How Can the Bible Relate to Us Today?

It’s Greek to Me!

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Ephesians 1: 3-14

Study of Ephesians – Part 4

Greek was the language of commerce in the Roman Empire at the time of the writings of the New Testament, much like English is in much of the world today.  As an overview, King Philip II of Macedon (382-336 BC) started conquering the surrounding territory and eventually united Greece under the League of Corinth (except for those efficiently defiant Spartans).  He was assassinated in 336 BC by a member of his royal guard.  This led his son Alexander III – later to be known as Alexander the Great – to be appointed king at the age of 20 and take over his father’s penchant for conquering other countries and empires. He ended up adding the lands to the east of Greece up to the border with India and south to include Egypt and Carthage.  To unite this vast empire, Greek culture, knowledge and language were fostered upon the conquered lands such that the Greek language became the common language of commerce throughout the Greek Empire.  Upon Alexander’s death in 323 BC at the age of 32, though, the empire was eventually split into four parts among his generals (referred to as “The Successors” or “Diadochi.”) after forty years of internal wars.    

To the west was the developing Republic of Rome.  To make this shorter, suffice it to say that the Romans set out on their own desire for conquest.  With the internal division by the Greeks, Rome was able to conquer the territory that the Greek Empire had occupied – and then quite a bit more.  Rome, an admirer of the Greek empire, adopted modifications to Greek culture and made it their own.  The gods were adopted from the Greek theology but just had their names changed.  If one were to compare the architecture of Rome to that of Greece, one can see similarities in the two.  Athens was still respected by the Romans as a center of philosophy and thought.  Latin was the language of the Roman Empire, but as mentioned earlier, Greek was the language of commerce and the language that united the population of the Roman Empire. I bring all this up to show why the New Testament was originally written in Greek and not Latin. 

Note that a feature of the Greek language is that you can have really long sentences.  One of the great features of the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is that the KJV respects the long sentences of Greek language.  When there is a long Greek sentence in scripture, the KJV will do everything it can to preserve that structure.  The reader will see that the KJV uses commas, semi-colons, colons, hyphens, conjunctions and participles to separate thoughts within a sentence but to keep the sentence together.  The KJV does anything to avoid the sentence-ending period in the middle of a Greek sentence.

As we begin to look at Ephesians 1: 3-14, please note that these verses – as long as they are – are one sentence, indicating one thought in Paul’s mind.  This passage of twelve verses (but one sentence) can be referred to as a “doxology” (literally, “glory words”) as it recites what God has done, and the passage is an expression of worship to honor God and to appreciate his blessings.  Paul talks of blessings that came through the Father (v. 3), then blessings through the Son (vv. 4-13a), then blessings from the Holy Spirit (vv. 13b-14).

If I stop now, I’ll have energy to complete this passage in the next couple of days.  The sources of the background is Wikipedia (“Philip II of Macedon,” “Alexander the Great,” “Macedonia (ancient kingdom),”) and numerous years in public school, college and seminary.  I hope you are having a good day as you read this.

If you haven’t read it yet, please read “Wary – or Afraid?” that I posted October 16 in the “My Random Thoughts” section of my blog.  I have readers from all over the world, but we are all suffering from the same COVID-19 and its impact on our daily lives. 

Do not grow weary of being safe.  Wear some kind of mask (face-covering for your mouth AND your nose) as you are protecting others in case you are a carrier without realizing it.  Remain at least six feet away from others, if at all possible.  Wash hands often – and try to avoid touching your eyes or nose without washing your hands first.  Then wash your hands again after doing so.  Reach out to others by telephone or video-conferencing, if you have the ability to do so.  Avoid isolation – even as you feel isolated.  Take care!

{PS: I hope this last picture is Greek and not Roman so I can stay true to the theme of my blog.}

Photo by Josiah Lewis on Pexels.com

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