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Wax (verb)

Wax is yet another word, another brush stroke on the canvas of accurate communication, eliminated and replaced for the sake of ‘easy reading.’ But our goal in Bible reading isn't easy, it’s understanding; therefore, replacing the instances where wax or waxed are used, with grow or grown, essentially dulls and blurs the picture being painted on our mental canvas.

Wax means to grow or increase, but includes an element of time. Wax suggests growth in a typical time period; not suddenly.

“…and it grew, and waxed a great tree” (Luke 13:19).

Here grew and waxed are used together, one revealing increase, the other showing this growth was (unlike Jack’s beanstalk) consistent with the gradual time of a tree’s growth.

When the Israeli nation grew strong, the time it took to grow strong was not instant, but rather as a process of time, as they displaced the Canaanites and others. Notice the qualifier, “And it came to pass” – a typical time frame:

“Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel were waxen strong…”

(Joshua 17:13).

The direct opposite of wax, although not used in the Authorized Version, is wane. As you might expect, wane indicates a gradual decline or weakening (whereas wax is a gradual increase or strengthening).

So now, when we read “…evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2 Tim 3:13), we understand this is neither a discussion of poor candle quality, nor a sudden morality problem; it is a sign of the times (the last days– ch. 3:1). It describes a gradual decay of good; and a corresponding steady increase in the ungodly works of evil men.

We could say increases gradually; but why? we already have the exact and effecient word at hand: wax.

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