How Greek Helps us Understand Scripture

Why Is Greek Important?  Consider Jesus’s word, “You are the light of the world.”  I asked a friend. “Who is this light? “I am,” he answered. Of course! In our western culture the individual trumps the group. The Greek however, is very clear. The “you” (humeis) is plural, corpo

Thanksgiving: A Nation Born in Unity.  When the pilgrims landed in a strange and hostile land, they knew their survival depended on their collective will. They penned and signed the Mayflower Compact where they agreed, ”solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the aforementioned ends.” It was no time or place for individualism.

This Great Light of Ours.  In an interview, Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, states that we Americans live in an “individualized, unconnected society.” So, when we read “you,” we think “me” and sing “This Little Light of Mine, not ours.” Our western bias towards the individual tends to skew our grasp of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.  Knowing Koine Greek helps unskew them. The culture and language of the Bible honors the individual, but never at the expense of the community.

 I asked my friend, “Can you light up the world all by your lonesome?”  Seeing the absurdity, he grinned.  It’s true. His little light, even a million lone lights, can’t light up this dark world. Who is this light, then?  It’s his church, the body of Christ. His great light shines through us, but not when we’re scattered. It’s when we get together and cooperate. We read of that dynamic church in Acts, “They were of one mind and heart.” [KJV: “one accord.”] Each time Luke uses that Greek word {homothumadon], the church flexed its muscles and “God added to the church” We find it also in ”You [pl.] are the salt of the earth” and “I am the vine you [pl} are the branches.” (John 15), If you asked most people who the branches are, they would answer, “me”, even though branches are plural not singular.

Not Just  A Branch: Can we truly abide in Christ and ignore the church down the street?  Can we let our light shine when we go it alone, more competing than cooperating? We see from John 15 how important it is to our Lord to work together. In John 15, Jesus uses the plural 27 times. Extraordinary, yet no translation gives a hint of it. In verses 12 and 19 we see why he emphasized the collective. He repeats to these future leaders of his church: “This is MY new command (not Moses’ old one) “Love one another as I have loved you [pl]. He emphasized this command in John 13. When we obey he promises fruit “the world will know you as my disciples.” To cap it off, Jesus prayed urgently, four times, recorded by John in chapter 17: “Father may they be one as we are one that the world may believe.” A show of unity tells the world who we are. Sadly, disunity and quarrels over doctrines tells the world something as well.

 One Thousand Leaders: Did you find it odd and a bit sad that 1000 Evangelicals met with a politician, but there’s little evidence they get together for kingdom work such as evangelism? You’d think Franklin would remember that his daddy never worked alone. Following Paul, he never went anywhere without a team of co-workers and a plurality of local pastors working alongside him