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Near won't do!

The admonition (with promise) recorded in James 4:8 uses a supposedly archaic word: nigh. This word is no longer used, being replaced by other words indicating closer proximity, such as near. But this won’t do! Tut tut. Note the record as Jesus entered a house, attracted a crowd, and the crowd blocked the doorway:

“And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door….And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four” (Mk. 2:2,3).

They are bringing the man with palsy close to Jesus, they bring him to the very house where he is preaching. The patient truly is near, certainly nearer than he was, nearer in spatial proximity. If you have an NIV, you could stop there. But, obviously near isn't enough. They needed a front row seat; there could be nothing between the man and Jesus.

“And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof…let down the bed…” ( 2:4).

Break up the roof, bypass the press, and cause nothing between the man and Jesus: nigh. He saw their faith. Notice he didn’t recognize their faith while they were just being near; he saw their faith in getting nigh.

One ‘archaic’ word illuminates the entire situation. Let us not merely draw near to Jesus, but rather draw nigh unto him. Near–works for horseshoes, hand grenades, and apparently the NIV– is not a easy-to-read replacement for nigh. And, let us thoroughly enjoy this treasure of his written word to this pervasively English speaking world, the awesome KJV.

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