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.)


At March 20, 2006 11:41 AM, Blogger Refreshment in Refuge said...

I have never used this example before, but I do think it is a great one! I have often compared the Bible to an onion with many layers and the heart of it is the sweetest part.

I strongly believe that God meets us at the level we are ready for, and when we pray for greater understanding, God leads us into those deeper levels, only He shares just as much as we can chew and digest.

Here is your license... that'll be $10 and you'll need to renew it every year :)

At March 27, 2006 10:43 AM, Blogger michele said...

I believe that reading the English text is sufficient for most Christians. They need to spend the time understanding their Bible in English before they try to understand it in Greek and Hebrew :-). However, an understanding of Greek and Hebrew is necessary if you want to understand the true meaning of a word and it's context.

Just adding my 2 cents, as I bounce around the Christian Bloggers group that I just added to my blogs.

At April 02, 2006 5:16 PM, Blogger Hal Leath said...

I enjoyed your post regarding how we can go deeper into the truth by studying Greek. I enjoy studying greek scholars and their books Vines and Strongs etc...but I must admit that some of the most awesome revelations have come from NKJV, KJV, and other English versions that Greek scholars translated. Keep up the great work for Christ.
Come and visit my blog at

At April 05, 2006 11:38 AM, Blogger Susan L. Prince said...

I enjoyed the analogy, thanks.

What I have a problem with are those "Greek" experts who do not acknowledge the fact that those of us studying the Word in English actually do have a brain, and that it is still right and still valid.

Not studying Greek invalidates nothing of my knowledge of Him.

At April 11, 2006 1:43 PM, Blogger Refreshment in Refuge said...

Sue... where are you?

At April 11, 2006 3:49 PM, Blogger David said...

Nice reflections. I've never gotten into the original languages, but I see the benefit of digging deeper and deeper into the study of the word.


p.s. There's a little girl who needs prayer, Read about her here.


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