top Introduction
  1. The Apostle Paul says that God sent forth His Son at the "fullness of time" (Gal. 5:4).
    1. There were many factors which contributed to making this time ideal.
    2. There were Roman roads which allowed for quicker transportation.
    3. There were many merchant ships which moved both goods and people around the Mediterranean Sea.
    4. There was a common ruling body.
    5. But, most importantly, there was a common language: Greek.
  2. You might think that almost any language would be suitable for communicating the Gospel, but such was not the case.
    1. It is true that Aramaic was spoken by Jesus and His disciples, but it was too local.
    2. A religion that was destined by God to reach the world needed to be communicated in a world-wide language.
    3. Classical Greek would not be suitable because it was the language of the upper-class in wealth, culture, and refinement.
    4. Christianity had a message of hope to the uneducated, the poor, and the oppressed.
    5. Classical Greek could never reach the general populace.
    6. At the same time, the upper-class could still understand the common Greek.
    7. Latin, at this time, was spoken by only a few in what is now Italy.
  3. The Greek language was ideal because of its inflection, exact vocabulary, precision of tenses, and its clarity.
    1. Take the Hebrew language, for instance, as a contrast with Greek.
    2. When you read Psalm 119, you quickly suppose that the psalmist must have written this psalm with a Hebrew thesaurus on his lap.
    3. Look at all the different words he uses to refer to Scripture.
    4. There really does not seem to be much distinction between these words.
    5. They are used interchangeably.
    6. Even in English we use one word which may have two different meanings.
    7. Do you remember the child's joke: "Who has more power than Superman?" The answer: "A policeman, he can stop a whole line of cars with one hand."
    8. The Greeks, however, distinguished power as strength from power as authority by using two different words.
    9. They were never used interchangeably.
  4. Prior to the writing of the New Testament, Greece was not a unified country.
    1. There were many autonomous city-states separated by rugged terrain.
    2. In order to maintain their individuality, they fought with each other.
    3. Each area had its own dialect and orthography (way of forming the letters).
    4. The prominant dialect, Attic, became the language of culture and philosophy.
    5. But there were other dialects just as popular: the Aeolic, the Boeotian, the Doric, and the Ionic.
  5. Two factors brought the κοινη [koy-NAY] Greek language into prominence.
    1. First, Philip of Macedon unified the Greek states around 350 B.C.
    2. As a result these states were no longer isolated and distinctives of dialect began to disappear.
    3. Second, Alexander the Great began a rapid conquering of the world.
    4. Greek culture circled the Mediterranean world and stretched into Asia Minor and even into Persia.
    5. When Alexander assembled an army from various parts of Greece and Macedonia, the recruits had many differences in dialect and orthography; but these were merged into a popularized language and became the common language spoken by all.
  6. This common language not only influenced the Greek army and Greek colonies, but it also affected the Jews of the Diaspora who were to translate the Old Testament into Greek.
    1. We refer to this translation as the Septuagint (LXX).
    2. The corresponding influence of the Septuagint upon the New Testament is significant.
    3. The κοινη language was popular from about 300 B.C. to 330 A.D.
  7. The Greek language can be divided into five periods of development and change. Although there is no definite day when the language changed, the changes were gradual and dependent upon various cultural changes brought about by trade and war.
    Homeric1000 BC to 500 BC
    Attic500 BC to 300 BC
    Koine300 BC to 500 AD
    Byzantine500 AD to 1400 AD
    Modern1400 AD to present
  8. The distinction of Koine
    1. Until 1824-93, many scholars thought that Koine was a "Holy Ghost" language which was invented by God for the transmission of scriptural revelation.
    2. They thought that no one actually spoke it as a common language of the day. It was a written language only.
    3. Since that time, letter have been found indicating that Koine was the common language of the time.
    4. Koine was not only the spoken language, but it also had a rich literature
  9. The importance of Greek
    1. Greek was an intellectual language
      1. It was useful for explaining, categorizing and distinguishing concepts.
      2. While Hebrew was good for biographical data, Greek excelled in presenting propositional facts.
      3. Greek was more technically precise than Hebrew.
    2. Greek was an universal language
      1. While the Old Testament was given to one nation in its own language group (Hebrew and Aramaic), God's purpose was to give the New Tesstament revelation in a language understood by most of the known world. Jesus said, "The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations" (Luke 24:46-47).
      2. Koine was the trade language of the Mediterranean. It was spoken by Jews, Romans, Greeks, and others. See Acts 2:7-11. Though they heard a miracle, they undoubtedly had talked to each other in the common language: Koine Greek.
      3. Latin was not yet popular.
      4. Alexander the Great had conquered the known world (331 BC) and forced the Greek language and culture kupon the people he subjected. He established Greek cities with Greek cultures and Greek language.
      5. Rome simply took over (about 63 BC) but without the same kind of cultural and linguistic aggression, so that the people retained the Greek language rather than switching to Latin.
      6. On the one hand, Greece had united the peoples of Asia, Europe, and North Africa with a universal language and cluture; on the other hand, Rome had made both an universal government and accessible roads.