Matthew 6:27 is translated to English along the lines of: "Which of you by worrying can say that they've added some time to their life?"

I'm wondering what is the earliest known writing of this verse (regardless of the language) and what would be a direct translation of this verse in English?

I found over 20 translations online; I was wondering which is the most "authentic". The message is generally the same, but I would like to know the exact words.

  • 1
    The text of scripture is arrived at by researching (not just the oldest known fragment but) a vast array of data : Uncials, miniscules, Patristic Citations, Versions and Lexical Entries. τις δε εξ υμων μεριμνων δυναται προσθειναι επι την ηλικιαν αυτου πηχυν ενα is the Greek Textus Receptus (Stephens 1551) of the verse. The literal translation is And who of you, being anxious, is able to add to his age (or stature) one cubit? [Young's Literal Translation].
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 16:44
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    I have just noticed that there is a textual issue regarding the verse in the translation of ena as either 'hour' or 'cubit'. This question may be suitable for SE-Biblical Hermenrutics. There is no dispute, as far as I can see, between the Textus Receptus and the Critical Text. The matter is one of translation, I believe. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 16:56
  • @NigelJ It seems you already answered the OP in the comment, why not turn that to an answer and identify the earliest known papyrus fragment which has Matt 6:27, along with its image and dating? Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 20:22

1 Answer 1


First, there is almost not dispute about the Greek text of Matt 6:27. The text appears in the all the earliest MSS of Matthew.

The literal translation of the text is:

Now, who from you, being anxious, is able to add to the age of him one cubit

Now the problem of adding a cubit to one's age. Thus, many versions translate this interpretively as either:

  • add a cubit to his stature, or
  • add an hour to his life

Both are interpretive translations and both use the same Greek text. However, the Greek word ἡλικία (hélikia = literally "age") can mean "stature" as is correctly translated in Luke 2:52 and 19:3. By contrast, πῆχυς (péchus) never means anything other than "cubit" and never means "hour".

Therefore, the best solution is to translate Matt 6:27 as:

And who of you by worrying is able to add one cubit to his stature?

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