Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Three Reasons Why I Don't Use Greek When I Teach

In this video, I give three reasons for why I do not use Greek in the act of teaching. You've heard someone do it before, I'm sure. "This is the Greek word _____. It means ______ or _______." Instead of doing that, I just explain what the text means, leaving out any and all Greek words. These are just three reasons for why I choose to do so.


  1. Yes. One of the things the late Rod Decker drilled into us as his Greek students was to use Greek in our study but to preach to our people in English.

    1. Rod was spot on if you ask me. Ultimately, we have to make this decision for ourselves. But as a teacher, I can at least instill the reasons for why we should avoid this practice in our teaching of the New Testament. Not everyone agrees with me on this one. No one ever does. But this is really a hot button issue. I think we are also fighting against a proclivity of the flesh. We are so inclined to want recognition and attention. Bible teachers want to be sought out (and that's not a bad desire). But we use the biblical languages sometimes like worm on a hook.

      The bottom line is this: Can we explain what the text means–what the author intended–without uttering (and usually mispronouncing) a Greek word? My answer is yes, and wholeheartedly so. Take any message where you hear someone use Greek. Just take out the part of the sentence that includes something like "This is the Greek word . . . and it means . . . ." I'm not a gambling man, but I'd wager next month's salary on the fact that the teaching point wouldn't change. Now, then, we have to ask the question, "So why use it?" And that gets to the heart of the issue.

      Thanks for your comment, Tom.

    2. I believe I've said this before here, but there seems to be an inverse correlation between the amount of Greek or Hebrew someone cites in his teaching/preaching and his actual understanding of the biblical languages.

      Last week, for example, someone drew my attention to two Greek words that an ABF teacher at our church wrote on a white board during his ABF: ἀφορίζω and εὐαγγέλιον. From what I was told this teacher was discussing Romans 1:1. This individual doesn't have a working knowledge of Greek, so I wondered in my mind why he felt the necessity to write the Greek words on the white board. Why did discussing these Greek words allow him to teach the passage better?

      I don't know this man's heart, but I know it's a temptation to use the biblical languages (whether we know them or not) to impress others and to exalt ourselves. Consequently, I'm thankful for Dr. Decker's admonition.