“I just wanted to write you about Strong’s concordance. To my understanding, you as well as many other baptists have used Strong’s concordance with great benefit, while other baptists often condemn it. I’m in no way trying to bash you or other baptists for using it, I simply want to know the truth, and your personal opinion on these several presumably disturbing facts.
“According to my The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, a 2010 copy of the concordance, entry number 1966 Hebrew is hay-lale` or Lucifer. The definition reads ‘the morning star.’ This seems erroneous and even blasphemous in light of Revelation 22:16, which clearly confirms that Jesus is the morning star.
“Furthermore, I’ve read and heard that James Strong believed in infant baptism, was on the Revised Version committee, and contributed to the A.S.V. in 1901. If this is true, then he likely must have worked with heretics Westcott and Hort.
“These views are in the public domain, and advocated by Dr. David Baker of Independent Baptist Online College and Gail Riplinger (whom I understand you don’t recommend).
“Again, I don’t want to bash baptists that use Strong’s concordance, but am simply wondering how they can continue to use it in light of these accusations and claims, and am wondering if there is any better reliable source to understanding the true Hebrew and Greek meanings of Bible words without going directly to someone with that knowledge.”
REPLY FROM BROTHER CLOUD
I have used Strong’s Concordance with great benefit for 48 years. The man who led me to Christ bought me a King James Bible and a Strong’s, and that is what I had in starting out my Bible study career. I wore out that copy of Strong’s the first year I was saved even before I went off to Bible college. I continue to use it every day.
There is no perfect Bible study tool, in my knowledge, and I have looked high and low. I know that my own Way of Life Encyclopedia of the Bible & Christianity is not perfect, because I have continued to find mistakes ever since it was first published in 1993, and not just typos.
But the few defects of Strong’s Concordance are far outweighed by its great value, in my estimation. In fact, I am convinced that it is the most important Bible study tool ever made.
If you require a perfect Bible study tool, I wish you well in that venture. Perhaps Mrs. Gail Riplinger will produce a perfect exhaustive concordance of the English language with Hebrew and Greek word studies that real Bible believers can use with utter confidence.
James Strong (1822-1916) spent 35 years compiling his concordance, which was first published in 1890. Before this there was no exhaustive concordance of the Bible in any language. He had help from more than 100 other men. It lists every word in the King James Bible and defines more than 8,000 Hebrew words and 5,000 Greek words.
It is important to test dictionary definitions by the Bible itself. The Bible is a self-interpreting book. Good dictionaries are very useful, but they are not infallible and must be tested by the Bible itself. Consider “mystery” (Ro. 16:25). This is the Greek mysterion. Strong defines it as “a secret or mystery (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites.” That is the basic meaning of the Greek word as it was used in Greek society, but the Bible defines mystery as revelation that was hidden in the Old Testament era and revealed in the New. That is its consistent meaning in Scripture (Ro. 16:25-26; Eph. 3:3-4; Col. 1:26-27). Consider the word “beareth” (1 Co. 13:7). This is the Greek stego, which according to Strong’s means “to cover, to cover over in silence, to conceal, to hide the faults of others.” Strong’s gives as a secondary meaning, “to hold out, forbear, bear with, endure.” But stego always has the meaning of bearing with or enduring in Scripture and never has the meaning of covering faults. It is translated “forbear” (1 Th. 3:1, 5) and “suffer,” meaning to endure (1 Co. 9:12).
If nothing else, Strong provided an immeasurable benefit for Bible students by producing a numbering system for every Hebrew and Greek word so that those who cannot use Hebrew and Greek lexicons directly can still study the words at a basic level. This numbering system became the basis for a wealth of other Bible study tools (Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words, Englishman’s Hebrew and Greek Lexicons, Theological Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon, Complete Word Study Dictionary). This was an invaluable tool for the Bible Institute movement that began in the late 1800s and spread quickly in the 20th. The Bible Institutes were based on the English Bible and produced countless preachers and Christian workers who were zealous Bible students but were not well trained in the Biblical languages.
Being able to see the Hebrew and Greek is invaluable. For example, in John 21:15-17 Jesus commissioned Peter to feed the sheep. By using Strong’s we learn that the word “love” is two different Greek words in this passage. In verses 15 and 16, Jesus used agapao, which is godly love, the highest love, unselfish love, giving love, John 3:16 love. It is the word used for the first and second commandment--love of God and love of neighbor (Mr. 12:30-31). But Peter used phileo, which is love of a friend, fondness, affection, to delight in something, something that is dear. In verse 17, Jesus uses phileo. Both words are used of the Father’s love for the Son (agapao Joh. 3:35; phileo Joh. 5:20).
As for infant baptism, since Strong was a Methodist, he probably did hold to that heresy. If you believe that you shouldn’t use any work by a man who holds to infant baptism, you will need to reject the King James Bible, because all of its translators held to that.
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