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When I study a passage to preach or teach one step always involves language study. This should always follow two of the first steps in inductive Bible study after prayer. Go over the passage in a few different ways including:
- Read the text in context of the whole book of the Bible if possible, or in a section like the passage’s chapter and chapters before or after it.
- Compare various translations using a tool like the Parallel Bible tool in WORDsearch, accessible from the toolbar button.
- Write down observations of what you already know about the passage. Then ask the investigative questions which begin with “who, what, where, when, why, and how.” Record these in textual notes, or even better, a WORDsearch word processor document (open with CTRL+N or use FILE and NEW from the menu).
Now we’re ready for our word studies. To do this, I open the ESV, NASB, NKJV, or KJV. I also open an Interlinear, like the HCSB Reverse Interlinear, which displays the text of the HCSB above Greek or Hebrew grammar information. Here’s the list of the information included:
- Word Order – the small superscript number shows what word order that word is in in the original text
- English Transliteration – spells out the Greek word using corresponding English letters
- Parsing Codes – letters that represent grammatical information like N for Noun or D for Dative with links to open a window that explains the meaning of the parts of speech when the user clicks the links in the resulting window
- Strong’s Number – clickable link that opens Strong’s Concordance/Greek and Hebrew Dictionary
- Pronunciation Button – plays an audio file with the pronunciation of the word
Here’s how to use this information. Click on the parsing codes to open a window with a list of the word’s parsing codes defined. Right-click each part of speech and click on the “define” item in the right-click menu. This opens a window explaining the part of speech and what it means for interpretation. Over time, you will begin to learn the meanings of the cases, tenses and moods in Greek and won’t need to look them up.
To get back to the text of the HCSB Reverse Interlinear, double-click on the second to last toolbar button in that window.
Using the Strong’s numbers, we can get access to advanced language study information without knowing Greek or Hebrew. Once the Strong’s number opens to that entry in the default Strong’s dictionary, open some original language dictionaries or lexicons. For example, I open Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon when I doing New Testament study. I also open The Complete Word Study Dictionary. By default, when these dictionaries are open alongside Strong’s, they will sync to one another. Clicking the Strong’s number in the HCSB Reverse Interlinear opens Strong’s to that word and it moves the other two dictionaries to the word entry as well. Now I can read the Strong’s and get a little information about our word from above, Sophia. I can also see what BDAT and CWS tells us. They offer more complete information.
I’d also recommend doing a Strong’s search to find the word in other passages to see how that word gets used elsewhere. This helps in understanding the complex meaning of Greek and Hebrew words. Be careful, however, to not make a word mean something it doesn’t mean.
There’s a lot more to comprehensive original language study, but for a quick-hit study, these steps help in a pinch. People not familiar with Greek or Hebrew grammar can get a surface understanding of the original text behind our English translations, which will help them better understand God’s word.
Kevin Purcell has been preaching for over 20 years and has served as a pastor for 15 years. He is currently the pastor of High Peak Baptist Church in Valdese, NC. He is married to Barb, a teacher, and they have two sons.
How often do you do word studies in WORDsearch? Share with us in the comments below!