I’m excited to start a new series this week. I really enjoyed the recent series on the 23rd Psalm but it’s time to do something new and different.
One of my true passions is studying the nuances and meanings behind the different Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible. English is a terrific language that actually changed the world. It has a special beauty and malleability that most other languages don’t possess. But every language has shortcomings. There are many elements of Greek and Hebrew that we miss in English.
Today we will begin a series on some of my favorite New Testament word studies. We’ll take a look at 20 Greek words that reveal to us intimate details about God that we miss if we don’t know the subtleties of the Greek language.
Let’s start off with this: Have you ever noticed that the Bible seems to talk about God’s Kingdom in two different ways? The Kingdom of God is mentioned 68 times in the New Testament while the Kingdom of Heaven occurs 32 times. What’s the difference?
Well, one of the interesting aspects of the Bible is the personalities of the various authors. Jesus talked a lot about the Kingdom of God and Matthew, Mark and Luke record those teachings. Matthew, however, was clearly a traditional Jewish disciple who was writing to a traditional Jewish audience. Only Matthew refers to the Kingdom of Heaven. All 32 of those occurrences are in his Gospel. Why?
Traditionally conservative Jews do not pronounce the name of God. Rather, they substitute another word for it lest they become guilty of speaking God’s name in vain. This is exactly what Matthew was doing. It is out of extreme reverence for the name of God as well as a respect for his readers that he places the word Heaven into his accounts of Jesus’ teachings.
The Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are the same thing.