Do You Have To Know Greek And Hebrew To Preach Effectively?

I often get the question, “Do you have to know the original languages to preach effective sermons?” Often the question comes either from someone who knows the languages and thinks that if you don’t know them you are hurting your congregation, or from individuals who don’t know them and don’t think they are important at all. I think that both mindsets are problematic for preachers. Let me tell you why.

Are They Unimportant

Some preachers tell me that knowing the original languages are unimportant. I would ask, have you attempted to learn the original languages? Do you seek to use them as much as you can? It is problematic when preachers know everything about their favorite football team and yet feel it is unimportant to put forth as much effort as possible to improve their preaching. If you can look at 2 hours of tv a day, what would happen if you used 30 minutes a day simply on improving your preaching through learning as much as you can. Don’t tell me you can’t do it unless you have tried. Don’t tell me it is unimportant. No it is important to use as many tools as you have or can have.

So I think it is important. I think it is valuable. I think it is important to add Hebrew and Greek to your exegesis of the text. The mindset of saying “I can’t do it, or it ain’t important leads to sloth. If you don’t know the languages, use whatever means you have to add language study into your preaching. It will help it and make it more powerful.

Another Vehicle For The Spirit’s Help

After having said that, I do realize that great preaching requires the Spirit and the written word and the preacher to come together to determine what will be presented and how it will be presented. Note that you don’t necessarily have to have the original. It does open up avenues of understanding. It can be something that the spirit can use to help you, but a preacher enlightened by the Spirit, reading a translation can come to a solid exegesis that will bring a powerful preaching event.

In short, knowing the languages are not a requirement for powerful and effective proclamation, but if you are a preacher, you will avail yourself of every opportunity to learn the word better and that does include learning and making use of Greek and Hebrew in your sermon preparation process.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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