Unwrap / Sentence Structure

Example - Matthew 5:1

Matthew 5:1 (ESV)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

Clue Artifact Implication
  • crowds (plural, accusative, masculine)
  • disciples (plural, nominative, masculine)
  • The crowds, of course, included multiple people and are the direct object.
  • When considering multiple people, only the men are typically counted (hence, the masculine form).
  • The disciples were also multiple people and, in this case, are used in the subject form.
  • The disciples, too, were counted as male, though it was likely there were some females following Christ at this time.
Given the cases of the two nouns, another (more literal, though less poetic) way to read the verse is: "He went up on the mountain when he saw the crowds, and his disciples came to him when he sat down."
Cause and Effect  
  • Cause: seeing the crowds
    Effect: Jesus went up on the mountain
  • Cause: when Jesus sat down
    Effect: his disciples came to him
  • Jesus climbed the mountain because he saw the crowds. This could have been for a number of reasons, including to retreat, or to gain a higher elevation so that his voice could be better heard by the crowd.
  • The disciples came to Jesus after he sat down. It was custom that, in those days, when teachers spoke while standing, their words would be considered suggestions or basic commentary. However, if they wanted to communicate something of importance or in an official capacity, they would sit down. This is where we, today, get the idea of "chairman" of a department or "chairman" of the board.
  • and - Jesus going up on the mountain and his disciples coming to him
  • mountain
  Questions one may consider:
  • Was this a particular mountain, or was it just some mountain, in general?
  • Why did he climb the mountain (again, consider Jesus' motives, along with the cause and effect)?
  • he (3rd person, singular)
  • his (3rd person, singular, possessive)
  • him (3rd person, singular)
  • seeing (singular, aorist, active, participle, nominative)
  • went (3rd person, singular, aorist, active, indicative)
  • sat (singular, aorist, active, participle, genitive)
  • came (3rd person, plural, aorist, active, indicative)
  • An aorist active participle indicates that one thing completed before another began. In this case, only after assessing the crowd did Jesus climb the mountain (as compared to climbing the mountain while observing the crowd).
  • Aorist active indicative indicates something that has happened (or will have happened) without asserting a specific time. In general, it simply indicates some event has taken place. In the case of "went," we simply read that Jesus went up the mountain. "Went" indicates the action that Jesus performed at some point (not immediately, necessarily, but just at some point) after seeing the crowds.
  • Again, aorist active participle communicating that the disciples only came to Jesus after he sat down, not before or while he was doing so.
  • Aorist active indicative, again, tells us that the disciples simply came.
While some of this may seem confusing, the beauty of these verb tenses are that, in a way, they present a story within a story. They tell us something without using so many words.
Take the disciples coming to Jesus upon him sitting down. Instead of Jesus directly telling the disciples to come to him, he simply sat down. It was merely the act of him sitting down (not any words) that told the disciples that he was about to communicate something extremely important.
POUR Method
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