Friday, November 10, 2023

The "Rule of Three"

My Bible time this morning was in 1 Thessalonians 1, where I was reminded again how much Paul loves the "rule of three." 

We have "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy," "work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope," "power, the Holy Spirit, full conviction." etc. A writer uses the rule of three when he or she believes that a trio of entities, events, or characters is more satisfying or effective than other numbers. Here are some obvious examples:

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

Stop, look, and listen.

Faster, higher, stronger (the Olympic motto).

I came, I saw, I conquered.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Blood, sweat, and tears.

Faith, hope, and love.

Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Snap, crackle, pop!

The three wise men.

The three pigs.

The three musketeers.

Barth, Brunner, and Bonhoeffer (I made this one up).

And finally, the all-powerful triumvirate of: ME -- MYSELF -- and I.

We all seem to know intuitively that having three entities contributes both brevity and rhythm. Which is why so many sermons have three points!