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What's in a Translation

Presence 866 Views


Over the past couple years I have noticed many churches from several different denominations (Baptist, Pentecostal, Apostolic, Catholic, Evangelical, etc….) are proclaiming and even advertising that they are a "KJV" only church. I have to say that from the very beginning this didn't sit well with my spirit because it seemed so "religious". So, I decided to do a little research on the subject, including the belief that reading from any other translation is somehow offensive to God.

Let's talk first about the KJV, as this seems to be the one translation that commands loyalty. King James of England, the leader of the Church of England, first commissioned the translation of the "Authorized Version" later known as the KJV in 1604. A group of 47 Scholars was assembled to complete the translation. It was finally published in 1611. The KJV was not, however, the first English translation for the non Hebrew or Greek speaking world. It was actually the third such version. King James' purpose was to create a version for the English speaking church without, or at least to limit,  the influence of the Puritan faction of the Church of England. There have been two revisions of the KJV that produced the version that we have available today. This does make me curious how one answers the question of the KJV being the exclusively correct text and yet having revisions. We do know that since 1611 that there have been additional discoveries of older Greek Text, also there has been a greater understanding of the koine Greek language, which was the dialect that most of the New Testament was originally written in. Koine was the language of the common man, or traders, not necessarily the language of the Greek scholar. Just like many of the dialects in America today use sentence and word structures differently, so too the men that penned the text. The disciples that God chose to author His word were commoners, not scholars. Also there was the beliefs of the men that were doing the translation. As much as I am sure that they tried to create a pure translation, their own beliefs and ideals entered in to the text from time to time. Example: Romans 8:1 "...who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. " this part of the text is not in the original Greek manuscript. It is a sub-text of a statement made four verses later in Rom8:4.

My point is not to discredit the KJV but to demonstrate that we (Man kind) have a tendency to place exclusivity and rightness to areas where we should simply take it for what it is.

My personal belief is that the Revelation of God's Word is not gained from a particular style or translation, but from the Holy Spirit Himself. If you rely on the ability to intellectually discern what the author, or for that matter God, was meaning when it was written, I fear that you will be hopelessly lost in a whirlwind of misunderstanding.

1Co 1:27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I can't imagine a God who would make such a great sacrifice as to give his only son that you and I might be made right with Him would have a pretext that we "Read" His word out of a specific version or translation of text. You and I were created to have a personal relationship with our creator, not to learn about him exclusively from a book. I do believe that we were given the scriptures as the "Inspired Word of God" so that we could more deeply immerse ourselves in His promises for us. However, it was never intended to replace the Rhema word that comes from talking with Him.

Unfortunately, this has become an argument of circumcision. Just as the Jewish believers wanted to impose their customs of circumcision on the gentiles,  the "KJV only" issue has become a dividing point within the church. Any such issue that brings division can not be from a God of Unity.

Which ever translation that you choose to read or teach from, begin by asking God to allow His Holy Spirit to bring true revelation to you. My prayer that each one of us finds a translation that we can comfortably read and understand so that God can put His Word to work in our lives.


God Bless


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