoo (hupsoo), which means "to lift high", "to raise up." It is a metaphor for "to elevate" and "to exalt."

Wordplay: 

The whole verse is a play on words. The two verbs have a double meaning,both the opposite of each other. Their primary meanings are "to lift up" and "to lower." There secondary meanings are "to praise" and "to disparage."

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