When we want to emphasize an important thought in our writing, we might underline, italicize, bold print, or HIGHLIGHT certain words and phrases. The New Testament writers had their own technique. They would use petition verbs. So when we run across petition verbs in the New Testament, we know the author is letting us know that what he’s about to say is very important. (Thank you, Denny Petrillo, for teaching this in Biblical Exegesis class!) Some petition verbs include:
- I urge
- I implore
- I exhort
- I beg
- I ask
- I beseech
Training ourselves to watch for these petition verbs will aid our Bible study because we will understand that what the author is about to say is significant. Whatever thought the author is petitioning carries the weight of an apostolic command.
This month’s Bible-marking will be a little different because there’s more than one way to note petition verbs. You can mark them in our traditional Bible-marking way (chain-reference style), or you can simply circle the petition verbs as you find them so they’ll stand out on the pages of your Bible. But I think the most practical, helpful way to mark petition verbs is as follows:
- Choose one color to use for all petition verb verses. This will make it easier to consistently recognize them.
- At the top of the title page of the New Testament letter in which the petition verb is found, write “Petition Verb(s)” Then list the verses. This will allow you find the key thoughts quickly.
- Use the same color to underline the verses containing the petition verbs. You can underline the entire verse or just underline the petition verb and the command(s) that follows.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Either underline the entire verse or just the petition verb and the commands that follow. “I beseech” is the petition verb. I included verse 2 because I think it continues the thought of what Paul is beseeching. It looks like there are three main thoughts:
- Present your bodies
- Do not be conformed
- Be transformed
The petition verb lets us know that this verse is a key thought in Romans, and each of the three commands is followed by how we are to fulfill them. Turn to the other two petition verses in Romans and underline them in the same color as well.
Here are some petition verbs that you can mark in your Bibles so you can easily spot key thoughts in these New Testament letters:
- Romans 12:1; 15:30; 16:17
- 1 Corinthians 1:10; 4:16; 16:15 (include v. 16 in your underlining)
- 2 Corinthians 2:8; 5:20; 6:1; 10:1,2
- Ephesians 4:1
- Philippians 4:2
- 1 Thessalonians 4:1,10; 5:12,14
- 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (include v. 2 in your underlining); 3:12
- 1 Timothy 2:1 (include v. 2 in your underlining)
- 2 Timothy 4:1 (include v. 2 in your underlining)
- Philemon 9,10
- Hebrews 13:19,22
- 1 Peter 2:11; 5:1 (include v. 2 in your underlining)
- 2 John 5
This may or may not be a complete list of the petition verbs found in the New Testament letters. If you discover more as you study, please share them with us!
By Kathy Pollard
Kathy is married to Neal, whom she met at Faulkner University. Neal preaches for the Bear Valley church of Christ in Denver, CO. They have three sons–Gary, Dale, and Carl. Kathy has enjoyed several short-term mission trips to Ukraine, Tanzania, and Cambodia. She’s an instructor in the Women’s Program at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, and one of the directors of Higher Ground Encampment, a Bible camp for teen girls.