Question: Is it necessary to learn the original biblical languages? |

TBC Staff

Question: You seem to discount the value of studying Greek and Hebrew in order to be able to understand the Bible better. A friend of mind is trying to persuade me to go to seminary in order to learn the original biblical languages. Why shouldn’t I?

Response: If the Lord leads you to seminary, by all means go. But let’s be practical. How many years of study and experience do you think the translators of the King James Bible had in order to qualify them for that job? How long would it take a beginner to learn Greek and Hebrew well enough to discover where these men made a poor translation (if they did) and to improve it? Does your friend, or do you, intend to reach that level of expertise? Is that remote possibility worth the time and effort? 

If you say that Greek is a richer language than English, and that knowing it would give you a deeper understanding, I won’t argue. But wouldn’t the time you’d have to spend learning Greek to any beneficial level be better spent in studying the Bible itself, on your knees, seeking understanding from the Holy Spirit and getting to know Him and His Word? Comparing scripture with scripture, and using a good concordance, you can see how the same Greek or Hebrew words and expressions are used in different passages. The Bible interprets itself.

I have been told by several Calvinists that I can’t understand the Bible—not even John:3:16—because I don’t know the original languages. If so, then neither does the average Christian, but he must look to experts to interpret it for him—experts who therefore stand between him and God. Far from biblical, this is elitism similar to Roman Catholicism, which discourages ordinary members from studying the Bible because only the magisterium (bishops in concert with the pope) can interpret it.