There are many figures of languages used by writers of the Bible. We to today use certain figures of speech in communicated with one another, and understand what each other is saying. What does the word Hyperbole mean and how is it used in Scripture? God is the author of our language, and the ability He has given us allows us to communicate with one another. Figures of speech add emphasis and feeling to what we say and write. No one ever used speech precisely as God did in the Scriptures. When we understand these figures of speech used in Scriptures, then we are able to fully enjoy God’s word more fully.
Hyperbole (pronounce Hi-per-bow-lee). It means, ‘’ exaggeration, above, beyond, a casting or throwing, a casting beyond”. We today use this word in our communication with one another, even though we may not know it. Look at a few examples in Scriptures.
John 21:25, “and there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written”. Read John 20:30,31also. John here uses a hyperbole in John 21:25. John’s meaning is the” vast amount of material which might have been compiled about Jesus is not recorded. There is very little recorded in comparison to all that He did, that is revealed to us. But what is written is enough evidence about Him for us to believe who He was.
Matthew 5:29, “if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, and cast it from you”. Is Jesus here referring, literally that one should pluck his or her eye out? This is not what Jesus is meaning. His point is, we should not tolerate sin in our lives, and take whatever action we need to in order to stop sinning.
Luke 9:25, “for what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul”? We know that no one can ever own the whole world and all that is in it. It’s an exaggeration to make a point. The point being made is, even if he could gain the whole world, it would not matter if our soul is lost.
John 12:19, “ the Pharisees therefore said among themselves, you see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him”. The fact is, many people did not follow Jesus, and many were confused about who He was. But the Pharisees they greatly exaggerated the number of people who followed Him. Verse 18 states, “for this reason the people met Him”. Read verses 12-19 to get context. So the Pharisees refer to “the crowd” who followed Him as, “the whole world”.
There are many examples of Hyperbole in the Scriptures. In looking at Scriptures we need to determine what is” literal and what is figurative”.
- CL Bruner