Friday, August 18, 2023

Why I Teach Greek (2 Pet. 1:12-21)

Good morning all. Man has the Lord been good to me. On Monday I begin another year of teaching Greek. It will be totally by the grace of God. God has been gracious to me beyond measure. I mean, where I came from, my background -- it isn't anything to reckon with. When Paul says, "Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (1 Cor. 1:26), that's exactly me. So I am truly grateful to God I can be teaching Greek for my 47th year. 

This is the passage I covered in my morning Bible time today. 

Don't you just love it when Scripture itself describes Scripture? That's exactly what 2 Pet. 1:12-21 is doing. Peter begins by referring to the apostles -- to himself and his fellow apostles who were "eyewitnesses of the glory of Christ" (vv. 12-18). Then he goes on to refer to the prophets (vv. 19-21). We could summarize Peter's teaching as follows:

In verses 12-18 we have the witness of the apostles (the New Testament).

In verses 19-21 we have the witness of the prophets (the Old Testament). 

When you add together the witness of the New Testament and the witness of the Old Testament, what you have is the Bible. It's about the Bible that Peter is thinking here in 2 Pet. 1:12-21. 

Vividly aware of his own mortality, Peter wanted his teaching available to his friends after his death. And he did this not only in 1-2 Peter but in the Gospel we know as "Mark." Thus, he is confident that after his death his friends will be able to remember his teaching because they have it in writing. This teaching Peter handed down to Mark, who recorded it in his Gospel, so that the teaching of the apostle Peter is preserved and available for all God's people in all places for all time.

Note: Scripture is God's word written. Biblical truth is written truth. The word "Scripture" in fact means what is written. How I praise God that today we have written testimony from the apostles available to us in the New Testament, which was inscripturated for us in Greek. Hence Peter writes, "You will do well to pay close attention to it" (2 Pet. 1:19). 

The verb he uses here can also be rendered:

  • turn to
  • give full attention to
  • devote yourself to
  • set a course and keep to it
  • cleave to

And that is exactly why I teach Greek. I am stunned by the beauty of the Bible. The Bible -- all of it -- is true. I've discovered that you can press extremely hard on the word and it will hold. Are we doing that? I'm not going to pull any punches. The Bible is not optional. It's not just a good idea. It is HOLY. And God wrote it in Hebrew and Greek. "But I haven't studied Hebrew and Greek." Doesn't matter. Go to Bible Hub, type in the passage you want to study, then click on "Hebrew" or "Greek." Who can argue with that? God is inviting us to this spiritual discipline seven days a week. As The Message translates 2 Pet. 1:19, "You'll do well to keep focusing on [Scripture]. It's the one light you have in a dark place."

Pastor friend, please don't fake it. Believe me, we can tell whether you've been touched by the coals of the text yourself. If more pastors "paid close attention" to the text, maybe they wouldn't have to baby-talk and cajole people into their buildings through witty one-liners and superficial "sermons." People would be running to their churches. Learn the languages if you can. If you can't, avail yourself of the many helps that are out there. You could even take a Greek class. Jesus said that the kingdom was like a treasure hidden in the field. When you truly find it, you will happily sell everything you have to possess that field -- a perfect description of the joy and effort that goes into learning a biblical language. 

There is no path of least resistance. My Greek students will discover this soon enough. No treasure in life can be gained without great sacrifice. But ironically, only those things we have to work hard at in life are truly worth it. 

Let's do the right thing.