Which verse is the shortest verse in the Bible depends on how you choose to take the measurement. Do you count the words or letters of a verse? Do you do your counting in the Bible’s original languages or in an English translation? If you are counting in English, which translation do you use?
By some counts, John 11:35, which reads, “Jesus wept,” is the shortest verse in the Bible. It has 2 words and only 9 letters in English. However, in the original Greek, John 11:35 has 16 letters; a shorter verse in Greek is 1 Thessalonians 5:16, which reads, “Rejoice always,” and has only 14 letters in Greek. Also in the running is Luke 20:30, which reads, “The second”—2 words in the NIV and only 12 letters in Greek; however, some Greek manuscripts contain a much longer version of Luke 20:30.
Once you bring Old Testament verses into the conversation, things get even more complicated. Biblical Hebrew did not originally have vowels. Modern versions of the Hebrew Bible usually do have vowels. So, do you count the vowels or not? In English, Job 3:2 reads, “He said,” with only 6 letters. In Hebrew, Job 3:2 has 13 letters if you only count consonants and 18 letters if you include vowels. Even shorter is 1 Chronicles 1:25, which reads, “Eber, Peleg, Reu” in English, with 12 letters. In Hebrew, though, 1 Chronicles 1:25 only has 9 letters if you only count consonants—14 letters if you include vowels.
So, the answer to “What is the shortest verse in the Bible?” is complicated. If you count by the number of English letters, Job 3:2 appears to be the shortest with only 6 letters. Even that count depends on the translation, as some versions read, “Job said” (7 letters), or “And he said” (9 letters), or “And Job said” (10 letters). If you count by the number of Hebrew or Greek letters, 1 Chronicles 1:25 is the shortest verse in the Bible with 9 letters. But, if you include Hebrew vowels in that count, Luke 20:30 becomes the shortest verse in the Bible with 12 letters in the original language—depending on the manuscript used.