National Association of Christian Ministers

Answering His Call Is Our Purpose

Using a Concordance to Enhance Your Ministry

Words from the Word, and Other Words...

The following report is from the curriculum of our

online theology courses for ministerial training:

By M. Mooney, ministry practitioner reporting for the:

NACMinisters Theological Mentor Program

Preliminary Information

We will be introducing the use of Strong’s concordance in this presentation.  We realize that several of the things in this message will be unfamiliar to some and overly simple to others. However, we have groups of people in both categories here, so we must try to aim for the middle ground.  If you find something unfamiliar, please ask a fellow teammate for insight.  If you find something simple, look to help another who may not be familiar.

Help carry each other's burdens. In this way you will follow Christ's teachings. (Gal 6:2 GW).

You may obtain your own “free” online Strong's Exhaustive Concordance at the following links:

http://www.biblos.com/

http://www.e-sword.net/

Message


The King James Version of the Bible renders Genesis 1:1 as:


In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:1 KJV).


To read this passage as closely as possible from the Hebrew language, it would look like this:



In the beginning H7225


God H430


created H1254 (H853)


the heaven H8064


and the earth.H776


(Gen 1:1 KJV+).


The numbers behind the words are references to their location within Strong’s concordance.  This resource makes a minister’s life easier in at least two ways:


1) It makes available the definition of a word from the original language (this is especially convenient if you are not fluent in Greek or Hebrew)


2) It demonstrates where to find the same use of a word in other parts of the Bible.


Lets now consider Genesis 1:1 again:


In the beginning H7225

ray-sheeth'

From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.


God H430

el-o-heem'

Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: - angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.


created H1254 (H853)

baw-raw'

A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes): - choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).


the heavenH8064

shaw-mah'-yim, shaw-meh'

The second form being dual of an unused singular; from an unused root meaning to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the dual perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve): - air, X astrologer, heaven (-s)


and the earth.H776

eh'-rets

From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): - X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.


(Gen 1:1 KJV+).


As you can see, some of these words may be loosely defined.  For sake of illustration, I will do so with my own “lose” translation.


“At first, the gods cut down the revolving celestial bodies.”


It does not take long to conclude that this translation is far from the way it is rendered in the Bible.  In fact, it even challenges the fundamental Christian doctrine that God is one!  Why am I pointing this out? This is a very important illustration of the benefits and dangers of using a concordance.  The benefits are that it offers us deeper perspective into the meaning of scripture.  However, the dangers are in the conclusions we form after reading from a concordance.


Every language has words that do not translate into other language.  Jason Wire (2010) points out a few humorous ones at:

http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/20-awesomely-untranslatable-words-from-around-the-world/


For example, Jayus is an Indonesian word that means – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.” 


Tartle is a Scottish  word that describes – “The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.”


Ilunga is a Tshiluba word that describes “a person who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.” 


As you can see, languages have words that do not translate into other languages.  For this reason, some languages can communicate something in one word, that may take another language two or more sentences to express.  The same is very true of the Bible.  It was originally written in three languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. In many ways, these are dead languages in the modern world.  Nevertheless, it should be expected that there will be gaps in the transfer of meaning from those languages to others such as English, etc.


Even English has its complicated words.  Consider the word “spring.”  It could be defined as:


A big metal coil


A time of the year just before summer


A place where water naturally bubbles from the ground


All three of these definitions are correct.  The only way to know what someone means by using the word is in the context of their thoughts. For example I might say, “I enjoy camping in the spring.”  It is likely that no one will think that I am speaking of pitching a tent and spending the night in a big metal coil.  Now pretend that you did not speak English, and you read my sentence about camping in the spring.  Because you wanted to know more about it, you pulled a concordance and found the three definitions.  What would you conclude?  You would not have enough information from the concordance to form a good conclusion.  Rather, you would need to compare the definitions of the meanings of the word “spring” with the logic of your experience of living in the world.  Then you would be better prepared to conclude that I was communicating that I enjoy camping when the weather begins to get warmer, but has not gotten unbearably hot. 


When transferring this illustration to the Bible, we must also consider that the scholars who contributed to its translation into English were experts in the language.  They were also very careful to render the best possible translation of meaning given their understanding of the language.  Therefore, we can have strong confidence that we are reading accurately translated Bibles.

Assignment 

The following information is for participants of our theological mentor program.


As Teams, Please Discuss the Following Assignment Questions and Activities


(Note: this is for team participation, but there is no assignment to be submitted by Sunday evening.  Rather, we will be looking into the team areas to see that everyone has been participating in discussion).


1) How have you seen someone misuse a concordance to justify a teaching from scripture that a natural reading of an English Bible would not support? 


2) What are the benefits of using a concordance?  What are the dangers?


3) Considering the illustration of gaps in languages, why might it not be a good idea to become dogmatic about using only one translation of the Bible?


4) Using a concordance, examine the meanings of the words:

God from Gen 1:1

Spirit from Gen 1:2

And the word “said” from Gen 1:26 –in light of the words the follow, “let us make…”

Discuss the insights that might be found when comparing these three verses.


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