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Antithesis Examples and Definition - Literary Devices

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

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Antithesis ask not what – westspacisbrousenlisatertingdida


In the very last part of Kennedy's speech, he refers to God one more time, just like he did at the very beginning of his speech, “I have sworn before…God” - “God’s work must truly be our own”.

Each of these stylistic devices used in Kennedy's speech stress the contrast between good and bad.

The Targum of the former clause and this is, "that take counsel, but not of my word; that consult a consultation, but do not ask of my prophets:'' that they may add sin to sin; the sins of consulting others, and of putting confidence in a creature, to their other sins of rebellion and apostasy: so wicked men, who are enemies in their minds, by wicked works, to God, and commit acts of hostility against him, and are in danger thereby of eternal ruin, do not consult the word and ministers of the Gospel, but flesh and blood, carnal sense and reason, and seek to cover themselves with the rags of their own righteousness, and not with the robe of Christ's righteousness, and garments of salvation, which the Spirit of God reveals and brings near; and so to their other sins they add that of trusting to their own righteousness, and not submitting to Christ's.

Inauguration of John F. Kennedy - Wikipedia

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Anterior to noticing instances of the law of antithesis and how it serves to irrefutably establish various biblical truths, one might ask what is the essential difference between a comparison, contrast, and an antithesis. In general, a cursory consideration of this question might not establish any serious dissimilarities. A comparison involves two or more matters being considered as to any similarities or differences they may possess in proximity one to another. A contrast would be a more detailed comparison for the purpose of clearly establishing likenesses and areas of converse. An antithesis, on the other hand, would be to observe the direct opposites in such a comparison or contrast. The law of antithesis, then, extracts properties that are the reverse. One can learn important truths by first establishing an affirmation and then either observing or inferring the opposite. Let me inject that we must first determine that the set up is that of antithesis and then we must be careful to observe what antithetical truths are intended. Hence, an antithesis can either be very simple or more complex, requiring more caution.

In Matthew chapter five, Jesus presents six instances of antithetical teaching. In the first, it would appear that Jesus is only referring to Exodus 20: 13, "Thou shalt not kill" (Matt. 5: 21). This sixth law in the Decalogue is a moral law that stands and is absolute. What then is Jesus doing when he says what he does, using the law of antithesis, in verse twenty-two? Jesus is not meaning to be understood, albeit he often is so understood, as saying here is what Exodus 20: 13 says, but I am telling you something different, even opposite. Jesus’ antithesis is in showing the opposite of what the interpreters of the law were saying Exodus 20: 13 meant and allowed. This is clearly seen in Jesus’ sixth case of antithetical teaching (Matt. 5: 43, the law never taught such a matter, the Jew had erroneously thus inferred, probably from Leviticus 19: 18, that they only were required to love fellow Jews).

"ask not what your country can do for you.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States of America, serving from 1961 until he was assassinated in 1963.



During his introduction, he combines parallelism and antithesis in the statement; “an end, as well as a beginning - … renewal, as well as change.” This statement introduces the theme of progression which is used all throughout Kennedy's speech.

The Jews, who were, by national adoption, and by outward profession of religion, the "children" of God, but were apostates from him, had turned their backs upon him, deviated from his law, and departed from his worship and ordinances; and therefore a woe is pronounced against them, or they are called upon to consider of their evil ways, and return, that iniquity might not be their ruin: that take counsel, but not of me; they met and consulted together about their safety, when in danger, but did not ask counsel of the Lord; they did not consult his word, nor his prophets, nor by Urim and Thummim, as in case of war they should more especially: and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit; they sought for a cover, a shelter, a protection from the enemy, but not from the Spirit of the Lord, in his word and prophets, who would have directed them to a more suitable and sufficient one.

At the end of the next paragraph, he uses another impressive example of parallelism which also includes antithesis.
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  • “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for ..

    Throughout Kennedy's speech, he uses various stylistic devices which helps add strength and character to his speech.

  • antithesis, and rhetorical questions

    "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

  • Thesis Antithesis Synthesis Examples ..

    My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, ..

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“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what …

Matthew 25: 46 is a good example of how there can be more involved in the law of antithesis. For instance, while both the lost and saved shall continue on eternally (Greek aionios); there shall be a condition opposite in terms of qualitativeness. We see this taught in other scripture. The lost shall suffer eternally while the saved shall be in eternal bliss (cp. Mark 9: 42f.; Rev. 20, 21). Even in Matthew 25: 46, Jesus states this qualitative difference when he uses "punishment" (kolasin) in the case of the lost.

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