John 3:16 (KJV) – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I typically do not read the KJV. To many, the Old English is quite beautiful sounding and poetic. But to me, it’s clunky. Plus, it’s just not how we speak today. However, I stumbled upon an interview from Theological Dark Web on YouTube where Rich Colburn was interviewing Christopher Geer. At the end of their long discussion, this most famous verse from the Gospel of John was brought up due to the “eth” ending of the word “believe” (which is also found at the end many other verbs in the Old English), and it caused me to gain an appreciation of this style of language that I hadn’t had before. According to Collins Dictionary, an eth ending or suffix is…
“an ending of the third person singular present indicative of verbs.”
In other words, the eth indicates the present tense of the third person singular of an action word. That means that the he, she or it in view is doing something now.
Not making sense yet?
Here’s how Geer put it…
“The New Testament is written pretty straightforwardly. Even in versions like the King James. But, you have to understand ‘Elizabethin English’ to understand the King James …things like ‘eth’ on the end of words. If you are classically trained in theater you understand it. But ‘eth’ on the end of words means something that is happening right now, that needs to continue happening, for it to be true. So, ‘Whosoever ever believeth on the Son,’ well that’s something you are doing right now. But, it’s something that you have to continue doing… until you see Him again. It’s stuff like that, that people are reading these things, in English, but they don’t know even what the English words mean.” – Christopher Geer
Obviously, no form of the English language is found in Scripture. English did not yet exist. The Bible’s original languages are Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Therefore, we cannot rely on non-Biblical languages like English or any historical form of them to give us theological insight as to what the Bible might be saying. However, the concept of “believeth” is consistent with warning passages such as…
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (KJV) – Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
With that in mind, I have an important question to consider…
Have “ye believed in vain”?
Whatever your answer, this truth still stands…
“…ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you…”
In other words, as long as you believeth (continue to believe “until you see Him again”), then “ye are saved.”
John 11:20-27 (KJV) – Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Godspeed to the brethren!
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