Scripture: “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came
up to worship at the feast (of Passover.) They came to Philip, who was from
Bethsaida of Galilee . . . ,” and asked to see Jesus. John 12:20-21,
Can you recite
the alphabet? Betcha can’t! OK - Repeat after me: Alpha, betta, gamma, delta . . . UH - what’s the matter? Alpha,
beta - that’s the Alphabet. Starts with alpha and
ends with omega. You might well quip, “That’s Greek to me,” meaning
it is a language that you do not understand. And you would be correct. It
is Greek, the language of the authors of the New Testament .
I’m perhaps stretching the point a little, that we
actually say our A- B - C’s in English, but the word “alphabet”
indeed comes from the first two letters as spoken in Greek. What I really
wish to share with you is not the language itself, but its significence
to the spread of Christianity in the 1st century A.D.
Note that Pilate wrote a title and put it on the
cross at the crucification of Jesus:
KING OF THE JEWS
It was written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. (Luke
23:38; John 19:20) That pretty much covered it. Jesus and the disciples
quite likely could converse in Greek, because it would have been commonly
used in both business and corespondence all over the Mediterranean area in
Jesus’ day. Even the Old Testament Biblical scriptures in common usage, and
often quoted in the New Testament, were in Greek. The Septuagint, as
it is called, originated in Alexandria, Egypt between 300-200 BC. Widely
used among Hellenistic Jews, this Greek translation was produced because
many Jews spread throughout the empire were beginning to lose their Hebrew
language. The process of translating the Hebrew to Greek also gave many
non-Jews, like those who came to Jesus, a glimpse into Judaism.
Many Greek words have carried over into English.
The word for God, theos, turns up in theology.. We get bible from
biblos, their word for book. Likewise, arche, beginning,
gives meaning to our word archeology, or as John wrote: en arche
was the logos - in the beginning was the Word.
If you take nothing else away from this little epistle,
remember the alpha and omega, the first and last. Oh,
and one other Greek word - Amen!
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