Deeper into the Word is a fascinating devotional, but it can also be used as an accessible reference tool, as it explores 100 of the most important words of the New Testament. Kent unpacks each word's Greek origins, shows how it is used in the Bible, and offers insights into its significance in our lives.
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Deeper Into the WordNew Testament: Reflections on 100 Words from the New Testament
By Keri Wyatt Kent
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2011 Keri Wyatt Kent
All right reserved.
IntroductionThe Bible is God's Word, but it's also full of words. Unfortunately, most of us do not read the Bible in its original languages. The New Testament was written in Greek, but many of the people whose stories fill its pages spoke Aramaic or Hebrew. As anyone who has read The Little Prince or The Brothers Karamazov knows, things can get lost in translation. Therefore, it is helpful to look at the original languages, as well as the historical and cultural context of those words, to give us insight into the intended meaning of the text.
When trying to understand the New Testament, we must remember that Jesus and his first followers were Jewish. Jesus was the Son of God, but he put on flesh as a Jewish rabbi in first-century Palestine. We must remember that context, and examine the text through that cultural lens.
For example, just before his trial and death, Jesus told his disciples: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going" (John 14:3-4). Of course, Thomas the doubter replies: "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" (v. 5). Jesus answers with those famous words: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (v. 6).
These are verses I memorized as an obedient evangelical child because they explain that Jesus is the only way to heaven—the place he was going to prepare for us. We were told that we could use his words to refute moral relativism: If all roads led to God, then Jesus would have said, "I am a way," or "I'm one of the ways." If I told my unbelieving friends this verse, they would immediately fall to their knees in repentance and ask me what they must do to be saved, and I would tell them: Be born again (John 3:16). Or so my Sunday school teachers told me.
It didn't always work out like that, despite my good intentions. Just because something is true doesn't mean it will be immediately convincing to skeptics. I do think Jesus is the way; I'm not arguing that point. But I never learned the cultural and religious context of that verse, or what it would have meant to the people who heard it at that time. To the Jews who became his disciples, who gathered to hear his teaching or stood at a distance wondering who he was, this statement had radical implications. But he wasn't refuting moral relativism. He was fulfilling prophesy. Understanding the cultural context might actually make Christianity more interesting to skeptics, I think.
Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. The Jewish culture of which Jesus was a part absolutely revered the Torah, God's law. They learned it, memorized it, debated it, and discussed it—not because they had to, but because they loved it. Here are some of the passages they would have thought of immediately when they heard Jesus' words.
Look at Exodus 18:20: "Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform" (emphasis mine). God's decrees and instructions referred to in this verse were from the Torah. It showed the Israelites the way to live. They often referred to Torah as "the Way." Psalm 119:142 says, "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth" (kjv). This verse is talking about God's law, the Torah. The Truth.
In Deuteronomy 32:46-47, Moses tells the people (after reading the Torah to them), "Command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life." The Torah is Life.
So when Jesus claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life, his Jewish audience would have understood that he was claiming to not just have a word from God; he was claiming to be the embodiment of God's Word. He was Torah. He was the Way. It was a radical statement, and people either embraced him as the Messiah or rejected him as a heretic.
This book is a tool to help you better understand both the words and their context so that you can engage in the spiritual discipline of the study of God's Word. As such, it is meant to be used with the Bible rather than on its own. Think of it as a shovel to help you dig deeper, or a light to help you see better.
There are several ways this book can help you connect with Scripture. First, it can be used as a reference volume, to look up words you come across in your own reading. For example, as you engage in daily Scripture reading, you may want to dig deeper. Cultivate the habit of reading slowly. As you read, notice which words in the text stand out to you or give you pause. Rather than trying to get through a chapter or section, read a shorter portion through a few times. When a specific word strikes you or puzzles you, use this book as a reference tool to look up words you've encountered in your daily reading.
Second, this book can be used as a study guide to launch your own study of specific words. If there's a word in your daily reading that is not listed in Deeper into the Word, you can use it in another way: as a tutorial for how to do what has been traditionally called a "word study." By reading a few chapters, you can learn this technique and try it on your own. In a word study, you take one word—say the word love—and by using a concordance, either printed or online, find other verses where love occurs. The other verses will provide insights into the word. You can use commentaries to see what scholars say about it. You can look up the words in various Bible dictionaries or even a lexicon—which gives you the Greek or Hebrew translation of the English words (there are several available online—see the appendix for suggestions).
Third, you could read this book one chapter at a time, devotionally. Don't rush—you may want to spend several days reflecting on a chapter. Look up the verses mentioned in the chapter and read their context. Or use a concordance to find other verses that use that word. Pray and journal about how God might be asking you to live out his words. You can also use this book with others—a prayer partner or a group.
However you choose to use this book, my prayer is that it will help you to more fully understand and love the Rabbi whose story unfolds in its pages.
What keeps you from trusting God? Perhaps you would answer that you don't have enough faith. Or put another way, you have too much fear. The word afraid appears thirty-five times in the New Testament; the related word fear appears eighty-three times. Throughout the Bible, both words are often connected with the phrase "Do not," as in "Do not be afraid," or "Fear not." It's the most-oft repeated commandment in the Bible.
Of all the commands of God, "Do not be afraid" is one of the most reassuring, yet one of the hardest to obey. And it often comes, in the biblical narrative, when God shows up and asks us to take a risk—to trust even when things look very bad, or don't seem to make sense. When the angel comes to Mary to tell her how her life will turn upside down, he begins, "Do not be afraid" (Luke 1:30). When Jairus the synagogue ruler comes pleading for Jesus to save his daughter, and she dies before Jesus can get there, Jesus looks him in the eye and says, "Don't be afraid; just believe" (Luke 8:50).
Most often the word translated "afraid" is phobeo. Phobeo's root word, phobos, is often translated "fear." Phobeo can mean to be scared, but it can also be used to mean reverent awe, as in, "The fear of the Lord." While the latter is more common in the Old Testament, phobeo is used most frequently in the New Testament in the negative sense of being fearful or afraid.
Other Greek words for afraid, used less frequently than phobeo, include emphobos, which means alarmed or trembled, as in Luke 24:5 or Acts 24:25; deilia or its derivative deiliao, which denotes timidity or cowardice (as in 2 Tim. 1:7 or John 14:27); and ekphobos, which essentially means being frightened out of your wits, and is used just once in the New Testament, in Matthew 9:6, to describe the disciples' response to the Transfiguration.
Fear does not come from God. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (deiliao), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7).
As 1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love" (esv). The antidote to fear is love. And how do we access that love, or be "perfected in love"? Well, this verse says fear has to do with punishment. So love, on the other hand, has to do with grace. When we let go of fear, we can trust God's grace, which makes us perfect in God's eyes.
However, the goal is not just to get rid of fear, but to replace it with love, as C. S. Lewis notes,
Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several other things—ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity. It is very desirable that we should all advance to that perfection of love in which we shall fear no longer; but it is very undesirable, until we have reached that stage, that we should allow any inferior agent to cast out our fear.
Ironically, what we'd label the "scariest" kind of love to give—self-sacrificing, generous agape—is the kind of love that will cast out fear. Agape casts out phobeo every time. That's why the Bible says we can approach the throne of grace with confidence rather than fear (Heb. 4:16).
There's this tension within the text: We're told to fear God, yet not be afraid. The Greek uses phobeo to mean both reverential fear or respect, and simply feeling alarmed or frightened. To "fear God" means to respect, but that's something we give to our peers, our boss, or even, on a good day, those who serve us—the busboy or the dry cleaner. Fear of the Lord is so much more—it is deep reverence and awe.
Fear of God means having a right-sized view of ourselves and God. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13 nkjv). He was not afraid because he was focused on Christ rather than life's challenges. When we fear God, we don't have to fear anything else.
Excerpted from Deeper Into the Word by Keri Wyatt Kent Copyright © 2011 by Keri Wyatt Kent. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Deeper into the Word: New Testament is a wonderful tool to use when diving into your bible. There are 100 words that are shown within scriptual passages, and they are broken down and explained by examining it in Greek, and the original meaning of the word is unearthed. New light is shed on passages that have been previously read, and a deeper and richer connection is made to the Word. This book has been very helpful and interesting to me. I've read it alone, and have also gone back to it when studying the scripture. I would almost describe it as a reference/devotional book, and I think it would be very useful for readers of all levels. In the back, there is a Greek index and also an appendix of websites that are useful for bible study. This is a fantastic book! I received this book free from the publisher in order to write a review. I was not obligated to write a positive review, only to write my own opinion of the book.
Keri Wyatt Kent in her new book, "Deeper Into The Word: New Testament" published by Bethany House Publishers gives us a study into a hundred words used in the New Testament. What is the difference between a jail and prison? Well a quick look through the Dictionary will answer that question. But that is the way it is with words sometimes we do not understand the depth of meaning and we use words that seem correct to us but really are not the proper fit. That is not the way, however, with the New Testament writers. When they used a word they were very precise in its meaning. After all they were trying to make the Word Of God clear for all of us and they were using the Greek language. Not only does Keri Wyatt Kent give us the English word but she also gives us the Greek word that the writer was using and its variations. This is more than a Bible devotional, which it is, we can use it as a desktop reference tool anytime we want to deeper analyze a word. I know that "Deeper Into The Word: New Testament" is going right up there on my bookshelf next to my Bible for continued use. I can only hope for more in this series and then in the Old Testament as well. If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand. To listen to 24 Christian music please visit our internet radio station Kingdom Airwaves Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Deeper into the Word - New Testament is subtitled "Reflections on 100 words from the New Testament", and it is exactly that - reflections. I have been reading through the book as a devotional - looking at specific words in an effort to better understand the original meanings behind what is written in scripture. This is not a "Bible Study" book in terms of replacing a good Bible dictionary or or concordance, though it does give some great insights into certain words in the NT, and its use as a devotional tool is wonderful. While the endorsements on the back of the book claim this book belongs in the reference section of serious Bible students, I believe you'll better and more thorough sources out there if you're interested in doing in-depth word studies. Deeper into the Word will serve as a nice spring-board for your study, and it might help you find some words of interest, but for the person seeking an in-depth reference tool this definitely does not suffice. Overall I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars. I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
When you read the Bible, do you sometimes wish you had a tutor by your side to shed light on certain passages? Do you enjoy devotionals but wish they delved deeper into Scripture? Would you like to build your collection of bible study aids but aren't sure where to start? Then Keri Wyatt Kent's book, Deeper Into The Word, New Testament, might be the perfect choice for you! This book provides insight into the meanings of 100 key words in the New Testament, based on the original languages and their historical and cultural context. The author also demonstrates how we can more aptly apply those words to our lives once we understand the full meaning behind the words. For example, when Keri discusses the word Afraid, she shows how it relates to Fear, how both terms are used in the New Testament, and how God wants us to respond when we are afraid or fearful. When Keri discusses Fellowship, she correlates it to Community and discusses how true fellowship means more than partaking in social hour over Sunday morning pancakes. I learned a lot while reading this book and found myself reflecting on the words even after I finished reading about them. I found the book enjoyable, and commend the author for not only providing readers with a peek into the history of Scripture, but for doing so in a fresh and relevant way. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in deepening their understanding of Scripture. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Book Reviewers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
I am pulling this review out and posting it again, because I found that I hadn't originally submitted it to the sites needed. Very interesting concept. 100 Words from the NT, with their original Greek words and meanings. What a great idea. I did find it interesting the words that were picked to explore. The suggested usage of this book is with your regular Bible study, but I can see using it as a reference for topical studies also. A great resource to have on hand, a keeper for my book shelves. 4 stars from this reviewer.
This is a great resource and perfect for Bible study prep or devotional.
When Oprah reads a book and talks about it on the air, she often refers to having "a-ha!" moments. Keri Wyatt Kent's new book, Deeper Into the Word: New Testament" was chockfull of a-ha moments for me. If you're like me and you've heard your share of sermons and Bible lessons over the years, Keri's book will help scrub off the dust and grime of over-familiarity with well known biblical texts and give them a fresh gleam. For those who are newer to studying and tangling with biblical texts, Deeper Into the Word: Reflections on 100 Words From the New Testament will introduce and demonstrate the idea of a "word study," which means to stop and take a closer look at the meaning of a particular word and attempt to fully understand what the author meant when using that word. Kent has chosen 100 words that appear in the Bible, such as Blind, Bread, Church, Disciple, Friend, Pharisee, Religion, Sabbath, Water, and Yoke. For each word, she gives the most common interpretation, often accompanied by a personal anecdote, then goes into a quick look at the word in the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. Then comes the fun: Kent quickly and easily puts the word into historical and cultural context, sometimes turning the most often used interpretation of the word upside down. Hence, the a-ha! And she does all of this with a friendly, non-intimidating, and engaging manner. One of the most powerful a-ha moments for me was the chapter on the word "love:" I've heard preachers and teachers outline the three concepts behind the biblical concept of love in the Greek language: eros (sexual or romantic love), phileo (brotherly love or tender friendship); and, agapeo or agape (spiritual, self-sacrificing love) and how all three biblical words were translated into English as "love." It was a familiar concept so I wasn't sure Kent could make this concept new for me. There is a quick and easy explanation of the meaning of each of the three love-words, and then the zinger, something I had never heard before (or if I had, I didn't remember-sorry, Preachers!) In John 21, the resurrected Jesus talks to Peter, who is still ashamed of his public denial of being a Jesus-follower. "Peter, do you love me more than these?" Jesus asks, using the Greek agapeo. It's a significant and loaded question. Jesus is asking Peter if he is willing to follow to the point of death. Guess what Peter answers? "Lord, you know that I love you." In English, this seems a reasonable response. But Peter uses the Greek phileo instead of agapeo. Peter is making it clear that he loves Jesus as a friend or a brother, but cannot or will not yet commit to the highest form of love. Jesus has modeled it already to Peter and now he is calling Peter to it, but through shame, guilt, and/or pride, Peter stubbornly sticks to phileo. I never would have understood the subtext to the conversation without Keri's clear and succinct explanation. Finally, I understood why Jesus kept repeating this question to Peter, even though Peter seemed to be satisfactorily answering Jesus. Deeper Into the Word is full of these moments, directing a bright and warm light onto familiar biblical words that can speak into our lives with power, if only we take the time to listen.
Studying the Bible is meant to instruct us, to uplift us, to bring us closer to God, and to make us want more. Word studies is just one of the wonderful ways we can study the Bible, a way to find a fuller, richer meaning to Scripture passages. "Deeper Into the Word" gives us information on 100 words from the New Testament. Words such as: rest, hungry, care, pray, remain, and chosen are given special treatment by Keri Kent as she gives us Scripture references, Greek meanings, and cross-references as needed; even treating us to thoughts from other people and commentaries. Each word study gives enough to enlighten the reader and encourage him/her to delve deeper. Each word study is relatively short, very easy to read and understand, and well worth sharing with others. I have enjoyed reading this book and learning more about these special New Testament words. It has spurred me to get back into word studies for my personal devotions. This book is great for personal or group Bible study, and will make a wonderful gift for Bible lovers. Many thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book.