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Grammar? Again?

God gave us His complete Word in only two languages – Hebrew and Greek.There are several reasons why we think He chose those languages, but that’s a study for another time. The point is that He used men to record in writing all that we need to know of Him and His plan. Mature Christians should understand that they are reading a translation.* It is an important realization because, despite the fact that each language has different  grammar and syntax, God kept His Word both infallible and inerrant as the pens of men through the centuries were moved by the Spirit to record His-story.

In today’s study we will briefly consider verbs. The Latin origin appropriately means “word,” and verbs can often clarify a passage. Let’s look at three passages – so open your Bibles – by extracting just the verbs and see what we come up with::

  • John 3:16
    “loved,” “gave,” “believes,” “shall (not) perish,” “have”

What a beautiful example of how verbs can carry the complete message! Even the tenses enrich the meaning, i.e. the work itself is finished and is in the past, but we can have salvation both in the present and the future!

  • Exodus 3:7-10

“I have (indeed) seen,” “I have heard,” “I am concerned,” “I have come (down),”, “to rescue,” “to bring,” (the cry) has reached,” “I have seen,” “I am sending,” 

The above passage speaks of God’s plan to rescue the Israelites from Pharaoh. The verbs with “have” or “has” indicate completed actions; the “-ing” shows present, continuing action.**

  • Matthew 6:9-13

“Pray,” “hallowed be,” ”come,” “be done,” “is,” “give,” “forgive,” “have forgiven,” “lead (not),” “deliver”

There is no doubt about which passage this one is! Several verbs are in the imperative, meaning that Jesus expects us to obey them.

Verbs are only one of the eight parts of speech, and God uses each one effectively in the Bible. This week, when you read, pay special attention to verbs. After all, He can write with authority because He is the Author.

Challenge: Strong verbs like “proclaim,” “surround,” “be plundered” offer a much richer visualization of events than continual use of weaker verbs like “is” or “has.”  Read Matthew 26:57-68 and list the verbs. Does their power magnify the passage’s meaning and stir your soul during this Easter season?

*Unless you are Mr. Butler who can read the Bible in its original languages!

**If you read these verbs again, see if you think they also tell the Christmas story! (What a “coincidence!”) 


Barb Lewis was a teacher at LCA for over 20 years. She lives in Laconia with her husband and dog. Her passion for God’s Word and grammar has shaped the lives of many LCA students over the years.

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