The Greek Geek

Αγράμματος and Ιδιώτης: Unlettered and Unlearned

By Chris Conner

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
Peter and John are speaking to the Jewish rulers, elders, and scribes, including the high priest, giving an account of how they had healed a crippled man the day prior. The leaders use two words here to describe Peter and John:

(1) Uneducated or ἀγράμματος (transliteration: agrammatos; phonetic pronunciation: ag-ram-mat-os) which means: unlettered, illiterate or unlearned.

(2) Untrained or ἰδιώτης (transliteration: idiótés; phonetic pronunciation: id-ee-o'-tace) which means: a private person, i.e. (by implication) an ignoramus (compare idiot), ignorant, unlearned. This is where we get our word idiot.

Now I certainly would not call Peter or John an idiot, would you? Besides it is uncalled for to call anyone names. But notice what the rest of the verse says: "they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13). So Peter and John were educated by the best teacher in the world. Paul tells us where he got his training: "I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law" (Acts 22:3). But he also said, "Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom foolish?" (1 Corinthians 1:20).

It seems like some people want to make excuses about talking about Jesus, God, the Word of God, or even doing His work of any kind. We think that we have to be a scholar, an educated person, etc. First of all, most translations of the Bible are written on a 6th to 12th grade level. Just pick one that you can understand and start reading it. We have so many more resources today to help us with the Bible than Peter and John did when they lived.

It might surprise you what being with Jesus will do for you! Try it, you'll like it. Can you recall that little old lady in the congregation that knew more Bible than anyone? I know people who have studied the Bible all their lives and have a definite Christian attitude and do not have a degree at all. When we have Jesus in our lives, it doesn't matter about our background, age, ethnicity, etc., we can still influence many lives and do many a great service in His name. Remember, we all have different gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).

Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary
Holman Christian Standard Bible

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Published 12-29-15