As I review and study the biblical languages, particularly Greek, one of my readings includes Merkle and Plummer’s Greek For Life: Strategies for Learning, Retaining, and Reviving New Testament Greek. In chapter 7, I stumbled upon a quote from John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. His words cut to the heart of the matter when it comes to the importance of using and reading the biblical language for expository preaching (and even devotional reading!). Here they are:
“Another result when pastors do not study the Bible in Greek and Hebrew is that they, and their churches with them, tend to become secondhanders. The harder it is for us to get at the original meaning of the Bible, the more we will revert to the secondary literature. For one thing, it is easier to read [secondary literature]. It also gives us a superficial glow that we are ‘keeping up’ on things. And it provides us with ideas and insights which we can’t dig out of the original for ourselves.
“We may impress one another for a while by dropping the name of the latest book we’ve read, but secondhand food will not sustain and deepen our people’s faith and holiness.
“Weakness in Greek and Hebrew also gives rise to exegetical imprecision and carelessness. And exegetical imprecision is the mother of liberal theology.”John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, 100.
In Piper’s book, he tells a story about Heinrich Bitzer who is a banker, take note that he is not a preacher or pastor,. Here’s a quote from him.
“The more a theologian detaches himself from the basic Hebrew and Greek text of Holy Scripture, the more he detaches himself from the source of real theology! And real theology is the foundation of a fruitful and blessed ministry.”Heinrich Bitzer, as quoted in “Bitzer Was a Banker!”
I would say if it is beneficial for a layperson to study, learn, know, and master the biblical language, how much more for the herald of good news?
May God be praised!
- You can get a free copy of John Piper’s portion on Bitzer Was a Banker here.
- Bitzer Was a Banker – Reasons to Learn Hebrew and Greek – Christ.net.au. (n.d.). http://Www.christ.net.au. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from https://www.christ.net.au/bitzer.html
- Merkle, B. L., Plummer, R. L., & Mounce, W. D. (2017). Greek for life : strategies for learning, retaining, and reviving New Testament Greek. Baker Academic, A Division Of Baker Publishing Group.
- John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry, updated and expanded ed. (Nashville: B&H, 2013),
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