There is a word that circulates within the evangelical community. For the speaker, it evokes a sense of power and authority. For the listeners, it instills fear and much trembling.
Okay, maybe I’m playing this up a little bit too much, but I am dramatic and excitable. What can you expect?
I’ve heard this word thrown around a lot. It usually goes something like this: “I rebuke (insert anything perceived as evil, undesirable, or unpleasant here) in the name of Jesus!”
This is usually met with some head nods, a few amens, and maybe even a hallelujah. Is it really any mystery that nonbelievers think we’re totally weird?
What is really even happening when we say these things? What does it mean? Why do we feel the urge to say it?
I’ve decided to do some digging to get to the bottom of this rebuking phenomenon. It really irks me to hear it all the time, and I’m pretty sure that the majority of people saying it have no idea what it actually means. I feel like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride.
Now before you go getting your panties in a twist because I called you out (you know who you are, don’t even pretend you don’t do this!), let’s review some grammar basics shall we?
The word rebuke is a transitive verb. That means that it is an action that is done to someone, or something. If you were to kick a ball, the transitive verb would be kick. If you want to be that sort of person, then yes by all means you could go around saying that you are rebuking something all day long and you would not be grammatically incorrect. Congratulations.
Let’s dig a bit deeper though and analyze the rest of your speech. Do you go about your day announcing every action you take in the first person? It would be pretty strange to do that. Imagine your reality from that perspective. You would wake up in the morning and say “I touch the snooze button.” You would eat breakfast and say “I pour the cereal into my bowl.” You would go to work and say “I drive my car.” On and on you would go all day long. It’s ridiculous, yes? I’m glad we’re on the same page.
Now that we’ve established the part of speech this word falls into, let’s discuss the actual definition.