Signs of Love

Among the many parts of Holy Scripture that merit closer regard respecting grammar, I would include St. John’s simple admonition, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

In John’s combination “word and tongue,” we readily recognize what grammarians call a hendiadys, which means that John conveys a single idea by a double expression. That is to say, in John’s “in word or in tongue,” there is no real difference between “word” and “tongue”; both are metaphors for speech. John means simply, “Let not our love be just . . .

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of Christ in the Psalms, Christ in His Saints, and The Trial of Job (all from Conciliar Press). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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