googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Matthew 5:27-28: A Lesson in Grammar: The Power of Participles

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Matthew 5:27-28: A Lesson in Grammar: The Power of Participles

ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη· οὐ μοιχεύσεις. ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.

“You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Matthew 5:27-28

In the King James Version of the Bible, verbs that end in “th,” like “looketh,” (βλέπων) are participles. In English, participles are verbs that end in “ing” (like walking, sleeping, standing, flying, etc). Participles (in both Greek and English) don’t act like a normal verb but act like adjectives or adverbs. If there is a room full of men, and I want to identify a certain man, I might say, “Do you see that man standing by the door?” My emphasis then is not necessarily on what he is doing, I’m just using that as an adjective to describe which man I’m talking about.

A good example of this is seen in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth ( πιστεύων) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”Believeth” is a participle (in this case an adjective) describing who will be saved – the one believing in Jesus.

So, when we look at Matthew 5:27-28 above, we gain a little more insight into who Jesus was talking about. The word “looketh” doesn’t exactly emphasize what the person is doing, it's describing who the person is: He is the person looking ( βλέπων) at women to lust after them. When he commits adultery, the act doesn’t make him an adulterer. Jesus makes it very clear that he’s already an adulterer even before he commits the act. When he does commit the act, he’s just doing what adulterers do!

Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Therefore, the ones who hate are murderers, the ones who envy are thieves, etc. We’re not sinners because of the sins we commit. We’re sinners and so we commit sins. Some people think they’re OK because they haven’t committed a “major” sin. They need to understand that they need Jesus nonetheless.

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