Word Study How To

If we really want to understand what the Bible means by a particular word or term, then we need to do a word study. Word studies enable us to discover the original Hebrew or Greek word in a particular verse, and to determine it’s original meaning. From the definition and the context, we can more accurately interpret what the author is saying.

Word Study Tools

The basics are a concordance and a dictionary.

Concordance – gives an alphabetical listing of all the words used in the Bible. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is probably the most well known, but there are others. Strong’s should be available at any Christian bookstore, but there are several online versions available as well, most combined with other tools. More on that later.

Dictionary – meaning a language dictionary for Greek or Hebrew. While a concordance will give a brief definition of a word, a good dictionary will give an expanded definition. Good choices are:

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. The old standby. Most editions are keyed to Strong’s. Available at most Christian bookstores, there is also an online version of Vine’s.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates (1992, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN). This is the one I use most. Companioned with The Complete Word Study New Testament, which features the Greek section of Strong’s concordance, it combines quite a few word study tools.

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament; Harris, Archer, and Waltke; 1980; Moody Press, Chicago. Often abbreviated TWOT, this is two volumes. An index in the back of the second volume keys all words to Strong’s. It should be available from most Christian bookstores.

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. Also from AMG Publishers. This is the companion volume to The Complete Word Study Old Testament. I don’t have the OT dictionary yet, but it is at the top of my “must get” list.

Word Study Procedure

1. Start with your concordance. It is divided into three sections: English, Hebrew, and Greek.

2. In the English section, find the word you want to look up. Strong’s uses the King James Version. If you’re using Strong’s and another version, you will need to find the same word in KJV first.

3. In the middle column, find the scripture reference for the word you’re researching.

strongs-lookup.jpg

Using “likewise” from Titus 2:3 as an example, we find it in the alphabetical English section, and then look for our scripture reference in the middle column. (In the listings, “likewise” is abbreviated as the letter L.) In the right hand column is the Strong’s number. You can see from this brief excerpt that there are several different numbers listed for “likewise.” This tells us that more than one Greek word was translated thus.

4. Note the Strong’s number and turn to the Greek dictionary in the back.

5. Look up that number in the dictionary.

grk_dict.jpg

Here is “likewise,” found in the Greek section of Strong’s. Note that it gives us:

a. The Greek word, the English transliteration (Greek characters translated into equivalent English ones), and the pronunciation.

b. “from ….. ;” tells us something about the origin of the word.

c. A brief definition is in italics.

d. After the punctuation mark, :– , are other ways in which the same Greek word has been translated in the KJV.

TROUBLESHOOTING – If the definition makes absolutely no sense, check to make sure you are in the correct section (Greek or Hebrew)! đŸ™‚

6. For an expanded definition, use your Vine’s or other dictionary. Most of them are coded to Strong’s numbers, so it is easy to look up the correct word.

I also looked up “likewise” in the Bible Study Tool at Crosswalk.com.

I typed in the word I was searching for and made my selections from the drop-down menus. Then I clicked “Find.” My results are below.

online_strongs-lookup.jpg

This online tool is one of several that are useful for word studies. You can explore more tools at my Online Bible Study Tools & Resources page.
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