Thoughts on Bible Versions

THOUGHTS ON BIBLE TRANSLATIONS

From time to time over the past twenty-five years, I have been appraised of the opinions of some who feel that the only legitimate version of the Bible is the KJV, and possibly the NKJV, since it is based mainly upon the original KJV. Since I have chosen the NIV as the Bible I use the most, I have had sincere souls express their concern that I will be led astray, and/or lead others astray by the use of this version. I have been given tomes to read on the subject; I have received counsel that ranges from worried concern to assertions that it is inspired by the Devil to destroy the Remnant church. As a result, I have taken it to the Lord and asked for guidance, and have personally studied out the differences which have come to my attention, either from others, or from my own discovery. The following article contains a few examples of my research, and some thoughts which may be helpful in understanding why I and perhaps others choose to use the NIV. The first item that I would like to address, is the question of original inspiration. These quotations from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy help to set the stage for my comments and conclusions in the rest of the article.

2 Pet. 1:20, 21, KJV – “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

NIV – “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

GC pp. 5-7 – “The Bible points to God as its author; yet it was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers. The truths revealed are all ‘given by inspiration of God’ (2 Tim. 3:16); yet they are expressed in the words of men. The Infinite One by His Holy Spirit has shed light into the minds and hearts of His servants. He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed, have themselves embodied the thought in human language…. The Bible, with its God-given truths expressed in the language of men, presents a union of the divine and the human….

“Written in different ages, by men who differed widely in rank and occupation, and in mental and spiritual endowments, the books of the Bible present a wide contrast in style, as well as a diversity in the nature of the subjects unfolded. Different forms of expression are employed by different writers; often the same truth is more strikingly presented by one than by another. And as several writers present a subject under varied aspects and relations, there may appear, to the superficial, careless, or prejudiced reader, to be discrepancy or contradiction, where the thoughtful, reverent student, with clearer insight, discerns the underlying harmony.

“As presented through different individuals, the truth is brought out in its varied aspects. One writer is more strongly impressed with one phase of the subject; he grasps those points that harmonize with his experience or with his power of perception and appreciation; another seizes upon a different phase; and each, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, presents what is most forcibly impressed upon his own mind – a different aspect of the truth in each, but a perfect harmony through all. And the truths thus revealed unite to form a perfect whole, adapted to meet the wants of men in all the circumstances and experiences of life….

“Yet the fact that God has revealed His will to men through His Word, has not rendered needless the continued presence and guiding of the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the Spirit was promised by our Saviour, to open the Word to His servants, to illuminate and apply its teachings.”

1 SM 19-22 – “Human minds vary. The minds of different education and thought receive different impressions of the same words, and it is difficult for one mind to give to one of a different temperament, education, and habits of thought by language exactly the same idea as that which is clear and distinct in his own mind…. There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures…. The truths of the Bible are as pearls hidden. They must be searched, dug out by painstaking effort…. It requires patience, thought, and prayer to trace out the precious golden thread…. The Bible is not given to us in grand superhuman language…. The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect. Different meanings are expressed by the same word; there is not one word for each distinct idea…. The stamps of minds are different. All do not understand expressions and statements alike….

“The Creator of all ideas may impress different minds with the same thought, but each may express it in a different way, yet without contradiction. The fact that this difference exists should not perplex or confuse us. It is seldom that two persons will view and express truth in the very same way. Each dwells on particular points which his constitution and education have fitted him to appreciate…. The Lord speaks to human beings in imperfect speech…. He meets fallen human beings where they are. The Bible, perfect as it is in its simplicity, does not answer to the great ideas of God; for infinite ideas cannot be perfectly embodied in finite thought…. Sinful beings can only bear to look upon a shadow of the brightness of heaven’s glory.”

RC p. 128 – “The Holy Spirit is beside every true searcher of God’s word, enabling him to discover the hidden gems of truth. Divine illumination comes to his mind, stamping the truth upon him with a new, fresh importance. He is filled with a joy never before felt. The peace of God rests upon him. The preciousness of truth is realized as never before. A heavenly light shines upon the Word, making it appear as though every letter were tinged with gold. God Himself speaks to the heart, making His word spirit and life.”

MB p. 20 – “The words of God are the wellsprings of life. As you seek unto those living springs you will, through the Holy Spirit, be brought into communion with Christ. Familiar truths will present themselves to your mind in a new aspect, texts of Scripture will burst upon you with a new meaning as a flash of light, you will see the relation of other truths to the work of redemption, and you will know that Christ is leading you, a divine teacher is at your side.”

5 T p. 577 – “Study God’s word and hear His voice addressing (you) from His living oracles in reproof, in instruction, or in encouragement.”

                After having quoted these words from the Scripture and Ellen White, I would like to give a synopsis of what these concepts mean to me. First, when I open my Bible each morning, I expect God to speak to me personally through the words and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who will interpret for me the message that He has for me that day. After greeting the Lord with praise and thanksgiving, I ask Him if He has anything that He would like to share with me. Usually some thought will soon perk my attention, and my study begins. I compare text with text, often using both the Strong’s Concordance and the NIV concordance, and also referencing the KJV, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the SDA Bible Commentaries. I seldom use other sources, for these are so rich with inspiration.

                Since I grew up with the KJV, I value it highly and my mind is rooted and grounded in the exalted themes and truths that I learned from childhood. But  in the twenty-five years that I have been using the NIV, I have learned to love its beauty of expression, clarity of thought, and the familiarity of language that speaks best to me, and that helps to open my mind to the flow of the Spirit. When I find anything that seems to be out of harmony with the KJV, I go back to the other sources that I have already mentioned, and do a thorough study.  Generally my study results in discoveries that expand my mind to greater understandings of the mind of God on the topic. If I find that the text favors the KJV rendering, I write it in my margin, along with the results of my study. But I often discover additional insights that favor and/or agree with the NIV reading. For example:

Rev. 22:14, KJV – “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

NIV – “Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

                At first, it may seem that the different renderings of this text would undermine our Adventist emphasis on the necessity of commandment keeping as a prerequisite for entrance into heaven. But notice these observations of this text from the SDA Bible Commentary (since the Commentaries were written 18 years before the NIV was published, there is no possibility of collusion here):

7 BC p. 897 – “Important textual evidence may be cited ‘that wash their robes.’ A few manuscripts read ‘that washed their robes.’ Of the early uncials only the Sinaiticus and Alexandrinus contain this section of Revelation, and both of these read ‘that wash their robes.’ Most of the minuscule manuscripts read ‘that do His commandments.’ The ancient versions are divided in their readings, as are the patristic quotations. The two clauses are very similar in the Greek, and it is easy to see how a scribe may have mistaken the one clause for the other, although it is impossible to know certainly which was the original reading….

“In actual fact, both readings suit the context and are in harmony with John’s teaching elsewhere…. Our title to heaven is the righteousness of Christ imparted, represented by the washed robes. The outward evidence of the righteousness of Christ imparted is perfect compliance with the commandments of God. Hence the two ideas of washed robes and obedience to the commandments are closely related.

“In the light of the problems of translation here discussed, it would seem wise to build the foundations of the doctrine of obedience to God’s commandments on those other passages of Scripture dealing with obedience on which no question of textual evidence has been raised. There are many such.”

                Personally, I appreciate the rendering of this text in emphasizing the necessity of complete cleansing of character, symbolized by the washing of our robes (Rev. 7:13, 14), as the prerequisite for entrance into the joys of heaven. Like the Pharisees, some are tempted to think they are ready because they “don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, don’t curse or worship idols, and that they keep the seventh-day Sabbath. A moral check-list can seem easier than having a continual relationship with Jesus which cleanses us of all sin, (1 John 1:5-7). Thus, I find the “washing of robes” very helpful in explaining the final work of Jesus in the second apartment work of cleansing His bride, as being an experience. (See Mal. 3:1-5; Isa. 4:2-4; Eph. 5:25-27; Rev. 7:14; Rev. 19:6-8.) The Pharisees thought they were holy, righteous and acceptable to God until Jesus explained to them that the law extends even to the thoughts and feelings.

Matt. 5:21, 22, 27: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment…. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

5 BC p. 1085 – “God’s law reaches the feelings and motives, as well as the outward acts.”

3 T p. 324 –“All of God’s people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. They will then see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.”

5 T p. 310 – “The thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character.”

OHC p. 111 – “Few realize that it is their duty to exercise control over their thoughts and imaginations.”

GC p. 489 – “Through defects in the character [thoughts and feelings] Satan works to gain control of the whole mind.”

7 BC p. 987 – “Angels of God daily place upon the books of heaven an exact representation of the character [thoughts and feelings] of every human being.”

Y I (Youth Instructor) 4/6/1899 – “Christ…was to bear the penalty of the transgression of the law of God,… not to give men liberty to continue in sin, but to take away their inclination to sin, that they might not desire to transgress.”

                So we can see that the rendition chosen for Rev. 22:14 in the NIV can broaden the base of our understanding of the depth of the heart preparation necessary to be ready for the coming of Jesus. This does not negate the rendering of this text in the KJV, but applies it in a special way to the experience of God’s people who are called to cooperate with the Second Apartment work of Jesus in completing the cleansing and preparing His bride.

Another text that causes some to have consternation is this one:

Isa. 14:12, KJV – “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

NIV – “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

                Some feel that the NIV is giving Satan the name given to Jesus in Rev. 22:16, thus confusing readers and undergirding Satan’s attempts to take Christ’s place. But by further research, we can see that there is a legitimate reason for using this appellation for Lucifer before his fall.

4 BC p. 170 – “The name Lucifer comes from the Latin Vulgate, and means “light bearer.” The term, as here used, seems first to have been identified with Satan by Tertullian, Jerome, and other early Fathers of the church, and came into common usage in this sense during the middle ages. In 2 Peter 1:19 Christ is referred to as phosphoros, “day star”; literally, “light bearer.” In Rev. 22:16 He is called “the bright and morning star [literally, “dawn star,” or “star of the dawn’]. As applied to Satan, the various terms – helel, heosphoros, Lucifer, etc. – seem to reflect the thought of the high position he once held in heaven… next to Christ. Strictly speaking, none of these terms is a proper name;… rather , they are attributive terms denoting the high state from which Lucifer fell. This description applies to Satan before his fall, as next to Christ in power and authority and head of the angelic hosts.”

                Perhaps you did not know, as I did not, that the name Lucifer is not in the original Hebrew, but was first used in the middle ages, thus the reason for it appearing in the KJV. Even Webster’s dictionary supports this fact:

“Lucifer – the morning star // a name given by the Church Fathers to Satan, in interpretation of Isaiah 14:12. [Latin from lux (lucis), light + ferre, to bring.]

                So there was no sinister plot in the minds of the NIV translators to try to exalt Satan to Christ’s position. He was given that position in heaven as second to Christ, but he fell from his exalted calling to become the anti-christ. What a sad ending to the bright being he was created to be.

                In the many studies which I have done over the years using the NIV, I have profited from the challenge of understanding the differences in interpretation. Sometimes I prefer the rendering in the KJV, even though the NIV may have a legitimate reason for a different rendition. For example, I prefer to use the word “days” when reading Dan. 8:14, etc., rather than “evenings and mornings” as is used in the NIV, even though it is similar in the original Hebrew:

 4 BC p. 844 – “Heb. ‘ereb boqer, literally, ‘evening morning,’ an expression comparable with the description of the days of creation, ‘the evening and the morning were the first day’ (Gen. 1:5), etc. The LXX has the word ‘days’ following the expression ‘evening and morning.’”

                Some people are very concerned about texts or portions of Scripture which are found in the KJV, but omitted in the NIV because of the use of different manuscripts. In such cases, notations are generally made in the margin which include the missing phrase, with the explanation of why it has been excluded. If necessary, one can personally pen it into the margin, which I have done occasionally. (Sometimes the Bible writers also leave phrases out or change the wording of their quotes from other Scriptures, such as Heb. 10:7 quoting Ps. 40:6-8, which I always finish by adding the rest of verse 8, “Yea, thy law is within my heart.”) But generally speaking, I find that differences in translation have to do with preferences used legitimately in choosing from the rich pool of words and meanings coming from the original language. For example:

Heb. 13:20, 21, KJV – “Now the God of peace…. Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight….”

NIV – “May the God of peace…. Equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him….”

Strong’s Concord. (#2675) – to complete thoroughly, i.e. repair or adjust:–fit, frame, mend, make perfect, perfectly joined together, prepare, restore.

NIV Concord. (#2936) – to restore, put in order, mend; to make complete, equip, train; to prepare, ordain:–prepared, aim for perfection, fully trained, perfectly united.

James 1:4, KJV – “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

NIV – “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Strong’s Concord. (#5046-5056) – complete; of full age, perfect. Accomplish, consummate, consecrate, finish, fulfill, make perfect. Completely, without wavering – to the end. To be a bearer of completion (maturity), i.e. to ripen fruit:–to bring fruit to perfection. To set out for a definite point or goal; the point aimed at as a limit, i.e. the conclusion of an act or state; termination, result, purpose.

NIV Concord. (#5545-5565) – perfect, mature, finished, adults, perfection. To mature to fruitfulness. To finish, complete, fulfill, perfected:–ended, make perfect. End, result, outcome, goal; finally, fully, last, the full extent of.

I have included this study as an example of the rich stores of meaning that just one word can have when using concordances which bring us back to the original languages of Scripture. As I have already quoted from Ellen White’s writings, God has used men through the ages who have seen things through different eyes and different experiences, but were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what  God revealed of Himself to them. And as no two Bible writers are alike, so no two of us are alike, and we perceive and respond to God in different ways and through different avenues. Even the same person can see different nuances of truth and revelation on different days because of changing circumstances and felt needs for that day. A text can burst with fresh meaning because of our life experiences, while on another day another aspect of that text may be highlighted by the Spirit to touch our hearts bring us thoughts from Him. This in no way changes the eternal foundations and principles of truth; but we are enriched and our understanding broadened by connecting with the endless oceans of God’s revelations through His Word, and we are blessed by connecting with the Spirit’s application to us at that moment in time.

MH p. 122 – “The Scriptures are to be received as God’s word to us, not merely written, but spoken…. In them He is speaking to us individually, speaking as directly as if we could listen to His voice.”

TD p. 174 – “Light, precious light, is shining on every page of the word of God. It is the man of our counsel. When we study its pages with a heartfelt desire to learn our duty, angels are close beside us to impress the mind and strengthen the imagination to discern the sacred things revealed in the word of God.”

TD p. 66 – “By the ever-learning student new light, new ideas, new gems of truth will be found, and eagerly grasped…. The human intellect gains expansion and vigor and acuteness by being taxed.”

                Before I close my comments in this article, I want to make a few more personal observations. God consistently speaks to me through the NIV. I hear His voice, feel His presence, relish the wonderful times I have with Him in the early morning hours – or any time of day or night. I preach from the NIV, and have enormous amounts of studies and Spirit of Prophecy quotations in the margins which I could never replace in a lifetime. I still have the precious KJV that my mother gave me for Christmas when I was seventeen. I use it also in my studies for quick reference, as well as my larger KJV study Bible. But the NIV flows with my heart more than any other version. I especially appreciate that the NIV Bible has a corresponding concordance where every word is referenced to the original language. I enjoy the kaleidoscope of meaning I find there, and love the privilege of comparing it with the Strong’s concordance, as I have demonstrated for you above.

I do not expect everyone else to follow the same pathway. As the Ellen White quotes which I used in the beginning of my article point out, everyone is different in thinking and background and mental and emotional needs. God wants to reach each person and draw them to himself. He can do this through the various versions as long as the person is unshakably grounded upon the eternal fundamental truths. My husband never found joy in reading the Bible until he received the Clear Word paraphrase. From that time one, he has enjoyed reading and studying “his” Bible and God consistently speaks to Him through it. I praise the Lord for the ministry of the Clear Word to my husband!

                Throughout the world, there are people of diverse languages. God’s word has been translated into many of these languages and dialects. Even Jesus and His disciples apparently used several versions, including the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Targum, and the Hebrew Pentateuch. Mistakes have been made in all translations, but over the thousands of years God has preserved His Word and His truth. We can be sure that the truth will prevail, and that God’s remnant who have been given these precious eternal truths will be triumphant. My prayer is that we will use the different versions of the Bible which are available to us today in a judicious manner, giving room for individual choices and differences, but maintaining the unity of the faith as it is in Jesus until He comes. Recently our head elder gave a sermon using an English version of the Hebrew Scriptures which has given me new, wonderful insights on Jesus as the aleph-tahv (the beginning and the end) in the Old Testament which has forever enhanced my relationship with Jesus. We need to be careful in how we judge one another in these matters, for a combative, critical spirit is not pleasing to God, no matter what version we use. It is the spirit in which we come to the Bible which determines whether we will perceive truth or not.

John 7:17 KJV – “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

GW 92 – “The spirit in which we come to the investigation of Scriptures will determine the character of the assistant at your side.” (See EW pp. 54-6.)

TM p. 108 – “If the heart is filled with prejudice, Satan is beside you, and he will set the plain statements of God’s word in a perverted light.”

Let us remember the words of Jesus to His disciples when they wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy some villagers who did not welcome Jesus:

Lu. 9:56 (NIV mg.) – “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”

The majority of Christ’s followers were the common people, not the expositors of the law who knew every jot and tittle, but didn’t even recognize the Messiah when He came, although they had been looking forward to that event for centuries. Steeped in their own ideas and concepts of Scripture, they did not recognize the Lord of Glory. Even after Jesus rose from the grave, He still spent 40 days with them explaining the meaning of the Old Testament Scriptures as they applied to Himself. Pentecost also further opened up their minds to understand and apply the Scriptures to Jesus’ life and ministry (Lu. 24:44-49). But even though light was being given to the followers of Jesus, the Jewish leaders completely lost the opportunity to go on with the advancing light as Jesus began His work in the Holy Place.

EW pp. 259, 60 – “The Holy Spirit which descended on the day of Pentecost carried the minds of the disciples from the earthly Sanctuary to the heavenly…. But the Jews were left in total darkness. They lost all the light which they might have had upon the plan of salvation…. The heavenly Sanctuary had taken the place of the earthly, yet they had no knowledge of the change. Therefore they could not be benefitted by the mediation of Christ in the Holy Place.”

                Could this same tragedy happen to our church today? Could we in God’s remnant church completely miss the culmination of Jesus’ work in the Most Holy Place, and not recognize nor receive the benefits of the Latter Rain, which we have been looking and praying for throughout our church history?

TM p. 507 – “Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.”

                But what, you may ask, does this have to do with the topic of Bible versions? I have noticed recently a growing trend among many of us who see ourselves as being conservative Adventists to sanction only the KJV as the acceptable vehicle of truth. Perhaps this is in reaction to the growing manifestations of the infiltration of Satanic concepts into the churches, and therefore our desire to find a stable platform of truth upon which we can all stand together in uniformity. I applaud this trend to pull together and defend the faith and doctrine handed down to us, and even more than that, to grow in the advancing light for our times. But wouldn’t it be sad to become so rigid in our beliefs in this matter that we would judge our brothers and sisters as being “wrong” if they do not see eye-to-eye with our views, and perhaps block the way for the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts through other translations which they may find draws them into a closer fellowship with Jesus in His Sanctuary cleansing work? May we not be guilty of attempting to dictate to one another in this way, for in so doing we might close the door against  the Holy Spirit falling upon their hearts and refreshing them with the showers of the Latter Rain. Rigidity of opinion could even block our own reception of the Holy Spirit if it leads us to look down on others, or to steel our minds against insights they may share simply because it is from another version. Let us remember – no two minds are exactly the same; the needs of one may not be the needs of another. The words and phrases used in one version may not speak to my heart in the same way it does to yours, and vice versa. Although we certainly can be free to point out discrepancies in any version, let every man be free to choose which version or versions he/she will choose for their personal study and walk with God, without recrimination. Let us ever stay off the sacred ground of another’s conscience in this matter.

7 BC p. 970 – “Those whom the Lamb shall lead by the fountains of living waters, and for whose eyes He will wipe away all tears, will be those now receiving the knowledge and understanding revealed in the Bible, the word of God…. We are to copy no human being…. We are to look to the man Christ Jesus, who is complete in the perfection of righteousness and holiness…. He is the pattern man. His experience is the measure of the experience that we are to gain. His character is our model…. As we look to Him, He will be formed within, the hope of glory.

                “Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand.”

 

                In conclusion I am including this quote from the Elder’s Digest, April/June, 2007, p. 24:

“’There are over 500 instances in which Ellen White used renderings of texts other than that found in the KJV…. She did so from 27 of the 39 Old Testament books as well as 22 of the 27 New Testament books…. Ellen White used at least 5 other translations…in more than 40 of the books of hers currently available.’”

“He (Dr. du Preez) summarizes his study of Ellen White’s use of translations by saying, ‘that is, to use whatever modern versions are available, as long as they say more clearly, more correctly, and more conceptually what is already in the KJV.’” P118. Ron du Preez, No Fear for the Future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

               

One Response to “Thoughts on Bible Versions”

  1. Velesa Says:

    I am continuously searching online for tips that can help me. Thx! …

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