Dialogs and Commentary

Misguided Greek Exegesis



A few examples of wrong or muddleheaded Greek usage in modern Christianity. A subpage to another posting of appeal to teachers to stop dropping Greek and Hebrew words where it is not edifying, but rather a somewhat obvious form of showing off.

1 Tim 1:6-8 (NIV) Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.

1 Cor 2:13 (NAS) Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Example 1: Hamartia, Sin, "Missing the Mark"

Perhaps my least favorite example of an "unedifying" Greek derailment of truth is that Sin in the new testament, hamartia, really means "missing the mark" in Greek, which is an archery term. In other words, Sin--in the New Testament then--is not abject wickedness; or open rebellion against God; seething lust; or burning hatred; but actually (now get this) trying to please God where you sort of miss the target a bit. Like an arrow that ever so slightly misses the bulls-eye. Rape, murder, perversion, slander, drunkenness... all really just a slightly-off shot, a near hit. Nonsense. That Greek had only such a thin, obtuse word to depict sin is a serious indictment of the language and culture, not a source of wisdom for deep understanding for us now. I am not sure if this is "silly" or diabolical, as if to say we only needed a little tweak.

Jeremiah 6:14a (NAS) "They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially."

Example 2: Rhema & Logos

A fairly harmless example is the supposed difference between rhema and logos, nearly exactly the opposite of popular teaching and more like the synonyms "big" and "large" in English. That a truth is depicted by these words--there is the "quickened" word (described by rhema, but we should say logos;) and there is the word that has not yet penetrated (logos, supposedly)--does not mean we should pretend to have clear Greek sanction for it. Most charismatics have this vague distinction exactly backward: It is logos that "became flesh" (Jn 1:14), no? So which is the word that penetrates? <smiles>

Example 3: Agape, a "God Kind of Love"?

Agapeo / phileo teaching is likely the worst popular example of "putting a big, smelly Greek foot in the mouth" that most Christians are familiar with. For a full expose on this, jump into the "sacred cows" section at Agape: A God Kind of Love?





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