by David Fanning I
[Note: David has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Biblical languages with an emphasis on New Testament Greek.]
Prior to God preserving the New Testament in the first century A.D., He empowered the apostles to preach the first gospel sermon in each person’s own language (Acts 2:8-11); thus making it evident that God authorizes accurate translations of His word (also study Matthew 1:23; 1 Corinthians 14:5, 28; Hebrews 7:2). Furthermore, when Jesus and His inspired men quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures, they primarily used the man-made Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament known as the Septuagint – yet, they would say “as it is written” (Romans 3:9-18). Thus, we can take comfort in knowing that when we use an accurate English translation of the Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament, we are studying the utterances of God in an acceptable manner to Him (1 Peter 4:11). Therefore, God does not require us to know the Greek and Hebrew.
Since it has been established that God authorizes accurate translations of His word, we are at liberty to read and understand His word in our own vernacular. In fact, God breathed His Scriptures in such a way that the common man would be able to read and understand them (John 20:31; Romans 15:4; Ephesians 3:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 5:13). In the first century A.D., God’s Holy Spirit moved the holy men of God to write the New Testament in koine (“common”) Greek (not the formal, classical Greek) to initially communicate His new will (it was the universal, easy-to-understand language of the day). Most of those who listened to the New Testament writers heard the word of God in their common Greek language (not the original language of the Old Testament).
A person who has studied the koine Greek may experience a more vivid, cultural and expressive element of the Holy Scriptures, but that does not mean that he has a significant advantage over one who has not. In fact, many of my fellow peers who were with me in my Greek classes are not faithful to the word of God today. Why? Because instead of using the extra knowledge to complement their study of God’s word and their evangelistic efforts, they twisted the Scriptures to their own destruction to support the new, “scholarly” ideas (Acts 17:21; Colossians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Cor. 2:1-5). After all, it is not the koine Greek of the New Testament that is “king” when rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15); instead context is “king”, resulting in us all being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). We need to concentrate on having our senses exercised in constant study of the proper context of God’s word, take heed how we hear God’s word and then do what God’s word says (Luke 8:18; Acts 17:11; Hebrews 2:1; 5:11-14; James 1:18, 21).