Greek names and places
Greaco-Roman names such as Dēmētrios (Demetrios (Ac 19:23)), Appiou Phorou (‘Forum of Appius’) and Triōn Tabernōn (‘Three Taverns’) (Ac 28:15); Greaco-Roman places for example, praitōrion (‘palace’, Jn 18: 28), and bēma (‘court’, Ac 25:10). The names of positions in society are kept: rhabdouxous referring to a kind of policeman (Ac 16:35), and paidagōgos referring to a type of child-minder (Ga 3:24).
Loaded Greek words
The Greek for word carries much more than the English. Logos implies reason, argument, logic, account. Pisteuō (believing) is not just a form of intellectual assent, but also trust.
Word plays and alliteration
A pun, wordplay or alliteration can be obvious in the original language, but lost in translation, for example, achrēston and euchrēston (useless/ useful, Phile 11), pneuma (wind/ spirit, Jn 3:8), koimēthentes (fallen asleep/ dead, 1 Co 15:18), Kēphas and Petros (Peter/ rock, Jn 1:42), and aphtharton, amianton and amaranton (perish, spoil and fade, 1 Pe 1:4).
Multiple Greek words, single translation
There are different Greek words behind a single English translation, e.g., to love (Jn 21:15 ff) could translate either agapaō or phileō; to know in 1 Co 13:12: ginōskō, and its cognates piginōskō and epiginōskō; to know in Ac 19:15: ginōskō or epistamai; gift (Ro 5:15): charisma or dōrea and children in Mk 7:27-28: teknōn and paidiōn.
Multiple English words, single derivation
One Greek word is given several translations in English, e.g., orgē could either be ‘anger’ (Col 3:8) or ‘wrath’ (3:6); ethnos could be ‘Gentiles’ (Ma 4:15), ‘nations’ (28:19) or ‘pagans’ (1 Co 5:1); sarx could be ‘flesh’ (Jn 6:63), ‘people’ (Ac 2:17), or ‘sinful nature’ (Ro 7:5).
Getting back to first meanings
Church (ekklēsia) originally connotes an assembly or gathering rather than a building, a reference too often conferred by the translation. Slave is now bound up with understandings of the West African flesh trade whereas doulos may be a more helpful association for an understanding of slavery in the first century.
The word for Eucharist (eucharisteō) has its root from the verb for giving thanks (e.g., Mk 14:23). To cause to sin is connected with our use of the verb to scandalize (skandalizō, Mt 5:29). The verb to scatter in Greek (diaspeirō) is also the basis for the term Diaspora (Ac 8:1). The English equivalent eschatological is like its Greek original (eschatē, Jn 6:39) and paraclete, the old English for one who comes alongside is like its original paraklētos (Jn 14:26).
Tektōn (Mk 6:3) could either be a carpenter or someone with a general technical skill; akathartōn (Mk 6:7) could mean unclean (literal) or evil (metaphorical); hadēs (Lk10:15) means both Hades and ‘depths’.