42. AN EVENING WITH THE CONCORDANCE

PERHAPS OUT OF curiosity, I settled down the other day with my best concordance, and began to count the number of times several words are found in the New Testament Scriptures. Because the results were a bit surprising to me, I thought it might be good to share my findings with you!

According to one count, the New Testament contains 181,252 words. (I am taking someone else’s word for it!) These involve a total Greek vocabulary of about 5500 words. This means that if the writers used every word the same number of times (which of course they do not-not all words are of the same importance), the average word would appear 33 times.

The New Testament reader will find “heaven” 274 times and “hell” 23, including ten times when it means the grave. “Goodness” (20 times) has “severity” (twice) ten to one. “Judgment” appears 55 times, but is considerably out-distanced by “grace” (130) and “mercy” (75). This might indicate that the bright side should be spoken of more regularly than the other, although the fact of judgment and severity should not be ignored.

“Love” was a favorite word for New Testament Christians. It shows up 251 times. They were happy people, too. “Joy” is found 64 times and “rejoice” 78. “Weep” occurs 47. They often did that together. The Scripture writers used “think” 74 times and “suppose” 24, but they used “know” 541 times! Christ gave them assurance and confidence.

“Church” (ekklesia) is used 112 times in the New Testament. This includes those where it means a legal assembly (Acts 19:39), an illegal mob (19:32, 41) and the Israelites gathered in the wilderness (Acts 7:38). Christ is named 569 times. That does not include the occurrences of “Jesus” (972 times) or “Lord” (667). The New Testament mentions “kingdom” 162 times in all.

When those brethren wanted to speak about themselves, they could use a number of terms. These included “church” (108), but also “brother” (200 plus in this sense), or “saints” (61). This was a special kind of assembly (“church”), both in its relation to itself (“brother”) and to God (“saints”).

The “brotherhood” is mentioned twice (translated “brethren” by the King James Version at I Peter 5:9). One also notes that Peter said to love the brotherhood, but said nothing at all of organizing it. He did say that the Devil was causing afflictions for it in the world. Maybe that kept the brotherhood busy.

Paul warns against “striving about words” (II Timothy 2:14), and I fully appreciate the apostolic warning. The next verse goes on to say we ought to “rightly divide” the Word. It is hoped that these musings fall under the last category. Too many lines have been written already in the former.