“Jesus wept” (John 11:35) isn’t the shortest verse in the Bible!!

I was messing around with some regular expressions, or regex, today, (the nerdy types will understand!) to create a hidden word Bible quiz for the site and thought it would be fun to do a bit of word analysis on the text of the KJV – as you do!

I was looking at verse lengths, and you may know there are actually two verses that only have two words. Everyone knows about “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) but did you know that 1 Thessalonians 5:16 also only has two words and reads “Rejoice evermore”? No-one really ever mentions that one though!

John 11:35 is indeed the shortest verse as it contains less characters, but only if we are considering the KJV or other English translations. What I didn’t know until just a few moments ago is that when looking at the original Greek text, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 is actually the shortest verse containing two words and 14 characters, whereas John 11:35 is 3 words and 16 characters! There’s my something new learned for today.

Joh 11:35  ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς.

1Th 5:16  Πάντοτε χαίρετε,

But then, that might not be the shortest verse either. Depending on where you divide the verse in the Greek, Luke 20:30 might be even shorter at only 3 words and 12 characters. The Greek text I use doesn’t bear this out, but some modern translations split the verses differently and reads simply “and the second”…

Luk 20:30  καὶ ἔλαβεν ὁ δεύτερος τὴν γυναίκα, καὶ οὗτος ἀπέθανεν ἄτεκνος·

Job 3:2 also has a shout at being the shortest coming in at 14 characters and 3 words in the Hebrew.

So, what do ya know?! It’s only trivia at the end of the day, but don’t believe everything you hear!

Did you also know that Psalm 118:8 isn’t the middle verse and there are not 365 “do not fear / be afraid” verses in the Bible either?


  1. Very interesting statistics, thank you for sharing them. It is also valuable to remember that there were no verses in the original documents, they were supplied many centuries later for our convenience, as I’m sure you know. You’re probably aware also that the Hebrew in the Old Testament consist only of consonants, with the vowels only being supplied later. Most of all, it is the word of God upon which we can base our lives! Dr. Bob Boyd

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