Figure of Speech

<<illustrative comparison>>

Jesus often spoke figuratively, using illustration material from everyday use that His listeners could relate to (Jn 16:25-30). The parables were a form of ‘figure of speech’ in which spiritual truth was conveyed in an easy remembered illustration. Paul spoke of the seriousness of wrong decisions when he said, “Some have shipwrecked their faith” and James spoke of the tongue as both a ship’s rudder and a forest fire (1 Tim 1:19; Jas 3:3-6).

Here is a selection of the many word pictures found in the Bible, where, to provide emphasis or clarity, there is a divergence from the normal literal meaning:

“A land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3:8,17). This described the beauty and productivity of the Promised Land.

“He heals the broken-hearted” (Ps 147:3). He brings healing to those experiencing grief.

“Furnace of affliction” (Isa 48:10). Indicating a place of intense refining and testing.

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezek 36:26). Stone is hard and unresponsive while flesh is capable of being changed and transformed by love.

Jesus referred to His body as a temple (Jn 2:19-21). Paul uses this concept referring to “our bodies as temples [place of residence] of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19).

See also: parables, symbols.