Small words can make such a big difference.
My family loves the cartoon "The Emperor's New Groove." There's a hysterical interchange between a young girl named Chaca and the evil Yzma (voiced by Eartha Kitt), who at the moment is locked in Chaca's closet along with her dim henchman Kronk.
Some older versions of the Bible were known for typesetting errors. The "Adulterous Bible" of 1632 omitted the word "not" in Exodus 20:14. The "Wicked Bible" of 1653 left out the second "not" in 1 Corinthians 6:9 ("Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?")Yzma: Tell us where the talking llama is, and we'll burn your house to the ground.Kronk: Uh, don't you mean "or"?Yzma: [sighs] Tell us where the talking llama is, *or* we'll burn your house to the ground.Chaca: Well, which one is it? That seems like a pretty crucial conjunction.
Huge, chasmic differences can be created by the presence or absence of one small word. Take these phrases:
- Jesus was human
- The Bible was written by men
- Man is a physical being
- This life matters
- The family is important
- Jesus was only human
- The Bible was only written by men
- Man is only a physical being
- Only this life matters
- Only the family is important
- We are saved only in Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)
- We are saved only by grace (Ephesians 2:1-9)
- We are saved only through faith (Romans 1:17; 3:28; 5:1)
- Only the Scripture gives us God's rule for faith and practice (Psalm 119:99; Isaiah 8:20; Mar 7:6-10; 2 Timothy 3:15-17)
- The glory for our salvation belongs only to God (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; 2:7)