Learning Biblical Greek
When I was a sophomore in college, I remember going through a Bible study workbook called Men of Faith. One of the most memorable lessons from this workbook was a chapter on the Apostle Peter. This lesson focused on the exchange between Peter and the resurrected Jesus in John 21. In this chapter, Peter has just denied Jesus three times—after fervently promising that he would stand by Jesus to the bitter end. Now, Jesus gives Peter three chances to reaffirm his love by asking the question “Do you love me?” Each time, Peter responds by saying, “I love you.”
Straightforward enough, right? However, at this point, the author pointed out something that fascinated to me. While most English translations only use one word for “love” here, Jesus actually asks his question using a different Greek word for “love” (agape) than Peter uses in his response (phileo the first two times, agape the third time). Now this is where it gets exegetically tricky. The author argues that agape is a stronger word for love that refers to a committed love and phileo is a weaker form of love that merely implies a friendly love. If true, this would dramatically change the dynamic that is taking place between Jesus and Peter, in which Jesus would be asking “Peter, are you committed to me?” and Peter deflects the question by saying, “Yes Lord, I’m your friend.” However, many scholars say this exegetical comparison of agape and phileo is at best an oversimplification, and at worst completely inaccurate. In fact, my Greek professor in seminary argued there is almost no difference whatsoever between agape and phileo.* Regardless of who is right, the fact remains that without looking at the Greek in this passage, we would never even know to ask the question.
For many of you, this example from John 21 is not breaking news. However, for a college guy who read my English Bible like it dropped out of heaven on a magical golden pillow, this was groundbreaking. It was as if the scales had fallen from my eyes and I suddenly realized for the first time that my English Bible was, in fact, a translation. That is the day I decided that I wanted to learn Biblical Greek.
After three years in seminary, I can tell you that this example from John 21 is only the tip of the iceberg. Being able to do Greek word studies and understand the relationships between Greek words has been invaluable to my study of the New Testament. I owe much of this to Dr. William Mounce, whose textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek, served as my guide through three quarters of seminary Greek. I am not alone—Basics of Biblical Greek has helped over 200,000 students learn Biblical Greek in colleges and seminaries all over the world.
This is why we are so excited to bring you the Mounce Greek Study System: Learn Biblical Greek with Accordance. This amazing set includes over 9 hours of easy-to-follow video lessons from Dr. Mounce, including Accordance screencasts for each lesson. The set also includes the Mounce Reverse-Interlinear New Testament with enhanced phrase tagging and Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Dr. Mounce has added the first video lesson to his website for free viewing, so you can start your first lesson in Biblical Greek today!
*One devastated student responded by throwing his hands in the air and saying, “But they have to be different, I preached on this!”