The Power of a Word

When studying the Bible, it is essential to use good hermeneuticsthe branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible.

2 Peter 1:20 states that, “But know first of all, that no prophesy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” In other words, we need to read the Bible using and applying good rules of interpretation in order to know the author’s intended meaning. One of the most basic tools of hermeneutics is to ascertain the literal meaning of words; usually this involves using a concordance to learn the Hebrew word (Old Testament) or Greek word (New Testament) in order to determine the actual meaning. The importance of taking the time to do this was demonstrated very powerfully to me in the following incident:

A famous tv personality stated in a video that the turning point in her “Christian faith” was when she heard a pastor declare in a sermon that God was a jealous God. She said that she was in the moment with the other listeners until she heard the word “jealous.” Then she proceeded to recount the attributes of God such as being all-knowing, powerful, etc.; yet, she began to immediately dispute these attributes by asking the question, “You mean God is jealous of ME?” The fact that God was jealous did “not feel right in her spirit”—she subsequently embraced false doctrine and used her influence to further those beliefs.

It seems incredible that a misunderstanding of one word could so powerfully contribute to such a major departure from a professed faith, when a simple investigation of the Hebrew word for jealous would have most likely moved her into truth.

Jealous= quanna (Hebrew)

Ardor; zeal; jealousy only of God

The Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words defines quanna as “the term [that] refers only to God as being jealous, indicating the divine determination to tolerate from his people no respect for, or worship of, any other deity besides Himself.” In other words, God prohibits worship of idols because of his passion and zeal for his people. He is not jealous of anyone; God is jealous for his people and desires nothing to stand in the way of the loving, protective, and—yes—possessive relationship between himself and those who belong to him in Jesus.