Vol.II No.XI Pg.4
December 1965

Use Your Bible

Robert F. Turner

In keeping with our promise to present some articles on Bible study, we come to the fourth in this series. (Previous articles in Vol.2, No.3, 5, 8)

Since WORDS are the means by which thought is conveyed, all serious study must consider the meaning of the terms used by NT writers. Two extreme positions may be taken: (1) The K.J. wording is identical with current "home town" usage; or (2) it is subject to mystical or highly technical interpretation beyond the reach of the "ordinary" reader. Neither of these positions is true.

It is true, however, that care must be given to certain terms which may retain an earlier or a "classical" meaning, even in modern versions.

The word "awful" means "full of awe;" just as "careful" means "full of care." Thus, "Be careful for nothing" (Phil. 4:6) is not a negation of safety-first rules, but exhorts us to be free of anxiety.

Many Bible readers know that "conversation" (K.J.) refers to much more than speech. "Let your conversation be without covetousness --" (Heb.13:5) is translated "Let your way of life be free from the love of money;" in the New A.S., while the A.S. of 1901 says, "Be ye free ---" with "Let your turn of mind be free" in footnote. "Conversation" in vs. 7, K.J. refers to "conduct" "issue" or "outcome of their way of life." And in Phil.3:20 the K.J. "conversation" refers to "citizenship" or "commonwealth." "Conversation" then, must be watched, in life and Bible study.

The word "perfect" is commonly thought to signify "flawless," but a check with any good dictionary will show that its basic meaning is "complete" "whole" or "finished." The K.J. translates "perfection" of Heb. 6:1 from the same basic word translated "full age" in Heb. 5:14. "As many as be perfect" (Phil.3:15) refers to maturity, a "full grown" Christian.

Then there are words which have a basic, ordinary meaning; but which may also have a special use. "Elder" simply means "older," but it is used in a special sense to mean "bishop" or "overseer." (Acts 14:23 Titus 1:5) "Angel" means "messenger" -- and may refer to an ordinary or a heavenly messenger, as shown by context. There are the 12 "Apostles," and then other "sent forth" persons are called "apostles." (Heb.3:1 Acts 14:14)

We do not question the use of such terms in the various translations. We simply wish to emphasize the need for greater attention to WORDS -- with a liberal use of the dictionary and the various word-study books available. One who reads much of any good literature (and the Bible is the best) already knows the point we seek to make. Unfortunately, there are many who limit their reading to the "funny" books-- and who likely will not read this article OR the Bible; -- and if they did, would have a hard time understanding either. (No, I do not mean to classify my article as being of the same caliber as the Bible.)

EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, by W. E. Vine, is recommended as a fine word-study book.