The following excerpt taken from Jason S DeRouchie’s recent article in the Themelios journal articulates one opinion on the reasons why Ministers might want to aquatin themselves with Biblical Languages:
At least two serious interpretive challenges face the minister who is unable to use the biblical languages. The first is captured by Machen, who rightly observes that a student without Hebrew and Greek “cannot deal with all the problems [of interpretation] at first hand, but in a thousand important questions is at the mercy of the judgment of others.” With respect to secondary resources for study, this means that students without skill in the languages must either use what Machen figuratively calls “works that are written … in words of one syllable,” or they must borrow what others say without accurate comprehension or fair evaluation.
With respect to the biblical text, interpretations done apart from Hebrew and Greek are always dependent on someone else’s translation. By God’s grace we have many good English versions. Yet how is one to evaluate whether a given translation is justified? And how is one to respond when faced with great diversity in the versions themselves, as in the various renderings of the Shema in Deut 6:4, the “without a vision” text in Prov 29:18, or of the virgin daughter versus virgin fiancé issue in 1 Cor 7:36–38.
Regarding “simple preachers,” who approach the interpretive process without the languages, Luther states, “Even though what they said about a subject at times was perfectly true, they were never sure whether it really was present there in the passage where by their interpretation they thought to find it.”
DeRouchie, Jason S. “The Profit of Employing the Biblical Languages: Scriptural and Historical Reflections.” Themelios 37.1 (2012): 39–40.
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