The Greek in which the New Testament is written may be called 'first century' Greek. It must not be confused with classical Greek, which flourished many centuries before. Ancient Greek had several distinct dialects, the chief of which were the Aeolic, the Doric, and the Ionic. Attic was a kind of Ionic, spoken in Athens. Most of the Greek classics were written in this dialect, which later came to be the recognized standard among cultured Greeks. A form of this, called the [koinE], the common dialect, spread over most of the known world after the conquests of Alexander. The Hebrew Scriptures were translated into it and thus it became the language of the people of Palestine. It was the common tongue of all classes. All the so-called 'New Testament' was composed in it.

The Greek text

The fidelity of the New Testament text rests in the multiplicity of the extant manuscripts. There are about 5,000 Greek manuscripts to attest the New Testament. Furthermore, the interval between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence is so small as to be in fact negligible.
During the period of criticism and revision of the New Testament Text, the struggle between the 'Received Text' and 'a critical text' has been waged, with the latter emerging as the victor. While scarcely a modern scholar defends the superiority of the Received Text, it should be pointed out that there is no substantial difference between it and the critical text. Their differences are merely technical, not doctrinal, for the variations are doctrinally inconsequential. Nevertheless, the 'critical' readings are often exegetically helpful to Bible students. The critical text used for the ISA program is Nestle Aland, the 26th edition. At this moment the Scriveners Textus Receptus is temporarily used in ISA basic version 2.1. Due to copyright claims we had to replace the WHNA text.


The language

The Greek alphabet has 24 letters. For the forms and names, see chart.

Chart 1. The Greek alphabet.

The earliest form of the letters was the capital, used in inscriptions out in stone. A modification of this used for manuscripts is called uncial. All Biblical manuscripts in Greek before the 10th cent. A.D. were written in uncials. It is important for the reader to keep in mind the lateness of some of the editorial devices. The earliest uncial manuscripts were even without breaks between the words. Breathings, accents, and punctuation marks-which often greatly influence the translation-are later editorial additions and should be treated as such. Therefore, the ISA program aims to give the text, as nearly as possible, as it was in the 1st cent. A.D.

The interlinear text : word meaning

The concordant method of studying the Greek New Testament uses a concordance, such as The Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament (original edition 1840), edited by George V. Wigram, to discover the meaning of a word. This method is based on the vocabulary of the Original, not on the various vocabularies found in English versions. The aim is to discover a word's usage and fix its signification by its inspired associations. It is in line with the linguistic law that the meaning of a word is decided by its usage.
In employing this method an exhaustive investigation was made of the whole divine vocabulary in order to find the single most exact English equivalent for each Greek word; one which will not only fit each context in which the original word appears, but one which is not needed for any other Greek word.
To appreciate this 'concordant' method, we will examine the word [katabolE], commonly translated "foundation." One is confronted with a difficulty at the very outset. Another word is also translated "foundation." It is [themelios]. This word has a much better right to be thus translated. Most Greek words are members of a large family. The nearest relative, the father of this word for "foundation," means "to place" [tithEmi]. That it really includes the thought of founding is witnessed by the context of each occurrence. It is "upon a rock" (Matt.7:25; Luke 6:48), it keeps company with "rooted" (Eph.3:17), "settled" (Col.1:23), 'strengthen' (1Peter5:10). Every occurrence of the word itself, without exception, bears out for the meaning of "foundation." It is "built" (Luke 6:49; Rom.15:20; 1 Cor.3:12; Eph.2:20). It is "laid" (Luke 6:48; 14:29; 1 Cor.3:10,11). It is part of a prison (Acts 16:26), a temple (Eph.2:20), a city wall (Rev.21:14-19). There can be no other conclusion that [themelios] means "foundation."
But [katabolE], the word under study, has no such evidence to support its claim to this meaning. Its nearest relative, [kataballO], is generally translated "cast down" (2 Cor.4:9; Rev.12:10). The context of 2 Cor. 4:9 shows that it cannot mean "built up. Neither would heaven rejoice of Satan's being "founded" when he is defeated (Rev.12:10).
The evidence for the exact force of this expression is multiplied many times if it is separated into its elements. Its elements are DOWN-CAST, and the Greek has found its way into English in the word catabolism. The element DOWN brings in two hundred witnesses, while CAST commands over fifty. These may be called its near relatives. DOWN-CASTing is a strange and unlikely word for 'foundation'. It does not suggest building up, but casting down. By testing this new thought in all the contexts, DOWN-CASTing means 'disruption', not 'foundation', as, for example, in Eph. 1:4,

As the above example shows, in ISA the Greek elements have been transferred to the CGTS interlinear, while the idiomatic variants are given in the CGES interlinear.

The interlinear text : Grammar

The Greek-English concordant interlinear provides a simple and safe tool by which the English-speaking student may acquire some knowledge of Greek. This profit will be greatly enhanced when the grammar tags are intelligently used.
Greek grammar allows for the systematic discovery of important theological truths that are difficult to discover through reading a translation.

(1) The case system

A sentence commonly consists of a verb indicating some kind of action, a number of nouns related to that action, and a variety of modifiers. The Greek language employs a case system that assigns to each noun its grammatical function in the sentence. The case system consists of four of these grammatical functions, which are assigned to the nouns by means of an inflection system. These four functions are : the subject, the source, the scene and the object. They answer to the questions : which one? whence? where? and whither? respectively. The latter three functions are associated with a direction, an association which is the same that governs the prepositions, which will prove of help in the understanding of the case system.


The concept 'noun' here includes any word, phrase or clause that acts as a noun, which is known, more generally, as a substantive. The four cases, which indicate the four functions, are called nominative, genitive, dative and accusative, respectively.
Because each noun, together with its modifiers, is subject to the case system, a sentence abounds with case endings, affecting about three-fifths of all words in the Greek New Testament and attests to the importance of the case system.
By combining the use of connectives and cases, Greek is far more definite than English in indicating the relation of words to one another. Besides, this allows the words to be arranged in such an order as to give each its proper emphasis.

(2) The tenses

The tenses in biblical Greek present a logical and efficient system of temporal statement. This system is much more informative than the English system. In addition to the past, present and future tenses, Greek recognizes the need for a tense called the aorist. As the name indicates the meaning of this tense is that it abstains from indicating a timeframe (aoristos, 'without horizon', 'un-defined', 'indefinite').
Actually, the utility of the aorist is so great that it is the most frequently used tense of a main verb in the New Testament, it being found in 43% of all main verbs.

Ephesians 1: 4-9

This string of aorists is usually translated in the past tense. How much more powerful and instructive are these statements when it is realized that they are not limited to the (far) past, but are still valid today as well as into the future.

John 3:16

The aorist indicates a fact, a timeless truth. God still loves the world, and the giving of his Son is not a one-time event either.

The existence of the aorist tense has an important effect on the meaning of the other tenses. The use of a past tense, for example, is not only forced by the fact that the action took place in the past, but is also used to indicate that the past tense is of some consequence. In the same way the significance of the present is greatly expanded.

John 3:36

Usage of the present tense includes the indication that the action is limited to the present, that the action will not continue in the future or that it did not take place in the past. The meaning of this phrase is, as the present indicates, that the indignation of God is temporary remaining on him.



Select bibliography


A.E. Knoch, et al, Concordant Greek Text, Concordant Publishing Concern, Santa Clarita, California, U.S.A., 1978.


A.E. Knoch, et al, The Greek Elements, Concordant Publishing Concern, Santa Clarita, California, U.S.A., 1971.

W.S. LaSor, Handbook of New Testament Greek, W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A., 1973.


A.E. Knoch, et al, Concordant Literal New Testament, Concordant Publishing Concern, Santa Clarita, California, U.S.A., 1983.


N.L. Geisler and W.E. Nix, A general introduction to the Bible, Moody Press, Chicago, U.S.A, 1977.

J. Hoogland, Access to the Greek New Testament, Hawaii, U.S.A. , 2006


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