Knowing the historical and cultural context in which a passage is written is crucial. Just as important is understanding what the original words mean. Sometimes they do not translate well into English.
Today's technology makes it much easier to research these days. Even I can do it!
I invited my husband, Jeff, who holds a Masters of Divinity and who is the one who first told me about blueletterbible.org, to explain how to use this resource. As I've been walking through the gospels to dig down to Jesus' teachings and what he really means, I sometimes use blueletterbible.org to better grasp a concept.
How to Use Blueletterbible.com
by Jeff Stewart
Blueletterbible.org is a great resource for breaking down biblical verses and passages. The most valuable feature is the tools link that helps you look at the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek word used from historic manuscripts used to translate the King James Version of the bible. The tool makes use of Strong’s Concordance of the Bible (originally published in 1890 and revised several times since). This not only enables you to see what the various English translations used, in deciding words and concepts, but you can also see what other words the original may suggest.
I will guide you through the process I use with graphics provided from the website. I will use 2 verses to demonstrate the use of the Old Testament Hebrew (Psalm 23:3) and New Testament Greek (John 1:1).
Let’s start with Psalm 23:3. Let’s say you read this verse and wonder what the word “righteousness” comes from.
Type “Psalm 23” in the “Search the Bible” box and click the magnifying glass icon. Notice, you can also select an English translation in a pull-down menu.
Go to verse 3 and click on the “Tools” icon.
Select the word “righteousness” on the Strong’s reference number.
The Hebrew word will appear. You will see the Hebrew word, followed by the phonetic “transliteration” English pronunciation. If you want to hear the pronunciation, you can click on the wave bar and some old man will say it twice with a hoarse voice as he is on his 6,664th verbalization. You can also learn the part of speech used and you can see the root word and learn about it by link.
Scroll down for more information. You will see Strong’s definitions of the word as well as a PDF graphic from the Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon.
Scroll down farther and you will see how this Hebrew word is used in other verses. This is helpful and it gives you a broader idea of what the word originally meant. This information can provide some insight and surprises that can result in a transformation of what you’ve held about an English concept. Notice how Leviticus 19 uses the same word (H6664), but the translators choose the word “just” instead of “righteous.”
Now let’s look at the New Testament use of Blue Letter Bible. I’ve typed “John 1” in the search box. As before, click the magnifying glass icon.
Now you see John 1 in the KJV default translation. Let’s break down verse 1 by clicking on “Tools.”
The verse can now be seen in the Greek (Textus Receptus is the translation used only by KJV). Below the verse you can see a column of the Greek words used with the Strong’s reference number.
Let’s learn how the translators select the English word – “Word.” Click on G3056.
Now you see “logos.” Guess what English word we get from the Greek. But the translators decided to use “word” instead of “logo.”
As you scroll down, you can see the variety of concepts “logos” carries.
Scrolling further, you see Strong’s Definition plus the PDF graphic of Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
Continuing to scroll down, you will see the verses where “logos” is used and what it means in different references. Notice how Matt 5 translates “logos” as “communication” in verse 32, but “sayings” in verse 37. That is useful to demonstrate how much more versatile Greek is than English.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I find this tool very valuable in my own thorough study of the Bible. It has helped me in my own ongoing transformation as a Follower of Christ