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The Shortest Verse in the New Testament

  • The Good Book Blog Talbot School of Theology at Biola University
  • 2013 2 Feb
  • COMMENTS
The Shortest Verse in the New Testament

By Ken Berding

What is the shortest verse in the New Testament? Did you respond “Jesus wept”? (Buzzer sound) No, that is the third shortest verse in the New Testament.

Granted, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) is the shortest verse in English. In English it is 9 letters long. But in Greek it is 16 letters long (Ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς). 

For a long time I have known that there is a shorter verse in Greek. That is 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “rejoice always,” which is only 14 letters in Greek (Πάντοτε χαίρετε).

But a few years ago, one of my Greek students, Steven Malan, pointed out to me that there is a verse that is even shorter in Greek. That verse is Luke 20:30 “and the second,” which in Greek has only 12 letters (καὶ ὁ δεύτερος). This ridiculously short verse is found in the section where Jesus is being verbally challenge by the Sadducees (Luke 20:29-32): “Now there were seven brothers; and the first took a wife and died childless; 30and the second 31and the third married her; and in the same way all seven died, leaving no children. 32Finally the woman died also.”

So “Jesus wept” comes in third. “And the second” comes in first.


For more, visit the Good Book Blog, a seminary faculty blog from Talbot School of Theology.