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The difference in meaning between Matthew 10:27 and Luke 12:3 depends utterly on one word. If this word is swapped the verses are parallel. We might expect the passages are exactly parallel because the next eight are.

My sources as I can find give λέγω → I speak and εἴπατε → you speak. However the conjugation tables that I can find don't allow for these to be different conjugations of the same word.

I need a tag "Strong's" but no such tag seems to exist.

New American Standard Bible Matthew 10:27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] ὃ λέγω ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ, εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτί· καὶ ὃ εἰς τὸ οὖς ἀκούετε, κηρύξατε ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων.

New American Standard Bible Luke 12:3 Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.

Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants] Luke 12:3 ἀνθ' ὧν ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτὶ ἀκουσθήσεται, καὶ ὃ πρὸς τὸ οὖς ἐλαλήσατε ἐν τοῖς ταμείοις κηρυχθήσεται ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτων.

  • Could you give me your own translation of the two verses, according to the resolved conjugation, please ? – Nigel J Oct 23 '17 at 15:34
  • @NigelJ: It should be immediately obvious that my Greek is far too weak for that. – Joshua Oct 23 '17 at 15:38
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Here's a possible resolution, approaching this in the manner that Paul R. McReynolds does, in his "Word Study Greek-English New Testament." That is, he groups those words that are under Strong's 2036, along with those under Strong's 3004, but they are then sub-grouped or distinguished by reading them with different words. The one in Matthew as the Present (V-PAI-1S)...

I say

And the other in Luke as the Second Aorist (V-2AAI-2S) ...

you had declared

The specific difference I'm intending to point out is, that his having grouped these, the distinction I've then implemented is that they are variously read as: a) I declare; b) I utter; c) I say; and, d) I account

[Note: Could find no source text variations, concerning this, in your two verses]


Not that it directly applies to the verses you mention, but here is a listing of all these word variations that I've found in the Pauline epistles:

3004 GK3306 eipon (1) was 2036 I had declared V-2AAI-1S.5627

3004 GK3306 eipen (3) was 2036 he/ He had declared V-2AAI-3S.5627

3004 GK3306 eipein (2) was 2036 to declare V-2AAN.5629

3004 GK3306 eipOn (1) was 2036 having declared V-2AAP-NSM.5631

3004 GK3306 eipO (1) was 2036 I should declare V-2AAS-1S.5632

3004 GK3306 eipEs (1) was 2036 you should declare V-2AAS-2S.5632

3004 GK3306 eipE (5) was 2036 it/ he/ He should declare V-2AAS-3S.5632

3004 GK3306 *errethE *GCT, spelling difference; was 2046 it was uttered V-API-3S.5681

3004 GK3306 errEthE (2) was 2046 it was uttered V-API-3S.5681

3004 GK3306 *errethEsan *GCT, spelling difference; was 2046 they were uttered V-API-3P.5681

3004 GK3306 errEthEsan (p1/1) was 2046 they were uttered V-API-3P.5681

3004 GK3306 erO (2) was 2046 I will utter V-FAI-1S.5692

3004 GK3306 eroumen (p7/7) was 2046 we will utter V-FAI-1P.5692

3004 GK3306 ereis (2) was 2046 you will utter V-FAI-2S.5692

3004 GK3306 erei (3) was 2046 it/ he will utter V-FAI-3S.5692

3004 GK3306 erousin (1) was 2046 they will utter V-FAI-3P.5692

3004 GK3306 elegon (3) I was accounting’ V-IAI-1S.5707

3004 GK3306 elegen (1) he was saying V-IAI-3S.5707

3004 GK3306 legO (39) I say V-PAI-1S.5719

3004 GK3306 legomen (2) we say V-PAI-1P.5719

3004 GK3306 legeis (1) you account’ V-PAI-2S.5719

3004 GK3306 legei (35) it/ she/ he/ He says V-PAI-3S.5719

3004 GK3306 legousin (2) they account’ V-PAI-3P.5719

3004 GK3306 legete (1) be you saying V-PAM-2P.5720

3004 GK3306 legein (3) to account’ V-PAN.5721

3004 GK3306 legOn (2) saying V-PAP-NSM.5723

3004 GK3306 legontes (1) saying V-PAP-NPM.5723

3004 GK3306 legO (1) I should say V-PAS-1S.5725

3004 GK3306 legOmen (p1/1) we should say V-PAS-1P.5725

3004 GK3306 legEte (p1/1) you should say V-PAS-2P.5725

3004 GK3306 legE (1) he should say V-PAS-3S.5725

3004 GK3306 legOsin (1) they should account’ V-PAS-3P.5725

3004 GK3306 legomenos (1) being accounted’ V-PPP-NSM.5746

3004 GK3306 legomenoi (2) being accounted’ V-PPP-NPM.5746

3004 GK3306 legomenEs (1) of~being accounted’ V-PPP-GSF.5746

3004 GK3306 legomenon (1) to~being accounted’ V-PPP-ASM.5746

3004 GK3306 eirEken (1) was 2046 He has had uttered V-RAI-3S-ATT.5758

3004 GK3306 eirEmenon (1) was 2046 to~having had been uttered V-RPP-ASN-ATT.5772

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In the following excerpt from BDAG's lexicon entry for λέγω please note the text that I've bolded:

λέγω (Hom.+; on the mng. of the word ADebrunner, TW IV 71–73) impf. ἔλεγον (3 pl. ἔλεγαν s. B-D-F §82 app.; Mlt-H. 194; KBuresch, RhM 46, 1891, 224). Only pres. and impf. are in use; the other tenses are supplied by εἶπον (q.v., also B-D-F §101 p. 46; Mlt-H. 247), but the foll. pass. forms occur: fut. 3 sg. λεχθήσεται; aor. ptc. fem. sg. λεχθεῖσα (SyrBar 14:1), neut. pl. τὰ λεχθέντα (Jos. 24, 27; Esth 1:18; Papias, Just.), 3 sg. ἐλέχθη and pl. ἐλέχθησαν; pf. 3 sg. λέλεκται; plupf. ἐλέλεκτο; pf. ptc. λελεγμένος (all Just.; B-D-F §101) ‘say’ (beginning w. Hes. [Hom. uses the word in the senses ‘gather, collect’, as Il. 11, 755 al., and mid. ‘select’, as Il. 21, 27, and esp. of stories that one elects to ‘tell over’ or ‘recount’, as Od. 14, 197] and more freq. in Pind.; the usual word since the Attic writers; ins, pap, LXX, pseudepigr., Philo, Joseph., apolog.)...

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 588). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This is simply a feature of the form and has no bearing on the meaning just as "brought" doesn't mean something different from the hypothetical but never used "bringed" and "wrote" doesn't mean anything different from the hypothetical but never used "writed".

However, despite the similar wording and the insignificance of the different word form the two passages are saying completely different things.

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  • 1
    Hey man. Thanks for finally finding out why the tables I had didn't show from one to the other. – Joshua Oct 30 '17 at 21:33
  • @Joshua When you win the lottery I recommend that your first stop be to get a hold of this incredible lexicon: logos.com/product/3878/… Strong's sometimes creates as many problems as it solves. – Ruminator Oct 30 '17 at 21:45
  • You may want to include the BDAG entry for εἶπον ("used as 2 aor. of λέγω"). – Paul Vargas Oct 30 '17 at 22:34
  • @PaulVargas I thought about it but it didn't seem to mention legw. The full entries are quite long. – Ruminator Oct 30 '17 at 23:20
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Native Greek here. I hope I haven't misunderstood your questions, but «λέγω» and «είπα» are indeed the same verb in different tenses, both in modern and ancient greek. As such it is an 'irregular' verb, whose past tense does not quite match the present tense in form. «Λέγω» is the 'present / continuous' form, and «είπα» is the 'past / single action in time' form.

To confuse matters further, there is an 'imperative' form (i.e. issuing a 'command') in ancient greek, which can make use of either tense (i.e. 'please be speaking' vs 'please speak (once)').

The past tense of the verb, and the imperative 'single action' version, in the second person plural, has the same visual form: «είπατε». Distinguishing between the two should come from context.

This is why the «είπατε» in the first passage you quoted (εἴπατε ἐν τῷ φωτί) is a command, and thus translated as "[you should] speak in the light".

Whereas the the «είπατε» in the second passage you quoted (ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ εἴπατε), is simply the verb in the past / single action tense: all those things you [had] 'said' in the light.

Note that there is also a 'past continuous' tense, making use of the «λέγω» form. E.g. «ὅσα ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ λέγατε» would have meant: "all those things you were saying in the light".

PS. I use 'say' and 'speak' interchangeably in translations, because in Greek they are both expressed by the same verb, there isn't really any distinction between the two, except from context. Which also explains why Greeks have trouble with this verb, and might say things in English like "Speak my name".

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  • So I thought and thought on reading this answer. I suspect that Ruminator's answer is more correct. By analogy: In English the past tense of "go" should be "goed" and it once was. What happened is the past tense of "wend" (slightly irregular: "went") superseded "goed" so long ago that most people don't know it anymore and don't encounter "wend". Even the grammar books now teach "go" -> "went" but that's really a different root and has to be unlearned on encountering the now extremely rare "wend". – Joshua Nov 1 '17 at 20:03
  • Not sure what you mean by this. But the distinction between lego and eipa is present in ancient greek, and survives into modern greek largely unchanged. Biblical greek is not at all ancient, it's only 2000 years old, and very close to 'katharevousa' greek. In fact, for the most part, while it will 'sound' like 'older' Greek, biblical Greek is a recognisable form of Greek for the most part to the modern listener; a Greek person can generally read the bible in the original text with little trouble (especially if they attend church, which adopts this language even today). – Tasos Papastylianou Nov 1 '17 at 21:55

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