The Greek Language

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2014
This is a bust of
Alexander the Great

Ancient Greek is a very important language to Christians. Do you know why? It’s because Greek is the language that the New Testament was written in! Wait a minute; the Bible writers were mostly Jews, weren’t they? So why didn’t they write everything in Hebrew, the language of the Jews? Well, to answer that, we need to look back at what ancient history has to tell us about the time of Jesus and the apostles.

During the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire ruled much of the world. But hundreds of years before the Roman Empire came into power, Alexander the Great, a Macedonian king, united Greece and built an empire that was the largest the world had ever seen. As a result of Alexander the Great’s conquests and huge empire, Greek became the most common language in the world. That made Greek the best language in which to write the New Testament, simply because it was the language that most people could understand.


Hebrew was the language of many Jews, but it wasn’t used much by people who were not Jews. If the writers of the New Testament had written it in Hebrew, then there wouldn’t have been as many people who could have understood it without it being translated. Although translations can be good and accurate, if people do not have to go through the process of having Scripture translated or of finding a good translation, then more people can learn the Gospel with fewer obstacles. It makes perfect sense that God would want the New Testament written in Greek, and not Hebrew, because God wants as many willing people as possible “to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

You might compare ancient Greek in the time of Jesus to English today. Just like how many people in places all over the world can speak English today, many people all over the ancient world could speak Greek in the time of the apostles. We can see that God used the most popular language in the world at the time to write the New Testament so that millions of people could read it.


A copied sheet of paper

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