Understanding what you read
The King James Version translates Matthew 6:27 as:
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And Luke 12:25 as:
And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
Although all the words spoken by our Lord are expressions of great wisdom, it seems that what He is saying here is just human folly.
It seems, but is it..?
Let us see!
Unless you’re not getting a certain job because you are to short, or as child you’re not allowed in a certain ride at the carnival, because you are not yet long enough, I would not know why anyone would long to be longer.
So why did Jesus use this as an example?
Let’s have a look at the word “stature”.
It is translated from the Greek word ἡλικία, helikia (pronounced as hay–lik–ee’–ah). It appears 8 times and in the Amplified Version it is 5 times translated with ‘stature’, and 3 times with ‘age’.
when we look at the meaning of ἡλικία (helikia) we find the following:
1) age, time of life
1a) age, term or length of life
1b) adult age, maturity
1c) suitable age for anything
1d) metaph. of an attained state fit for a thing
2) stature, i.e in height and comeliness of stature
So, to translate the word with time or age, like it is done in other translations, is not wrong, as those who belong to the “King James Version only club” want you to believe, but it is in my opinion even a better translation, as ‘age’ is the primary and common translation for the word, which also fits better to this saying.
In John 9:21 and 23 where the parents of the blind man to whom the Lord gave sight spoke, the same word is used.
Here the Amplified Version translates it with age.
²¹But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of AGE; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
²³Therefore said his parents, He is of AGE; ask him.
An other point in this verse that needs our attention is the term ‘taking thought’. Ofcourse our Lord didn’t mean that we shouldn’t be thoughtful.
In the Revised Version it is correctly translated with ‘being anxious’.
No one can by being anxious lengthen his life.
You may however be able by living anxiously to shorten your life.
So, also in this case I prefer the New American Standard Bible that writes in Matthew 6:27
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And in Luke 12:25
And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?
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