Which Bible Translation Do You Read?

There are dozens of English translations and versions of the Bible.

There are formal equivalency versions (word-for-word) and dynamic equivalency versions (thought-for-thought).  On the far end of the thought-for-thought variety is a particularly concerning type of translation called paraphrasing.  A couple of versions exist on that end, the Living Bible and the most extreme, The Message.

Delight in Truth highly recommends the English Standard Version for older children and adults.  It contains sentence structure at the 8-9th grade level, it is very easy to read, and it is very adequate for Bible study because it is close to the word-for-word approach.

The New International Version (NIV) is also suitable for reading, but much less suitable for Bible study due to a more thought-for-thought approach.  It is written closer to the 7th grade level of competency.  This is one the reasons many recommend the NIV for younger children or new converts.

I would still recommend the ESV for middle school children because of it is true to the original text and easy to read.

Traditionally, the most popular version is the King James Authorized Version (KJV), a beautifully translated Bible in 1611 which has stood the test of time.  However, its archaic language places it at the 12th grade level (or perhaps college level).  It contains the thous, thees, and medieval English verb conjugations.

Are any of the translations in mainstream use today bad?

John Piper was asked that question and he said that any translation is better than no translation.  While that may be correct, one needs to know that extreme thought-for-thought and paraphrase translations insert the translator’s theology and perspective into the Word of God.  That is not a good thing because it dilutes and even changes the message.

I will provide one passage from the ESV followed by the same passage in the Message to illustrate the contrast

1 Corinthians 6:9-10

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (ESV)

“Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom.” (The Message)

What a difference! 

The Message does not mention homosexuality and the other sinful lifestyles, but it inserts the environmental agenda in there.  So, the word of God is twisted to fit the flesh and liberal agenda of progressive Christians.

Examine the chart below and see where your translation of the Bible falls.

God and the Verb “to Be”

I find it amazing that God chose to reveal Himself using various conjugations and tenses of the verb “to be.”

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Here are the 7 “I am” statements made by Jesus in the gospel of John

      • I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35)
      • I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)
      • I am the Door (John 10:9)
      • I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)
      • I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
      • I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)
      • I am the Vine (John 15:1,5)

If you are reading this, please post in the comment section more verses where God identifies Himself with some form or conjugation of the verb “to be.”

The Father Loves the Son

We know that God has revealed Himself as the  Triune God, three co-eternal Persons who love and defer to each other.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are each fully God and there is one God, a mystery too wonderful to understand.

But why has God revealed Himself to us in Scriptures (via the ministry of Jesus) as Father and Son? Why this relationship?

Why are the first and the second Persons of the Trinity (no hierarchy implied) represented in such terms? Why not the brother-brother relationship, or another form of close human relationship that we can grasp?

This revelation is presented as such in order for believers to begin to understand the magnitude of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son.  

Even as we meditate on this we will never be able to fully grasp the eternal mystery and the gravity of what God did to redeem us.

A small step in understanding this infinitely costly redemption begins with examining the love between the Father and the Son.

The Father loves the Son so much that He has deferred to the Son sovereign lordship over the entire visible universe, as well as the heavenly unseen domain:

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” (John 3:35).

“…seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet…” (Ephesians 1:20-22)

We love our children and give them the very best we are able to give them.  But this pales in comparison with the fact that the Father gave ALL THINGS to the Son, so much He loves the Son.

The Father loves the Son because Jesus is a perfect reflection of God’s glory:

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3).

The Son is God in substance, nature, character and every other parameter that can be humanly expressed.

The Father loves the Son because the Son delights in His Father.  Jesus lived a perfect sinless life in supreme obedience to the Father who testifies for the seen and unseen domains to hear:

“And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”  (Matthew 3:17)

As we begin to see evidence of the GREAT love between Father and Son another element is introduced by Jesus Himself, that is His love for us:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you… These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9,11)

Wow… Could this be possible?

After listing the amazing Scripture above can we say that the Son really loves us the way the Father loves Him?

The grandeur of the precious sacrifice of Christ now begins to take shape.

Can you even begin to image the wrath of the Father being poured on His beloved Son instead of us? Can you imagine a similar scenario between you and your own child?  Can you even begin to imagine what the Father felt (if can use this word) as His beloved was tortured and murdered?

Knowing how much we love our children we now begin to understand why God is revealing Himself as Father and Son in addition to the Holy Spirit.

He does this to help us understand the magnitude of the sacrifice of Christ and eternal impact on believers… to understand how costly His sacrifice was… to understand how much He loves us… to make us turn to Him and love Him… to make Him the center of our universe.

The Commander of the LORD’s Army

The people of Israel have just entered Canaan and have celebrated their first Passover there.  The manna from heaven has just ceased to come down.  God has just decreed to Joshua that “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you” and “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life” Joshua 1:3,5.

Joshua is about to undergo the first military conflict in the promised land (now this is where our modern atheist and agnostic moral relativists interject to accuse God of sanctioning war crimes and atrocities against the ancient Canaanites… more on this later).

As Joshua is getting ready to besiege Jericho, the crown jewel of Canaan, a mysterious yet awesome Person appears to Joshua:

Joshua 5:13 “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”

This marks the beginning of a great mystery.  Joshua does not know who he is.  He is clearly a warrior of great stature as Joshua looks up to see him with his sword drawn.  Previously commanded by God to “be strong and courageous” Joshua now inquires if he is one of “us” or one of “our adversaries.”

Surprisingly the mysterious Person answers “No” to the two possibilities presented by Joshua (one of us or one of them):

14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.”

Many commentaries (but not all) ascribe the title of “commander of the army of the LORD” to Christ in this passage. Lets look at the textual evidence pointing towards this Person being the Christ.

  •  This Person receives worship and He does not stop Joshua from worshiping him.

14b “And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?””  People are strictly prohibited from worshiping other idols, humans (Acts 10:25,26 Cornelius is prevented from worshiping Peter), or even angels (Rev 22:8 John is prevented from worshiping an angel).

  • An objection can be noted here.  Joshua calls him lord (adon) and not Lord (Adonai) or LORD (YHWH).  The word lord (adon) can be used for both divine and non-divine according to Strong’s.  Some think the Commander of the army of the Lord is a superior angel like Michael for this reason.  However, in an almost corrective manner the Commander clarifies:

15 “And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

  • The Commander uses the same terminology as the great “I AM” in Exodus 3:5 when He commands Moses before the burning bush to remove his sandals because Moses is on holy ground in the presence of God. This supplies overwhelming evidence that the Commander is a divine Person.

In light of Revelation 19 where Jesus, “The Word of God” commands the heavenly armies we interpret that the divine Person appearing to Joshua is none other than the pre-incarnate Christ.

It is a crucial moment where Joshua receives not only approval from God, but the impetus to boldly engage in a war against Canaanites which is to include genocide and infanticide upon their tribes.

Why would God command Joshua to commit such atrocities against women and children in ancient Canaan?


to be continued…

Gabriel: “I Stand in the Presence of God”

The darkest 400 years of Israel’s history have just passed.  God had not spoken to His people during that time, and we do not have any written records of the Holy Spirit descending or filling any one person in Israel.

Luke is the New Testament evangelist that gives us the most detailed account of the miraculous events that broke this 400 year silence.

The appearance of the angel Gabriel during Zechariah’s service in the Temple is the first in a series of supernatural events heralding the birth of Christ.  Zechariah’s shock and disbelief is evidence that he personally has not encountered such an event before, and the same goes for his colleagues, given the long inter-testamental silence.

This was the beginning of the most amazing work that God has ever performed on earth up to that point.

These are the first words from God through Gabriel, words that broke the spiritual darkness surrounding the land: “Do not be afraid…” (Luke 1:13).  And it is a fitting message given the awesome display of the work of the Holy Spirit that is about to begin in Israel.

But for me the most intriguing part of Luke 1 is the way the angel identifies himself and his job…

Imagine having a casual conversation with someone you met for the first time.  Their name and occupation is usually one of the first things we address in an attempt to find some common ground with them.

Zechariah finally gets to that point in the conversation with Gabriel… a point of shock… a point of awe.  Gabriel introduces himself and his occupation: “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God” (Luke 1:19).

My dear reader, you and I cannot comprehend what this means.  There is no common ground here between a mortal man who has not yet been glorified, and Gabriel whose job is to literally stand in the presence of God and to serve God as His messenger.

Reading the account of this magnificent event and absorbing the stunning statement “I stand in the presence of God” is revealing and humbling at the same time.  Knowing what we know about God from Scripture, how can someone assert such a claim?   The only explanation is that Gabriel is an angel of indescribable holiness, faithfulness and responsibility.  To be able to serve God face-to-face in His presence is unbearable and unfathomable for the human mind while here on earth.

But the children of God saved through the precious blood of Jesus should get used to this concept rather quickly.  The Bible speaks of our glorification in the presence of God.  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:10

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Just like Gabriel, we will spend an eternal lifetime standing in the presence of God.  Only then will we find common ground in conversation with Gabriel and the hosts of heaven.

A Closer Look at Romans 1: the Nature of Human Relations

Rom 1:26 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

I will preface this article by saying that the Bible forbids us from hating any group of people.  We are commanded to love our neighbor, and at the same time to preach the truth about God’s love, and the repentance from any and all sin.

Whenever an in-depth look is undertaken into any Bible passage, one must use a word-for-word translation like the ESV or the NASB, and possibly look at the Hebrew or Greek text using tools such as Strong’s dictionary among others.  We will take a look at this passage and focus on the way apostle Paul uses the derivatives of the word “nature” in the context of homosexual relations.

One of the most important points of the gay agenda is to proclaim the idea that homosexual relations come naturally to the persons who subscribe to that orientation.  This has been implied even by some evangelical leaders like Rick Warren… but not in so many words.  A closer look in Romans 1 reveals that same-sex relations are not only sinful, but they are against nature the way God ordained it.

The context of Romans 1:18-32 is very important because it further solidifies this position.  The theme here is God’s wrath against the depravity of mankind, making the point that idolatry is unnatural.  It says that men committed an unnatural act in that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man. (verse 23)”  We see the contrast here between the natural and the unnatural, the glory of the immortal God and the images resembling mortal man, respectively.

Paul points to the transition between the natural worship of God, and the unnatural worship of man and idols.  He also points to how men unnaturally “exchanged the truth about God for a lie (verse 25).”

Continuing in the same pattern of natural vs unnatural, Paul gives an example of human depravity: homosexuality.  Just like the exchange of the “glory of the immortal God” for idolatry, and truth for lie was presented earlier, Paul now presents two more unnatural exchanges:

1. The phrase “their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones” references lesbianism as being unnatural, therefore against nature

2. The phrase “men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another” references homosexual relations among men and specifies that these men abandoned the natural state, that is the relationship ordained by God between man and woman in Gen 2:24.  Paul makes a clear case that an unnatural relationship is now taking place between members of the same sex.

The final analysis is the result of depravity: “the due penalty for their perversion” which is the result of God giving  “them up in the lusts of their hearts.”

Romans 1:26-27 is abundantly clear that homosexuality is not only sinful, but unnatural in the context of human relations ordained by God.  The argument that homosexual desires are natural, as any other sinful desire like lust, hate, anger, and greed directly contradicts Romans 1 Scripture.

Related click here: Can one repent of these unnatural desires?

Also: Biblical case against gay marriage

The Triune God Revealed in the Old Testament (part 2)

continued from here

The book of Isaiah is considered by many to be the “Gospel” of the Old Testament (OT) because it portrays Jesus in His Messianic role as the servant send by God the Father under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Isaiah 61:1-2 has strong trinitarian implications because it distinguishes the three persons of the Godhead and it shows their participation in the work of salvation of mankind:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;”

The narrative here is spoken by Jesus, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the opening of the passage “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me” encapsulates the Trinity.  The Hebrew word ruah is used to designate the Holy Spirit in the OT and it is used in this passage.  The words Lord God (Adonai and YHWY) represent God the Father, while the person speaking in this passage is Jesus, the messianic servant sent by the Father to accomplish the tasks listed in verses 1-3.

The fact that Jesus is the narrator cannot be contested due to the evidence found in Luke 4:16-30.  Jesus enters the Synagogue on Sabbath and reads aloud from the scroll the passage in Isaiah 61:1-2, and makes the astonishing claim:  “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  Jesus thus claims to be the Messiah, the narrator of Isaiah 61.

Therefore, Isaiah presents the Trinity – God the Father sending Jesus the Messiah, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit –  together doing the work of redemption.

Isaiah also pays special attention to the Holy Spirit and designates personal qualities to Him in Isaiah 63:10 “But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.”  Besides the terrifying claim that God Himself became the enemy of Israel and He fought against them, this verse reveals two important things about the Holy Spirit (ruah).

First, the Holy Spirit is a distinct entity (his Holy Spirit) from God the Father (LORD YHWH), and second, the Holy Spirit can be grieved, a personal and emotional quality.  We now have a clear presentation of two out of three persons in the Trinity, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in Isaiah 63:10.

A biblical demonstration of the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit is beyond the scope of this article, but Isaiah 61:1-2 and 63:10 are clear in revealing the three separate persons of God: LORD YHWH the Father, Jesus the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit.

to be continued…

The Triune God Revealed in the Old Testament (part 1)

Other than the teaching of salvation by grace thru faith, the doctrine of the Trinity may be the most important doctrine of the Christian faith.  Some theologians would say that it is the primordial doctrine of Christianity.  Wayne Grudem defines it in his Systematic Theology as follows:  “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.”

Well known passages in the Old Testament (OT) as well as obscure ones reveal the plurality of the Trinity.

Psalm 110:1 is the most frequently quoted passage from the OT in the New Testament (NT).  Here David receives a tremendous revelation from God to be able to write a glimpse of this amazing intra-Trinitarian conversation:  “The Lord says to my Lord:  “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”  Jesus challenges the Pharisees in Matthew 22:41-46 to understand that David is referring to two separate persons as “Lord” in Psalm 110.  God the Father says to God the Son, “sit at my right hand.”

David’s revelation continues when he writes in Psalm 45:7 “Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  Jesus is the anointed One by the Father when David again reveals the Father and the Son Jesus as God.

The Trinity is also revealed in a less known passage found in Hosea 1:7 “But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God.”  God (Elohim) here is speaking about the Lord (Yahweh) who will save Judah.  The Scripture clearly indicates here that two separate persons can be called God and Lord, that is Father and Son.

In the context of God’s plan of redemption, Isaiah 48:16 has amazing trinitarian implications: “And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.”  In NT perspective Jesus is the Messiah the One send by the Father.  It follows that in the redemption context of Isaiah 48, the person “me” in verse 16 send by God is Jesus.  If this verse is spoken by Jesus, and I believe it is given its context, we now have all three persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit mentioned in this verse.   Amazing!

The doctrine of the Trinity is a blessing for us because by understanding it we understand God’s plan of redemption and how each person of the Trinity is involved in each aspect of salvation.  We will never grasp how God can co-exist in three persons and be One God, but if we are to believe the Bible, we must accept this doctrine.  CS Lewis attested its validity when he said that such a doctrine could never be made up by a human mind.  No one could have come up with this type of idea if it wasn’t for the revelation given in the Bible.

to be continued…