Needy for Greek

I remember a few times before, during, and since seminary that I have thought, “I should always read the New Testament in Greek!  It’s amazing!”  It’s not that English is so bad (and if you can read it in any language, please enjoy that high, rare privilege); it’s that Greek is just that good.  I haven’t been as faithful to read the Greek as I once hoped, but God graciously reminded me today just why He’s given us the ability to use this language.

In Hebrews 7:1-3, the writer recalls the King-priest Melchizedek from Genesis 14 and Psalm 110, but what’s easy to forget in the long English sentences is exactly why the author is speaking of him.  In Greek, however, it’s easy.  After going through several descriptions of Melchizedek (King of Salem, Priest of the Most High God, who blessed Abraham, etc.), the author purposely and plainly holds his main verb until verse 3. 

The final phrase, then, is the only one with a main verb.  It reads:

“. . .He remains a priest forever (μενει ιερευς εις το διηνεκες).”

What is significant about this word choice in this context is that the point of the entire following section (7:10-28) is the forever-priesthood of Christ, which is built “according to the order of Melchizedek.”  In other words, while it’s easy to get lost in all the English descriptions of Melchizedek, the author makes his main point especially clear by his choice of only one main verb.  In this way he points the reader on to the greater forever-priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

These kinds of discoveries, repeated by those believers who read regularly in the original languages, remind us of just their importance.  It’s not that you can’t see these kinds of things in a good translation; they’re just much clearer in the original.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

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