66 - How to do Biblical Research

We have been exploring quite a few Greek words on our travels, and to some I guess the thought of doing Greek research probably conjures up mind pictures of locking yourself away from the world and poring over dusty scrolls. Nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to studying the word just think diet. All we're after is a healthy daily diet. In this session I'm going to show you how to do simple Greek research so you can begin to explore the hidden treasures below the surface of the pages of the bible.

The only tools you will need to get started are a decent Greek concordance and a bible dictionary, or a good bible software package that includes them. For this study I will be using Youngs Analytical Concordance and the amazing e-sword free bible software. So, without further ado, let's dive into this and see just how easy and how fun it can be. To get started, read through these first four verses of Luke.

Luke 1:1-4
Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

According to Luke, in his own words, he claims to have had perfect understanding of all things from the very first. How can any man have perfect understanding of all things from the very first? Only God has perfect understanding of all things from the very first. Luke obviously wasn't God, so we have a rather clumsy scripture here that doesn't make any sense. Read it again.

Luke 1:3
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

To begin to unravel this little problem and get to the truth of what Luke was actually saying, we need to check the Greek. Here is what the verse looks like in e-sword which has a few free add-ins installed.

Along the top we can see all the resources listed on the tabs. KJV is the King James Version, while KJV+ is the King James with Strongs concordance markings. If you hover over the green numbers, the Greek words are revealed. In this case, hovering over G509 lets us know that from the very first is translated from the Greek word anōthen. Clicking on G509 gives us all sorts of information. Not only does the pop up give us a brief description of the Greek, in the dictionaries section every place in the New Testament the word anōthen is used is listed. It is used 14 times and it is translated above 6 times, again 3 times, top 3 times, beginning 1 time, and first 1 time.

We can now click on the verses listed and go and see how anōthen is used in other places in the bible. With the word translated 6 times as above and only once as first, we can begin to see that the translation in Luke 1:3 is probably wrong. Here are a few other places anōthen is used.

John 3:31
He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

John 19:11
Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 3:17
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

If anōthen is properly translated in Luke, the verse makes sense.

Luke 1:3
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from above, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

Luke wasn't God then, was he? His perfect understanding of all things came from above, by revelation from God. Was that difficult to figure out? Did doing a little Greek research make your ears bleed? Don't be silly, digging into the word like this is exciting and fun, it's an adventure and it is extremely rewarding. Having all the scriptures listed where anōthen is used means you can also go through your bible and mark them so when you're reading and teaching you can see it.

Of course, with bible software programmes like e-sword, you have to learn how to use them and set them up so you're comfortable with them, and that involves a learning curve and work. So what? If you want to drive a car, there's a learning curve. Learning to play guitar involves a learning curve and a lot of work. Even hobbies and computer games involve learning curves. Without learning curves and work, life would be no fun at all.

Do you know why God gave me the job of confronting the world with his word? Because I'm so intelligent? Because I'm so personable and such a nice guy? Hardly, it's because I am faithful. If you want to be a disciple and do something for God, you will have to put some time and work into his word to make it your own. Sure, you can pull a long face, but really, was passing your driving test and getting the keys to your first car really such a drag? If you love something, putting work into it is a joy. The only way to learn to love God's word is to be in it every day.

So how does this study thing work if you're not using software? I use Young's Analytical Concordance, other's prefer Strongs, and there are others to choose from. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses, but as I've always used Youngs, I'll show you how I use it to track Greek words through my bible. First, find the verse with the word you're interested in.

In Young's, when you locate the word it gives the Greek word above. From Young's we learn that anōthen is translated as the phrase from the very first. The reason I've crossed out a few words in my concordance is to let me know they've already been marked in my bible. Now we have to turn to the Lexicon at the back and find anōthen.

From the Lexicon, we learn that anōthen is translated again once, from above 5 times, from the beginning once, from the very first once, and the top 3 times. This makes 11 usages, while e-sword gave us 14. Yes, you guessed it, all these works of men are flawed. They're not God-breathed so you will have to learn to work with what is available. Young's is excellent for tracking words and finding them in your bible so you can mark them. Youngs has served me well, though now I tend to use e-sword for most of my research. Next, jot down the different ways anōthen is used and go and look them up.

Here we learn that anōthen is used as from above five times in John and James, so it is a simple task to look them up and mark them in your bible. I use an Oxford wide margin, which gives me plenty of space around the text for my notes. I believe the Oxford wide margin is now published by RL Allan under licence to Oxford, but it's still available. Sure, it's over £100, so what? People pay that to watch a two hour rock concert. How much does your car cost you a month to run? And you tell me £100 is too much to spend on a decent working bible that will last you your whole life? If you love your car more than you love God, perhaps it's time to reevaluate what's important to you.

The numbers circled in red are references to my notes at the top and bottom of the pages.

By now you will be starting to realise that just having a Young's Concordance by itself is not enough. Although an excellent tool for tracking Greek and Hebrew words, it's absolutely no help when trying to figure out what Greek and Hebrew words actually mean. Although Strongs is a much better resource for getting to grips with the meanings of Greek and Hebrew words, it still isn't adequate and you will have to use other resources to check for precise meanings. For that, Bible dictionaries are excellent tools. E-sword has an untold number of free add-ons you can download. As an example, a few of the e-sword add-ons I've installed are a Greek new testament, a Hebrew old testament, the King James with Strongs, the Derby bible, Murdock's bible, Webster's bible, and a few bible dictionaries.

There are many excellent Greek dictionaries around, as well as thousands of study resources. Anything by EW Bullinger is worth reading as long as you bear in mind that he was a trinitarian and didn't quite see through that horseshit. When it comes to Greek, he's unparalleled. His Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament is a fabulous tool, and if you do an internet search you can even find online versions.

Once you begin to discover the treasures in the word, you might start digging into works such as EW Bullinger's Numbers in Scripture or his astonishing work Figures of Speech used in the Bible. His companion bible has more than enough research in it to keep anyone happy a lifetime. It's all out there and it's all available. There hasn't been so much of God's word available to the world since man lost the ability to read it in the stars. The word is so easy to lose and yet so difficult to find again once lost.

You already know a few Greek words from studying my class so why not go and track them through the bible? Words like plethō and pleroō, dechomai and lambanō, pneuma and hagion, dunamis, energeō, exousia and kratos, allos and heteros amongst many others you already know. How far do you want to go with God? It really depends on how far you want to go with his word. If you want to know God, you are going to have to know his word because there is no other way to learn about him. You are going to have to study the bible, read it, and memorise it daily to ensure a healthy diet so you can enjoy daily fellowship with your father. You may think moonlit walks under the stars with a few tears in your eyes will get you close to God, but if that's how you think, I'm sorry but you're full of horseshit. Teary walks under the stars will not pull you through a major life crisis, only the word in your head and the strength and believing in your heart that grows from it can do that.

If you want to know God, you're going to have to roll up your sleeves and make his word your own, like I did. I've been faithful to study to show myself approved, and God for his part has been faithful to teach me his word just as he promised he would all those years ago sailing up the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. Put your heart into his word and he will be faithful to teach you too.

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

It has taken me over 25 years to write this class and publish it, but my research really began in 1977. In this class you're getting over 45 years of study, research, and sheer hard work which you only have to read. You're beginning your spiritual journey with what has taken me a lifetime to dig out of the word. Think about that. How far do you want to go with God?

Chapter 67 - Peter, a very Human Man