There is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to do Biblical Word Studies

There is a Right Way and a Wrong Way to do Biblical Word Studies

Written by S. M. Baugh |
Saturday, May 28, 2022

I will try to give you some helpful ideas on proper word study method in this series. But the project is mainly about meanings of words and phrases in the Greek NT that may not be evident in today’s popular translations.

Word studies dominate the resources available for Christians. Some are good and some, well, not so good. With all the word pictures, Strong’s numbers, footnotes in translations, study Bibles and more, you would think that there’s nothing more that can be said about word studies in the Bible. I’m going to put a little oar in this massive lake anyway. The lake will be reduced in size a bit by only considering New Testament (NT) and Greek examples since this is my field.

As introduction to the project, let me qualify that “word” studies is shorthand for the study of the meanings of both individual words and phrases. A “phrase” in this context refers to a series of two or more words that do not have independent meaning but mean something as a whole. Let me illustrate with these English examples. The highlighted phrases in these sentences, have composite meanings that are more than the sum of their parts: “Don’t believe him, he’s out to lunch,” “She gave up the ghost,” “They were sent up the river for their crimes.” Substitution of synonyms in these phrases turns them into nonsense: “out to dinner,” “gave up the ghoul,” or “sent up the waterway.”

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