Finalists for the “Blank Interlinear”

Finalists for the “Blank Interlinear”

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Three months ago I accepted a call as pastor of a rural church in Northern Michigan—a church that had been without a pastor for almost three years. While I greatly appreciate my seminary training, I quickly became overwhelmed. Within the first week (a) a much-loved member of the congregation died, (b) feuding church members attempted to recruit the new pastor to their side, (c) the annual budget process began, (c) local dissident ministers ‘welcomed’ me to the area with the hopes I would sign a letter to the editor condemning the Pentecostal movement (I declined, and was subsequently included in the letter), (d) a family left the church because I was not a KJV-only advocate, (e) a congregant demanded that I bring one of the deacons up on church discipline charges for repeatedly shaking his hand too hard, (f) a church volunteer was caught using pornography, (g) and I was slapped in the face by an intoxicated local mother when I informed her that the youth group was running 15 minutes late returning from an outing (actually, I believe the slap was during week two).

As an experienced professional counselor previously in private practice, the unique nature of these various scenarios are not particularly surprising. Yet, I was caught of guard with the excessive demands on a pastor’s time. My dream of spending 20 uninterrupted hours each week preparing for Sunday’s sermon was hopelessly dashed. Instead, I scrambled to teach my brain to study & think in smaller, sporadic units of time. Although nervousness is expected while preaching (and even the most veteran ministers inform me this never goes away), for the first time in my life I felt the panic of not being fully prepared as I walked to the pulpit. It is a sickening sensation. At that moment I felt like a charlatan – some devious pagan simply pretending to be a man called by God.

Your website article on constructing an interlinear note-taking bible is an incredible adaptation designed specifically with the busy pastor in mind. Not only would this allow me to retain some semblance of Greek proficiency, but would also allow the great advantage being able to record my thoughts on Scripture while occupied with various pastoral tasks (sitting in the hospital waiting rooms, waiting in the prison/jail visitor lobby, or stealing an extra 15 minutes in the local diner after a pastoral care lunch appointment). It has the potential of being a portable, conveniently-sized, and organized record of years of reflection on the Holy Word.

I do love the ministry. These first three months have been demanding, and our gracious Lord is reminding me that I must not rely on my own strength. That He has begun to teach me this lesson so early is proof of his love for me. If in His providence He so chooses to gift this Bible to me, it will be another reminder of His indefatigable love.

Pastor Joshua G.
Indian River, MI

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In order to answer this question, I must first explain the predicament with which I face. You see, I am a seminary graduate. And like many seminary graduates who are busily engaged in pastoral ministry, one of the many disciplines that easily slips away is a continued working in the original languages of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. However, in many ways I am not like many seminary graduates because a majority, on average, keep up with the rigors of language study, but do so with only their Greek New Testament. What I have discovered is that many pastors completely abandon their time with the Hebrew Old Testament {obviously I am generalizing here, but it appears to be the case on average}. Not so with me. I was an Old Testament major. So, I have continued in the discipline of keeping up my Hebrew {I love it! See Psalm 119 for a Biblical plagiarizing of my thoughts!}. But sadly, and quite contrary to most pastors, my Greek is fading. Like yesterday’s Top 40 boy band, my competency in Greek is disappearing from the caverns and recesses of my mind.

This blank interlinear just might be the key to get me out of the Hebrew enough to focus on sustaining my Greek/New Testament studies. This interlinear might be the animal skins in my Greek garden, the wind that blows open the Red Sea of my Greek Bible, the trumpet sound that crashes down my Greek Jericho, the smooth stone that slays the Greek Goliath that taunts me day after day, and the breeze that moves across my valley of dry bones and brings my Greek to life. But lest this begin to sound self-serving {it really is, I am a sinner!} my motivation is based on my desire to see God glorified and His people encouraged. In my ministry, preaching, blogging, discipling, etc, my desire remains the same for the church: To make the Scriptures easy to understand, hard to forget, and impossible to ignore. The gift of this interlinear would enhance and serve this purpose for the church to the glory of God.

Benji M.
Garland, TX

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At fourteen years of age I dedicated my life to the preaching, teaching and the study of the Word of God. It has been my passion from that time to prepare myself not only to communicate effectively God’s Word through various avenues of proclamation but to know Him more deeply and more intimately every time I open the pages of the Bible. I study not to prepare a sermon or a teaching lesson, but to know Him. John said in his gospel, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). I want the “life” that the beloved apostle is speaking of. I want the “life” that comes in the knowledge of the Holy. I want the “life” that comes in having a personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. According to John, that “life” is only found in a knowledge that comes through the study of God’s Word. Knowing Christ Jesus as He is revealed in the pages of the New Testament is the purpose of study. This blank interlinear New Testament will aid in the giving of “life.”

With the original language so accessible and the option of extensive note taking at my disposal, it will aid me in the preparation of public sermons and private study. It will then become help to others as they seek to grow in their Christian life. This Bible will be a direct outlet and record of my personal study time in the presence of God and will allow me to keep my notes, thoughts and meditations in a central location instead of various notebooks and scraps of paper. It would be most helpful and will no doubt become a tool in my study like no other. I foresee this Bible allowing me to open the New Testament in a fresh way each time I go to its pages. As a preacher and teacher in the New Testament church I feel it is of vital importance to know the New Testament as well as possible that the church would grow in the knowledge of Christ and receive “life in His name.” I would use this New Testament for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ and the glory and exaltation of His holy name.

Warm Christian greetings,

Dustin B.
Louisville, KY

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I would like to enter into this contest for the ESV Interlinear Blank Page Bible. I serve as Pastor of Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in Lexington, KY and am currently pursuing my DMin in Expository Preaching from Southern Seminary. My desire is to take our 221-year-old church into an era of her history grounded fully in the Scriptures. Sadly, 221-year-old churches are often wrought with man-made and senseless traditions which may seem culturally relevant to this body but are not Scripturally mandated. As we go through the Scriptures, little-by-little and piece-by-piece those traditions are falling by the way-side. The result is God bringing in the increase with a love for God and a love for His Word. Whereas we averaged approximately 135-140 at the beginning of the year, we are now averaging 175-180 – not with gimmicks or promotions but a desire to preach and teach God’s Word.

I am an apologist for the ESV at my blog (http://www.matt-perry.com). I believe it blends readability with accuracy. My desire for this Interlinear Bible is to build on the foundation being laid here through the Word of Christ to help me preach more diligently and accurately, rightly dividing the Word of truth to my beloved people here. This tool will be crucial in that aim.

Thank you – and blessings,

Rev. Matthew P.
Lexington, KY

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II Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

These words greeted me at the entrance to Moody Bible Institute back in 1967. The thought of studying every subject from a biblical perspective, not to mention classes for in-depth study of the books of the Bible, was almost overwhelming to me. Other than my daily quiet time, I didn’t really know how to go about personal, in-depth study for myself. My days at Moody were the beginning of a great adventure.

While working toward my diploma in foreign missions, two classes had great impact in my life. In “Bible Study Methods” I learned various ways to approach Bible study, and then worked through assignments applying each method. This forced me to become very careful in my observations, and depend first on the Holy Spirit rather than man to guide my study. The beauty of that class was the excitement it engendered in digging deeply to find the treasures that lay in God’s Word.

New Testament Greek also stands out in my memory. Someone suggested I should take Greek for my foreign language. I had never considered it until another class I registered for was full. What an enhancement it became to my personal study.

After graduating from Moody, I got my degree in nursing and eventually went to Hong Kong as a missionary. Unfortunately, with the busyness of life, I again slipped back into the habit of depending more on what others had written, rather than delving into study for myself. I married, moved back to the States, had a family, and forgot most of the Greek I had learned. We home schooled our children and it was during this time that I began to “remember” the great thrill it was to study God’s Word on a deeper level.

Since then I have tried several ways of recording and preserving study notes, and haven’t really been completely satisfied with any of them. I’ve never had an interlinear Bible, but can see the great value that it would be in having so much information at my fingertips with extra pages to write personal notes as well. I would love to study the New Testament with this Reverse Interlinear ESV Bible.

Violet T.
Happy Valley, OR

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My Pastor and I were having a conversation on the Lord’s day about a month ago expressing our joy in the release of The ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament as well as the ESV Note Takers Bible. We had both conveyed our belief that having the thoughts the Lord blesses us with would be more beneficial and edifying if we could have our notes next to the text, and we both expressed frustration that no Bible we had seen had adequate space to record the results of our meditation on God’s Word. No more than a week went by when God’s providence showed us a way to grant this desire of our hearts.

I stumbled across Tony’s blog at the prospect of obtaining the 16 volume John Owen complete works at a substantial discount (can you blame me?) which I did purchase by the grace of God. I was fascinated at his blank Bible series and have been anxiously waiting to do my own. Seeing that he would be giving away a blank Interlinear I imagined how it would benefit my private studies while preparing for the ministry or preparing for the occasional Sunday School lesson my pastor graces me to give. It did not take long to see the best way this work could benefit me. What better way to edify myself through this great gift than to give it to my pastor and see the fruits of his labor from the pulpit? Not only would I be blessed by the outpouring of God’s Spirit through this gift but my Pastor’s entire flock would also be encouraged and blessed as well. Our spiritual lives would be enhanced not only through the improving on his already Christ centered preaching, but it would inspire us to dig deeper in our own devotional times with God as well. This could only lead to deeper fellowship within my church and a certain spill over in passion as we evangelize as well.

It was God’s grace that lead me to Tony’s site to see a way this desire of maximizing the benefit of mine and my pastor’s spiritual lives could be achieved. If it is a free gift or a result of a few days of spirit lead work, there is no doubt in my mind that it is my delightful duty to give this to my pastor for the blessings of many.

Dallas P.
Las Vegas, NV

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As a current seminary student pursuing a Masters in Divinity, I suspect that obtaining a copy of an ESV Blank Reverse Interlinear New Testament would be extremely profitable for my studies. It is my conviction that the study of the original languages of the Holy Scriptures is foundational to an effective and Godly pastoral ministry such as that which I plan to pursue to as a church planter. The concept of a “blank” Bible is one which I have found to be particularly helpful in my studies already. I utilize my copy of the ESV Journaling Bible to great effect, and appreciate the ability to record my thoughts adjacent to the text. However, this resource has thus far been confined to the English Standard Version text. As a result, I have found myself constantly adding small notes concerning the original Greek or Hebrew terms behind the English translation. The result is difficult to decipher, as well as a chore to continually note. The possession of such a “blank” version of the ESV New Testament combined with the Greek text would be invaluable to me in that I would have both texts before me for commentary. I particularly would be happy to own such a text because of my appreciation for the English Standard Version. I have found the accuracy and style of the ESV to be very commendable, enough that it has become my primary English language translation of the Scriptures. Perhaps most of all, having a spiral-bound copy of the New Testament would be incredibly helpful to me in itself. Our seminary has a small weight room in the basement where I often go to run on a treadmill. The value of being able to simply lay the Scriptures open flat to read as I run would be quite awesome.

Bryan P.
Wynnewood, PA

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Receiving a blank ESV reverse interlinear would be a great blessing for me this Christmas. I am a twenty year old student of Scripture and I am going to begin studying Greek at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky next spring. Presently I lead a Bible study in my hometown of Brighton, Tennessee and I often feel so limited by my lack of understanding concerning the Greek text. Presently I am memorizing the book of Ephesians and it is also the text for our study. This book has been blowing me away, and the Lord has opened my eyes to Scripture in such an amazing way through this detailed study, but when I find difficult concepts in the text, I feel so limited in understanding. When I reference my KJV concordance it is often a great help but I can only imagine making direct references from the ESV to the Greek. What a blessing that would be to me. I came across Tony’s blog a few days ago when a friend referenced me there to see the blank bible. I’ve heard of Jonathan Edward’s blank bible and had considered contacting a publisher to check on the possibilities of printing one, but I would really like to thank you for building your own and detailing the process in such a way. Spread the Word brother! Lord willing I hope to spend a few days over winter break building a few blank bibles for friends and families. Thank you so much, grace and peace to you.

Jeremy W.
Millington, TN

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To begin, I must say a word of praise. What a wonderful and merciful gift is God’s Word to His people! Even more, what a mercy that we can read God’s Word in our own language. God has shown me in wonderful ways the preciousness of words. I am in my third full year of college. In my classes, I have been blessed with teachers who are dedicated to taking great texts apart word-by-word. Therefore, it is such a blessing to take the words (the Bible) by which the Word (Christ) is made known and study, examine, and rejoice in them through intense study. With this great gift of the Bible in our own English language, why would I wish to possess and read it in an entirely different tongue?

First, the New Testament was not originally written in English. But for deep and fruitful study, a comprehension of the original language is so crucial. Knowing this, I have been taking classes in Ancient Greek. Because this class is Ancient and not Biblical Greek (my college does not offer Biblical Greek), I have not yet had the honor of studying God’s Word in its original language. Still, my learning of Greek has established my ability and fueled my desire to read the New Testament as it was composed. An interlinear New Testament would give me this wonderful opportunity as I continue to hone my Greek and utilize it for the glory of God.

Second, I have a practical goal in learning Greek. As I have attended college, there is one place that my experience has shown in dire need of salt and light. This is in the world of the university. I have seen the pervasive sin, the rejecting and ignoring of God. I have also seen great hunger for meaning. But sadly, even those who seek often do not have shepherds to disciple them. In this there is such a great need for Biblically-dedicated teachers in our universities. I believe the Holy Spirit has called me to stand in this gap, to faithfully study Scripture and to teach Christ glorified to the next generation. As I continue to prepare for this calling, an interlinear New Testament would be a wonderful guide as I work toward understanding God’s Word and communicating it in the classroom. May God be glorified in this work as I know He is glorified in yours.

Adam C.
Wheelersburg, OH

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The Blank Reverse Interlinear (BRI) would help me and my church in at least the following three ways:

First, the BRI would be a tremendous help to my preaching and sermon preparation. Currently, I simply look over the Greek of the passage I am preaching and maybe look up a few of the words in GRAMCORD. However, with the BRI, I would discipline myself to actually translate each passage and write appropriate notes about the passage on the blank pages. Since I preach from the ESV, studying from the BRI would give me a better idea of the thought behind the translation. Luther said, “Though the faith and the Gospel may be proclaimed by simple preachers without the languages, such preaching is flat and tame, men grow at last wearied and disgusted and it falls to the ground. But when the preacher is versed in the languages, his discourse has freshness and force, the whole of Scripture is treated, and faith finds itself constantly renewed.”

Second, the BRI would help me learn the Greek better. Learning the Greek better would make me a better student of God’s Word and a more faithful expositor. Taking notes on each page of the BRI would increase my knowledge of Greek vocabulary and syntax. Hopefully, the BRI would be a bridge to reading straight from the Greek New Testament. Again, Luther stings me when he says, “It is a sin and shame not to know our own book or to understand the speech and words of our God; it is a still greater sin and loss that we do not study languages, especially in these days when God is offering and giving us men and books and every facility and inducement to this study, and desires his Bible to be an open book. O how happy the dear fathers would have been if they had our opportunity to study the languages and come thus prepared to the Holy Scriptures! What great toil and effort it cost them to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor yes, almost without any labor at all can acquire the whole loaf! O how their effort puts our indolence to shame.”

Finally, the BRI would improve my overall mental and spiritual life. Forcing myself to think deeply about each page of the interlinear and taking notes on each word and sentence would train my mind for deep thinking and my heart for deeper love for Christ and His Word.

In Christ Alone,

Justin C.
Wilson, NC

[Luther quotes taken from Piper’s biographical message at the 1996 Pastor’s Conference.]

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This blank interlinear would be a tremendous blessing to me for a number of reasons. The biggest reason it would be of help to me is due to my role as Pastor.

I am a young Pastor, just 28 years old. The Lord called me to Gospel ministry after several years of being willing to do anything but Pastoring a Church. Then, one day, as the result of someone jokingly telling me to plant a Church in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Lord put it on my heart to do so in a most compelling manner at 25 years old.

Being a young Pastor of a Church Plant this blank interlinear would be an awesome help to further my studies of the greek language. There are no good options for Seminary education here in Nevada. I have some learned men around me who help mentor me in the learning process, but I need a lot more help. To be able to analyize the greek language, how it is translated, and also be able to make notes (parsing verbs, and making lexical notes) on the blank pages will not only help me learn the language but will also greatly aid my preperation to preach.

I love the greek language and have committed myself to mastering it to the Glory of God and for the good of the flock God has given me charge over. There are no greater reasons than these.

I firmly believe that understanding the greek language is central to proper exegesis and application. I remember reading Cornelius Van Til early in my personal theological studies. He was adamate about the importance of mastering the languages in order to not only preach, but especially to engage in systematic theological study of the scriptures. I wholly agree! Though the essential message of the Gospel is clear in our english language, a thorough understanding of the Greek is most necesssary to engage in serious study. This blank interlinear would, as stated, be a most effective tool in furthering my knowledge of the Greek language.

As a young Pastor who desires to be as effective as possible in feeding the Sheep the Lord has given me I would find this tool to be a great blessing.

Blessings in Christ,

Luke S.
Las Vegas, NV

2 thoughts on “Finalists for the “Blank Interlinear”

  1. I’m not pastor…but that first letter with the overly-busy fellow: sounds like he ought to have a good sit-down with men in the Church, most especially with Husbands who are fathers, and systematically read-through the Bible with them studying, and then after that should systematically (very carefully) go through with them over various subjects, so that they’ll be able to handle their families.

    Further, where were the elders in all this? Pastors (those at my Church included) are often elders themselves and so perform these functions, but shouldn’t there be elders, able-to-teach as required, who are also handling the flock gently but wisely? The full-time teachers should, I believe, have time to prepare for sermons etc., and especially when so much “Christian” media/trends/fads/teachings available are nothing of the sort: they need time to study themselves approved so as not to err..

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