One of the things that has always bothered me slightly about Matthew 7:7 :

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you (KJV),

is that the grammar is not parallel. In fact, it isn't even as parallel as you could make it in English.1

I recently realized that the reason for this is (probably) that the grammar isn't parallel in the Greek:

Αἰτεῖτε, καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν· ζητεῖτε, καὶ εὑρήσετε· κρούετε, καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν.

Here the first and third clauses contain to you (ὑμῖν), while the second doesn't; this is reflected in the English translation.

Of course, Jesus didn't say this in Greek; he would have said it in Aramaic. Is there a way of phrasing this in Aramaic so that all three clauses have parallel grammar?

1 A more parallel version might be "Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and ye shall be let in."

3 Answers 3


The statement is part of the Sermon on the Mount which was given to a large crowd in Galilee and that strongly suggests Jesus spoke in Greek.

Matthew 7:7 (ESV)

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
αἰτεῖτε καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν ζητεῖτε καὶ εὑρήσετε κρούετε καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν

The saying has a chiastic construction:

A:  Ask, and it will be given to you - αἰτεῖτε καὶ δοθήσεται ὑμῖν
  B: Seek, and you will find - ζητεῖτε καὶ εὑρήσετε
A': Knock, and it will be opened to you - κρούετε καὶ ἀνοιγήσεται ὑμῖν

The beginning and ending statements include the second person plural pronoun, ὑμῖν, which is lacking in the unique statement. The absence of the pronoun in B is explained by the verbs in the results of an action.

A Ask/given αἰτεῖτε/δοθήσεται - second person plural/third person singular passive
  B Seek/find ζητεῖτε/εὑρήσετε - second person plural/second person plural active
A' Knock/opened κρούετε/ἀνοιγήσεται - second person plural/third person singular passive

All the initial actions, ask,seek, knock are given in the second person plural sense and a present tense imperative active action. But the result of ask, knock is an individual experience, third person singular. Therefore, the pronoun ὑμῖν functions to align the resulting action to the initial action. It means an individual experience is obtained by others who ask and/or knock. For example, not everyone asks for the same thing so what is received will differ, but one who asks for something different will receive, but what is received is different.

On the other hand, the result of seek which is done exactly the same as the others, produces a result, find which is a second person plural experience. Therefore, the initial and resulting actions are in agreement and the statement is complete.

All three first actions ask, seek, find are described as being done as plural; yet only seek results in the plural experience, find. The special treatment of seek implies everyone finds the same thing. This result is possible when those who seek, seek after what is most important:

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Asking and knocking will indeed result in individual receiving and opening and the individual experiences will also be collective. That is, what one receives will undoubtedly differ from another's because their askings were different and yet both received. Those who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness find the same thing.


Sure, it could have if Jesus had wished to say it that way. For example, Greek δεῖξον (δείκνυμι) in Mark 1:44 is translated in the Peshitta as חוא, to show, reveal. It's a transitive verb, and I don't know of any grammatical reason why it couldn't have been used in this verse, the meaning is changed to "seek, and it shall be revealed to you."


You will notice that εὑρήσετε (heurēsete) is 2nd Person Plural. Second Person Point of View is when the narrator refers to the reader as "you". We know that the subject hasn't changed so having a "you" here makes sense. [a]

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According to the Peshitta Aramaic/English Interlinear New Testament

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Looking at this we do not see the sort of parallelism where "you" is stated three times as opposed to two.

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