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Monday: Words and Their Meanings — 11 Comments

  1. When I was doing my PhD (computer science and not theology) a fair bit of my time was spent writing academic papers, and of course, my thesis. My supervisor was pedantic. He had a brother who was a lawyer and I think he knew how words could be read with an entirely different meaning. Every sentence I wrote was analysed and dissected. His favourite comment was, "What the ... ... do you mean here, Maurice?" and he would get a meaning out of the sentence that was entirely different to what I had intended. We would rewrite and rewrite until it was clear what I meant.

    The problem is that most modern languages are not only a mixture of other languages, they are used across a wide spectrum of cultures and socio-economic levels. Even here is Australia, I can speak in English and not be understood by other English speaking Australians. It comes down to the issue of "idea association"; the fact that we associate certain ideas with words and phrases depending on our backgrounds. As a somewhat simplistic illustration, I grew up on a farm and became a computer scientist. I can make up sentences about "ram" that make sense to my computer scientist friends that will be completely misunderstood by my farming friends, and vice versa. (For those that need to know RAM - Random Access Memory; ram - male sheep)

    When it comes to the Scripture, the problem of meaning is often compounded. The original was written in an ancient language in a different culture, and was translated into English. And depending on which version you read the translation may have been done a long time ago when the culture was quite different to what it is now.

    It is worth remembering this when grappling with interpreting scripture. Often I hear of people arguing about a particular word or phrase (and their translation) without grasping the big idea that is being expressed. Granted the translation of a word or phrase may be illuminating but only in the sense that it helps us understand the idea that is being expressed.

    Peter had some advice for us on this topic:

    And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
    As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
    Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
    But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:15-18

    • Yes, too often language can be questionable, especially what is written, for there are no gestures or facial expressions associated with the printed text. Ever have someone totally misunderstand your meaning from an email?!

      Perhaps from this we can see the vital importance of revealing the truth in a demonstration of living "sober, righteous, and Godly in this present world"(Titus 2:12)?

      So how does this happen? See Psalm 16:8; 18:21,22; 40:8.

      How blessed we are that God has given His law in language simple enough for a child to understand.

  2. Meanings, self-perception, language, culture, emotional state, reading and writing skills. All of these influence communication. Here in Brazil we use a lot of message apps to communicate, because most people have the apps on their phone, and because is fast. But not always we get to pass the message as we think it should. What I think and write right now, may not be exactly what you receive!
    Thank God that the message He left for us is also dynamic! But there is always an unchangeable message which we should never forget. This message is always related to His love for us, that He gave us His only Son! And in the name of His Son, we are made just, and purified. Through the name of Jesus, God's ultimate chese, we become shalom!

  3. I have always used the KJV, only because that is what everyone had, and what was given to me around the age of 10. A black, zippered King James Bible. It seemed so sacred and special. A few short years later, while attending a series, everyone was given a brand new dark blue zippered King James Bible with a pencil that had blue on one end and red on the other end.(The blue was for underlining the words of Jesus printed in red ink).

    Today I use a Cambridge KJV I've had since 1984, the zipperless cover having been replaced around 1993-4(?) which looks almost new still today, though the pages inside have gotten thinner around the edges and some are almost as brittle as a potato chip! I'm very careful now with turning pages as I do not wish to start all over with a new Bible!

    Since I was 10, the words of those Bibles have been clear in their meaning. No one had to translate the english to me, with exception of a few of the big words. But all these years later, and they are now common words for me. I was given an NASB about 6 years ago, and have enjoyed it more than I would have expected. Though a different translation, it tells me the very same things, and I have not had to change my beliefs one "jot or tittle".

    Understanding comes from familiarity and frequency. At the age of 30, I decided that frequency NEEDED to be daily. For any who have not yet adopted the practice of daily doses, give it a try. Through our desire and effort, God will make this Word clear to anyone, for that is the whole purpose for which He has given it to us in our language. He wants us to know it that we might be like Him of whom this Word testifies, becoming partakers of the Divine Nature, for which this Word contains many "exceeding great and precious promises"(2 Pe 1:4).

    Lastly: "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it"(Rev 1:3). Notice the promised blessing and the three conditions.

  4. Amen. Having lived in several countries and learned other languages, I have experienced this fully.

  5. The four loves

    Storge – empathy bond.

    Philios – friend bond.

    Eros – romantic love.

    Agape – unconditional "God" love.

    There are four words used by bible writers in the New Testament; however, when it comes to translating the bible to English only one word is available for use love. This is demonstrated in the book of John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter three times do you love me. When I read this in english, I wonder why is Jesus asking Peter the same question three times except when we go to the original language, we can see the difference in their question and answer.

    When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love (agape) me more than these?”
    “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love (phileo) you.”
    Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
    Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love (agape) me?”
    He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you.”
    Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
    The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love (phileo) me?”
    Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love (phileo) me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love (phileo) you.”
    Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.

    Peter transformed understood the highest form of love produced by him is the love (phileo). He understood agape can only be produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    Let’s read the bible as close to the original language as possible to get the indepth meaning of the Word of God.

  6. The lesson question: 'How do God's mercy and kindness extend toward His created beings?

    Trough His acts of Mercy, Grace and sustaining Love - His righteousness is expressed through acts of Kindness - toward us and from us to others!

    I can appreciate the effort man has placed to fully 'understand' the Love of God. Whiles he tries using the mind's ability to understand, his heart 'leaps' for joy! 🙂

    Everything depends on this Love of God because it is unmerited by men!

    Should there still be a young Christian among the students in this class: - unmerited - we do not deserve His Love.

    Mankind was lost in its sinful state and needed rescuing or be destroyed. God can not go against His own Law!
    Grace and Mercy was part of 'I AM'. He chose/preferred/decided to elevate Grace and Mercy toward mankind as the deciding/governing components whiles He continues to govern through His Law.
    The blessings of His Grace and Mercy are manifested throughout the earth and enjoyed by men - peace in heart and mind.

    Question: "What is the 'peace' or shalom talked about in these passages?

    After the Fall and from the very beginning of God's watch-care over His people, He admonishes us and gives us His promises:
    Deut.31:6 - Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

    Isaiah 32:17 - And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
    John 14:27 - Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

    In addition to these promises, He gives us His guidance, the Scriptures, full of advise what to look out for along the way to reach safely the promised land.
    His admonition is 'do not worry'; as our Father, He watches out that our needs are met - Matt.6:25-33.
    Though, there is a caveat!
    v.33 - Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    By faith we walk this path, lighted and made secure by the heavenly light of God's Truth. Along this path we will enjoy the fruit God's Spirit produces in us:
    Gal.5:22-23 - The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace. long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance - and He lets us know that 'against such there is no law'!

    As the lesson writer states:"Our communion with God provides the ultimate peace and wholeness that our lives desire."

  7. Have mercy on me O Lord for I am a sinner.

    Mercy means- compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

    The mercy we might show to another human being is a different type of mercy Jesus shows to us sinners. Our mercy to someone might be limited. We tends not to repeat ourselves too many times or let too many things slip by us. We say people will want to take advantage over us. But the Lord shew us mercy from since we were children until now. How are some people alive? it was because of the mercies of the Lord. Reading from Genesis- Revelation we are introduced to a loving and a merciful father. Even though we hurt him, he still comes back and forgive us and have mercy on us. But will his mercy have an end? Even in punishment his mercies are everlasting.

    My question today is- Will God mercy ends towards the sinners when he comes the second time?
    He said to Moses to tell the people who he is, but reminded him in the same passage that he will not spare the guilty.

  8. I have to say, for some reason, this week's lesson so far seems to be making the study of scripture far too complicated. I don’t mean this as a criticism of the writer, but just how it has affected me this week, and actually somewhat, this quarter. Reading and understanding scripture does not need to be complicated. We have been promised, by Jesus himself, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. That’s what I have to stick to, I can’t get bogged down with all the stuff that seems to make learning and understanding scriptures an elusive thing. It can become discouraging to think only scholarly people can learn the truth from scripture.

  9. One of the reasons I like the Message Bible is its attempt to capture fullness of meaning in a given verse. I like the NLT that seeks to do the same. Getting into Hebrew words especially we encounter rich meaning that English lacks often times. Word studies can be a blessing.


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