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Do I need to learn Hebrew and Greek?

Submitted: 12/9/2005
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Question: Understanding the meaning of Scripture, even though it interprets itself, seems to depend very much on 'going back to the Hebrew and Greek.' For instance, speaking in tongues can be misunderstood to be the gift (charisma) of tongues (I Corinthians 12:4 and 10) when Scripture is speaking of the gift (dorea) of the Holy Ghost as evidenced by speaking in tongues (Acts 2:38)--maybe not the best example that might be set forth, hopefully it will serve my purpose in asking this question. Is 'going back to the Greek and Hebrew' obligatory? The example cited is only one of many and it seems many people are not aware of false doctrine due to this. What is the solution for we ordinary people who primarily depend on English and may not have access to reference books? The Bible says the Spirit will lead into all the Truth--should we all learn Hebrew and Greek to be saved? Thanks!

Answer: When Philip came upon a man reading the Scriptures, he asked him, 'Do you understand what you are reading?' The man answered, 'How can I, unless someone guides me?' (Acts 8:30-31). Being led into all truth by the Holy Spirit does not mean we do not need teachers. We all need someone to guide us. The degree to which we need assistance will depend on how knowledgable we are of the Scriptures and how knowledgable we are of the meanings of words. If we know the words of a verse but do not know what some of those words mean, we will not be able to grasp the essence of what God is saying to us.

We all need to be students of the Word. This will necessarily include being students of words. With the abundance of English, Hebrew, and Greek dictionaries available today, we should all be taking advantage of these tools to increase our knowledge of God. Everyone will not achieve the same degree of understanding, which means there will always be a need for teachers. But we can all be striving for greater understanding. We should view learning as a lifetime pursuit, not something we do only in a classroom or a church building.

As Solomon wrote, 'My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God' (Proverbs 2:1-5).