Why are there so many versions or translations of the Bible? If it’s God’s word, why not only one?

Why are there so many versions or translations of the Bible? If it’s God’s word, why not only one?

  The Bible is made up of 66 writings (called books) penned by men over a span of many hundreds of years. Theologians and historians affirm that God inspired the writers and that what we read today is what God wants us to know about Him, his personality, his creation, and his plan for the world. It is also about his love of humans He made in His image, and His plan for redemption for the billions of men and women, who, through the millennia have turned their backs on God. So, is the Bible the Word of God? Yes and No.

When Paul the Apostle of Jesus wrote to his disciple, Timothy, he made clear that:

All Scripture is God-breathed (or inspired) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

2 Timothy 3:16

Paul is not saying that God dictated every word, but rather that He inspired the men who wrote it and copied it that we might be able to access the inspired scriptures 2000 years after the life of Jesus. The books of the Bible contain poetry, historical records, prophecy and letters that teach, admonish and encourage believers.  These books were originally written down in ancient languages, including Hebrew and Greek, and later translated into Latin and many of the world’s languages. These original books were written down over the course of 1,900 years.  The last of the books, God’s Revelation to John near the end of the first century of the Christian Era. 

An early translation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) into Greek is know as the Septuagint. It was made for Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC and adopted by the early Christian Churches. As languages changed, newer versions replaced older ones to ensure that the translation accurately conveyed the message of the original language.

Today, scholars are continually researching original manuscripts, many that predate the ones used for previous translations. They also study modern language and then create translations that they believe help the reader understand what had been originally written. Since many words in Hebrew and Greek don’t have exact parallels in English, scholars try to choose the best combination of words for the translation. In addition, since Hebrew and Greek sentence structure is different from English (and many other languages), translators have to take into account how to structure the translation to best capture the meaning of the original. Finally, translators think about the people who will be reading their work and may simplify or add clarity by introducing words not in the original.

Below are two verses from the Gospel of Mark — 5:22 and 23. These give an account of a Jewish official named Jairus who approaches Jesus with a request that Jesus heal Jairus’ daughter. The first paragraph is in the original Greek with the literal translation of each word interspersed. When you read it, you will see that the English is hard to understand.

καὶ  And  ἔρχεται  comes  εἷς  one  τῶν  of the  ἀρχισυναγώγων  synagogue rulers  ὀνόματι  named  Ἰάϊρος  Jairus  καὶ  and  ἰδὼν  having seen  αὐτὸν  Him  πίπτει  falls  πρὸς  at  τοὺς  the  πόδας  feet  αὐτοῦ  of Him  καὶ  and  παρακαλεῖ  he begs   αὐτὸν  Him  πολλὰ  much λέγων  saying  ὅτι  Τὸ  The  θυγάτριόν  little daughter μου  of me  ἐσχάτως  at the end  ἔχει  is holding  ἵνα  that  ἐλθὼν  having come  ἐπιθῇς  You would lay  τὰς  the  χεῖρας  hands  αὐτῇ  on her  ἵνα  so that σωθῇ   she might be cured  καὶ  and  ζήσῃ she shall live

When an English translation was prepared at the request of King James and published in 1611, the translation was in the vernacular of the day, and as you can read, it can be a challenge to a modern reader:

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. (King James Version)

A popular modern version of the Bible, that closely adheres to the rules of translation, helps today’s reader better understand the story. It was translated by an esteemed team of scholars:

Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” (New International Version)

Another modern translation, also done from original manuscripts by a team of highly-acclaimed Bible scholars seeks to stay true to the original text, but present it in language easily understandable to readers in the twenty-first century:

Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” (English Standard Version)

Departing from the strict rules of translation, The Message takes the ideas in the original Greek and restates them in the vernacular of the day.

One of the meeting-place leaders named Jairus came. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees, beside himself as he begged, “My dear daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay hands on her so she will get well and live.” (Message)

Compare that to a translation by a single scholar, Robert Young, in 1862 who created a literal word-for-word translation using language that was popular in his day, but is out of favor today:

and lo, there doth come one of the chiefs of the synagogue, by name Jairus, and having seen him, he doth fall at his feet, and he was calling upon him much, saying — `My little daughter is at the last extremity — that having come, thou mayest lay on her [thy] hands, so that she may be saved, and she shall live; (Youngs Literal Translation)

As you can see, all of the translations help us understand the encounter between Jairus and Jesus, but each has its place in communicating to specific audiences at different times and in different places. None claim to be words dictated to the authors or translators by God. All strive, however, to convey the inspired words of God contained in the original manuscripts.  

What worldviews are in conflict with the Christian worldview? Why?

What worldviews are in conflict with the Christian worldview? Why?

A worldview is “any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world, and the relationship of people to God and the world.” That definition is provided by Summit Ministries, an organization that is equipping and supporting rising generations to embrace God’s Truth and a Christian worldview.

We all have a worldview, even if unconsciously and without formally articulating it. It is our take on the nature of the world, like a lens through which we view and try to comprehend life. If the lens is faulty, if the prescription is wrong, our view of the world will be faulty and blurry. Such an uninformed and out of focus view will lead to poor decisions, bad behavior, and an unfulfilling life. The prophet Hosea warns, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

A Christian worldview is based on seeing and interpreting life through the lens of God’s truth as revealed in the Bible. That truth begins with God who predates Creation as we know it. “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1)

A Biblical worldview pronounces that we are loved by God, made in His image, and created for eternal life, while also acknowledging our sinful human nature. The Bible is the Christian’s constant point of reference with rules and wisdom to live by. When we fail to live up to God’s holy standards, we learn in the Bible that God offers us redemption and a path to eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Worldviews in conflict with Christianity begin with ‘in the beginning, no God.’ For them, there is no divine image in which we are made; instead, we are seen as no different from the animals, a random, evolutionary product of time plus chance. They acknowledge no divine truth to serve as a guide for our lives, and no such thing as eternal life, which we will spend in heaven or hell. They assume that human nature is good, not sinful, and thus not in need of a redeemer. Whereas the Psalmist proclaims, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:6) The atheist worldview believes, “the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

Many non-Christian worldviews, ideologies known as “-isms,” are not only different from but also hostile to the Christian view. Some of the best known are Secular Humanism, Materialism, Naturalism, Marxism/Communism, and Postmodernism. Christians must study the Bible to understand their own worldview, and they need to become acquainted with the ideologies that are determined to replace it. How will you respond to the challenge presented by Joshua (24:15)?  “Choose this day whom you will serve, . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Truth, what is it? Can it be found? Are there Objective Truths?

Truth, what is it? Can it be found? Are there Objective Truths?

Let’s begin answering this three-part question by defining truth. Truth is an assertion that can be proven through measurement. It is true, for example, that a cup can hold tea. We can prove the assertion by pouring tea into a cup and noting that it stays in the cup. Truth can also be an assertion or belief that cannot be falsified or one that is supported by a preponderance of evidence. Though no one living has seen or talked with Julius Caeser, we accept as true that he lived, ruled and was murdered because we have copies of writings of people who lived at the time of Caeser. In the same way, we know about Jesus of Nazareth because of the written and oral testimony of his contemporaries.

Finding truth can be a bit more complex especially as it relates to the great questions about life and death, why we can think and feel and love and communicate, and why the world is as it is. We’re going to present several ways that you can begin to understand some of the greatest truths in the universe. Let’s begin with nature.

God uses creation to reveal two basic truths: 1) that there is a God; and 2)that He is all powerful. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul, an apostle of Jesus, wrote: “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20). He’s saying that there any observer of nature can plainly see that only God–a brilliant designer and all-powerful builder could have created it. PauI also explained that some people chose not to accept this basic truth and will “[change] the truth of God into a lie.” Romans 1:18, 26. And for that, there will be harsh consequences.

Of course, the primary way to find God’s truth is by reading the Bible. However, God is a concealer as we learn from conveyor of wisdom who penned these words more than 2500 years ago: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Prov. 25:2) Why would he do that?  Typically, the truth is concealed from those persons who don’t want to listen to the truth and have hardened their hearts against it. For example, parables were used by Jesus, the Christ (Messiah or Anointed One) for the purpose of concealing truth and preventing understanding. (Matt. 13:13-15.) So, the best way to find truth is to allow the Holy Spirit to teach it to you.

The Holy Spirit will “guide” you into all truth. (John 15:26, 16:13 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father even the Spirit of truth …When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.” His guidance is not only as to Biblical truth, but to all truth. If  something is true, he will reveal it to you as being true. If something is false, he will show you that it is not true. Quietly listening to this Holy Spirit, who dwells within those who are God’s children, often brings to mind the very truths for which we are searching.

Are there objective truths? Yes. Objective truth is factual. It matches up with reality. For example, the Bible explains the location of God’s temple at the time of Christ, to be in Jerusalem. That is factual. The law of gravity is objective Truth. It is not dependent on subjective opinion. There can only be one objective truth. It can’t be “your truth” vs. “my truth.” Subjective truth, on the other hand, is rooted in the opinions of each individual and therefore may not be truth at all.

For a believer who wants to know God’s truth, he or she should start with the Bible. The Bible is a collection of 66 documents or books written through the divine inspiration of God over the course of 1500 years and preserved and translated in most of the world’s languages. Asking the Holy Spirit to open up one’s spiritual eyes, a believer will discover that Bible contains wisdom for living and an understanding of the promise of eternal life with God once he or she experiences physical death.

A believer will discover that Biblical truth is best revealed when he or she:

1.) Is spiritually healthy with no unconfessed sin;

2.) Has, to the best of his or her ability, put aside evil practices, 1Peter 2:1-2; Eph. 4:31; and Col.3:8-9; 3.)

3.) Reads with a desire to do so in order to grow up spiritually, 1Tim. 2:1; the Bible is the believer’s spiritual food: bread (Matt. 4:4), apples (Prov. 25:11), honey (Ps.19:10), meat (Heb. 5:12) and milk (1Pet. 2:2) .

4.) Prays for understanding, Ps. 119:18, 34;

5.) Trusts God to give understanding, Prov. 22:17-21 “ … written to thee … that I might make known the certainty of the Words of truth.”

6.) Believes what is read, Ps.119:160;

7.) Approaches the Word with humility; 

8.) Does not try to change what is read; For example, don’t add words to the scripture, don’t leave out words, and stay in the context;

9.) Meditates on it, think on it, day and night, Ps. 1:2, Ps. 119:15; 10.) Study it, 2Tim. 2:15; and 11.) Find from the Word itself how to understand it;

a. By comparing spiritual ideas, 1Cor. 2:12-13;

b. By dividing the Word into separate parts for further understanding, 2Tim. 2:15;

c. By determining who is speaking; for example, in the Psalms we see David speaking for himself and then David switches to speaking for the Lord, Ps. 18:20, 22-25; and

d. By studying similitudes (similarities, likeness, resemblance), Hosea 12:10; by studying contrasts (differences), Amos 3:3 .

 God’s Truths are factual and match up with reality. Creation is one of the greatest truths of the Bible. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis1 and Romans 1:20) In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In this case the Word refers to Jesus (John 1:1). Finally, Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father but by me.” Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus? If not, why not? He is the only way to eternal life and His Word is Truth, God’s Truth. Today is the day of decision .

How does One Become a Christian?

How does One Become a Christian?

Maybe you’ve gone to church when you were younger, but never took that step to become a Christian. Maybe you’ve been living your life your own way and not taking into account what it takes to live life differently, one with meaning and purpose. Man looks on the outside but it’s really our hearts and our character that God is concerned about.

Becoming a Christian requires a decision. In the Bible we read:

“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:8-11

Jesus waits patiently for our decision and our heart to be open to receive Him and His love. God responds to genuine humility and sincere acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of a Savior and seeks God’s forgiveness and acceptance. God is loving and merciful and does not want anyone to be lost.

If becoming a Christian is the desire of your heart, I encourage you to talk to God and voice this simple prayer. You can do this aloud or silently because God hears your heart speaking as well as your mouth. In your own words, admit you are sinner in need of a Savior. Then ask God to help you turn away from your old way of living and thinking. (This is called repentence.) Invite God into your life and promise to follow Him for the rest of your days.

When you pray this sincerely, God, in the form of the Holy Spirit will enter your your mind and heart bringing peace, forgiveness of your sins, and assurance of eternal life with God after you physically die.
When you seek God’s forgiveness for your sin and acknowledge Jesus as your savior, you become a child of God. In effect, you become ‘born again’, a new creation in Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Him. The old life will have passed away and a new life will begin. Will everything in this life suddenly become perfect? No. But how you see and react to your circumstances and the people around you will change for the better.

Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision you can ever make. Eternity hangs in the balance; heaven or hell. Today is the day of decision.

 

How do we know that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?

How do we know that the Bible is the inspired Word of God?

The human authors who wrote the Bible did not do so by an act
of their own will or natural inspiration. Rather, the Holy Spirit
exerted supernatural influence upon these writers as stated in
2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by
the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, the Holy Spirit is the author of the
Bible.

The Bible is timeless and true, containing no inaccuracies with
regard to history or factual science. Although written by 40
men over a period of 1500 years, it flows harmoniously and seamlessly
void of any inconsistencies or contradictions. As King David
said, “the Spirit of the Lord spoke by me and His word was on
my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:2). All the words of the Bible are
“God breathed” and therefore, the Bible is infallible, prophetic,
completely free from error and absolutely trustworthy.

As stated in 2 Timothy 3:10, the Bible is profitable for doctrine,
reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness. God’s
word has special power as written in Hebrews 4:12, “For the
word of God is living and powerful, sharper that any two edge
sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit.” The
Bible is the God inspired operations manual for life and it is
Best Investigated Before Leaving Earth!

How can I know that Christianity is true?

How can I know that Christianity is true?

That depends on who is defining Christianity. Basic Christianity is the understanding that a person cannot do anything, including good works or good deeds, to win a place in heaven. Christianity alone teaches that forgiveness of individual sin and the promise of eternal life with God are gifts offered to an individual by God. To receive these gifts of both forgiveness and eternal life, one only has to accept the gift by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So the question becomes, is Jesus true? Is what he says about himself truthful?

Jesus, the first century teacher, is documented in the Bible and by historians of that period, Josephus and Tacitus. His teachings are among the best preserved words from antiquity. His birth, life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection were all prophesied more than 500 years before he was born. Only God, who exists beyond both time and space, could know the future. Jesus’ miracles demonstrated his divine power. In his three and a half years of ministry, thousands were healed of all sorts of diseases and these events had many witnesses to testify to their authenticity. His death and resurrection are documented historical facts. The raised-from-the-dead-Jesus was seen by more than 500 people, including the eleven apostles, during the 40 days he stayed on earth after his resurrection.

Jesus’ ascension back into heaven had many witnesses proving again he was the Son of God. In addition, there are thousands of verified reports of Jesus appearing to people throughout the world, even to Muslims, who are accepting in great numbers the truth of Jesus as the human manifestation of God. They are recognizing that Jesus is the only path to an eternal relationship with God, the creator of the universe–the only entity who can bring true peace to the human soul and to the world.

Throughout history, many people have tried to hijack Christianity, to use the religion to advance their personal agendas. They have distorted the teachings of Jesus. They have killed and bullied and destroyed in the name of Jesus. However, even a casual reading of the Bible clearly demonstrates that Christians are called to love their enemies, to serve the poor, care for widows and orphans, and to reflect the love of Jesus in all they do. They are called into a life of service on behalf of God, not because God demands it, but because they are so thankful for what he has already done for them. This is the truth of Christianity.

By contrast, all other religious systems are either unverifiable or irrational, thereby disqualifying them as being true. For these reasons alone you can know for certain that Christianity is true, but the question is, ‘Do you believe it?’ Every individual has the free will to receive God’s gift of salvation or reject it and pursue their own self-centered life. Heaven and Hell hang in the balance of this decision. All other religions propose a path to God. Unfortunately, the fact is these are all dead ends leading to eternal destruction. There is no path. There is only the Way of Jesus Christ because he is the Truth and he is God. (John 14:6)