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Greek

Jesus is tempted

In today’s Bible reading from Matthew 4, we see a familiar passage on Jesus’ temptations. In the first two temptations (Matthew 4:3, 6), the devil begins with, “If you are the Son of God….”

There are three ways that the Greek language conveys conditional (“if“) statements. It would be accurate to translate these two temptations, “If you are the Son of God — and we both know that you are…” or “Since you are the Son of God…” Satan acknowledged Jesus’ deity. He never called it into question. but he did try to get Jesus to submit to his temptations. Three times. And the three temptations are basically the same as the ones you and I face every day: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

And we can fight our temptations just like Jesus did: respond with applicable Bible verses that we have treasured in our hearts (Psalm 119:11), and remember that God is much more to be desired than anything the enemy can tempt us with (Psalm 16:11, Matthew 6:33).

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 (CSB)

Application

I believe it was Martin Luther who said, “I can’t keep birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from nesting in my hair.” Looking at this and with today’s scheduled reading, it’s good to know that Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted. He knows the enemy’s schemes, yet he never sinned.

The next time you’re tempted to some sin — and you resist — don’t accept the enemy’s accusations that you’ve sinned. Being tempted is not sin. If it were, then Jesus sinned.

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Cover Page of the 1611 King James Version, First Edition

A recent Facebook discussion centered on the question of which Bible translation we should use. Specifically, the question was, “Which is better, KJV or NKJV?”

Some of the respondents commented that their pastor or some other leader had recommended (or insisted) that he should use the KJV.

Here’s my response with a few clarifications.


The way I approach this topic is to consider that when God spoke to the people in the Bible – both Old Testament and New Testament – He spoke in the language of common, ordinary people of the day: Hebrew, Aramaic, and KOINE Greek. I highlighted Koine because Attic (“Classical”) Greek had been replaced by this new “common” Greek. Latin was spoken by the more educated people, mainly in Rome. But the common, ordinary people of the area of modern-day Israel spoke Koine Greek.

Given that fact, wouldn’t it be in our best interest to use the best manuscripts available to produce, read, and study God’s Word today?

And given that fact, wouldn’t it be in our best interest to read and study God’s Word as translated into the common vernacular used today?

So where does that leave us?

If you can’t read the original languages (which, contrary to KJV-Only proponents is not late 16th/early 17th Century English), then American adults are BEST served with a translation along the lines of the CSB which does a really good job of balancing formal equivalence (“literal”, word-for-word) and functional equivalence (thought-for-thought) in translation. American teens may be best served by the NLT, which uses a more functional equivalence translation philosophy.

Assuming you can’t read the original languages and you’re studying the Bible, perhaps it’s better to use something along the lines of the ESV alongside the CSB.

Having said that, let me state unequivocally that I believe that any believer can hear God’s voice in any language he/she can speak.


A very long time ago, I read something that still resonates to me about which translation is the best: The best translation is the one that you’ll read, study and apply to your life. (Unfortunately, I don’t remember who said it)

Such was the question posted by a Facebook Friend. It’s a great question — or series of questions. Here’s my response to his post.

 

For an “academic” answer to your question, I’m an inerrantist. I take it at face value as I read it, trying to take into account the author’s original message to the original audience in the original historical context in the genre it was written. And – not wanting to get into a translation debate – this requires that you use a modern language translation if you don’t know the original languages.

History (much of the OT, the Gospels and Acts) describes what happened.
Didactic (teaching like we find in the NT epistles) prescribes how things are supposed to happen.
Poetry (Psalms) uses imagery and figures of speach.
Apocalyptic (parts of Daniel and Revelation) uses very picturesque language and more figures of speech.

We can easily run into problems when we read an apocalyptic or history passage through a didactic lens. Taking into account the context (historical, culture, and genre) — as best as possible – will give us a proper theological framework to understand the passage in question.

Having said all of this, you don’t have to be an academicians, have a bunch of advanced degrees, and be fluent in the original languages to get the message God wants you to hear.

Adding to what [another commenter] said above, read [the Bible] as a love letter from a holy, merciful, just, gracious God Who relentlessly pursues His people in covenant.

 

Just as I posted my response, I saw an excellent article that was linked by the commentor. You may want tocheck it out!

A friend posted a video on Facebook yesterday showing John Piper’s recommendations regarding using a contemporary English translation of the Bible. As the video played, captions appeared (with many misspellings), attempting to rebut Piper’s comments in real-time. I am not providing a link to the video simply because it isn’t worth glorifying by linking to it.

Below is my response to my friend and to her Facebook friends. It is a long post. On this website, I will welcome comments for a few days, but I will only post comments if they are respectful of everyone involved in the debate.

 


Regarding the person/persons who added the captions… their knowledge of the CENTRAL issue at hand is no more accurate than the spelling in their captions! (There are other peripheral issues regarding the KJV, but I am withholding my remarks because they aren’t the CENTRAL issue at hand and I don’t want anyone to get distracted from the CENTRAL issue).

Yes, the Biblical writers DID IN FACT use the common language of the day (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek) to record what God said — in the common language at the time.

(Note: An additional note to my original Facebook response:
Example: Moses didn’t record the Exodus in Egyptian Hieroglyphics (even though, growing up in Pharoah’s house, he would have been very capable of doing so]. Instead, he recorded the Exodus of God’s people in the language that they would understand.)

The reason William Tyndale was burned at the stake (in 1536), and one of the many reasons Martin Luther was in so much hot water: attempting to get the Word of God *back* into the hands of normal, everyday people so they could understand it in the common language of the day.

The very fact that the KJV was even translated in the first place (1611) was to GET THE WORD OF GOD INTO THE COMMON LANGUAGE OF THE DAY!

The KJV was not the first English translation. As far as I can tell, many of the previous (partial eg, Psalms, the Gospels) English translations were translated from the Latin Vulgate (which itself was translated from the original languages in order to GET THE WORD OF GOD INTO THE COMMON LANGUAGE OF THE DAY.

The KJV was a revision to Tyndale’s works (published from 1494–1536) and Bishops Bible (1568 which was revised in 1572; the 1602 edition of the Bishop’s Bible was prescribed as the base text for the King James Version.

The translators of the KJV recognized the limitations of their work and acknowledged that as language changes, English translations would need to be updated accordingly.

The bottom line: The KJV-Only proponents are not consistent in their argument for the legitimacy of KJV-Only.

As I have told people in churches where I have served, if you normally speak (fluently) only in 17th Century Elizabethan English, by all means, use the KJV! Otherwise, use a good modern-day translation in your first language, which for most of us is mid-to-late 20th to early 21st Century English.

The CENTRAL issue at hand is “How does God speak? How did He originally intend to speak?” When God breathed out His Word (2Tim 3:16), He did so in the language of the hearers in their contemporary dialect. And if they had God’s Word in their contemporary language, so should we.

We need to have the most understandable translation of the Bible in our native language so we can<br />
1) understand it,
2) study it,
3) meditate on it, and
4) apply it to your daily life. (2Tim 3:17)

 

So, what’s your take on this issue? Do you believe the King James translation (translated in 1611) is the only legitimate for Christians today? If so, please state your case.

 

I was reading through our Sunday School Quarterly last night and came across a common illustration that isn’t based in truth. The lesson writer states that,

“Being sincere literally means to be without wax. This is a potter’s term and it refers to the devious practice of patching cracked pots with a mixture of colored dirt and wax in order to hide imperfections. An unwary buyer would think he had bought a good vessel until he used it. Then he would discover that it was defective. A sincere person does not have a cracked character that will be revealed under pressure. Of course, those who are sincere will not give offense to others. We should be honest with ourselves and God and allow God’s Word to mold our character.” (Fall Quarterly, Growing in Love, Joy and Knowledge p. 15, Bogard Press) (Note: I have serious concerns about this lesson writer and the publisher, but I digress.)

This sounds really good, and the premise has been used in many sermons to encourage people to be genuine and authentic. Unfortunately, it isn’t rooted in reality.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, “There has been a temptation to see the first element as Latin sine ‘without.’ But there is no etymological justification for the common story that the word means ‘without wax’ (*sin cerae), which is dismissed out of hand by [this dictionary] and others, and the stories invented to justify that folk etymology are even less plausible.”

If we are to be sincere in studying and teaching God’s Word, we must be very careful when using stories like this. When we use “preacher stories”, we actually communicate untruths. Now, I won’t say that those of us who use illustrations like this are lying when we do so, because lying is telling an untruth with the purpose of deceit. What the lesson writer does is not unlike many Bible teachers when we use eisegesis instead of exegesis to study the Bible. Eisegesis means to read into whereas exegesis means to read out of. The dead giveaway for me — that sent me to research this – was the use of “literally” in the definition of sincere. Sadly, many times we say, “literally”, it isn’t literally true.

The Scripture Passage in question is Philippians 1:10 The lesson writer takes an English word sincere that was translated from the Biblical (Koine) Greek word εἰλικρινεις (eilikrineis) which means “pure”. Instead of translating the word from Koine Greek forward into Modern English and translating the word, “pure”, the lesson writer goes from 1611 Elizabethan English (KJV) backward to Latin to find a word pair that never existed to make an illustration that isn’t based in reality. This is a classic example of reading into the Bible what you want it to say, rather than simply letting the Bible Text speak for itself.

Thankfully, this illustration does little actual harm to a Sunday School Student. But being sloppy like this in studying and teaching God’s Word is irresponsible. And if the educated teachers (and degreed lesson writers) are sloppy and irresponsible, can we expect better from our students?

Let’s be sincere and let God’s Word speak for itself.

 

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