What made me want to study Greek and Hebrew in seminary was faithful preachers during my college years who sometimes gave us the meaning of a word in their sermons. Not too much, of course. It’s easy to overdo this. And nothing very technical. The guy in the pew does not care a whit about the aorist tense or pluperfect whatever, or that Josephus used this in one way and Herodotus another.
Pastors should do this sparingly, but when they do it wisely and well, a word study can enrich Bible study and inspire the hearers. (I suggest no more than one word meaning from the Greek or Hebrew per sermon. The average worshiper can absorb only so much, and we must not presume upon their kindnesses.)
Here are a few from Pau’s Letter to the Philippians…
“…so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:10).
The word “sincere” here is rich in meaning. Our English word comes from the Latin “sin” meaning “without” and “ceres” meaning “wax.” Without wax. We’re told this refers to the shoddy practice of sculptors in the past. While working on a piece of art, the marble might develop a crack. Rather than discard the piece or try to repair it, the unscrupulous artist might fill it with wax. It looked great and fooled the buyer….until he built a fire in the room where the piece was being displayed. The heat melted the wax, and the fraud was discovered. A truly sincere person is someone without wax, we would say. Someone who can take the heat.
We used to speak of certain people being “plastic,” meaning a cheap imitation of the real thing.