Weeks ago, I posted a video of a Bible translation committee discussing how to translate a particular Greek word into English. I think it is a fascinating discussion that reveals the depth of work in translation that many who can readily pick up a Bible and read in their native language may never fully appreciate. These scholars put in a great deal of thought and work and prayer into Bible translation.
I wanted to follow up that post by pointing out that all of the individuals in that room are some of the most highly respected, doctoral-prepared Greek and Hebrew (and Aramaic) scholars in their respective fields. It is quite reassuring to know that translation decisions have gone through an extensive process by teams of brilliant scholars who really know their stuff. We can therefore trust that, though there may be differences from version to version, modern English translations are very accurate and reliable.
With this in mind, while I do not discourage the use of explaining Hebrew or Greek terms in preaching and teaching (I do so myself from time to time), a word of caution should be given about how such words are sometimes employed in biblical exposition. In particular, I usually advise hearers to be very cautious when someone claims “this English translation of this word is bad,” or “the translators did a poor job with this verse,” etc. Providing any linguistic background to a text by pointing out the original languages may provide an air of credibility to the preacher and add an interesting flavor to the teaching. However, comments like the ones above – or the one below – can erode a hearer’s confidence in reading and understanding the Bible on their own. Be assured that it is likely that the English Bible you are reading is very trustworthy.