My targeted audiences for this blog are seekers of truth in general, and laypeople (who are believers) without any special background or training. I have been in the faith for about 10 years now as of this writing. There are a lot of translations and versions out there that can really confuse those that are just starting out. Since the Bible is God speaking to us, we want a translation that is as close to the original language as possible, and as literal as possible if possible, because we want to hear His voice, and not the voice of the translators. You might ask, “In that case, why not learn the original language?”
The first problem is that it takes time, money and resources to learn both Hebrew and Greek, which most people don’t have. As you can see, I’m struggling with the English Grammar, so there’s no hope for people like myself when it comes to learning Hebrew/Greek. The second problem is that there’s no guarantee that you’ll understand the Bible doctrinally with your knowledge of Hebrew and or Greek. In fact, you might end up twisting the Scriptures to your own destruction! Knowledge puffs up, as Paul says, and you could pride in knowing the original language so much so that you don’t need anyone else to help you in understanding the Scriptures! God doesn’t work that way. He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. His word is exceedingly broad (Psalms 119:96) and He’s the revealer of truth by His Spirit.
There are a lot of people out there who knows Greek, and yet deny fundamental doctrines such as the Trinity. The Jehovah Witnesses rewriting the Bible because its founder couldn’t accept the plain teaching of John 1:1, for example. You definitely don’t want to boast in that. If we are to understand God, we must come to Him in humility (more on this in future post(s)). The point I am making here is not that knowing the original language is bad (not at all!), but that it’s not necessary for the layperson. And if you’re a layperson, don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that because you don’t know the original language, then you’ll never be able to fully understand the Bible. If you don’t know the original language, then you just need to become a good Berean and play detective!
Not that long ago, I had a discussion with someone online. In our discussion, he said that the Bible is plain, and that you don’t need anyone to teach you its meaning. He said this because I refuted one of his points by quoting the Scriptures in plain English. Then in the same breath he contradicted himself without knowing it by saying, “I have studied Greek…” What a subtle way of saying that he’s an expert and should be the one teaching. But didn’t he say the Bible is plain and we don’t need anyone to teach us? As laypeople, we have to be extremely vigilant when someone pulls out the Hebrew or Greek card on us: “I know Greek…”, “but the Greek says this…” (I’ll talk more about this game that people play in future post(s)).
The reason why there’s an obsession with the original language and language studies is because of doctrines and we want to get them right. You can read any English translation and the overall story / big picture will come across the same: God created everything in six days. Adam and Eve sinned. Moses led the people out of Egypt. God sent His Son to earth etc… This is why when you’re starting out as a new Christian, the best Bible translation is not the KJV, but any that you can understand. See this post here: Best Translation for Starters? Once you slowdown and pay careful attention to each word and what the Scripture is saying, then you will start to notice that there are a lot of nuances in the details, and that’s where knowledge of the original language can help. But that’s also where us laymen can be deceived by those claiming to know the original language. And by those whose heart and mind isn’t in the right place.
Yes, there are experts and scholars out there who have wrestled with a lot of controversial and difficult doctrines, and we do need them in the Body of Christ. The question is: Which expert do we trust? And can we even trust them at all? One way to find out is to be a good Berean and play detective with much prayers. Do not put your trust in one expert or scholar (Proverbs 18:17 ESV). In the medical field, doctors don’t always agree with one another. Likewise, we must be wise and discerning.