I was comparing some verses in the New King James version and The Message, and noticed some very stark differences in some verses. Yes, one could argue the benefits of literal, dynamic, even paraphrased bibles and there’s more than enough websites out there that argue for and against them and I’m not even going to start to comment on them.
Loss of authority
One thing that I will say is, the more contemporary the translations get, the word of God seems to be losing its voice of authority on its readers. As newer translations contemporize the message so much, the language used is so flippant, so casual.
I can’t imagine anyone being ‘cut to the heart’ by the new translations, the ‘double edged sword’ is made blunt by careless and irresponsible paraphrasing.
If you’re looking to increase your congregation’s numbers, use the new translations. The word of God is so palatable, so ‘user friendly’, you’ll be pressed to find anyone who is offended by it.
The newer translations also introduce modern day Christian vocabulary into the texts, which was never the idea in the original. For instance, people talk about being ‘intimate’ with God, and the writers of The Message very conveniently put this in.
1 John 2 :6 (NKJV) : He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked
1 John 2:6 (The Message) : Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.
How does abiding equate intimacy, i don’t know. But the end result is : christians now start using new vocabulary in their life, never mind that the inspired originals may have meant something else.
I’ve put here a comparison of some verses that explain my point. Its not exhaustive, and its not just The Message that I’m hitting on, i just find The Message to epitomize the extent of deviance a translation can go (for now).
|Verse||New King James Version||The Message|
|John 3:16-18||16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God
|16-18″This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him|
|Rom 3:9-20||What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
10 As it is written:” There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”[a]
13 ” Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;[b]” The poison of asps is under their lips”;[c]
14 ” Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”[d]
15 ” Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”[e]
18 ” There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[f]
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin
|9-20So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:There’s nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
|Rom 3:21-24||21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[a] who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus||21-24But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.|
|Rom 6:20-24||20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.||20-21As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.22-23But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.|
|John 1||1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.||1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.3-5Everything was created through him;
nothing-not one thing!-
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
|Heb 4:12-13||12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.||12-13God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it-no matter what|
Verses taken from biblegateway
A bold suggestion
So why would God allow such irresponsible verses exist? Why does He allow His Word to be perverted such? I suggest this:
1Now we beg you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to him,
2that ye be not soon shaken in mind, nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter, as [if it were] by us, as that the day of the Lord is present.
3Let not any one deceive you in any manner, because [it will not be] unless the apostasy have first come, and the man of sin have been revealed, the son of perdition;
4who opposes and exalts himself on high against all called God, or object of veneration; so that he himself sits down in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
2 Tim 4
1 I testify before God and Christ Jesus, who is about to judge living and dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom,
2proclaim the word; be urgent in season [and] out of season, convict, rebuke, encourage, with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3For the time shall be when they will not bear sound teaching; but according to their own lusts will heap up to themselves teachers, having an itching ear;
4and they will turn away their ear from the truth, and will have turned aside to fables.
Contrary to popular belief, Christianity will NOT take over the world. Before the true church is raptured (which we have no idea when), there will be a great apostasy, a letting go of what was once held as truth, a turning back from the Word of God. Yes, the professing church will grow, many will claim to be Christians, but may not be truly born again. What tools do you think the devil will use to effect this apostasy? The Quran? the Bhagavad-Gita? No, it’ll be a perverted version (definition mine) of the word of God, just like how he deceived the woman before the fall.
Have you noticed that the upsurge of paraphrased and dynamic translations of the bible have only occurred in the recent decades? Even through the reformation, right down to the early 19th century, there were but a few versions of the english bible available, most of them literal translations, and it was through these translations massive (and real) revivals occured in the hearts of men. Uber preachers like spurgeon, george whitfield, moody, etc… quoted scriptures from literal translations of the bible with great Holy Spirit wrought results.
I suggest that God is allowing these translations to surface because the apostasy is increasing. The falling away has begun.
What should we do
1. Read smart. While reading dynamic translations (I usually don’t go further than the archaic NIV) help us understand the idea behind the message, its always good to counter check the idea with a bible with literal translation (AV,Darby,LITV,YLV). Usually if the idea is correct, the literal translation will suddenly make sense (at least for me).
2. read a literal version. If you can only afford one bible, get a literal version. The King James Version only costs a few ringgit, is free from copyright laws and royalty committments, and if you have extra cash because you’ve bought a cheap bible, buy a cheap dictionary. Read the bible, and lookup words you can’t understand. After a while, you’ll understand the words, and reading becomes easier, and hey, you’ve got a better vocabulary! 😉
3. warn our children. Our young ones are in danger here. Help them understand the bible, have home bible studies for them. Raise them up in the solid word of God. Start them young. They may even do better at English in school.