a page from a modern edition of the Greek New Testament
2 Timothy 2:15 “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”
Today’s post will close out this series of posts we have been doing on “Reasons to study New Testament Greek on any level”. For those wanting to review in detail the first two posts in this series, here are the links: 1. https://biblicalexegete.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/p1-reasons-to-study-new-testament-greek-on-any-level/
In the last post we considered more reasons why anyone should study New Testament Greek on any level, bringing the total up to six.
1. Study New Testament Greek slows you down to focus on the words of the scripture
2. Studying New Testament Greek enables you to “kiss the bride” (that is, get closer to what the original author wrote)
3. Studying New Testament Greek causes you to know when and how to use commentaries
4. Studying New Testament Greek improves your understanding of the English language
5. Studying New Testament Greek causes you to appreciate your English Bible
6. Study of the New Testament Greek connects you to those who have been studying it longer than you have
Today’s post concludes our series by listing four final reasons why anyone should take up a study of the original language of the New Testament at any level. Like the past two posts, I will list more resources for the reader to consider as they aim to know God’s Word in its original language. My prayer is that these posts will whet the appetite of the reader and bring God the glory.
7. Studying New Testament Greek exposes you to the beauty and history of the New Testament texts
example of an ancient Greek N.T manuscript, codex Siniaticus, dated from the 4th century
When I look at pictures or digitized photographs of ancient New Testament manuscripts, I see works of art in-as-much as I see evidence for the reliability of the New Testament text. A manuscript is a hand-written document. To realize that for at least the first 1500 years of history, every manuscript copy of the New Testament was hand copied, whether copied in Greek, Latin, or any other language. To me, whether looking at pictures of second century papyri fragment like P 52 listed below or a purple vellum manuscript written in gold lettering (pictured below), seeing the history of the New Testament text in its manuscripts shows the beauty and history of the text itself.
John Rylands papyrus fragment “P 52”, containing the earliest text we have of John’s Gospel, date 125 A.D. Check out article on this fragment at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_Library_Papyrus_P52
Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus, a 6th century GreekNew Testament codex gospel book. from website: http://www.studyblue.com/notes/note/n/manuscripts/deck/5952178
Websites such as http://csntm.org/ enable the reader to explore ancient New Testament manuscripts without having to fly half-way across the world.
8. Studying New Testament Greek keeps one constantly in the text
Studying vocabulary, grammar and how sentences work together (also called syntax) requires weekly and daily time in the text, whether English or Greek. Whether you are using Strong’s Concordance to do word studies or whether you are using grammars to translate a portion of the text, a discipline for getting daily in the scripture is developed. I find that I need to be daily in the scripture, not because I’m a preacher, but because “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4)
9. Studying New Testament Greek sharpens the focus in the use of other study tools
As a person comes to use New Testament Greek more and more, the narrow focus that such a study naturally does leads to sharpening the focus on how one uses other tools. Whether commentaries, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias or concordances, learning New Testament Greek on any level zeroes in on which words or phrases of the text are exegetically significant.
10. Studying New Testament Greek provides the necessary foundation for exploring the great themes and doctrines of the Bible
The final reason for studying New Testament Greek on any level is because it provides the fundamental level for doing theology and tying together the great doctrines of the faith. As word studies are done, scripture and cross-referencing abilities are honed. Soon we begin to see where certain words are used and particular grammatical categories are found in expressing God’s truth.
One scholar for example as suggested that the most important word in the Greek for understanding Jesus’ work on the cross is the preposition ὑπὲρ (“huper”) which means “on behalf of”. That word, when unpacked, can speak of “taking the place, representation, instead of, in the place of.”
In other places, the tense of a verb or the placement of a word at the beginning of a sentence can make all the difference in how one understands a key doctrine. For example, in Romans 5:1 we read : “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NASB) The phrase “we have peace with God” contains a verb ἔχομεν (“eck-o-men”) that is called a “present, active, indicative”, which speaks of the continuing to have an ongoing reality of something. The “something” in Romans 5:1 is of course the “peace with God” that comes as a result of God’s declaration of the sinner’s innocence at salvation – what Paul in Romans calls “justification”. The first word “therefore” ties the verse to everything Paul said previously in the first four chapters of Christ’s righteousness being “credited” or “imputed” to the sinner at the moment of saving faith. We could say more, but such examples serve to show how learning New Testament Greek at any level can help a person work at tying together the overall message and revelation of the New Testament.
Closing thoughts: My prayer is that these past few posts have whetted the appetites of anyone contemplating study of the New Testament Greek or remind those who have been in it a while of how important such a study can be. All this author can say is that at whatever level, studying the original language of the New Testament is well worth your time and effort. Think of it as an act of worship whereby you are loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Matthew 22:37-39). To God be the glory!