Monday July 30, 2012

It’s important to think of the Bible as a dictionary. Here is why.

One of my favorite words is “patina.” In my work of designing and installing interior woodwork, I rub shoulders with a bevy of “interior designers,” “decorators” and the like. Many of these are too busy to actually look up the word for themselves and come to an understanding of the correct usage of that word.

As a child I learned English from my parents. As a student I learned to use the dictionary. Now, knowing that, when I come to a word I wish to understand, I use the dictionary.

Here is on the word “patina.”

Definition of PATINA

1 a : a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color b : a surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use

2 : an appearance or aura that is derived from association, habit, or established character

3 : a superficial covering or exterior

    Examples of PATINA

        <although the winery is brand-new, it has been constructed and decorated to give it a patina of old-world quaintness>

    Origin of PATINA
    Italian, from Latin, shallow dish – more at paten
    First Known Use: 1748
    Related to PATINA
    Synonyms: air, ambience (or ambiance), aroma, atmosphere, climate, flavor, halo, karma, mood, nimbus, note, odor, aura, smell, temper, vibration(s)
    Other Metals and Metallurgy Terms
    assay, bloom, bullion, ductile, ingot, malleable, plate, temper, tensile
    Rhymes with PATINA
    arena, Athena, Bernina, cantina, catena, Christina, coquina, corbina, corvina, czarina, dracaena, euglena, farina, fontina, galena, Georgi…

I put all this here to make a specific point.

A dictionary is men’s words used to define men’s words.
A Bible is God’s words used to define God’s words.

We should not mix the two.

Here is a perfect example.

 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth,
    Thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.  Proverbs 6:2

In this text God is defining “snared” as “taken,” and vice versa.

The Bible has thousands of words. Just as in the example above, with the word “patina,” many of man’s words are used to create a greater understanding of the subject word. God does exactly the same thing.

In English, similar words with similar meanings are called “synonyms.” I even have a whole book on common synonyms. In the text above “snared” is a synonym for the word “taken,” as defined by God. You might not agree with God’s definition. God is using a peculiar choice of words to communicate to his church the hidden mystery. But, if they reject God’s appointed way, there is no other way to Heaven.

As with the English word “patina,” a dictionary presents a standard, just as the Bible presents God’s standard; conformity to the standard allows people to properly communicate.


Failure to adhere to the standard generates confusion, and James 3:16 says, “every evil work.” Hence a huge source of scattering and divisions and every wind of doctrine.

Give it some thought.

God Bless your study

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