I feel like I should have come up with a much more exciting title for this one, because what I am about to share with you is what changed my Bible study life all by itself. I got “hooked” on Bible study when I saw what can be accomplished with this method.
I think it all started when my husband Keith blew up one of my little bubbles, one of those arguments you hear all your life and repeat without even bothering to check out. You know, the one that goes, “The word ‘reverend’ is only used once in the Bible, in Psalm 111:9, and it refers to God, so no one should be called ‘reverend.’” While I believe that concept is true, the argument is false. Let me show you why.
In the back of your Young’s Analytical Concordance are the two things that make it different, and much more useful, than any other concordance. Right after page 1090 is the Index-Lexicon to the Old Testament. It runs 56 pages. The Index-Lexicon to the New Testament follows that. These two listings contain not only every word listed in the concordance, but also every English word or phrase each Hebrew or Greek word is translated by, and the number of times it is used that way. The Old Testament Index-Lexicon will show you why the above argument is false.
Look up “reverend” in the front of the concordance. You will find it on page 814, and sure enough, there is only one scripture using that Hebrew word yare, Psa 111:9. But wait a minute—that is the only place that Hebrew word is translated “reverend.” That does not necessarily mean that is the only time yare is used. Look in the back, in the Hebrew lexicon. You will find yare on page 53 of that section, in the middle of the last column. Look at all the ways that word is translated into English. Next to each English word or phrase is the number of times it is used that way, including “be afraid” 76 times and “fear” 242 times. If my math is correct, yare is not used just one time in the Bible, but a grand total of 375 times!
But the argument might still work if all those verses only refer to God. So I took turns going back to the front of the concordance, checking each English word or phrase that yare is translated by. I looked down each list until I found yare, then started reading the passages. I did not have to read all 375 before I found several that referred to men, including righteous men like David, who would not have allowed that word to be used of them if it were a sin. Some of those verses were Deut 7:19; Josh 4:14; Judg 6:27; 2 Sam 12:18; 1 Kgs 1:50; 3:28.
So the argument that “reverend” is only used once in the Bible is a spurious one. It is an accident of the English language (and the King James version at that). It simply would not work if you were a Hebrew reading it in your own language. Any argument that depends solely upon the English language is an invalid one. Now let me hasten to add, I do not believe it is correct to call men “reverend.” But Jesus gives us a perfectly good statement in Matt 23:8,9 to take care of that. But be not called Rabbi, for one is your Master, even Christ, and all of you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth, for one is your Father, which is in Heaven. Jesus’ statement is a concept. It does not merely apply to “rabbi” or “father,” but to any title that separates a man above his brethren. In fact, I might be bold enough to say, it can apply to the way some people use the term “Brother” (with a capital B), applying it only to our preaching brethren. Jesus said not to elevate men in this way, and Paul echoed that in 1 Cor 4:6. If one Christian is a brother, all are. I do not need to misuse a scripture to take care of that situation or the “reverend” problem. If I have been teaching my friends the old “reverend” argument, and they discover this error, my credibility is lost. Will they ever listen to me again? Paul says to “handle aright the word of Truth,” 2 Tim 2:15. It is just as wrong to misuse scripture as it is to elevate a brother.
So here is your assignment this week. Choose a word from a reading you have been doing. (If you can’t find one, try “ponder” in Luke 2:19. It is an interesting study.) Look it up in the front of the concordance. Find the group containing your verse, then write down the Hebrew (OT) or Greek (NT) word. Now look it up in the correct lexicon in the back. Write down all the different ways that word is translated into English, leaving space under each. Now turn back to the front and start looking up each English word or phrase, finding the correct Hebrew or Greek word group, and write down all the verses that contain that word, again leaving space. Now get your Bible. Go through each verse, making note of everything that verse tells you about that word, simply by how it is used--do not make comments or assumptions. Now look over all of your notes and start compiling verses into categories. Then organize your categories. You will know more about how the Holy Spirit uses that word than any man could ever tell you in any dictionary. Now you can make educated comments and assumptions. In fact, you can probably write a whole lesson on the word!
Here’s a helpful hint: Sometimes there are too many passages, as in yare, where there are nearly 400. If that is the case, using the verse snippets in the concordance, delete the repetitious passages. If that still leaves too many, then try using every second or third passage at random. You should still have enough to make a good word study.
I can hear people saying now, how do you find time for this? Answer: I seldom watch TV. I limit my pleasure reading to about a half hour in the evenings, and that not every evening. If there is time for 6-8 hours of TV (or facebook) a week, there is time for 6-8 hours of Bible study a week—you simply have to make a choice. And this is fun! Once you get into it, you won’t even think of it as giving up something. This will take its place, and do you a whole lot more good.
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, John 6:68.