Richards - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words

Lawrence O. Richards - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words

Lawrence O. Richards - New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words

Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016. – 736 p.
ePub Edition July 2016: 978-0-310-53001-5
ISBN 978-0-310-22912-4 (hardcover)
The Bible is and remains God's Word to us, accessible in our own language. The original Hebrew and Greek texts have been translated into hundreds of different languages and into many different English versions. The translators of the Bible have attempted to express as clearly as possible the meaning of the original languages so that contemporary readers may understand the divine message.
It is important that we understand God's message. We live in a society cluttered by many visions of reality. Competing views of truth, of values, and of life's meaning all struggle for our allegiance. But in Scripture we can find an unclouded vision of reality, communicated to us by God Himself. In Scripture we can find the truth, and as we live out the truth we can know freedom. God's Word speaks to transform our perspective on reality, to reshape our attitudes and values, and to create in us a vital, new way of life.
The multiplication of versions has given us excellent translations that accurately capture the original message. But there are still problems for the typical reader of Scripture. Our problems are not with the versions so much as with ourselves. These problems can be summed up in the fact that when we read the Bible, we bring to it our own notions about the words used in Scripture. Rather than letting Scripture reshape our ideas, all too often our ideas are imposed on Scripture. When we read a word like "hope" or "judge" in the Bible, we frequently fail to read it with the Bible's own meaning. Instead, we read it with meanings shaped by our society and our personal experiences. Instead of being reshaped by the Bible's message, we ourselves reshape that message by imposing our meanings on it.
It is very important, then, that the Bible student read the Bible with an awareness of what Bible terms mean, as they are used in the Bible. This statement crystallizes the purpose of this Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. This book explores for the English reader the meaning of many important words as they are used in English versions of the Scriptures.
Two things are particularly important if we are to determine the meaning of Bible words. First, we must go back to the original languages to discover the Hebrew and Greek words that have been translated by certain English terms. This gives us the basic meaning of Bible words. But this is not enough. We must go beyond the usage of these words in the Hebrew and Greek culture and see how these words are used to develop or express a biblical concept. Often the use of a word in Scripture infuses it with new meaning. So in this Expository Dictionary, after the Hebrew and Greek words that underlie English terms are discussed, there is a discussion on how the original words are used in Scripture to build a distinctive biblical concept.
* * *
The word "guarantee" (or a related form) occurs only five times in the NIV NT. Heb 7:22 calls Jesus the "guarantee of a better covenant." The Greek word (engyos) appears only here in the NT. It was used in legal documents to indicate a bond or collateral. It meant that the signer of the guarantee pledged his resources as security for the commitment made. Jesus is the living promise that the forgiveness offered us under the new covenant will be ours. (See COVENANT)
Three other occurrences (2 Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14) are the three NT uses of the Greek word arrabōn. This word indicates a deposit given as a guarantee that full payment will be made. In each of these passages the Holy Spirit, who has been given to believers, is presented as "a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession" (Eph 1:14).
Ro 4:16 translates the word bebaios, "firm or established," as "guaranteed." The words in this word group (including bebaioō and bebaiōsis) occur nineteen times in the NT and stress certainty or the established character of the subject. Words in this group speak of the confirmed nature of the Word and of God's promises (Mk 16:20; Ro 15:8; 1 Co 1:6, 8; Heb 2:2-3; 6:19; 2 Pe 1:19) and of believers being firmly established in the faith (Ge 2:7; Heb 3:6, 14; 13:9; cf. 2 Pe 1:10).
There is a passage in Hebrews that perhaps best sums up this theme as it is found in Scripture. It reads: "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged" (Heb 6:17-188). We can be confident in our faith in the Word of God, for all that it promises is guaranteed by God himself.
The word "look" captures the emphases of the Hebrew and Greek terms it translates. But many puzzle over Mt 5:28: "I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
What is Jesus saying? The troublesome Greek phrase is pas ho blepōn gynaika pros to epithymēsai. While pros may express purpose, it also may mean "with reference to," here "with reference to desire." Thus, Jesus is forbidding lustfully looking a woman other than one's wife. This is consistent with the context, in which Jesus is exploring the roots of sins rather than the acts themselves. As contempt and anger toward a brother is a source of murder (5:21-22), so lustfully gazing at a woman is a source of adultery (5:27-28). In God's eyes, the root of sin as well as its fruit calls for judgment.


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