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Is Risen or Has Risen

Once again, we approach a supposedly archaic text. This is what an on-line dictionary reports, and it’s typical; for the NIV and other modern composers have replaced he is risen with He has risen:

“In short, “He is risen” is archaic and would no longer be used. There is no difference in meaning between the two forms…”- Quora


We beg to differ. Both is risen and has (hath) risen act as present perfect tenses for the verb To Rise ( to go up). Rise is an intransitive verb; its cousin To Raise (to cause, to make something go up) is a transitive verb. But, the contention is with the auxiliary verb; do we use is, or replace it with has?

The two words are not the same. In German, which is the principle foundation of the English language, haben = have (has), and sein = be (is).

Note: sein (is) indicates a permanent change, haben (has) does not.

Present Perfect Tense

Has risen - An action from the past, and continues to the time of writing (happened then, still in effect now). A position change, upward.

Is risen - An action from the past, and continues to the time of writing (same as has + verb); however, the root word indicates a permanent change of position.

- She has gone. (She’s recording Jeopardy, she’ll come back)

- She is gone. (She packed her hope chest, she will not come back)


Let’s look into the only place in scripture where has is linked to help risen:

“…Among them that are born of women there hath none risen greater than John…”(Mt. 11:11)

Among men, John has risen to be number 1. (my paraphrase). But using has instead of is, as the auxiliary verb, does not assure John will continue in this position. In fact, “…notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,” Jesus indicates this No. 1 title can easily be passed to another. Is, as a helping verb to risen, would not be used here correctly, because it’s not a permanent position.

Now, examine and enjoy the assurance, the permanence, of is risen; I Cor. 15 is particularly rich:

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15: 20).

Permanently risen, enabling him to be the head of a new and continuous generation.

And of course, Matthew 28:6,7,

“…for he is risen, as he said….tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead…”

Once. Once and only once he came to die and be entombed. Never again. No need. In summary, he is risen is not only grammatically correct, it’s also doctrinally more precise than the modern versions.

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