(Note: If you haven’t read the previous articles, please do so! Also, it wouldn’t hurt to go back and refresh your memory –for those of you who read parts one and two).

We’re talking about key areas we should consider when exegeting the Word of God. The first key area was genre. This is where we recognize the type of writing that is being utilized and how that helps us in our exegetical work.

Second, consider the words being used. Later, we’ll talk about what I call “The Four ‘P’s.’” One of those ‘P’s’ is “prevalence.” That has to do with the number of times an inspired writer uses a particular word. Here, we are not talking about the repetition of words as much as grasping an understanding of what the words used actually mean.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul says that.

all Scripture is inspired of God.

The word “Scripture” means “that which is written down.” The word “inspired” means “God-breathed.” We cannot utter words without breath. So, the claim here is truly astonishing. What was written down, even every word, came directly from God.

Jesus said that,

not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished”…Matthew 5:18

Jesus could not say more clearly that every word (which is made up of letters and pen strokes) is exactly accurate. Why? Because it came from God Himself.

So, what is the point of this? To become good exegetes, we need to be word-aware. Why did God inspire the writer to use that particular word? Do I understand the meaning of that word? Those are important questions! Let’s look at a few examples. The English Bibles frequently translate different Greek words with the same English word.

In 1 Timothy 6:18, Paul (through Timothy) is to instruct the rich to,

do good, to be rich in good works….

The first occurrence of “good” comes from the Greek agathos. In the New Testament, this word frequently points to things that are morally good. That’s important!

So, the first order of business for those “rich in this present world” is to spend their wealth on morally important works (the church, spreading the gospel, etc.).

The second wordfound in that verse (kalos) frequently refers to generic good. The rich should use their money to make the world a better place. This could refer to helping build a park, or contributing to cancer research.

Here is another quick example. Most Bible students know that the Greek language had different words for “love.” The highest form of love is found in the Greek word agapao. Another word, also translated as “love,” is phileo. This word is more akin to friendship or to “like” something or someone.

When the older women instruct the younger women (Titus 2:4), they don’t tell them to agapao their husbands and children because that is understood and is a universal command of God to “love one another.” Instead, she teaches young mothers to “like” their husbands and children. Husbands frequently have habits that the wife can find annoying and irritating (I’ve heard this, but fortunately, my wife doesn’t have to deal with that. Don’t ask her, though. Take my word for it!). The point is, she married him and can develop a “liking” to him –warts and all.

There are so many other examples of where knowing the meaning of a word is incredibly significant! How about the word for baptism? Church? Grace? Propitiation? Atonement? Digging into these words is fun and oh-so rewarding!

Denny Petrillo
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Denny is married to the former Kathy Roberts.  They have been married since January 1978.  They have three children (Lance, Brett, and Laura) and Six grandchildren (Chloe, Ashlyn, Sophie, Easton, Brelyn, and Kyson).  He has served as the President of the Bear Valley Bible Institute since 2004 and has been a full-time instructor since 1985.  He has preached in Mississippi, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Colorado.  He has taught numerous classes for the World Video Bible School and has authored several books and commentaries.  He graduated from the Bear Valley School of Preaching (now the Bear Valley Bible Institute), received an AA degree in Bible (York College, York, Nebraska), BA in Bible and Biblical Languages (Harding University), and an MA in Old and New Testaments (Harding Graduate School of Religion), and a Ph.D. in Religious Education (University of Nebraska).