Matthew 25:24 Then he who had received the one talent came

KJV Verse: 

Mat 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

Approaching , however, also the one who got a single talent spoke: "Master, I have learned that austere you are as a man, harvesting where you have not really sown, and gathering together from where you haven't scattered.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This verse has a couple of little plays in words, but the humor is in the rather unsubtle complement that sounds like an insult. Plus there are some subtle changes here for which the meaning isn't immediately apparent.

There isn't a Greek word that is normally translated as "then" in the Greek source.

Untranslated is the Greek word normally translated as "but" that joins phrases in an adversarial way. Since it always falls in the second position, translating it as "however" often captures its feeling better. When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

Also untranslated is the Greek word translated as "also" in the previous verse, that is usually used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also"). In the Greek, it follows the verb translated as "came", which indicates it plays more of an "also" role here.

The word translated as "he" is from the Greek article, "the," which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one."

The word translated as "That had received" is a verb that primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." This word is in the form of an adjective, so "getting."

The word translated as "talents" is not the word for any specific amount of money, but the word that means "weight", "a pair of scales," and "sum of money." As money, the amount varied in different systems. A hundred dollars in today's money seems to capture its sense. The "bags of gold" used by some translations is far too much money since any bag of gold in any era would be worth thousands. In Mat 18:24, Christ describes a slave (a servant) as owing ten thousand talents, which, if a "talent" is a hundred dollars, would be a million dollars. This seems a reasonable scale.

The word translated as "came" is a special form of the word commonly translated as "come." It has the sense of "coming forward", "coming closer," and "approach" but it is typically used for an inferior approaching a superior. It appears much earlier in the Greek in the form of an adjective, so "approaching."

The word translated as "said" here is different than the one used in Mat 25:20. Using a word like "spoke" in translation clarifies the difference.

"I knew" is from a verb that means "to know", "to recognize", "make known", "to know carnally," and "to learn.

In the Greek source, this is a word here that means "that" or "because."

The adjective translated as "hard" is means "hard to the touch", "unyielding", "harsh", "bitter", "austere", "cruel," and "stubborn." When applied to money, as it is here, the sense is "austere" but the

"Reaping" is a verb that means "to do summer work", "to reap", "to mow", "to cut off," and, in Asia, "to plunder." It is in the form of an adjective, "harvesting."

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea.

The Greek word translated as "sow" means specifically to "sow seeds" and "to scatter" as in sowing seeds. Jesus often plays it against its opposite, the verb for "gathering," but, here, he uses it in opposition to "harvest" or "reap" so the sense is more "sow."

"Gathering" is from a verb which means "to bring together", "to gather together", "to unite", "to draw together", "to narrow", "to pinch", "to conclude," and "to prove." This is in the form of an adjective, "gathering together."

Interestingly, Christ uses a different word here to means "where" than he did in the previous phrase. It doesn't just mean "where" as the previous word did, but "from where." This makes sense with the verb used.

The Greek word translated as "not" is the Greek negative used to deny objective facts, not opinions. It makes a negative statement of fact. Adding "really" to the sentence to captures the same idea.

"Strawed" is a very rare verb for Christ to use. It means "to scatter abroad", "to disperse among." This is more clearly an opposite for the verb "gathering." The verb is also translated very confusingly in ​Luke 15:13 , where it becomes "wasted". 

Greek Vocabulary: 

προσελθὼν (part sg aor act masc nom) "Came" is from proserchomai, which means "come", "go to", "approach", "draw nigh," in hostile sense, "attack", "come in", "surrender", "capitulate", "come forward to speak", "appear before a tribunal or official", "apply oneself to," of things, "to be added", "come in (of revenue)" and "have sexual intercourse."

δὲ (conj) "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").

καὶ Untranslated is 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."

(article sg masc nom) "He" is the Greek definite article, which usually precedes a noun and, without a noun, takes the meaning of "the one" or, in the plural, "the ones." Here it is separated from its noun by a conjunction.

τὸ ἓν (noun sg neut 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.

τάλαντον (noun sg neut acc) "Talent" is from talanton, which means "a weight", "a pair of scales", "a commercial weight," and "a sum of money." In Greek mythology, it was the scales on which Zeus balanced the fortuns of men. As money, the amount varied in different systems.

εἰληφὼς "Which had received" 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." -- The word translated as "That they might receive" primarily means "take." However, it means "receive" in the same sense that we use "get" to mean "receive" and has many different uses as we use "get" in English. Among these are the ideas of "understanding" and "possessing." It is an infinitive, "to get."

εἶπεν (verb 3rd sg aor ind act) "Said" is from eipon, which means "to speak", "to say", "to recite", "to address", "to mention", "to name", "to proclaim", "to plead", "to promise," and "to offer." -- "Speak you" is from means "to say" and "to speak" also. However, it has less a sense of teaching and more a sense of addressing and proclaiming.

Κύριε, (noun sg masc voc) "Lord" is from kyrios (kurios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

ἔγνων (verb 1st sg aor ind act) "I knew," is from ginosko which means "to learn to know", "to know by reflection or observation," and "to perceive."

σε (pron 2nd sg acc) "Thee" is from su which means "you" and "your."

ὅτι "That" 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."

σκληρὸς (adj sg masc nom) "Hard" is from skleros, which means "hard to the touch", "unyielding", "stiff," "harsh", of persons, "harsh", "austere", "cruel", "stubborn", and "bitter."

εἶ (verb 2nd sg pres ind act) "Is" is from eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

ἄνθρωπος, (noun sg masc gen) "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.

θερίζων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Reaps" is from therizô (therizo), which means "to do summer work", "to reap", "to mow", "to cut off," and, in some areas, "to plunder." -- The Greek word translated as "reap" means "to do summer work" and "to reap."

ὅπου (adv) "Where" is from hopou, which means "somewhere", "anywhere", "wherever," and "where."

οὐκ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

ἔσπειρας (verb 2nd sg aor ind act) "Thou hast...sown" is from speirô (speiro), which means "to sow a seed", "to beget offspring", "to scatter like a seed," and "to sow a field."

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." -- The Greek word translated as "and" is used as the conjunction "and", but it also is used to add emphasis ("also") and, in a series, is best translated as "not only...but also." When used in writing, it creates complex sentences, but when spoken, it makes a good pausing point so that an important or humorous word can follow.

συνάγων (part sg pres act masc nom) "Gathering" is from synago, which means "bring together", "gather together," "pit [two warriors against each other]", "join in one", "unite", "make friends of", "lead with one", "receive", "reconcile", "draw together", "narrow", "contract", "conclude [from premises]", " infer," and "prove." --The Greek word translated as "gather" means "to bring together." It has many different uses, but it does not specifically mean gathering in the crops. That is why that idea is provided specifically by the phrase that follows.

ὅθεν "From whence" is from hothen, which means "whence," "from whom or which", "from whatever source", "in what manner soever", "from any other place whatsoever", "where or whither", "whence, "for which reason," and "for what reason."

οὐ "Not" is from ou which is the negative adverb for facts and statements, negating both single words and sentences. The other negative adverb, μή applies to will and thought; οὐ denies, μή rejects; οὐ is absolute, μή relative; οὐ objective, μή subjective.

διεσκόρπισας: [rare](verb 2nd sg aor ind act) "Thou hast...strawed" is from diaskorpizo, which means literally, to "scatter among" or "disperse among", and "to scatter abroad". In the passive, it means "to squander", "to confound," and "to winnow."

Wordplay: 

The word for "hard" has a double meaning of "cruel"  and "austere" in the sense of using rigid money controls. 

The word for "gathered" is the opposite of the word for "scatter." 

The Spoken Version: 

"Also approaching, however," he continued. "The one who got a single talent."

He signaled for follower playing that role to come forward. At this point, everyone is expecting him a vocal impression, so they are already laughing.

"He spoke," he said, moving beside the follower and, seemingly, addressing himself as the master. As expected, he did a funny impression of this follower's voice, too. "Master, I have learned how austere you are as a man."

Everyone laughed because, while Christ, playing the lord, was not austere at all, the follower playing the role, what very rigid, especially when it came to spending money.

"Harvesting where you have not really sown," he continued, acting both critical and shy about being critical, "and gathering from where you haven't really scattered out."

Related Verses: 

Oct 9 2016