Is it All Greek to You?

Did you see the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

It has been my life. In 1992, I married my Greek husband, Mike (aka Minas). Little did I know what I was getting into.

On our wedding day, An Egyptian friend brought a pan of his famous baklava to our reception as a gift. Watching all the Greek women surround that pan of baklava, smelling it and holding it to the light as they whispered in Greek, “What is this?” “Who brought it… it’s not Greek…” was embarrassing.

Moral of the story? Take nothing but Greek baklava to a Greek wedding or any other Greek get together…They know the difference!

When Mike and I got engaged, we went to a family party for his uncle. I have never had so many people kiss my cheeks in one day. About the time I met everyone, it was time to say our goodbyes and start the entire process again.

Just like the movie, Greeks name their children after someone else in the family, and as a result, you have many of the same names in one family. There is a Louis 1, 2 and 3, and Louis 1’s daughter is Louise, who has a daughter named Mary after Mike’s mom. So, there is Mary, my mother-in-law, Mary, my husband’s cousin, as well as a niece, and our daughter’s middle name is Mary. Mike’s dad was Theodore, then there is Mike Theodore, Anthony Theodore, Teddy, and T.J. (Theodore James.) There are two Michaels and one Mike, too.

And, no doubt, I have missed some!

His family is wonderful! His parents, who have now passed, never made me feel anything less than family. They had big hearts with which to love all their children, in-laws, and grandchildren. They would have done anything for you.

I learned a great deal about the Greek culture and language living in this family. My husband likes to say “Greeks are proud of their pride” or is it, “They take pride in being proud.” Anyway, it’s true. They have a lot to be proud of.

There are many Greek words that can’t be translated into English. Mike’s family owned a restaurant which I helped with every once in a while. Mary spoke both Greek and English. With us she would sometimes start in English and suddenly switch to Greek in the middle of the sentence because there was not a word in English to say what she wanted to say. When I asked her what she said, she would answer in two or more sentences to define the Greek word.

This knowledge helped me appreciate the language and culture of the New Testament. Word studies fascinated me, and they deepened my understanding of scripture.

However, I have learned there is a big difference between the Greek and Hebrew minds and/or thinking. It’s good to understand this when studying scripture.

Greeks are logical thinkers. Their (ancient) language is made up of mostly nouns, and the pronouns used most are “I” and “me.” The Greeks heavily influenced our culture, as well as most of Europe starting with Alexander the Great.

Greek philosophers taught more about the mind than the heart. They believed only the state could teach children, parents were incapable.

The Hebrew mind is quite different. Consisting of more verbs, their language is about doing, not thinking.

The pronouns they use most are, “we,” and “us.” They thought with their hearts, not their heads. In the ancient language there was no word for mind, they included it in the word for heart. They also believed in teaching the child from home. Every son learned the skills of their father, like Jesus.

In Greek, the word believe is pisteuō, and it means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.” (

In Hebrew, a word for believe is aman, it is compared to a tent peg.

“The word, ‘believed’ is the very same Hebrew verb aman.

The picture we have from this is that Abram was firm in his devotion to God. Just as a stake planted in firm ground supports the tent, even in a storm, Abram will support God, even in the storms of life.”

“The Hebrew verb aman means more than just knowing something to be true.”

“The Hebrew in Genesis 15:6 does not say Abram, ‘believed’ God, it says he was ‘firm’ in God. From Genesis 26:5 we see that he was firm in his obedience to God and his Torah.” (

The Greek word believe deals with what we think to be true, and where our confidence or persuasion lies, while the Hebrew meaning represents a firm foundation in God and His Word. Hebrew deals with action, not thought.

So, many can say, “I believe in God”, or “I believe in Jesus” without really putting their trust in Him. Unless there is an action, or devotion, and a firm foundation in God and His Word, believe can mean little more than, “I think he is real.”

Do we want to be thinkers or doers when it comes to our belief in Jesus?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:22-27

We need to consider whether we want to be like the Greeks or the Jewish people in our thinking. Do we want to be thinkers or doers?



16 thoughts on “Is it All Greek to You?

  1. Hey Stephanie, I did see the movie, I’ve always loved it. So funny. One of my favorite parts is how the bride’s father uses windex on injuries and cuts, etc. You’ve got some fun moments from your wedding and life. And enjoyed how you broke down the language between Hebrews and Greeks. I absolutely want to be a doer of the Word!

    1. Yes, our family can be a crazy. We don’t use WIndex, but I can tell you my husband uses silver like that man used Windex in the movie.
      We must all work to be doers and not just hears and believe with our hearts not just our heads.

  2. carla

    So interesting. I’m learning so much about the Greek and Hebrew languages. It’s helping me to grow deeper in Christ. Thanks for sharing every Friday your knowledge and life experience with us.

  3. jabez1288

    A very helpful explanation of the differences in word meanings between the Greek and Hebrew. Any given word we use, especially online, can have multiple definitions depending on the context, culture and situation it is used in. I grew up in a time when ” bad” meant “good”. Now if something is “good” it is called “sick”. When starting new conversations, we should first define terms.
    When someone used to say they were a “Christian”, it was basically understood what they meant. The label “christian” now has to have modifiers added to it to determine what you really mean (1.e. Bible-believing, born-again, follower of Christ.” ~ Ben C.

  4. Loved it Ms. Stephanie. To be honest with you my friend, I want to be both a “thinker” and a “doer.” I want to think deeply about God’s word. Seek to understand it better (word studies helps tremendously by the way); and once I have an understanding, I want to seek God’s guidance in how to apply what I’ve learned in my life. I study God’s word not to become like God, but to honor Him and bring glory to Him through my life, given freely in His service. Hope that makes sense my friend. To clarify; I seek to model my life after the characteristics Christ demonstrated in His human life, I do not seek to become an equal with God.

    1. I understand, J.D. I agree with you in that we all should think about the Word and let it ruminate so to speak. But, as you know, it should never stop at our head but mover to our heart as we live it out. We need action to go with our beliefs.

  5. Hey Stephanie, This is my favorite of the messages you’ve penned. I love your analogies! And your stories of your Greek family on your hubby’s side. I agree with JD. We need to be thinkers and doers. I loved your analogy of Faith s d the tent peg. Excellent!

  6. Very interesting. As I read it, I was reminded of a study I one conducted centered on the words heart and mind. It was striking how often the two were used interchangeably in the Bible. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with your post, but it makes me want to do some digging. Thanks!

    1. Yes, I compared the Shema, or Deuteronomy 6:4-4, with Matthew 22:37, Mark 12: 30, and Luke 10:27. It is interesting. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  7. Brita Alaburda

    Stephanie, so fascinating! t led me to explore. In Chapter XI, Heart: The Radical Region of Life, of Biblical Psychology by Oswald Chamber’s, he says, “According to the Bible, thinking exists in the heart, and this is the region with which the Spirit of God deals. We may take it as a general rule that Jesus Christ never answers questions that spring from a man’s head, because the questions which spring from our brains are always borrowed from some book we have read, or from someone we have heard speak; but the questions that spring from our hearts, the real problems that vex us, Jesus Christ answers those.” My shaky, inarticulate expressions, sometimes just tears, are the cries of a heart in need of a Savior, that spurs me on, into action. Labor of love. Simply, it is a relationship.

  8. Love this! When I was young, I believed in God and thought he was real. But when I was 21 years old, God and His Word became my firm foundation. That’s when I put my trust in Him. Thank you, Stephanie!

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