FACTS ABOUT WORD STUDIES
Below is a short list of facts which may help in your study of the Bible:
1. The "books" we find in the The New Testament written by the Apostle Paul, are translations of personal letters he wrote either to churches (Romans, Philippians, etc) or individuals he knew (Timothy, Titus, etc). These make up a sizable portion of the Scriptures which Paul identifies as "given by inspiration of God" in II timothy 3:16-17. As mentioned previously, today's passage was written by Paul to a young man named Timothy. Paul had taken upon himself to mentor young Timothy and prepare him for the ministry among the growing number of churches in that area. For this reason, the books of I and II Timothy are called "Pastoral Epistles". This book was written around 64 A.D. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. We can only imagine the concern Paul felt during imprisonment as he learned of the problems arising in many of the churches he had previously planted. This letter to Timothy is a refreshing departure from the church letters in that it shows the tender care he felt for his young protege. In our final study, we'll see how today's passage fits into the context of a revealing, heart felt entreaty Paul makes to his "son in the faith".
2. The books of the Bible were not originally written in the chapters and verses we see today. They were first divided into chapters in the 13th century and later, in the 16th century, into verses for easy reference. The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published in 1560. This will be important to know when as we look at the continuity of thought between some passages.
3. The New Testament was written in the "lingua franca" of Paul's day called Koine Greek. As the need arose, it was later translated into almost 3,000 living languages and dialects the world over. Currently, there are over 100 different translations in English alone, each purposed to add accuracy and insight on the original Scriptures.
4. As the old saying goes, "sometimes things get lost in translation". This is certainly true with translations from the New Testament Koine to English. There are some words so rich and deep in Greek meaning that it's virtually impossible to accurately convey them into English with one word. A good illustration of this can be found in the translation of the English word "love". In the New Testament, there are four different words, each with distinct shades of meaning, which early scholars translated into English using just the word "love". In so doing, many important biblical truths have been obscured and their singular message lost to the average English reader. This is why so many students of the Bible prefer a word by word analysis of the Scriptures, using references to the original New Testament language.
5. Languages constantly undergo change as national events and cultural trends add new meaning to old words or, in many cases, actually invent new ones. It's no wonder that ESL people (English as a Second Language) tear their hair out trying to understand our idioms and cultural jargon. You don't have to be an octogenarian to appreciate the changes, often humorous, occurring in our own everyday English language. Where else could you find opposites with the same meaning e.g. "a fat chance" and a "slim chance". Or those culturally "cool" words that somehow become their own antonyms. Remember when "bad" meant something awful and now it means something "very good". In today's jargon, the word "sick" means "cool" and "cool" means "hot" and "gay" means.... well, you get the idea. My point being this: an appreciation of the history and culture influencing an ancient language is important to a correct understanding of it.