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 emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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