This guest post is from Laura Brasov. Laura has a M.Th from Talbot School of Theology, helped launch and lead Discovery’s Women’s Ministry, and has served faithfully on our Leadership Team. She and her husband Adiel advocate at Discovery for our Albania Partners, Ylli and Nikki Docci and have visited them several times. Laura is a good thinker and has a deep passion for all things Jesus and people.
Editorial note from Steve: People who translate the Bible into the English Bibles we have in our hands are brilliant original language scholars. Occasionally, delving into the original languages will enhance an understanding, or open up some wonder, but all of that knowledge can be accessed through english tools, as Laura points out below.
Q: Do you have to know a lot of theology/greek/hebrew to know all the things about the Bible you need to?
A: I remember deeply wrestling with a biblical truth that was being challenged and nuanced politically and culturally during my time at college, so I asked my university pastor to help me. Yet what I recall about that conversation was not his willingness to help me understand God’s truth and heart, but rather his conclusion statement of our time together: “Because you don’t know the original language, you can’t possibly understand the true meaning of the bible here.” Needless to say, I left his office not encouraged but tremendously deflated and overwhelmed.
In hindsight, however, God used this pastor’s words powerfully, setting me on a different trajectory. I did indeed learn theology, Greek and Hebrew later in the course of my life, but was also hit broadside by a far more potent aid to knowing God’s heart imbedded in His written word: His Holy Spirit. I discovered grace.
In John 14:26, Jesus tells his disciples: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” One of the Holy Spirit’s roles in our lives is to illuminate God’s truth to us. The best part of this statement is that the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to all of us who believe, regardless of our intellectual background or aptitude!
I wonder if the real question embedded in this original question submitted is not about knowing original languages as much as it is a question about “How much do I need to know about the bible?” The answer then lies in the purpose behind the question: How much of the bible do you need to know to live day to day? How much of the bible do you need to know in order to grow with the Lord? How much of the bible affects a particular issue you are struggling with? How much of the bible do you need to research in order to deliver a sermon?
If we really choose to develop a vibrant relationship with the Lord, for instance, we would naturally desire to have a growing understanding of His word written to us made clearer by God’s Spirit in us. If we are trying to understand a particular issue in the bible, we might prayerfully investigate context, background, and original texts as they pertain to that issue. Regardless, the question then becomes, “What does God want to teach me through His Word?” Being guided by the Holy Spirit is both beneficial and necessary to understand God’s Word to us in the bible while knowing theology, Greek and Hebrew is also beneficial, but not always necessary.