Last week’s blog on “worship” in church by Tyler Clarensau became the most-read post in the 3+ year (and 500+ blog) history of 2thesource in only 5 days. This week another pastor at LifePoint, Sam Cassese, is getting in on the guest-blogging action. Enjoy.
It is Written
by Sam Cassese
For the last couple of semesters I have been taking Greek at school. As I am learning how to translate original Greek texts into English, there is a lot of minutia, grammar rules, and funny sounding words. Needless to say, I never thought I’d be writing a blog concerning my findings from this class. But I was wrong.
The past few weeks Pastor Andrew has been talking about the nature of the Bible. I’ve been following carefully because I personally know people who don’t believe the same things about scripture that we do. They think that scripture is simply literature written a long time ago for a people who lived long ago. We believe that it is more. We believe that because it is God Himself who inspired Scripture, it still has significance for his people today and it should still be brought to bear on our lives.
Enter Greek. There are several ways that Greek speakers could talk about past actions. (This is just like English – I ran, I was running, I used to run, I had been running, I have been running.”) Here are two ways in Greek:
Aorist Tense: This means simple, completed, past action. English example- “I ran, she sang, he wrote, it fell.”
Boom- these actions are done and over with. It could have been 1 day ago or 10 years ago. Either way they are done and in the past.
Perfect Tense: Actions that happened in the past but still have ongoing effects into the present. English example- “I have cleaned my room, I have eaten, I have been sick.”
These actions happened sometime in the past but it’s clear that the speaker is still feeling the effects. “I was sick” is completely different than “I have been sick.” The former implies the sickness is over now. The latter means the speaker is still sick. “I have cleaned my room” means that I cleaned and that the room is still clean. “I have eaten” means the speaker is currently still feeling the effects of eating- he is full!
So, I was translating Matthew 4 this morning in preparation for my midterm. Jesus was hungry, tired, and had been in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. On top of that, the devil came to tempt him. Jesus responded valiantly each time, not by using his God-powers to send the Devil away permanently, but by quoting Scripture, which was written in the past, but was being applied by Jesus to the present. As a tired and weary man relying on the Spirit, he showed us that we too can withstand temptation by the power of the Spirit and the truth of the Word. But he didn’t use the Aorist Tense to speak of scripture: “It was written.” He used the perfect tense, “It is written.” It’s as if he is saying “it has been written and still stands as such! The effects of what was written are still relevant for today, so much so that I am doing more than quoting them- I’m living according to the truth they still contain.”
Jesus demonstrated his conviction about the nature of Scripture. It was written in the past, with truth and power that still stands today and will stand forever. We don’t need to know Greek, but let’s follow Jesus’ example.
“It is written.”