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That and Which

January 6, 2019

From a previous post, I’ve had some feedback about the use of that and which.  We automatically and typically use these words in daily conversation: 

That refers to an event or a noun that may be close in time or proximity, but is not immediately before us.   That thing over there, not this thing at my feet. 

 

Which refers to a a decision, a choice, a selection of one from several.  Which road will you choose, dear brother?   

 

 Which is also used to introduce a non-essential clause—the information it brings is not necessarily required to complete the sentence or to cause the sentence to make sense.   The which clause is additive, but not critical. 

 

   "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you  the word of God:              whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (Hebrews 13:7). 

 

In 13:7, notice the clause “which have the rule over you” is introduced by “which.”  This clause is not necessary for the integrity of the sentence.  By passing it over, and reading it without the which clause, it still makes sense: “Remember them…who have spoken unto you the word of God….” 

 

That introduces a required clause—information necessary for the sentence to correctly convey the thought.  

 

     "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves…” 

      (Hebrews 13:17).

 

If we were to pass over the clause “that have the rule over you” the sentence would read “Obey them, and submit yourselves.”   But who should be obeyed?  The true meaning of the  sentence is lost without the that clause.   The information, in this case who specifically we are to submit to, is necessary to complete the sentence; therefore that is used. 

 

     “Salute all them that have the the rule over you, and all the saints” 

     (Hebrews 13:24). 

 

This is similar to 13:17: we need to know who we are saluting; and here we learn, again, it is they who have the rule over us.   That’s required information for the sentence to make sense and it consistently agrees with the theme.  The grammar is perfect.

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