“If any man has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:23
Hear – Instead of reading this in Greek, try reading it in Hebrew. After all, Jesus spoke the words in Hebrew so that’s the way we want to understand them. Of course, you don’t actually have to translate this Greek text back into Hebrew to see what it really means. As soon as you recognize that it is originally Hebrew, then you know that Yeshua is using a play on words (in Hebrew) to make His point. The word for “hear” is shama. It also means “obey.” So, when Yeshua says that if a man with ears “hears”, He implies that hearing and obeying are one and the same thing. Only those who do what the word says have actually heard it.
Translating this into English from the Greek text doesn’t make a lot of sense because the Greek language doesn’t use the same word for both “hear” and “obey.” Neither does English. So, unless you know that Yeshua is speaking Hebrew, and you take into account both of the meanings in Hebrew, you won’t get it. Easy, right?
This simple lesson demonstrates something very important. The New Testament is not new! It is merely an extension of the same worldview and thought patterns of God’s chosen people. It is additional Hebrew-based instruction. The “new” testament is commentary on the Old Testament, but it is not a separate set of instructions from God. It is not a new ecclesiology. It is not a new covenant. It is the authorized interpretation of the existing covenant between God and His people. In spite of everything that you have been told, the church did not begin at Pentecost, Jesus did not set aside the Torah at His death and Paul did not change the structure of church government. Everything important had already been established long before Yeshua and Paul came on the scene. It’s time to read God’s Word as a single message, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s time to see that the writings of the apostles are commentary and explanation about the writings of the prophets.
There are dozens and dozens of Hebrew idioms in the New Testament, just like the one in this verse. Unless they are understood from a Hebrew perspective, they will be misunderstood. That means statements about the Law, the church, the gifts, the Holy Spirit, baptism, forgiveness, sin and salvation must all be understood within the context of Hebrew thought. Unfortunately, the combination of anti-Semitism in church history and a preoccupation with the Greek text has led to a significant deficiency in our understanding of the Hebrew worldview. From education to justice, from marriage to management, from ritual to righteousness, we are typically Greek, not Hebrew. We need to recover what we have lost. We need to hear all over again. We can start this process with a simple question. Each time you read your New Testament authorized commentary on the Hebrew Scripture, ask yourself, “If I were a Jewish believer in the first century, how would I understand this text?” If your answer involves a lot of Christian-eze, then you probably don’t know what the text means. You are probably suffering from a long history of Christian re-interpretation via Greek influence. If you want to know what the authors of the authorized commentary really meant, including Yeshua, you will have to start thinking of the world from a Jewish perspective. Don’t worry! Just because God is Jewish doesn’t mean that He won’t invite you to His beth-midrash (house of study). J
Topical Index: New Testament, idioms, shama, beth-midrash, authorized commentary