No! Absolutely Not!

Hebrews 13:5 - Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

The Greek words for never in this verse are ou me which is a double negative.  The Greek words for nor in this verse are oud ou me which is a triple negative.  Literally translated this verse says that God will NEVER NEVER leave thee, and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER forsake thee.  The use of the double negative puts added emphasis - God will never leave you! Never, Absolutely Never!


God's Positive Use of the Double Negative
ou me

God will never, never leave us!
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never [ou me - never, absolutely never] leave thee, nor [oud ou me - never, never, absolutely never] forsake thee.

Nothing shall in no way hurt us!
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing [oudeis - no one] shall by any means [ou me - never, never, in no way] hurt you. Again it is a triple negative - no one, no! never, never shall hurt you!
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not [ou me - never, never] hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Luke 21:18 But there shall not [ou me - never, never] an hair of your head perish.

God's Word shall never, never fail!
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise [ou me - never, never] pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not [ou me - never, never] pass away.

God will never, never charge the believer nor remember his sins!
Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not [ou me - never, never] impute [charge with] sin.
Hebrews 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more [ou me - never, never].
As it says in Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  God will never, never charge the believer with sin and He will never, never even remember our sins because of the work of our beloved savior, Jesus Christ.

Believers who walk via the spirit shall never, never fulfil the lust of the flesh; nor never, never be put to shame!
I Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not [ou me - never, never] be confounded [put to shame].
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not [ou me - never, never] fulfil the lust of the flesh.

God has given us eternal life via the Lord Jesus Christ - which means we shall never, never die!
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never [ou me - never, never] thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never [ou me - never, never] hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never [ou me - never, never] thirst.
John 8:51 Verily, Verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never [ou me - never, never] see death.
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never [ou me - never, never] perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
John 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never [ou me - never, never] die.  Believest thou this?

God has used the double negative to express these very positive realities to believers.  He will never, never leave us.  Nothing shall in no wise hurt us. His Word will never, never fail.  He will never, never remember our sins nor charge us with sin.  We will never, never be put to shame.  If we walk by the spirit we will never, never fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Because we have believed (Romans 10:9-10) we shall never, never die!


Further Study

The study of negating words in God's Word is really interesting.  Following are some of the uses of the negative form in Greek that will help you understand God's Word:

ou = "absolutely not"
John 3:18a He that believeth on him [Jesus Christ] is not [ou - absolutely not] condemned: . . .

me = "conditionally not" - used in a dependent construction - contingent upon choice.
John 3:18b . . . but he that believeth not [me - not because of the individual's choice] is condemned already, because he hath not [me - not because of his choice] believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

ou me = "No! Absolutely Not!" - a double negative used for emphasis.
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never [ou me - never, absolutely never] leave thee, nor [oud ou me - never, never, absolutely never] forsake thee.

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When used in a question:

ou = a negatively phrased question expecting a "yes" answer.  In English you might say "It is raining, isn't it?"
Mark 6:3 Is not [ou - expecting a "yes" answer] this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon?  and are not [ou - expecting a "yes" answer] his sisters here with us?  And they were offended at him.

They did not believe that Jesus could be a prophet because they looked at his earthly family rather than his heavenly credentials as the son of God.  This is the carpenter, isn't it?  They expected a "Why yes, it is." answer.  The answer of Jesus Christ in verse 4 was "A prophet is not [ou - absolutely not] without honour but in his own country."

me = a negatively phrased question expecting a "no" answer.  In English you might say, "It isn't going to rain, is it?"
Matthew 12:23 And all the people were amazed, and said, is not [me - this can not be, can it?] this the son of David?

Reading this question in English it appears that the people were expecting a "Yes, it is" answer, but the Greek use of me lets you know that the questions is asked expecting a "No, it can not be" answer.  They looked at the healing and miracles and said "This can not be the promised Christ, can it?"

me ou = a negative question asked expecting a "no" answer but demanding a "yes."
John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not [me ou - expecting a no but the answer is yes] drink it?

You want to say: "No, Jesus, don't let them take you!" But the answer is Yes it must be this way.  There are only 5 other places this me ou construction is used: Romans 10:18, Romans 10:19, I Corinthians 9:4, I Corinthians 9:5, and I Corinthians 11:22.

See also - Biblical Usage of Negatives from Demonstrating God's Power by Rev. Walter Cummins

March, 1998
URL http://www.cortright.org/noabsnot.htm
Michael Cortright