In his book on fasting and prayer, John Piper includes an extensive appendix of inspiring quotes. He writes, “Sometimes just a passing comment can have as much impact on us as a whole chapter of a book. It may be that God would use one of these brief statements to awaken in someone A Hunger for God.” Similarly, we, the authors of this Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, hope the quotes below might awaken in you, the reader, a hunger for reading the Greek New Testament. We commend you to the Lord’s grace as you strive to become workers who need not to be ashamed because you are making every effort to handle God’s word of truth accurately and with care.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth [2 Tim 2:15].
-The Apostle Paul (died c. AD 66/67)
It was not for empty fame or childish pleasure that in my youth I grasped at the polite literature of the ancients, and by late hours gained some slight mastery of Greek and Latin. It has been my cherished wish to cleanse the Lord’s temple of barbarous ignorance, and to adorn it with treasures brought from afar, such as may kindle in hearts a warm love for the Scriptures.
In so far as we love the Gospel, to that extent let us study the ancient tongues. And let us notice that without the knowledge of the languages we can scarcely preserve the Gospel. Languages are the sheath which hides the sword of the Spirit, they are the chest in which this jewel is enclosed, the goblet holding this draught.
So although the Faith and the Gospel may be proclaimed by preachers without the knowledge of languages, the preaching will be feeble and ineffective. But where the languages are studied, the proclamation will be fresh and powerful, the Scriptures will be searched, and the Faith will be constantly rediscovered through ever new words and deeds.
-Martin Luther (1483–1546)
In theology, too, it is important how education is performed. If any field of studies, then theology requires especially talent, training, and conscientiousness. The aroma of God’s salve supersedes all the aromas of human knowledge. Led by the Holy Spirit, but accompanied by humanistic studies, one should proceed to theology. But since the Bible is written in part in Hebrew and in part in Greek . . . we drink from the stream of both—we must learn these languages, unless we want to be “silent” persons as theologians. Once we understand the significance and the weight of the words, the true meaning of Scripture will light up for us as the midday sun. Only if we have clearly understood the language will we clearly understand the content if we put our minds to the [Greek and Hebrew] sources, we will begin to understand Christ rightly.
Do I understand Greek and Hebrew? Otherwise, how can I undertake, as every Minister does, not only to explain books which are written therein but to defend them against all opponents? Am I not at the mercy of everyone who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original? For which way can I confute his pretense? Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all? Can I read into English one of David’s Psalms, or even the first chapter of Genesis? Do I understand the language of the New Testament? Am I a critical master of it? Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke? If not, how many years did I spend at school? How many at the University? And what was I doing all those years? Ought not shame to cover my face?
-John Wesley (1703–1791)
No man can be a theologian who is not first a philologian. He who is not grammarian is no divine.
-A. M. Fairbairn (1838–1912)
“At the Classroom Door” (a poem)
Lord, at Thy word opens yon door, inviting
Teacher and taught to feast this hour with Thee;
Opens a Book where God in human writing
Thinks His deep thoughts, and dead tongues live for me.
Too dread the task, too great the duty calling,
Too heavy far the weight is laid on me!
O if mine own thought should on Thy words falling
Mar the great message, and men hear not Thee!
Give me Thy voice to speak, Thine ear to listen,
Give me Thy mind to grasp Thy mystery;
So shall my heart throb, and my glad eyes glisten,
Rapt with the wonders Thou dost show to me.
-J. H. Moulton (1863–1917)
I have never looked into the Greek New Testament five minutes without finding something I never saw before.
-A. T. Robertson (1863–1934)
The more a theologian detaches himself from the basic Hebrew and Greek text of Holy Scripture, the more he detaches himself from the source of real theology! And real theology is the foundation of a fruitful and blessed ministry.
-Heinrich Bitzer (1900–1980)
Rob Plummer (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Check out his forthcoming volume, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament by Kostenberger, Merkle, and Plummer set to release in Spring, 2016.
Check out the links below for previous Aleph and Omega Posts:
John Piper, A Hunger for God: Desiring God Through Fasting and Prayer (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997), 183.
Edwin M. Yamauchi, “Erasmus’ Contributions to New Testament Scholarship,” Fides et Historia 19.3 (1987): 8, citing P. S. Allen, Erasmus: Lectures and Wayfaring Sketches (Oxford: Clarendon, 1934), 42–43.
Quoted by John Héring, The First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, trans. A. W. Heathcote and P. J. Allock (London: Epworth Press, 1962), vi. The quotes are drawn from Luther’s essay, “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools” (1524), avaible in Luther’s Works, vol. 45, 340–78.
Cited by Scott Hafemann, as part of “The SBJT Forum: Profiles in Expository Preaching” SBJT 3/2 (Summer 1999): 89, quoting Melanchthon’s inaugural address on “The Roform of the Education of Youth” (1518), cited in Hans Joachin Hillerbrand, ed., The Reformation: A Narrative History Related by Contemporary Observers and Participants, new ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), 59–60.
John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley: With the Last Corrections of the Author, vol. 10 (London: Wesleyan Conference Office, 1872), 491. Minor changes were made to the spelling and punctuation of this quote.
Address before the Baptist Theological College at Glascow, reported in The British Weekly, April 26, 1906, as cited by A. T. Robertson, x.
Poem printed on unnumbered front page of the first separately-published fascicle of Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 2, part 1, General Introduction: Sounds and Writing, ed. Wilbert Francis Howard (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1919). The poem, written in Bangalore, India (where Moulton was serving as a missionary) is dated February 21, 1917.
Everett Gill, A. T. Robertson: A Biography (New York: Macmillan, 1943), 189.
Heinrich Bitzer, ed., Light on the Path: Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 10.
in Hebrew and Greek (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 10.