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.”

Advertisements
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 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

    Embracing the Struggle

    I’ll take inspiration where I find it, even if it’s from a book’s back cover . . . quoted at Amazon.com. The book is Bo M. White’s A Time to Question Everything: Embracing Good News and Bad Days. White is the director of study abroad at Baylor University and has traveled to over 40 countries in […]

    Barnga: A Card Game for Culture-Stress Show and Tell [—at A Life Overseas]

    I’ve reworked my original Barnga post from six years ago and put it online at A Life Overseas. Head on over there to read all of it. Here’s how it begins: Have you ever wanted to show, not just tell, people what culture stress is like? Have you ever wanted them to experience it a […]

  • Advertisements