Monday, March 20, 2006

Greek or English?

There is a lot of discussion on the internet about whether or not you need to study Greek to really understand the Bible. I'd like to humbly weigh in on the subject with my understanding of the issue.

I love the Greek. I think that when you begin to understand how the Greeks thought and how they use words, the Bible becomes more and more exciting. However, I do not believe you must study Greek to study the Bible. Consider this:

You're on a boat, and you're out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The sun is beginning to rise and the rays are sparkling on the surface of the ocean like diamonds. It's getting warmer and warmer, the view is spectacular, pouring into your soul and giving you a sense of awe and wonder that only God can give with His splendor and creation. It's beautiful - and it's right - and it warms and nourishes you.

Now see yourself with diving gear on and jumping overboard. What was once a two-dimensional flat surface - as wonderful and beautiful as it was - is now a three-dimensional wonder to explore. No limits. All of the depth and mystery and beauty of the ocean has now come alive for you. There are new creatures and caves to explore and discover. New treasures to bring back to the surface to share with others. You've just entered a new world.

If you chose to stay on the surface, it's still right, it's still valid, and it will warm and nourish you. It's not wrong, and you won't be led astray with the English. If you never read the first word of Greek, you can come to know Jesus, honor Him and love Him the way He wants, and be obedient to the commands He's set before us. But to understand it through the Greek is a thrill and a privilege. Each day is a treasure hunt as I look into the words that the original authors used to describe their new world and their Lord. It answers questions that can be answered in no other way - not questions pertaining to salvation, mind you. Those are clear, unequivocal, and unambiguous. But questions of nuance, questions of subtlety.

You may not be into subtlety and nuance. You may not be into treasure hunts. If that's you, then that's okay. Make sure you know your position with the Master, but you can know that without the Greek. If you're saved, you're saved, and no Greek is going to make you any more or less saved.

But if you're an adventurer, a hunter, an explorer - then look into the Greek. Don your diving gear and jump in. You won't regret it.

When you read the Word of God, work hard, learn hard, change hard, and always remember to have a blast!

God bless you as you take in His Word!


(Author's disclaimer: Admittedly, this example is a little too simplistic because there is a tremendous amount of depth that can be gleaned from the English. It was meant as an easy-to-understand illustration of the difference between Greek and English - not as an indication that the English is shallow or two-dimensional, which is decidedly not the case. Thanks for giving me the grace of license.)