jot or tittle; jot; iota

a small amount, part, or detail
—I don’t care a jot about your opinion. It doesn’t make one iota of difference to me.

Jesus impressed some people with his teaching, but he also made some angry. Many of the Jewish leaders thought that Jesus was an enemy of God because his ideas seemed to contradict the Old Testament laws. But Jesus said he wanted to teach the true meaning of the laws:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter [jot] or stroke of a letter [tittle] will pass from the law until everything takes place. So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

The word jot comes from iota, which is the name of the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet. Jesus used iota to refer to the smallest letter in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. A tittle is a small mark used in writing and refers to the tiny stroke added to some Hebrew letters to distinguish them from other, similar letters. Jesus used these words to show that even though he was bringing a “new testament,” the Old Testament was still God’s word, even down to the smallest part of the law.

To a T probably comes from the old saying “to a tittle,” both meaning “exactly,” as in “To win the game, you must follow the rules to a T.”

Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Don’t Just Missionary On [—at A Life Overseas]

    Onward, Christian soldiers. Soldier on, Christians. These don’t mean the same thing, at least not to me. Paul uses the word soldier to describe someone faithfully acting in obedience to God when he exhorts Timothy, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3 NIV). It’s a good thing to be […]

    Sing Along with Me: How Long? [—at A Life Overseas]

    Returning to the States after serving overseas was a hard time for my wife and me. We were grieving our losses and were struggling with the difficulties we’d already faced and those we saw ahead. We prayed and prayed but didn’t receive clear direction from God. In our spiritual malaise it was hard to slide […]