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"Insights" from the New Testament Greek

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2. About the New Testament "Koine" Greek

By Bob Jones, Northside Bible Church, Jacksonville Florida

God is so awesome! An amazing thing happened just before Jesus was born on the earth. Alexander the Great ruled the whole known world, and his Grecian Empire stretched all the way from the Mediterranean Sea to India.

To enable him to rule such a vast empire, he demanded that everyone in his Empire speak his Greek language. Before 332 BC, the "Classical Greek" was spoken by the citizens of Greece itself, but after that time, as the Greek language spread to the rest of Alexanderís great empire, all the Greek dialects were merged into one universal language called "Koine" (coin-a) Greek.

Koine means "common". It became the "street language" of everyone in the whole known world. During the time of Christ, the Koine Greek language was the most explicit, precise and unambiguous language the world has ever seen! A veritable peak of human communication by words!

When the Apostles began to write the books of the New Testament, they used the Koine Greek, which was still spoken all over the known world. Think about it, a precise universal language existed just at the time of Christís earthly ministry. The New Testament was not written in Classical Greek, but in the street language of the common man!

The Koine Greek of the New Testament has more verb tenses than English. The ending on each word identifies whether it is being used as a verb or noun and precisely indicates the subject and object of the sentence. There are even four "classes" of the word "if", indicating whether it means true, false, maybe, or the writer just wishes it was true, but itís not.

The Koine Greek has vivid word pictures, language idioms, and delicate shades of meaning.

Greek scholars state that it would take an average of six English words to precisely translate each Koine Greek word into English. The problem is, the Bible would then be six times as thick, and hardly anyone would read it!

The New Testament Koine Greek uses nine different words translated into our English word "power". There are seven different words for "sin". We think we know what the simple word "world" means, but in the New Testament Greek, we have at least six totally different meanings.

A good example is in Matthew 24:3, where "the end of the world" is a completely different word meaning the "end of the age". Even under the simple word "all", the Greek New Testament uses five different words, including one for "absolutely all", and one meaning "all types or all sorts".

The first colleges in the United States were organized primarily for the purpose of training Bible teachers and missionaries in the original Greek and Hebrew, but have slowly phased it out.

The cardinal (most important) truths of the New Testament come through loud and clear in our English Bibles, but there is a wealth of beauty, assurance and truth beneath the English, in the Koine Greek text.

Bob Jones