Iíve done many word studies throughout the last 35 years, but Iíve
come to the conclusion that they have their limitations. I wouldnít stop
doing word studies altogether, but while doing them, I understand their
This is the problem. Letís say you do a word study on the word
"faith". You look up every place in your English New Testament
where the word faith is used. You gather all of these verses together and
formulate your thinking from the information you gather. The problem is
that there is more information on this subject than what youíve just
studied. There are other words related to faith that you need to consider
to get a more complete understanding of this subject.
Examples of other related words to faith are, "trust" and
"believe". You must carefully study all of the passages where
these words are found as well in order to gain a complete understanding of
faith. Then beyond these two words you have other related words such as
"trusting, believing, believed", and so on. So it is clear that
you need to look up more than the one word "faith" in order to
come to a balanced understanding.
Thereís a another problem to consider as well. If you only look up
the English word faith, along with the related words, you still might miss
some verses. Why? Because some Greek words are translated into more than
one English word. For example, "pistis" is the Greek word most
commonly translated as faith. But "pistis" is also translated
into other English words as well. So in order to get the full
understanding of faith you need to get a full understanding of "pistis",
and how and where it is used. The word "pistis" is used more
times in the Greek text than the word "faith" is used in the
English text. That shows you the importance of the word "pistis"
when studying faith. At this point, youíd need to dig out your Greek
concordance to find all of the places "pistis" is used, assuming
you have such a book.
This also works in reverse. You can have one English word that appears
in two or more different verses, and this one word is translated from two
different Greek words. Now youíd need to know what both of these Greek
words are and find their meaning and how and where theyíre used in the
I know this may sound quite confusing and youíre about ready to give
up on sound Biblical interpretation. Youíre probably thinking that the
ordinary guy canít possibly interpret the Bible correctly. You donít
know Greek and you donít have the books, so why try. There is hope for
the ordinary guy. There must be, since Iím pretty simple and ordinary.
There are a number of books and aids that can help you, even when it comes
to Greek words. Some of these books are simpler to understand than others,
depending on your knowledge base. Whatever the case, I believe you can
understand more than you think. Iím not saying you or I will always get
it right, because if youíre like me, youíre knowledge of Greek is
limited. Yet I believe we can get it right more times than not.
So once again, I wouldnít throw out word studies altogether. Iíd do
the best you can and understand that they do have their limitations.
In my opinion there is a better way of Bible study. It probably takes
longer, but in the end you gain a more complete picture of Biblical truth.
This approach to Bible study is called "a verse by verse exegesis of
Scripture". Many preachers used to preach using this method of
Biblical interpretation but for some reason, and its to our detriment,
many have forsaken this form of Bible study and preaching.