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What Is The Shortest Verse?



This is not as simple of an answer as it might appear. Traditionally we learn that the shortest verse in the Bible is, "Jesus wept (John 11:35)." Two words, that’s it. Yet, there is another short verse that needs to be mentioned, "Be joyful always (1st Thessalonians 5:16)." Okay, I agree. At first glance it seems that "Jesus wept" is still the shortest verse, consisting of two words and only nine characters, while "Be joyful always" clearly consists of three words and 14 characters. However, the Bible was written in Greek, not English. Therefore, if we are to accurately determine which verse is truly the shortest verse we must first take a look at them from the original language in which they were written. In Greek, John 11:35 reads, "edakrusen o IhsouV", and 1st Thessalonians 5:16 reads, "Pantote cairete". From this we can now see that in the original language John 11:35 contains three words consisting of 16 characters, while 1st Thessalonians 5:16 contains only two words consisting of 14 characters. Without a doubt, 1st Thessalonians 5:16 is the shortest verse when viewed from the original text. So, what is the shortest verse in the Bible? That depends on how you choose to view it. If viewed from the original text, its 1st Thessalonians 5:16. If viewed from the English translation, its John 11:35. Nevertheless, while 1st Thessalonians 5:16 might prove to be the true shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 can argue to be the shortest sentence in the Bible. "Jesus wept" is the entire sentence. 1st Thessalonians 5:16 is only a short fragment of a much larger sentence which reads, "(16) Be joyful always; (17) pray continually; (18) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." So, again, what is the shortest verse (or sentence) in the Bible? Take your pick.   [mp]

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Michael D'Urbano
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