I tend to throw around certain terms around here, without defining them. Sometimes this is simply so someone will ask me, “What does that mean?” My kids are constantly asking me this question as we are having conversations or reading books in our homeschool.
I don’t exactly pride myself on my vocabulary, but it is a bit more expansive than the average housewife, I suppose. The reason for it is simple. I have been in love with words for years!
Sure, I love books. But when it gets down the to the nitty gritty – I am interested in words. The margins of my journals are filled with words I find in the books I read. Just the other day I came across four words in the margin of the same page of my journal:
Originally when I found them, they jumped right off the page. Their curiosity compelled me to write them down and look them up. I just HAD to know what these odd words meant.
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Bible Study Words
In a similar fashion, my Bible has words that strike my fancy – words which leap right out of their historical and spiritual setting – and demand I deal with them. My Bible study notebooks are similarly filled with words and definitions of words. Only these words, unlike their curious counterparts from my casual reading, are more important. They get their own pages in my journals. Worthy of my limited time, they demand I pay them their proper attention, define them, and ruminate on their significance in the Story of Redemption.
As I sit in my Bible study time – a grand conversation with God Himself – I, like my children will ask, “What does that word mean?” And just as my children require an answer, I, God’s child, also require an answer.
The ability to get the answers I desire and “keep the conversation going,” so to speak, is complicated by two very significant road blocks.
Hebrew and Greek
These are the hurdles which I have yet to scale. And I know I am not alone. Many of us Bible students are desirous to know just exactly what a word means in Scripture, but we didn’t take Hebrew or Greek in college. We didn’t attend a seminary. And so we reach an impasse.
I was in this same position years ago (after attending a Christian college, no less) where I needed to know the meaning of words I found in my Bible. But I didn’t know how to do it! My semester of Hebrew study from college left me knowing a small handful of Hebrew words and the knowledge of how to make a Hebrew word a plural. There was no way I was going to try to take Hebrew or Greek again just to find out what these words meant.
Eventually I worked out a process for Biblical word study that broadened my understanding of the words of the Word. Over the years, I honed it and began to teach it to others. Now I have written a book which tells step-by-step how to conduct a Biblical word study!
So let’s get down to it:
What is Biblical Word Study?
Biblical word study is simply diving deep into the meaning of each individual word in the Word of God.
As I said before, the original languages of Scripture are Greek and Hebrew. So the practice of Biblical word study has often been the domain of scholars and pastors. But there are resources to help the layperson to discover the true meaning of these words. In my book I share these resources and teach how to use them step by step.
From these resources, we can discover the context, historical usage, and implications of each of the words we are interested in. We don’t have to search vast library of commentaries to find one which agrees with our settled upon interpretations. Rather, through Biblical word study, we can discover the truth of God’s Word for ourselves. We ourselves, can become theologians, deep thinkers about the ways and words of God.
Why Can’t I Just Use a Regular Dictionary?
True revelation of the meaning of Biblical words cannot be accomplished by looking up the English dictionary definitions of words. Rather, because the Word of God was written in ancient languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek), it requires us to look at the original words and their original meanings.
Although we could get a certain amount of insight by “looking it up” in Webster’s Dictionary, we would miss the weight of the words God chose when He breathed His Words into the mouths and hands of the prophets (1 Thes. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16). And the languages God used to write His Word provide much more precision and clarity of thought than English.
Since we are going all the way back to the original languages to discover original usage and intent, we are seeing the treasures embedded in the Scriptures, long hidden through the obfuscations of translation and time. We will learn what God meant when He used specific words. We will get theological definitions to the words of our faith, not from the interpretations of other men, but from God Himself!
More Biblical Word Study
I am going to be doing a short series of articles here at Simple.Home.Blessings. talking about the process of Biblical Word Study. But as I said, I am working on publishing my book about it as well. If you would like to get news about the publication of this book, please sign up here: