Imagine that you received a very important letter from someone, but it was in a different language. Inside are the instructions that hold the keys to life, so how would you go about getting it translated? Would you put it into Google Translate and hope you get the general idea of what it is trying to say? Of course not! Would you take it to a friend who learned that language many years ago in school and has forgotten most of it? Definitely not! If it contained the very words of life, you would seek out the best translators in the whole world for such a great task. And fortunately for us, the Bible, which holds the keys of life, has been carefully examined and translated by many experts who love God’s Word.
But even though the Bible has been translated extremely well, and has stood the test of time, even so, some of the nuances in the original text are not found in English Bibles, unless more research is done.
And that is where Strong’s concordance comes in. This concordance is a powerful tool for getting a better handle on what each original word in the Bible means. This can be accessed both with a paper copy of it, but also online using Blue Letter Bible. And here is a blog post that explains more on how to use the online version: https://biblebee.org/htublbtss/
But what does it actually look like to do a word study? I’ll show you. For example, in the Bible, in the New Testament, there are two different Greek words that are translated to the same English word, which is love. And while the translation is correct, some of the nuance is lost. Let’s take a quick look at these words:
G5368 – phileō
Definition: to be a friend to (fond of (an individual or an object)), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling
G25 – agapaō
Definition: (much) (or compare H5689); to love (in a social or moral sense)
There is a fairly big difference between these two words for love. One (phileō) is more of a friendly affection, but the other (agapaō) is a much deeper and more rich love. Now how does that apply to studying the Bible?
Here are a couple verses as a case study:
John 15:19 NKJV — “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
1 John 4:19 NKJV — We love Him because He first loved us.
Now the word used for love in John 15:19 is phileō, which is more of a fondness or friendliness towards, and the Bible says that that is the temporary love that the world has for people who conform to its standards. But in 1 John 4:19, the word used for [loved] is agapaō, which means much love; the greatest love. And that enduring love is ultimately demonstrated by Jesus dying on the cross for us to take the punishment for our sins. There is a world of difference between those words, and that is why it is so important to understand what the Bible is truly saying, as it will give us the full meaning and full appreciation for what is being said to us.
Studying the Bible’s original language gives us a new depth of understanding, aids us in grasping more of its cultural meaning, and ultimately helps us to understand and get to know God and His love for us even more clearly.