FROM THE FOREWORD OF THE FIRST EDITION
A renewed struggle for a deeper understanding of God’s Word is present in the ranks
of all who earnestly want to live as Christians. There is a stronger desire to be clothed
with the "whole armor of God." Where do we find the whole armor of God? It is
not in polemic, not in apologetic, not in speculations, not in the mystical, and not in
philosophy, but rather in the Word, the Holy Scriptures alone. This is where God has
revealed Himself. This is where we must be at home. This is what matters, to grasp and
learn the Word in all its weight and reality.
In order for this to be accomplished three tools are designed to help us. These are
"Keys" which are to open the door of the New Testament for us, especially the
door of the original text. Three "Keys" are designed to our servants: A
Linguistic Key; A Key to the Concepts of the New Testament; A Key to the Background of
the New Testament.
Exactly what these three "Keys" mean, and the special duty of each will be
presented in an introduction to each and references will be made to each of these three keys.
However, above everything else, this thesis remains absolute and certain: the Holy
Spirit is the only true Key to the Word of God. Nevertheless, the petition for the Holy
Spirit does not exclude earnest and energetic study.
Introduction to the Linguistic Key to the New Testament.
In 1524 Luther wrote this concerning the value of the Greek language: "In the
measure that we love the Gospel, so let us place a strong emphasis on the languages.
For it was not without reason that God wrote the Scriptures in two languages, the Old
Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. That language which God did not
despise but rather chose above all others for His Word is the language which we also
should honor above all others. It is a sin and shame that we do not learn this language
of our Book, especially since God has now provided us people and books, and gives us
all kinds of things which both help us with this task and at the same time stimulates
us to do this." There is nothing more to add to these words of Luther.
The user of the Linguistic Key will find in this work an exact explanation
of the verb forms. The substantives and adjectives are given in the nominative. When
it is necessary, the root of both the verbs and substantives will be presented; that
is when it appears important to the author that it serves a practical purpose, but not
however as an extra philological burden just for the sake of philology. The results of
the newest commentaries will conscientiously be considered. The concern is that the
reader and the exegete will be given an abundance of points of contact which the
scientific student can only receive from the original text. Every chapter is complete
in itself and even every section is understandable in itself.
It will often be seen in the Linguistic Key how important it is for the
seeking reader and the practical exegete to take into consideration the grammatical
side of the text investigation. He must do this through the exact examination of what
may perhaps appear to be an unimportant "but" or "for." It is
intended to sharpen his vision for the world of the little and the least. By this
careful detail work it can, under circumstances, happen that a totally unimportant
appearing word turns out to have a decisive meaning. It can even be that without this,
a true understanding of the text is not possible. The Linguistic Key is intended
also to be an initial and quick introduction to the understanding of the original text.
Born out of the practical need, the Key is to serve the practical. It is intended
to make possible a constant and living relation to the original text, to encourage a
reflective reading of the text, to produce joy in the study of the Bible, both in family
and private devotions, and to provide a personal adherence and careful attention to the
Word. May the Linguistic Key often give new light through the grammatical usage
to many a well-worn and threadbare word. May many words regain new life and new love.
In regard to the external feature, the Linguistic Key is further intended to
be an aid in learning the New Testament vocabulary. Then, it is to build a first bridge
to the use of the scholarly New Testament Greek grammar of Blass and Debrunner and to
make reference to the great and valuable Lexica of Meng-Gűthling, Bauer,
and above all Kittel’s great Theological Dictionary. May the Key give a
greater incentive to the useful study of the commentaries.
FOREWORD TO THE ENGLISH REVISION
The Sprachlicher Schlűssel has undergone numerous German editions and
has proven to be a real help to students of God’s holy Word. All who have used it with
immense profit are deeply indebted to the scholar and man of God, Fritz Rienecker.
On August 15, 1965, the earthly work of Fritz Rienecker came to an end. The Lord
whom he so loved called him home after a fruitful ministry here on earth. His many
literary works live on and continue to be used by those seeking to study the Bible.
Mr. Rienecker had intended to write two other books which were to supplement the
Linguistic Key. One was to cover the theological concepts of the Scriptures and
the other was to provide a historical background explaining the world of the New Testament.
The realization of this vision was cut short by his death.
The translation and revision of the Linguistic Key has attempted in a limited
way to achieve the purpose intended by the two proposed words of Reinecker. Explanations
gave been given no only regarding the grammatical forms, but there are also numerous new
references to other works where the background material may be found. The revision includes
a wider range of references to grammatical works, commentaries, journal articles, and
historical works, and these are especially adapted to the English reader. The citation
of a work does not mean that the theological position of its author is endorsed, but only
that the particular quote was deemed valuable in reference to its historical or grammatical insight.
A word of thanks is due to my family, relatives and friends for their patient
endurance during the long hours of work with Rienecker. A special word of thanks is
due to Dr. Robert De Vries and The Zondervan Corporation for their kindness and patience.
The faithful work of the typists, Mrs. Linda Hutchinson, Mrs. Barbara Capps and Miss
Aileen Dunn has also been deeply appreciated. It would also be in order to thank my son,
Cleon III, for his untiring work in copying the Greek words and proofreading the manuscript.
May the Spirit of God use these efforts to increase an interest in and an understanding
of His holy Word.