“Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been attacking the Word of God; sometimes directly, sometimes very subtly. In the Garden of Eden, it was a rather subtle attack. All he did was misquoted God, leaving out a few words. He’s always been taking away or adding to the revelation in order to slightly change its meaning.” ~Chuck Smith
Okay, okay… so many might think this topic is simply “straining at gnats” or a minor, insignificant topic to be focusing on. In fact, I used to think that it didn’t matter which translation of the Holy Bible was read or recited. Just recently, I have seen otherwise… it DOES matter; and in this blog I will tell you why.
As Christians, the Holy Bible is the Word of God which we base our faith upon. It is of utmost importance that we know what the true Word of God says. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be particular in what we take into our soul and spirit? As the late Pastor of Times Square Church, David Wilkerson, once said, “Man has suddenly become alarmed and worried about his environment and the things that threaten his body; but he spends little or no time worrying about spiritual pollution and the things that threaten his eternal soul.”
The Whole Truth
“We must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian.” ~A.W. Tozer
Imagine this – you go to the bookstore to find a book you’ve been wanting to read. After you get it home, you begin reading, only to find that some of the pages are missing. So, you return to the bookstore to see if you can find a copy of the book that is complete. To your disillusionment, all of the copies of this book are missing pages! Just about that time, the store clerk walks up and asks, “Can I help you?” You explain the situation and she replies, “Well, we used to have this book and all of the copies were complete – however, people didn’t like what a few of the pages said; so we re-worded it, added some words, took away some words, and made it less offensive and easier to read.”
As the reader, wouldn’t you rather read what the author wrote in this book without the editing and missing pages? Of course! And what if this wasn’t just any book – what if this book was the Holy Bible? You would be appalled if it was tampered with in such a way – yet, that is exactly what is happening with most of the modern translations. Verses are revised with man’s interpretation and entire verses are deleted… yes, they are missing!
There are numerous translations of the Holy Bible available, but the most popular translations which delete entire verse(s) are:
~New International Version (NIV)
~New Living Translation (NLT)
~English Standard Version (ESV)
~NET Bible (NET)
~God’s Word Translation (GWT)
~English Revised Version (ERV)
While the above-mentioned Bible translations are not an exhaustive list of all which delete verse(s) altogether, that’s not to say that other versions are necessarily safe either. In fact, some of the versions add too much to the verse and give it an entirely different meaning or slightly re-word it as to change its meaning.
Safety in God’s True Word
“False teachers do not want to submit to its [the Bible’s] original intent, so they do not seek what Scripture actually (exegesis) means, instead, they conform it to what they want it to mean (isogesis).” ~letusreason.org
Even though it is a fearful thing to see such mishandling of the holy scriptures, we must be able to trust that God’s Word has been preserved somewhere! God would not leave His children in a state of confusion – only the enemy does that! “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”(1st Cor. 14:33).
So which translation of the scripture can we trust? In all honesty, the original King James Version (KJV) is totally reliable and is the authorized version. The KJV was meticulously translated (from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) by Godly scholars over a seven year period. It was completed in the year 1611. Additionally, there may be other safe translations of the Holy Bible – by “safe”, I mean that there may be other translations which do not delete verses nor change the original meaning; but be very careful if it is not the authorized 1611 King James Version. Personally, the KJV is what I ultimately trust and compare all other translations to. In fact, I view most other translations as mere study aids. Even if I quote another translation – I make sure it lines up with the KJV first.
The KJV Bible utilizes proper Old English terminology such as, “thou, thee, and ye” (etc.); however, even this is important as it denotes singular or plural meanings. Even the New King James Version (NKJV) may cause confusion by reducing all singular and plural forms of words to “you”. Also, this new version replaces a few words which “softens” their meaning.
In the New King James Version (NKJV), there are entire words deleted such as: “Lord“, “God“, “devils“, “damned”, “repent”, and “blood”. Therefore, it is safest to stick to the authorized 1611 King James Version Bible – also known as the KJV. (see HERE for detailed information about the new version – NKJV – and why it is not as safe as the KJV).
Personally, I realize I am not the smartest Bible scholar (by any stretch of the imagination). But, from those who have studied this topic in depth, it seems that there are two major opposing views in regards to which translation to accept. Without going into an in-depth study on the Vulgate and other manuscripts, translators, etc. – let’s focus on the main two manuscripts. One, is the “Textus Receptus” which means the “Received Text” – and the other is the “Westcott & Hort” derived from the “Codex Sinaiticus” and the “Codex Vaticanus”.
The Textus Receptus is the original manuscript from which the King James Version of scripture was derived. On the contrary, the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus were manuscripts utilized by the translators, Westcott and Hort, from which many of the modern translations of scripture were derived. To summarize, there are two major translations… 1.) The Textus Receptus and 2.) The Westcott & Hort (which was derived from the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus/Alexandrian Text).
It has been said that Westcott and Hort founded several occult societies in the 1800’s. When their revision of the Bible was complete, the original Greek text was altered in over 5,000 different places! There are also letters sent (to and from) Westcott and Hort which reveal many “red flags” which I will link to below (see “Westcott and Hort” article listed under “links” at the bottom of this blog). By this, we can see that the (Textus Receptus) King James Version is complete and safe, unlike the other modern versions from Westcott and Hort which have numerous deletions.
Other “Holy” Books
“Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar.” ~Proverbs 30:6
I will be the first to admit – I am not well-versed in books which various other belief systems deem as “holy”. The reason being – I find the one, true Holy Bible is very clear not to divert to such things. Books used in the place of or in equal addition to the Holy Bible are very misleading. Some people view “The Book of Mormon”, “The Watch Tower”, “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, “The Quran”, etc. as holy and sacred books. Some argue that these books contain good things and may even speak of Jesus. But, let’s remember the scripture in 2nd Timothy 3:5 which states, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away.”
The Holy Bible is abundantly clear that nothing should be added to or taken away from God’s Word. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this Book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this Book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this Book” Revelation 22:18-19.
Not to get into an exhaustive study here – but for example’s sake, let’s look at The Book of Mormon. This is an additional “holy book” used in the Mormon (LDS) faith alongside the Holy Bible. It saddens me that the Holy Bible seems insufficient to them; that they feel they must add in The Book of Mormon. The Christian faith was founded upon a holy deity – Jesus Christ, and the entire Holy Trinity. However, the Mormon (LDS) movement was founded by a mere man – Joseph Smith. Smith claims that an angel came to him and directed him to find a buried book of inscribed golden plates which he translated. However, the Holy Bible says this: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:8. Remember, the Holy Bible also says that Satan can be disguised as an angel of light – and that we must try the spirits to see if they are of God. (see 2nd Cor. 11:14 and 1st John 4:1).
I could give many examples of how other religions are deceiving the masses – but for the sake of time, I will summarize with this beautiful verse found in the Holy Bible. “Thy word is true from the beginning; and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Ps. 119:160). Whose word? God’s holy word (the Holy Bible alone) which was entirely inspired of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2nd Timothy 3:16.
God’s Message is Not Lost
So many curious minds also wonder about the so-called “lost books” of the Bible; books supposedly written by Godly patriarchs that are not included in the Holy Bible. Upon further research, scholars found such books were untrustworthy, or forgeries and hoaxes. Jesus’ own disciple, John, said that not all Jesus did when He was on earth was recorded; because He did so much good! “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25).
We have been given such a treasure in the 66 books of the Holy Bible – that should give us enough to meditate upon without searching for these “lost books”. In scripture, we are instructed in the way to Jesus and how to live a life that is pleasing to God; we needn’t add more to that! To this, someone may ask, “What about Christian books, study aids, and commentaries – are they safe?” My answer would be… Yes and no. Yes, some may be safe – but no, not all of them are safe. Again, it is a matter of prayerful study, discernment, and such.
Many who label themselves as a “Christian” author may or may not necessarily be genuine. Matthew 7:21 even says, “Not every one that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.” We must trust God to guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (see Phil. 4:7) – especially in regards to what we read and believe as truth. We must see if what the author is teaching aligns itself with scripture. Furthermore, we must also be very careful when using paraphrase Bibles such as the Amplified Bible, The Living Bible, and The Message Bible. Personally, I would be more comfortable with such paraphrase Bibles if the word, “Bible” was taken off and replaced with the word, “Commentary” or “Study Aid”. In reality, that is the bulk of what these paraphrase Bibles are – and I feel they would be safest if viewed as study aids. The primary Bible should be the authorized KJV.
If a translation is only taking what is said in one language and properly communicating it in another language – fine. However, that is not all that is being done in many of the modern translations of scripture and certainly not always in the paraphrase Bibles either. Perhaps some verses are communicated properly, while others are not – it’s “hit and miss” on many verses. The paraphrase Bibles expound by adding in man’s thoughts. Since God equates Himself with the Word (see John 1:1-2) we should be very particular which Word we read and receive. I am not demonizing such translations altogether – but merely warning others to be aware of what is happening with many of the modern translations and with the paraphrase Bibles.
[Eugene] Peterson’s goal in creating The Message, in his own words, was to “bring the New Testament to life for two different types of people: those who hadn’t read the Bible because it seemed too distant and irrelevant and those who had read the Bible so much that it had become ‘old hat’.” As a pastor, Peterson’s parishioners, by his own admission, “simply weren’t connecting with the real meaning of the words and the relevance of the New Testament for their own lives.” However, this contradicts what Scripture reveals about the power of the Word of God, written by the Holy Spirit and made clear to those who are His: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
As far as the negatives are concerned, there are numerous websites and articles devoted to the translation errors in The Message, too numerous to reiterate here. Suffice it to say that The Message has engendered more criticism for its lack of serious scholarship and outright bizarre renderings than just about any Bible version to date.
In an interview with “Christianity Today,” Peterson described the beginning of the creative process that produced The Message: “I just kind of let go and became playful. And that was when the Sermon on the Mount started. I remember I was down in my basement study, and I did the Beatitudes in about 10 minutes. And all of a sudden I realized this could work.” Aside from the impossibility of doing justice to the Sermon on the Mount in 10 minutes, one wonders whether playfulness is the appropriate demeanor for those who attempt to ‘rightly divide the word of Truth’ (see 2nd Timothy 2:15). Awe and reverence for a holy God and His holy Word, yes. Playfulness? No.
How to Study Scripture
Many use the NIV because it’s easier to read. But, does that really matter if what you are reading has been tampered with? If you’re raised on KJV, you’ll be more likely to understand it; and if you weren’t raised on it and don’t understand something – study it out. It has been shown that the KJV can be understood on a 5th grade reading level. If you have a child that is younger than that, explain it to them. Study it for yourself first. In order to effectively study and understand God’s Word:
♦Look at the surrounding verses to see the context.
♦See the original Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew (study aids can be found online – see biblos.com)
♦Compare scripture with scripture to understand its meaning.
♦Pray for understanding.
♦Consistently read the Bible. The more you read the KJV, the more you’ll become familiar with its verbiage.
All in all – I strongly encourage Bible reading and study; and it is important that we are applying what we read. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” James 1:22.