Ellipses -- What Is Not Said Is Often As Important As What Is
Words are used to convey thoughts and ideas. But some words can be omitted and a message can still be understood. Take this sentence, "If possible, come early." It is understood to mean "If [it is] possible, [you] come early."
An adult throws a ball and tells a child, "Go get the ball." The child understands that he is to go get the ball and bring it back to the adult, although the latter was not stated.
When words are omitted in this way it is called an ellipsis. An ellipsis has been described as a peculiar form given to a passage when a word or words are omitted; words which are necessary for the grammar, but are not necessary for the sense.
In Matthew 14:19, we read that Jesus "gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude." The verb is missing in the last part of this sentence and if taken by itself would mean Jesus gave the disciples to the multitude. Since the next verse says, "And they did all eat, and were filled," we readily realize the disciples in turn gave the loaves to the multitude.
There are many examples in the Scriptures of which the following is but a sampling. We have put the ellipsis in brackets.
Matt. 11:18 --
John came neither eating [with others] nor drinking [strong drink].
Mk. 14:29 --
Although all shall be offended, yet will not I [be offended].
Lk. 7:43 --
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most [will love him most].
Lk. 20:9 --
A certain man planted a vine-yard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country [and remained there] a long time.
Lk. 22:37 --
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned amongst the transgressors: for the things [written] concerning me have an end.
Jhn. 2:18 --
What sign showest thou unto us [that thou art the Messiah], seeing that thou doest these things.
Jhn. 9:2 --
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man [that he is blind], or his parents, that he was born blind?
Rom 2:7-10 --
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality [He will give] eternal life. But unto them that are contentious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [shall come] indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace [shall be rendered] to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.
Rom. 14:2 --
For one believeth that he may eat all things; another, who is weak [in the faith], eateth herbs [only].
1 Cor. 3:1 --
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual [men], but as unto carnal [men].
1 Cor. 10:24 --
Let no man seek his own [advantage only], but every man that of his neighbor [also].
Phil. 4:16 --
For even [when I was] in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Heb. 4:l0 --
For he that hath entered into his rest, he himself hath rested from his works, as God [rested] from His.
Heb. 5:3 --
And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer [sacrifices] for sins.
Heb. 10:23 --
Having our hearts sprinkled [and so being delivered] from an evil conscience.
Rev. 18:3 --
And all the world wondered [and followed] after the beast.
The reader may feel that an ellipsis makes very little change, if any, to the Scripture as understood by most. But this is not always the case. Some of the changes affect some basic doctrines that are taught by many denominations.