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Spake or Spoke


“…Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).

“God, who at sundry times and divers manners spake in time past…” (Hebrews 1:1).


At a recent event, while reading the KJV in public, the reader unconsciously replaced spake with spoke. Later, I mentioned it to him, asking him if his Bible had spake or spoke — it had spake . “Spake or spoke…it’s the same, right? What difference does it make?” was his reply. It makes an interesting study:

The modern bibles apparently have replaced the ‘archaic’ spake with spoke; yet the word ‘spoke’ is not used once in the KJV. Some dictionaries pile on, characterizing the word spake as archaic. What’s going on?

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Spake is the simple past tense of the verb to Speak: An action of verbalizing words which was started and was completed in the past.


Spoke is a rod, bar, or cord, connecting the center of a wheel (hub) to its outer edge (rim).

Using spoke as a verb, indicates the action of repairing a wheel or extending a rod from the hub to the rim: “he spoke the wagon wheel.”

Here, again, the KJV is correct and accurate to distinguish the verbs (in past simple tense). To the point: it would be incorrect to write “Never man spoke like this man” - when the man was actually verbalizing truth and not necessarily repairing a wheel.

Never man spoke like this man - Wow! That guy has a way with wheels!

Never man spake like this man - Wow! That guy has a way with words!

The translators knew how to use spoke (spoken): “…Hath in these last days spoken…” (Hebrews 1:2). As the present perfect tense — an action that began in the past and yet continues to the present; and as the past perfect tense (was spoken) — a series of actions, one started and finished before another. Here, it is clearly a tense of the verb to speak. Interesting.

Is the KJV grammar actually archaic, or is it in fact, perfectly accurate? Never man spake like this man.


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2 Comments


God was so accurate when spake via those hated prophets and The Messiah. Just The Truth most don't want to accept. That's all the help we will get.

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Frank Broughton
Frank Broughton
May 17, 2022

It is perfectly accurate! Amen!

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