***(Read to the end for a chance to win an upcoming devotional!)***

Apostrophe—(n.) a mark to indicate the omission of letters or figures, the possessive case (Merriam-Webster.com)

Contraction (n.) the act of acquiring… a shortening of a word… by omission… (Merriam-Webster.com)


I was thinking the other day about the difference an apostrophe makes. Left out, its absence can change a writer’s meaning, or, quite honestly, make him or her look ignorant.

For example, if one intends to say, “It’s a beautiful evening,” but she leaves out that small punctation mark between the t and the s which brings two words—it and is—together (the new word a contraction), then that simple statement makes no sense.

Likewise, if a writer’s intended message is, “Okay, I’ll be there soon,” but he neglects to include the apostrophe, he’s written something nonsensical—”Okay, ill be there soon.”

Tiny though it is, this punctuation mark is important, is it not? Still, too often it’s forgotten.

I was reading Eugene Peterson’s The Message recently and came across an example that makes the greatest difference of all, and it struck me.

In Matthew’s gospel, John the Baptist is speaking to the crowd, explaining to them that Someone else will soon come who’ll be the “main character of this drama” and who’ll reveal that he, John, is a “mere stagehand” (Matthew 3:11 The Message).

Peterson writes it this way—

He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. HE’LL place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false HE’LL put out with the trash to be burned… (Matthew 3:12, emphasis mine).

Right then, as I read those words, I thought, Never has an apostrophe been so important. After all, the omission of that tiny punctuation mark is the difference between heaven and hell, is it not.

This led me to a word study—searching the scriptures using Bible Gateway to see where, throughout the Old and New Testaments, God’s inspired authors used the contraction he’ll.

Many versions I looked at don’t use it at all—English Standard Version and the New International Version, for example—though the Christian Standard Bible used it several times. The Living Bible and, as mentioned, The Message, used it most often from my search. Perhaps that’s because they’re paraphrases.

The real heart of the matter, however, isn’t so much which translations include he’ll but, rather, what that word compared to the alternative, with the omission of the apostrophe joining he and will, might mean.

In other words, it’s either he (Jesus) will or… hell.

And how true that is!

My husband and I are The Chosen fans. We’ve watched both seasons and recently saw the first two episodes of Season 3 in the theater, which has us sitting on the edge of our seats in anticipation for the next episode.

One thing that was repeated as part of the past seasons’ preview—Dallas Jenkins’ kind way of catching new viewers up on what’s taken place—was something Mary Magdalene said early on in The Chosen.

(Screen shot of her image on my phone–from The Chosen–Season 1, Episode 2)

Talking to a baffled Nicodemus who’s asked her about the change that’s taken place in her life, Mary replies–

“I am redeemed… I don’t understand it myself… I was one way. And now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him” (The Chosen, Season 1, Episode 2).

The thing that happened in between….

That “thing” that redeemed her–the One that called her by name, saying, “You are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1)—made all the difference.

Never has an apostrophe meant so much. Starting with four little letters, this small mark changes the meaning entirely.

H-E-L-L to HE’LL.

And just look at the definitions of apostrophe and contraction once more. Then, in light of what we know our Savior’s done for us, see it for yourself.

  • Jesus died for the omission of our sins. Because our Savior didn’t merely die for our sins, He removed them. And when we confess them, asking for forgiveness, He washes us clean (I John 1:9).
  • Indeed, He purchased us—took possession of us—for a price, which cost Jesus His very life (I Cor. 6:20).
  • By acquiring our sin, He gave us heaven rather than hell (John 3:16).

It’s what was between Jesus’s outstretched left hand and His right that made all the difference.

Just like the apostrophe can create a contraction, joining two words into one, Jesus’s death on the cross was contractual—signing over His life for ours that we might have eternity with Him.

Never have I been more thankful for the apostrophe. Never has it meant so much, nor have I loved contractions more. Hell was taken from me because of the promise, “He’ll rise again!” And it’s true.

He did!

And because He lives, we, too, shall live.

We can proclaim with Mary Magdalene–

“I was one way. And now I am completely different. And the thing that happened in between was Him.”

Jesus an apostrophe? Yes, it’s true.

He’s the difference! Period!

He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him (Phil. 3:21 The Message).

***To hear a beautiful new song by Matt Maher, and to hear the story behind the song, click HERE!***

Jesus, nothing could be better, and nothing deserves our gratitude more than knowing we have the promise of eternity with You. Thank you! Thank you! I will never stop sharing all You’ve done for me, and I love discovering more of You, sometimes even in obscure places. Yes, even in an apostrophe!


***Though it’s not yet out, I’m giving away one copy of the upcoming Guideposts’ Pray a Word a Day devotional. I have a couple 1-word devotions in it, and I’d love to share!

For a chance to win, please leave a comment. Tell me something you’re thankful for, or perhaps leave me your favorite “Punctuation Mistakes” joke. (Please keep ’em clean!) I’ll draw one name from those who participate on 11/30.

Blessings, friends! I’m so thankful for you!***