Ordinarily we all think of a negative as a bad thing. However the pandemic has forced us to rethink this tradition since testing negative for some dreaded disease is a welcome outcome. The same applies when a female tests to see if she is pregnant when she is not quite prepared to be. So then a negative may not be a bad thing always.
There is a convention in the English language that says two negatives create a positive. For example, if you say. “I am not seeing nothing the ‘not’ and ‘nothing’ in that sentence are regarded as two negatives and so that sentence would in fact be implying “I am seeing something”.
This English language convention does not apply in New Testament Greek. In fact on the contrary, two negatives strengthen the force of the negative in Greek.
There are two interesting examples on the lips of Jesus in the Gospels. The double negative words in Greek are ou me (sound of the 2nd word is may).
In John 10:27, Jesus assures his followers that his sheep hear his voice, he knows them and they follow him. Then in v. 28 he proclaims their security by saying “I give them eternal life and they shall never (Greek: ou me) perish…” This is a veritable promise of eternal security owing to the emphatic or double negative with perish, better rendered in Jamaican “Dem kyaahn ded ataal ataal.”
Additionally, the adjective before life is eternal with the double edge of quality and trans-time duration. In insurance parlance this is not term life (limited) insurance but better than whole life insurance!
When I became a Christian in High School (1967) some of my friends teased that I would backslide in 3 or 6 months. They were clueless about what God in Jesus had really given me by his grace and mercy!
In John 6:37 there is another emphatic negative promise; “Everyone my Father gives to me will come to me and the one coming to me I will never (Greek: ou me) cast out.” How comforting!
Those Christian denominations that believe a truly born-again follower of Jesus can lose his/her salvation must be blissfully unaware of these passages or have spent too little time on what the original text says and means!