“He Is Risen” – Learn Why It Is Grammatical (Meaning & Origin)

The phrase “He is risen” looks incorrect to most native speakers. It doesn’t seem to follow any of the typical verb tense rules and makes people question whether it’s right. This article will explore the phrase and whether it’s correct to use (and where it came from).

Is “He Is Risen” Grammatically Correct?

“He is risen” is grammatically correct but only in the context of the biblical resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s similar in meaning to saying “he has risen” today, where the “is” is used as an eternal truth of something that happened.

Is "He Is Risen" Grammatically Correct?

“Is” as a verb is present tense, but “risen” is the past tense of “to rise.” When we combine the two, we’re mixing the two forms, which confuses many people who use them.

However, in this case, “is” is used as an eternal truth, meaning that Christ “is risen” and will always be “risen.” “He has risen” implies that Christ rose once and has since stopped being “risen” (which is not the case according to the Bible).

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What Is The Meaning & Origin Of “He Is Risen”?

“He is risen” means that “he” (Christ) has returned from the dead to bring his teachings to us all. “Risen” in this sense is an adjective, meaning “returned from death” rather than the past tense verb form of “to rise.”

The phrase is archaic and rarely used today. The only time you might see or hear it is when you’re experiencing a religious event of some kind (like a mass or a Bible reading).

It originates from the following quote from the Bible:

  • Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!

“Risen” in this sense is known as an eternal truth. An eternal truth is something that has happened in the past and will also be true, no matter where we are in the future.

How Prevalent Is The Use Of “He Is Risen”?

We can look at some statistics to work out how common it is to use “He is risen” today.

This graph shows that the popularity of the phrase has dropped off significantly over the last two centuries. It’s rare for people to quote the phrase from the Bible today (though it has seen a resurgence in 2013).

How Prevalent Is The Use Of "He Is Risen"?

We also included the past tense verb “He has risen” to compare the two meanings. “He has risen” was never quite as popular as “He is risen,” though during the 1900s, it seemed people were happier to use the past tense “has” over the present tense “is.”

The most likely reason for that is that it was easier to explain to people what the phrase meant. Since most people are used to writing “risen” as a verb and not an adjective, “has” worked better in many native speakers’ eyes.

Is It Correct To Use “He Is Risen” Today?

“He is risen” is rarely used today, but it is still correct. Since it is an eternal truth, it’s something that applies no matter where we are in life. However, it only applies to you if you’re religious and believe in Christ’s resurrection.

It is mostly seen (and quoted) in the Bible. Priests and pastors will deliver sermons with the phrase “He is risen,” but otherwise, many native speakers tend not to use it.

If you’re going to write it, though, you should make sure to capitalize “He” every time.

“He,” in this case, refers to “Christ,” which is a proper noun and must be capitalized. If you don’t capitalize it, you could be talking about any “he” that was brought back to life (which is impossible).

What Does Risen Mean In The Bible?

“Risen” in the Bible means resurrected and brought back from the dead. There is a story where Christ was sacrificed, and only after his sacrifice did he become “risen.”

What Is The Response To “He Is Risen”?

In the Bible, “He is risen” was met with uproarious celebration (from Christ’s supporters). Today, you’ll rarely come across people that believe that heavily in the teachings of the Bible, but it’s still good to know how to respond.

The best response to “He is risen” is “hallelujah” or “alleluiah.” These are the most traditional responses to the phrase to let the person know that you’re happy “He is risen.”