Rhetorically Magnifying . . . . What

magnifying glass 2  Another Method Of Magnification


The Rhetorical & Biblical Method Of Magnification:

Magnifying a point, a detail, or an event is not unique to what some would call secular rhetorical techniques.  This rhetorical technique is used by biblical writers and is found in specific biblical sermons which have been recorded for us.

Most teachers and preachers realize that the Scriptures magnify events, words, and principles through the use of restatement (“our preaching is in vain . . . we are found false witnesses”), repetition(“and again I say, rejoice”), specific words (“Behold”), and/or word position.

Interestingly, there is a Bible translation called the Emphasized Bible which “is a translation of the Bible that uses various methods, such as “emphatic idiom” and special diacritical marks, to bring out nuances of the underlying Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts.”

Likewise, as we speak, we engage in rhetorical magnification.  The question is not whether we do it, or the Bible writers exemplify this rhetorical technique but do we do it consciously.  Do we understand what we are doing and are thereby able to purposefully use it to develop our content.


“WHAT”: A THIRD Method Of Magnification

There are a number of ways to magnify a point, a concept, the use of a word, or an event within a passage.  This can be done by pointing to “the who” – “the when– and now we are going to look at “the what.”*


Sample Statements:  These statements are designed to lay out a pattern of thinking and speaking when using “the what” technique of rhetorical magnification.

  • “Do you realize what has happened up to this point?”
  • “What is happening while this is taking place – will make all the difference!”
  • “Dismiss “the what” — what has previously happened — along with what has just happened – and you lose the strength of what is taking place.”
  • “Why are these events so startling?  It is because of what these events are saying in light of this event.”
  • “This decision to do this is  — or  — These words spoken are remarkable, not because others have not made the same decision — or spoken the same words, but because of what has happened.”
  • “This is not the word I would have used if describing what has happened.”
  • “It is easy to theoretically understand this truth until the actual storm arrives.  Then “what” is no longer theoretical.



Here are some simple examples of magnifying by “the what.”  Remember, “the what” is not necessarily found in the actual passage you are addressing, but by going to “what is / has / will / could / or would happen” — you magnifying the force of what is being said or done.

√  Mephibosheth meets David and says . . . . But do you realize what has all happened up to this point . . . . . Put those details into the mind of David as David hears him

√  Paul says “content” — He is content in whatever state he finds himself.  Now add to that comment what Paul has all gone through up to this point. . . .

√  John says he heard it said, “Let us be glad and rejoice!”  But include in your thinking what John has seen take place on the earth up to this point.  This is not an easy statement to make when you think about the events which have taken place.

√  Haman may be saying that now . . .  but after you see what is about to happen, these words take on even greater meaning.


Actual Example:

This message is by Robert Deffinbaugh, from “What Happens To Sideline Saints.”  The message is on David’s sin in II Samuel 9.

Deffinbaugh is calling up what happened in David’s life because of his sin with Bathsheba.  Almost forty minutes have gone by before Deffinbaugh magnifies the consequences of David’s sin.  What happened in David’s life – the consequences of his sin –  is not what the message or the passage is about.  The “whats”  are what happened in David’s life, years after this sin, as recorded in chapter 9.  The message calls up what would come into David’s life as recorded in a number of other passages (chapters II Samuel 13ff) well removed from this chapter or account.

Also, the many “whats” are used for just one of several applications which Deffinbaugh makes on the backend of the message.

(audio link Robert Definbaugh)

What were the consequences . . . Well Nathan had said that there were going to be some terrible consequences and I’m going to tell you this because this should wipe the smile from anybody’s face — I’m  not sure how many times in my ministry I have heard it said and I’m not sure how many times other people have heard it said — but it has been said over and over, “Well David sinned.”  And the inference is David’s sin God forgave and it really wasn’t so bad.  And I’ve said to people like that – You may get away with it — but I guarantee you will never end up with a smile on your face.  I have never seen anybody willfully chose to sin – assuming and presuming God would forgive it and must forgive it — and come out at the end of their life and say – “It was worth it all.”

It never is worth it — Look what happens to him —

not only the loss of the child that comes early on,

but then the rape of his daughter by Amnon — what a horrible thing for a father to experience,

and then Amon’s death at the hand of Absalom

and then Absalom – whom he loved, fleeing away – that David can’t even enjoy the fellowship of his son

and that son returning, to win the hearts of the kingdom

and to rebel against you and take over your kingdom – at least temporarily

and then on the roof of the palace – pitch his tent with your concubines – to broadcast to all of Israel –  something that had been done in private by David.

I don’t  think you would say–  it was worth it all.  It was not!

David sinned – David was forgiven, but David did not have a smile on his face when it came to the consequences of his sin and no one very will – no one ever will.


In this case “the what” is what has all happened.  It is a quick piling up of results or delineation of the consequences which happened outside of the particular passage which is being taught or preached.



Another way to use “the what” is exemplified later on in his message . . . .

Think of what could have been —  had David not messed up at this point — just years before the finish line — and instead of his kingdom — now moving to that part where it would be – almost at least – it would be the glory days of his kingdom — they don’t exist – they don’t exist for David.  They never will  — he will regain his kingdom but at the loss of his son.  It could have been a wonderful thing.


Although Robert Deffinbaugh did not do this, he could have highlighted all the “whats” in the negative.  For instance . . . .

  • David would not have experienced the loss of a loved newborn son
  • David would not have lost three more sons . . . . – Remember, “repay four fold!”
  • David’s son Adonijah would still be alive.
  • He would not have lost Amnon,
  • Absalom would not have killed Amnon
  • Absalom would not have had to flee
  • would not have lost the company of his beloved son Absalom
  • Absalom would not have overthrown his father’s kingdom
  • Absalom not have been killed in the rebellion


It is not that speakers do not already use this technique, but they may not use it consciously, understanding that they are magnifying an event, word, truth, application, passage, or person.

It is as one is consciously aware of what they are doing that they are able to purposefully apply the concept at times, other than when it just happens to come to mind!



A preacher/teacher can interject “what” and thereby magnify . . . .

  • the importance, or
  • the gravity, or
  • the urgency, or
  • the passion, or
  • the inconsistency, or
  • the irony, or
  • the possibility, or
  • the greatness of

. . . . of a person’s wording, words, or actions.

This rhetorical technique is designed to add “weight.”

The speaker is rhetorically . . . .

  • highlighting
  • underlining
  • laying out in bold print
  • capitalizing
  • accenting
  • intensifying

a “point,” a truth, an action, a person, a period of time, a word, etc.


*Note: We have looked at — magnifying by “who” and “when” and now “what.”  “The what” can be mistaken with “the when” because there is a “when” to “what” is happening.  However, “when” and “what” should be thought of as distinct.   The emphasis on “what” does not interest itself about the “when” it is happening.  For example, if we were to go with “the when” in David’s life, the material would be quite different


There is a difference between these methods of magnification,  both in the “wording” used to communicate each and in the “thinking” of the speaker during preparation.

Even though you might initially see them as overlapping at any particular time, you will find that thinking in light of one of these distinct categories — “what” / “when” / “where” will work better for a particular portion or message.   Seeing the distinctions will also make it easier to generate the content you are looking to add to the speech.

The emphasis on “what” does not interest itself as to “when”  “the what” it is happening.  The point is “look at . . . .

  • what has happened
  • is happening
  • will happen as a result of this
  • what could have been avoided, but has happened
  • what should have happened / or not happened

Obviously, one might well anticipate that there is a “where.”




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