Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you...for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Sadly, you academics and elites, actors. Because you go in circles around the sea water and the dry land to create one "newcomer," and whenever he converts, you create of him a son of the trash heap twice the size of you.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

As we have seen in this section, the words here are uncommon and full of wordplay, using a number of words that are uncommon for Christ. Such words are usually well-chosen for their shades of meaning, often humorous.

"Woe" is from an exclamation of grief, meaning "woe" or "alas." Today we would say "sadly [for you]" or "boo-hoo to you." More about this phrase in this article on Christ's humor, under the subtitle, "exaggeration."

"Scribes" is translated from a Greek word describing anyone who used written records in their job, "secretary", "registrar,' and "scholar." However, Christ used it to name those scholars who specifically studied the Bible and wrote about its meanings.

"Pharisees" is an example of where we use the Greek word as the name of the religious sect, instead of translating it. In Greek, the word means the "separatists" or "the judgmental," but it is from a Hebrew word meaning "distinguished" or "elite."

The Greek for "the hypocrites" is another great example of a word that has taken its English meaning from how it is used in the Bible rather than the original Greek. The primary meaning during Christ's era was "an actor."

The word translated as "for" introduces a statement of fact or cause. It is not the word normally translated as "for" int the Gospel, but a word normally translated as "that."

The Geek word "ye compass" means "to lead around", "carry about for sale," and "to go about." The word has a hidden sense of spinning around. This is an uncommon word for Christ to use.

The "sea" is the common word for "sea" and "salt water." Christ uses "water" as a symbol for life. We are "born of water" because we come from the womb.

the Greek word for "land" is the adjective for "dry," which, when used as a noun, as it is here, means "dry land." However, the word has a number of meanings that would relate to the behavior of the Pharisees including "fasting", "austere," and "withered." This is an uncommon word for Christ to use, but in Mat 12:43, Christ uses another word meaning "waterless," translated as "dry places," to refer to where unclean spirits go when caste out of a person.

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

The Greek word translated as "proselyte," isn't really translated since this is the Greek word itself. In Greek, the word means "newcomer," but it is used to refer to a person newly converted to a set of beliefs.

The Greek word translated as "when" introduces a phrase that explains a certain condition so "whenever" or "since."

The word translated as "he is made" is nothing like the word translated as "make." It means "to become," that is, to enter into a new state. In Greek, especially as used by Christ, it is the opposite of "being," which is existence in the current state.

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

The "him" here isn't in the form making it the object of "making." It is a possessive form, "of him."

The word translated as "child" is usually translated as "son" It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Christ also used it metaphorically to describe those that follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article. Since it has no article, it is more like "a son" or "an offspring."

The word "hell" as the name of an area where a constant fire was kept for disposing of trash from the city of Jerusalem.  See this article on the words for "hell".  

The "twofold more" is another unusual word that means "twofold", "double", "twice the size of," and "as much again."

Greek Vocabulary: 

Οὐαὶ "Woe" is from ouai, which is an exclamation of pain or anger meaning "woe" or "alas." --

μῖν,(pron 2nd pl dat) "To you" is from hymin (humin), which is the 2nd person plural dative pronoun. Dative is the case which indicates to whom something is given. --

γραμματεῖς (noun pl masc nom/acc/voc) "Scribes" is from grammateus, which is generally a "secretary", "registrar", "recorder," and "scholar," but specifically means someone who uses gramma which is Greek for "drawings", "a letter," (as in an alphabet)"diagrams," and "letters" (as in correspondence).]

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."

Φαρισαῖοι (noun pl masc nom/voc) "Pharisees" is from Pharisaios, which means "the separated", "the separate ones", "separatist" and refers to the religious sect. The word comes from the Hebrew, pharash, which means "to distinguish." So the sense is also "the distinguished" or "the elite."

ὑποκριταί, Hypocrites" is from hypokrites, which means "an interpreter", "an actor", "a stage player," and "a dissembler."

ὅτι "For" is from hoti, which introduces a statement of fact "with regard to the fact that", "seeing that," and acts as a causal adverb meaning "for what", "because", "since," and "wherefore."

περιάγετε [uncommon] (verb 2nd pl pres ind act) "Ye compass" is from periago, which means "to lead around", "to lead about with oneself", "carry about for sale," "to go about", "to walk about," turn round," "turn about", "pass round," "protract", "bring round to", "around" a period, "cause to revolve," and in the passive, "to rotate."

τὴν θάλασσαν (noun sg fem acc) "Sea" is from thalassa (thalassa), which means also means "sea" or "sea water."

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."

τὴν ξηρὰν [uncommon] (adj sg fem acc) "Land" is from xeros, which means "dry," of bodily condition "withered", "lean", "fasting," hence, generally, "austere", "aridity," as a noun, "dry land," and "room for dry heat."

ποιῆσαι (verb aor inf act) "to make" 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." --

ἕνα (noun sg masc acc) "One" is from heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

προσήλυτον, [uncommon] (adj sg masc acc) "Proselyte" is from proselutos, which means "one that has arrived at a place," "sojourner," "a newcomer," and, from the NT use, "convert," "proselyte," and "one who has come from the Gentiles to become a Jew."

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."

ὅταν "When" is from hotan, which means "whenever (as a condition)," and "since (as a cause)."

γένηται "He is made" is from ginomai, which means "to become", "to come into being", "to be produced," and "to be." It means changing into a new state of being. It is the complementary opposite of the verb "to be" (eimi)which indicates existence in the same state.

ποιεῖτε "Ye make" 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."

αὐτὸν (adj sg masc gen) "His" (adj sg masc acc) "Him" 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."

υἱὸν (noun sg masc acc) "Child" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child."

γεέννης (noun sg fem gen) "Hell" is geenna which is Greek for Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom (the Hebrew word), south of Jerusalem where trash, including diseased animals and human corpses was burned. A constant fire was kept burning there. --

διπλότερον [uncommon] (adj sg masc/neut nom/acc comp) "Twofold more" is from diplous, (a form of dipl asios) which means "twofold", "double", "twice the size of," and "as much again."

ὑμῶν. (pron 2nd pl gen) "Your" is from humon, the plural possessive form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you."

Wordplay: 

The beginning is a repeated comedic phrase, "boohoo to you." 

The word translated as "compass" has the sense of rotating and spinning so going in circles. when used with "sea water" and "arid land" there is the sense of mixing the two. Water is a symbol for life, while "dry" is the symbol for what is sterile, referring to the teachings of the Pharisees. 

The word translated as "hell" refers to a burning trash heap outside of Jerusalem.

 

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