Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Beauty of Language

I have a passion for language. The more I write, the more I recognize the power of language and the beauty of certain words. Think of the word edification. Say it aloud a few times. Stretch it out. Then try accenting each syllable in turn. 

Now consider the definition of edification: enlightenment, building up, teaching, nurture. It’s no accident that this word sounds beautiful since its meaning is significant. I remember reading it in the New Testament. In I Corinthians 14, Paul uses edification to compare the gift of speaking in tongues with the gift of revelation or teaching (imparting knowledge). He says that speaking in tongues edifies or enlightens the speaker rather than the listener since the language is unintelligible to others. He instructs the new followers of Christ in Corinth to speak plainly for the edification of others. In verse 12, he says, “...since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” 

I wanted to learn more about the word, so I researched it. Edification comes from the Latin root aedificare, meaning “to instruct or improve spiritually.” Its basis is aedes, which means “temple” or “edifice.” I wondered if the Hebrew word used by Paul had the same meaning. 

According to, the New Testament term for "building up" the Church, "edification," has roots in the Old Testament concept of building the temple. Jesus used it to speak of building the new people of God (followers of Christ), and St. Paul used it to emphasize the spiritual formation of the Christian community. According to Paul, each of us is responsible for edifying [enlightening, illuminating, building up] our community of believers. What a beautiful concept! What a powerful word! I wonder what would happen if we extended the gift of edification to everyone.

Have you noticed any particular words that trip off the tongue beautifully or carry significant meaning for you? Please post a comment.

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