IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME
“Without some knowledge of Greek, you cannot understand the critical commentaries on the Scriptures, and a commentary that is not critical is of doubtful value.”
The Greek language is very descriptive; it has the unique ability to express thoughts, ideas and concepts accurately and concisely. We are probably all familiar with the saying “the Greeks have a word for it!” In the context of New Testament scripture, I believe this to be true. It would be unwise and inadvisable to assume that any Greek word can be translated throughout the Bible using the same English word. Take for instance that word “master.” This word “master” is used in the Authorised Version to translate six different Greek words, all bearing different shades of meaning. The word “judgment” stands for eight different Greek words in the original; and so of many others. Consequently, the English translation can only provide a word that is the nearest literal equivalent, and often is misleading in its spiritual application.
This study is not intended to teach people Greek, though it may be used to good advantage for that purpose. It is designed to help the reader discover some of the immense treasure that is embodied in the original Greek text. By placing certain Greek words into their correct setting, and thereafter elaborating and expounding on their translation, I have attempted to reveal a clear and accurate perspective to the meaning of each individual verse of scripture.
The Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament, and his depth of thinking and depth of feeling is expressed so beautifully in the original text. His mastery of the Greek language literally parts the clouds and allows the brilliance of Christ to shine through almost every verse. Many times the intensity of Paul’s devotion to Christ and the sheer force of his commitment has challenged me to seek more insight and dig deeper. I have also been astounded by his use of words, often borrowed from the secular arena and on occasion only used once in order to make a specific point. I am convinced that this kind of supreme inspiration could only originate in God Himself, and that the Holy Spirit must have imparted it to Paul.
In his own words, Paul considered himself a ‘Jew’s Jew’ and a ‘Pharisee’ (Philippians 3:4-6). However, many of us regularly imagine that he viewed the world as post-industrial, urban, individualistic Westerners do and that he consequently behaved as they do. But he lived in the 1st Century, in the Eastern Mediterranean, in a group-oriented society. Many translations of his writings today speak the theological language of two millenniums later! Therefore, it is important to have some understanding of the ancient culture and traditions into which he was born. On occasion, in order to fully comprehend the meaning of certain words, I have drawn on my Greek Cypriot background that is steeped in Eastern Mediterranean culture. For this unique privilege, I am ever grateful to God.
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