Why I Began Studying Greek


Sep 23, 2019

I dreaded Greek more than any other class in college. It had me awake at 7:30 a.m., enduring lectures until 9 a.m.—and it was torture. Back then, I wouldn’t have been voted the student most likely to write studies from the Greek. Admittedly, however, the Greek did make reading the New Testament come to life in high definition. At least I could appreciate it when I graduated.

After I had been in full-time ministry for around six years, I grew discouraged. I saw God’s Word abused by a lot of popular teachers and it was getting to me. One evening, I was reading a popular Christian inspirational book that had made the New York Times bestseller list—and I hurled it at the wall. There was no conviction, no depth. It was oversimplified to a fault. The author even alluded to this.

I paced my home office. We need more teachers who can plumb the depth of God’s Word, break down passages that are commonly avoided, and excite others about it, I mused. In that moment, I found an additional purpose in life.

I knew I had to dust off my Greek studies and have at it again. This time, I had a reason, a purpose, and a single-mindedness. Within a month, I was a student again—this time, with fire in my belly.

My free time became filled with exegetical papers and syntactical exercises necessary to complete my studies. But I enjoyed it because in my heart, I knew I was doing something the Spirit of God had nudged me to do.

Toward the end of my master’s work, I began to pray about how to merge the complex Greek language with the everyday lives of people who couldn’t care less about Koine Greek. How could I interest corporate professionals, busy parents, and young people who are glued to their phones? An answer came on a humid, August night.

“God bless you, it’s Greek for the Week!”

I initially said this while filming the first teaching video I did on social media. It sort of just came out of my mouth, unrehearsed, and was followed by a practical teaching on the Greek from Colossians 4:6.

The video was a hit. And soon, people were looking to me as the “Greek geek” or the “Greek guy” on social media.

There was one Greek for the Week that sort of opened up the eyes of those who were following me—where it all began to make sense why I was teaching Greek when others were overlooking it. I pointed out how 410 out of 678 verses in Mark begin with the Greek conjunction καὶ, which means “and” or “even.” That’s 64 percent of the verses, or more than three-fifths. None of my pastor friends had ever noticed this. It really doesn’t stick out to us in English, but in the Greek, it’s too obvious to ignore. The implications of this are several but, for those seeing it for the first time, it suggested that maybe God’s Word is an abyss and they aren’t probing the ocean floor as they thought. Perhaps they are just getting out of the boat.

My inbox filled up with emails from pastors asking for help with sermons, theological advice, and recommendations for Greek resources. I was also asked how I could be a Spirit-filled Pentecostal and be so academic. (In other words, how can I pray in tongues, cast out devils, and lay hands on the sick but, at the same time, be wholly given to academic scholarship?) It seemed as though Greek for the Week had begun to short-circuit some stereotypes out there.

In the past, it was common for Pentecostals, Charismatics, and “faith people” to say that the halls of scholasticism would make us too “heady” and choke our faith. This idea came fully equipped with all the quips, including: “So you go to cemetery…I mean, seminary?” I get it. But this sort of generalization has discouraged a lot of good scholarship and has kept Christian minds from seeing all the brilliance in God’s Word. Something needs to change.

As Greek for the Week and my studies from the Greek continue forward, it is my hope that they inspire ministers and lay people alike to be optimistic about pursuing biblical studies and taking upon themselves the challenge of thinking—and thinking all the more deeply. I pray that my Greek studies help to shape great Christian thinkers for the cause of Christ.

In this social media and information-driven society, we find ourselves in battle for ideals and worldview. We will either plant ourselves in God’s Word, or we will be tossed by the never-ending vortex of new information. May the Spirit-filled thinkers arise. I think there is no better way for them to begin than by studying God’s Word, especially from the Greek.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love Chris Palmer’s book Letters from Jesus!

Comments 1

  1. Really, this book it’s so great, have helped me to much to understand the Hearth of Jesus, and help me in improve my teachings in bible institute and discipleship too. Really it’s so amazing the work of Rev. Chris Palmer, I appreciate his time and the way how God has used his life in order to communicate a great message to everybody who wants to know about The Lord! All my appreciations to him!

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