Use of plural words in singular situations

Alan C. Wade alancwade at
Tue Jan 8 13:12:45 EST 2002

Is there a rule of grammar in the N.T. Greek that allows for use of plural
words to be applied to singular situations. Such as Mark 10:29-30, "Jesus
said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers
or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for
the gospel's sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now
in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and
children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come,
eternal life."" (NAS)  Let us say that one leaves one sister for the
gospel's sake. He did not leave "sisters," plural, but sister, singular.
Could the blessing "apply" even if someone left only one. I know this
question may seem more theological than grammatical. In the English
language, if the fireman told the homeowner to "get his children out" of
his burning house, the homeowner would not say, "This statement does not
apply to me because I have only one child." It appears to me that the
usage of plural words as applied to the singular singular situations would
be allowed in the Greek. I may be barking up the wrong tree in trying to
find a grammatical answer to this question. The answer may be found in the
science of linguistics. I understand there are various Greek words that
may be in the singular that indicates plurality and words in the plural
that indicate singular. We have the same thing in the English. However,
the plural words in Mark 10:29 do not indicate a singular thought such as
the plural words scissors or trousers. Yet, we do seem to apply plural
words to singular situations. Can someone help me out?

[Alan C. Wade -- Moderator's note: new list-members please take 
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