The Most Precious Double Negatives In The Bible

by David J. Stewart

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” —Hebrews 13:5

       In the Greek language there is something called a “double negative.” The double negative occurs slightly less than 100 times in the New Testament (a listing of all these occurrences can be found in The Englishman's Greek Concordance, listed under μή). Although double negatives are considered bad speech in English (i.e., I ain't got no money), double negatives are proper in the Greek language, adding emphasis where necessary.

One of the most precious Scriptures in the Bible is Hebrews 13:5, our text verse above. There are 2 double negatives used and then another single negative. There are 5 total negatives in Hebrews 13:5, reassuring the Christian believer that the Lord will never, ever, no not once, never forsake nor leave us. This is a beautiful truth. God has PROMISED never, no, not ever, never, to leave nor forsake us.

You can see and study these FIVE DOUBLE NEGATIVES in the Interlinear Greek Bible (from the “Textus Receptus,” also known as the “Received Text,” from which our beloved King James Bible was translated)...

ABOVE IMAGE: Hebrews 13:5 in the Greek language
SOURCE: Hebrews 13:5 — Biblos Interlinear Bible

In these cases the negative idea is greatly strengthened. Isn't God precious! The double negative is a very powerful negative.

“This is the strongest way to negate something in Greek.”
—Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 468

The meaning is something like this: “Never, positively not! It will never happen! It's unthinkable! There is not even the slightest possibility that it will ever happen!”

God's Positive Use of the Double Negative

ou me

God will never, never leave us!

Nothing shall in no way hurt us!

God's Word shall never, never fail!

God will never, never charge the believer nor remember his sins!

Believers who walk via the spirit shall never, never fulfil the lust of the flesh; nor never, never be put to shame!

God has given us eternal life via the Lord Jesus Christ - which means we shall never, never die!

God has used the double negative to express these very positive realities to believers. He will never, never leave us. Nothing shall in no wise hurt us. His Word will never, never fail. He will never, never remember our sins nor charge us with sin. We will never, never be put to shame. If we walk by the spirit we will never, never fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Because we have believed (Romans 10:9-10) we shall never, never die!

The double negative is of great doctrinal interest in the Greek language, as seen from the following examples in the New Testament:

Inspiration
Matthew 5:18; 24:35

Forgiveness of Sins
Romans 4:8; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17

Eternal Punishment
Revelation 21:27

The Filling of the Spirit
Galatians 5:16

Human (Fallen) Nature
Matthew 16:22; 26:35; John 13:8


Eschatology
The Tribulation: Matthew 24:21; 24:34; 1 Thessalonians 5:3
The Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:15

Eternal Security
John 6:37; 11:26; Revelation 2:11; 3:5

There are two other passages on eternal security (John 8:51 and 10:28) which add the phrase “forever” (in the Greek text, not apparent in the English text). There's no chance of any believer losing nor even jeopardizing salvation. As Jonah pondered in the belly of the whale in Jonah 2:9, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

A double-negative is used in John 10:28. Thus John 10:28 would literally read: “they shall never (double negative) perish forever” or “Forever, they will never perish.” This would sound like bad English, being somewhat redundant; but it is very strong and meaningful in the KOINE Greek in which the New Testament is written. It shows that there is no possibility of the believer ever perishing.

Likewise, John 8:51 literally says, “He shall never (double negative) see death forever” or “Forever he shall never see death.” What a precious and amazing PROMISE from our Lord!!! Isn't God awesome for going beyond what was necessary, to give us 100% assurance that He will do that which He has PROMISED, and there's no way we can mess it up!

Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”

Let's break down Titus 1:2 to disprove the notion that salvation can be lost:

  1. God has provided ETERNAL LIFE to mankind through the redemptive work of Christ. But God wanted us to have more assurance than that, so He,
     

  2. Made us a PROMISE that He'd give to us eternal life through His Son. But God goes further than that to comfort us in our salvation, He,
     

  3. Tells us that He made this promise BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN. Even still, God goes further and wants us to be completely comforted in our salvation by telling us,
     

  4. GOD CANNOT LIE.

So we see that God not only has provided eternal life to mankind through the blood sacrifice of His dear Son, Jesus, but has also committed Himself to us in the form of a promise, that He made before we were ever created, and God reminds us that it is IMPOSSIBLE for Him to lie about anything. God went out of His way in Titus 1:2 to comfort our hearts concerning eternal life. If I may paraphrase a bit, God is saying to us, “Look, I have a plan to redeem you, and by the way, you can hold me to this because I'm making a promise, and by the way, I made this promise before the universe was ever created, and if that's not enough, I absolutely cannot lie. So you can rest assure in your faith in Jesus as the Christ.” This is our blessed hope of salvation. We can depend on Jesus that He won't disappoint us for our faith in Him.

This is exactly what the Bible means in Romans 10:11 when God promises, “For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” We will never be let down nor disappointed for trusting upon the Gospel (good news) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus DIED, was BURIED and was then miraculously RESURRECTED after three days. Christ shed His precious blood to pay a debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay. Jesus paid it all. What a Savior! Anyone who acknowledges their guilt of sin before God (that is, their sinnership) and receives the Gospel as payment for their sins, they are immediately and eternally saved. God cannot lie and has PROMISED eternal life to anyone who believes THE GOSPEL message of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every believer has the precious promise of God in Hebrews 13:5 never to leave nor abandon us. Five Greek negatives are used. Again, in this one verse the double negative occurs twice and there is another negative that occurs once. This makes a total of five negatives in one verse! It could be translated as follows:

I will (1) never (2) ever leave thee, (3) no, I will (4) never (5) ever forsake thee.

It's the strongest negative way that the Bible could say that He will be with us forever! Five negatives with a very positive message! Jesus is precious!

In closing, a preacher had given the preceding truth to his church congregation in a Sunday sermon. The pastor taught about the 5 negatives in Hebrews 13:5 that assures each believer God will never leave nor forsake us. After the service an elderly woman came by to greet the pastor and thank him for the sermon. She kindly said to the preacher, “Well, He may have to say it five times for you professors, but one time is enough for me.” I certainly agree with the dear old saint of God. If God says something one time, that's good enough for me.

Yet, God in His wondrous love wanted to say it to us repeatedly, letting us know how strongly He feels about the matter. God really wants us to know that He'll never leave nor abandon us. Jesus is precious!


One of the best books I've ever read concerning the blood of Christ is THE CHEMISTRY OF THE BLOOD, by M.R. DeHaan, M.D.

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