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Posts By: Tom Steller

The Global Church and the Biblical Languages

Nov. 21, 2012By: Tom Steller

Evan, thank you for yesterday's blog post and for calling our attention to this clear statement from Luther on the importance of knowing the biblical languages. Our passion is to see a church-planting movement of Jesus established with biblically trained indigenous leaders in every ethno-linguistic people group on our planet. I am wondering if we sell the potential and competence of these emerging leaders short if we do not stress that at least some should master Greek and Hebrew. Until this happens the newly planted churches will be dependent on the scholarly insights of those outside their culture and will not have adequate means to evaluate the conclusions that are being spoon fed to them.

Also without indigenous leaders who are trained in whole Bible exegesis from the original languages, the global church is not as helped as it might be. God has ordained that His glory in the face (and words!) of His Son be refracted through a multitude of individual image bearers sovereignly placed in thousands of people groups. The voices of leaders from each of these groups need to be heard. Their insights into Scripture need to be shared. Granted, godly leaders without a knowledge of the biblical languages can come to awesome biblical insights from which we all can benefit. But I am arguing that the church in each people group and also the global church would be strengthened if a number of leaders in each ethno-linguistic people group disciplined themselves to master the biblical languages and learned methods of study which would bring them one step closer to sitting at the apostles' feet and reading God's Word in the languages it was inspired. This would also strengthen the Bible translations in their native tongues and inspire them to engage in the careful translation of Scripture for the sake of the Bible-less peoples living near or among them.

May the Lord give wisdom to TLI and other ministries devoted to the biblical training of leaders to motivate some in every people group they serve to invest themselves in the arduous but rewarding work of learning the biblical languages. May God use this effort so that they can more skillfully exegete the Hebrew and Greek Testaments, better preach and teach the Word of God, more deeply join in the global conversation around the interpretation and application of the Scriptures, and more pastorally guard their people from error and nourish them from the banquet table of Scripture.

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