The next time you watch or listen to a commercial, see how many times the announcer says the same key word over and over again. “New”, “Bargain”, “Special”, or “Value” can show up time and time again, as well as specific brands or product names. Marketers try to leave an impression in our minds, so that we associate good things with a company, or remember a particular name when we’re shopping at the store (or online).
While this technique is often used today to try and part people from their money, there are times when we should stop and pay attention when a word is used more than once.
My understanding is that when something is said twice in the Bible, that is done for emphasis. So, when we learn that Jesus said, “Truly, truly”, like in the translation below, we should sit up and pay attention.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
John 6:47 NASB
While all of Jesus words that we have recorded are significant, the apostle John seems to have documented this extra emphasis in certain things that Jesus said (see search results at BibleGateway.com). For one thing, this emphasis is placed on prophecies that Jesus made that happened within the lifetime of His disciples, including these:
- One of His disciples would betray Him (John 13:21).
- Peter would specifically disown Him (John 13:38).
- Peter would be imprisoned at the end of his life (John 21:18).
Having historical verification that these things happened, we can be assured of the other truths that Jesus prefaced with this statement, as well as prophecies that Jesus made about the future (including those that impact us), like the following:
- We must be born of water (which I interpret as baptism) and the Spirit (John 3:5).
- If we believe and obey, we can have eternal life (John 6:47, John 8:51).
- Jesus’ followers can do great things (John 14:12, John 16:23).
In addition, God has repeated other things for our benefit, knowing that we sometimes need a reminder, emphasis, or help learning a given message. For instance,
- As the second generation of the freed Hebrews was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reiterated the law to them in the book of Deuteronomy.
- There are four books recounting the life and ministry of Jesus. Each provides a distinct perspective, and – like a super 3D camera with four lenses instead of two – the combination gives us a more complete understanding of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before His trial and execution. This is a good reminder to remain faithful in our prayers, and to not give up.
However, if Jesus saying things twice is significant, consider the statement at the end of the following well-known passage from the book of Isaiah:
It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
Isaiah 6:1-3 NLT
This prophecy, which will be fulfilled at the end of time, as John the apostle’s vision confirmed in Revelation 4:1-8, tells us that God isn’t just holy. He isn’t just “really holy”, as we might expect if someone said that He was “holy, holy”. No, God is incredibly, perfectly, and – to our minds – unfathomably holy. He is set apart from His creation, perfect and righteous.
That is the God who loves us, who came to earth to save us, and who wants us to be part of His family, again.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.