A Word About Translations In recent weeks and months, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about Bible translation s.

Some advocate “King James only” while others have low estimates of paraphrases et c. People seem to have a wide range of opinions about which translation is “inspir ed” (if any) and which should be recommended for use as a study tool. There are many different angles this topic can be approached from. We could look at the reliability of the underlying texts, the process of translation, which t ranslations were accepted by the Reformers, etc, etc, etc, but I think that thes e aspects have been pretty thoroughly covered and detailed elsewhere. What I hav e never seen, is someone simply open the scriptures and get an answer from the B ible itself, so this is what we’ll attempt to do and when we are done, if nothing else, we will agree to live by the principle of “let each person be fully convince d in their own mind” as outlined in Romans 14:5. Let’s begin by asking the question, “What is the purpose of the scriptures?” By asking this question, we can more readily recognize the answer as to which Bible trans lation is best for us. This question will guide and constrain our search. Here i s what the scriptures answer about themselves: Romans 15:4 (KJV )For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, tha t we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. The phrase “for our learning” would be better translated as “for our instruction”, but t he idea is the same. Here is another text: Hebrews 10:6 (KJV) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. This passage states that scriptures are written for our “admonition” which is define d as: –noun 1.an act of admonishing. 2.counsel, advice, or caution. 3.a gentle reproof. 4.a warning or reproof given by an eccleslastical authority. So again, we see the general purpose of the scripture is to teach us, that we ma y take counsel and learn from it. The last text we will look at is 2 Tim 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV) 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. This texts mentions doctrine, which also carries a definition of “something that i s taught”. It also mentions reproof (re-proving), “correction”, and “instruction”, all car rying complementary meanings. So from three separate passages, adding line upon line, we discover the purpose and intent of the scriptures as explained in the l ight of the gospel. The purpose of the scriptures is to instruct us (teach us) t hat we may take comfort from our burdens and trials and place our hope and trust in Christ the Messiah and we know that in drawing close to Him, we are "made pe rfect" (Hebrews 7:19). Let’s apply this general rule to translations. The question we now can ask is a si

mple reasonable one. Is it possible for someone to follow “instructions” that they c annot understand or comprehend? I think the answer is obvious. While someone may be able to obey and benefit just by chance occurrence, it is highly unlikely th at they will ever figure out what you require of them if they cannot understand your directions. This is the reason we translate scriptures from foreign languag es, so that we can have understanding. If we speak to a child and give them instructions using words they have never he ard of, their own unfamiliarity to the words we are using acts as a barrier to t heir understanding. We can go further and say that our own choice of words acts as a barrier to their understanding. I believe we can see clearly that unless we understand what we read, we are unab le to benefit from the instructions outlined in the scriptures. So, a good perso nal rule for choosing a Bible translation, is choose one that you can understand , because if you are not gaining any comprehension when you read, you are wastin g your time and may as well be looking at a book written in a foreign language. In short, it does you no good. We often fail to realize that language and the definition of English words shift s significantly over very short periods of time. There is a whole science devote d to this phenomenon, it’s called etymology. Because words change meaning and sign ificance over time, words and phrases written hundreds of years ago, or even jus t a few generations ago, will convey drastically different meanings to a contemp orary audience than was intended by the original translators. Our opportunity to benefit from understanding the instructions intended by inspired writers will h ave been lost because the message is hidden behind an archaic and confusing lang uage structure that is unfamiliar to our ears. Translations serve one purpose. To put the scriptures into a language that the p eople reading them can readily understand so that they can serve God according t o the dictates of their own conscience. A translations only has value relative t o it’s ability to help us understand the instructions God has given for our benefi t. The general rule is “as understanding increases, the value of the translation i ncreases, as understanding decreases, the value of the translation decreases.” I hope this will be beneficial to you in your search for a translation to use. T here are a huge number of translations on the market, but don’t worry, instead: Phillipians 4:6,7 (NKJV) 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with tha nksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Je sus. Remember to allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide in your choice and He will le ad you safely. Christ has told us, do not be anxious about what you will eat or drink, for our Father knows we have need of these things. What s more, is that H e is faithful to supply our spiritual bread as He is to supply our physical brea d. Be free in Christ, and do not again be caught in the bondage of serving someone else’s conscience, but: Rom 14:5…Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.


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