The Shortest Verse in the Bible?
A paragraph from my Greek textbook:
Everyone knows that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). But is it? In Greek, John 11:35 is ἐδάκρυσεν ό Ίησοῦς; three words instead of two (and sixteen characters). There is a two-word verse that is shorter in Greek: 1 Thess. 5:16, Πάντοτε Χαίρετε, “Rejoice always,” is only fourteen characters. The next verse, 1 Thess. 5:17, is also two words, but it contains twenty-two characters: ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε (“pray unceasingly”). Both of these two-word verses contain imperatives.
From Decker, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook.” Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2014. 29.5 (484).
The problem is that the past tense word “wept” is much longer in Greek because the aorist tense requires an augment and extra letters at the ends, while in English “cry” is only lengthened by one letter to make “wept,” and that the noun for Jesus takes an article. These both add letters in Greek, but make little difference in English.
Conversely, the Greek imperative has no augment, and only adds two letters or three letters more than the indicative conjugation would have. Not to mention that there is no article, because the imperative needs no subject.
For both of these reasons, and obviously also because 14 just is less characters than 16, 1 Thess. 5:16 is the shortest verse in the Bible.