In recent weeks, I have felt convicted of the need to buckle down and learn Greek. So, I am. This is no noble thing - it's my third attempt. But I'm putting more into it than ever before and am beginning to see some progress. But it seems that every few days I have to get re-motivated. And that introduces this post - for I have taken heart from Martin Luther and Urich Zwingly, two Reformers who placed a high premium on the biblical languages.
Zwingly said, "I have firmly decided to study Greek, nobody except God can prevent it. It is not a matter of personal ambition but one of understanding the most Sacred Writings."
And several quotes from Luther have helped me (all of these lifted from John Piper's excellent biographical study of Luther.)
"It is certain that unless the languages remain, the Gospel must finally perish . . . Without languages we could not have received the gospel. Languages are the scabbard that contains the sword of the Spirit; they are the casket which contains the priceless jewels of antique thought; they are the vessel that holds the wine; and as the gospel says, they are the baskets in which the loaves and fishes are kept to feed the multitude. If we neglect the literature we shall eventually lose the gospel ... No sooner did men cease to cultivate the languages than Christendom declined, even until it fell under the undisputed dominion of the pope. But no sooner was this torch relighted, than this papal owl fled with a shriek into congenial gloom ... In former times the fathers were frequently mistaken, because they were ignorant of the languages and in our days there are some who, like the Waldenses, do not think the languages of any use; but although their doctrine is good, they have often erred in the real meaning of the sacred text; they are without arms against error, and I fear much that their faith will not remain pure."
"It is a sin and shame not to know our own book or to understand the speech and words of our God; it is a still greater sin and loss that we do not study languages, especially in these days when God is offering and giving us men and books and every facility and inducement to this study, and desires his Bible to be an open book. O how happy the dear fathers would have been if they had our opportunity to study the languages and come thus prepared to the Holy Scriptures! What great toil and effort it cost them to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor— yes, almost without any labor at all—can acquire the whole loaf! O how their effort puts our indolence to shame."
"Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture ... The call is: watch, study attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read you cannot read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well ... The devil ... the world ... and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent ... This evil. shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring."