Why It’s a Good Idea to Use Various Bible Translations

Kids Studying Bible

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When I preach a sermon in English, which is the only language I can preach in by the way, if you had three people translating it into Spanish, each one would translate it differently. To get the big picture you would not choose one translation and throw the rest away. You would put all three together to get the big picture. Likewise I do not think it is wise to try to find one perfect Bible translation. I think it is wise to examine several to get the big picture. for example, in my personal Bible study time this morning I ran across this passage in the New Living Translation.

With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Hebrews 9:12 NLT

I thought that makes it sound like Jesus was already in the Most Holy Place before 1844. I remembered hearing someone before reference this verse  trying to destroy the Adventist understanding of the sanctuary. So I thought, in the spirit of the Bereans, I need to check this out. I quickly found that the KJV does not say “Most Holy Place” in this verse. It only says “Holy Place.”

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:12 KJV

Now I must remember the KJV is also a “version.” The KJV is not the original manuscripts. The KJV is an extremely reliable version, but it does not automatically trump all other versions on every text. Having translated messages in ASL and having had studies translated for me from English to Spanish, I understand what all translators understand, that no translation is 100% accurate. This includes the KJV. So I did a little more research and found that even the NKJV, which is a highly esteemed version did indeed use the phrase” Most Holy Place,” not “Holy Place.” This caused me to research even further. I found that The Message translates it this way.

But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. Hebrews 9:11-12 MSG

This was an aha! moment for me. The word being translated “most” in other translations except for the KJV actually meant “true” or real. This makes perfect sense and is understandable why so many would translate it ‘most.” The context of Hebrews 8- 9 is not about when Jesus went into the most holy place, but rather that Jesus went into a real and literal sanctuary

There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands. Hebrews 8:2 NLT

See! There is the word “true” in the NLT. Hebrews 9:12 is saying that Jesus went into a real and true sanctuary. The word “most” in the other translations is not an unfortunate translation, when you understand by “most” it is comparing the heavenly sanctuary to the earthy sanctuary, instead of comparing the most holy and holy compartments.

There are conspiracy theorists who see modern translations as a plot to destroy Adventist theology. I say if the KJV is the only version that supports our theology then we better re-examine our theology! I believe sound theology will be supported by various versions, and I believe the sanctuary message can be supported by various translations.

 

“I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible, yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition. But I saw that the Word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed.” -Ellen White, Early Writings, Pages 220,-221

The first point I appreciate about this passage is that Ellen White understood errors were made with the best of intentions instead of a conspiracy plot. I am sure when the coma was misplaced in the KJV in Luke 23:43 it was with the best of intentions. The second point I appreciate is that the Holy Spirit has protected the Word of God so that the way to life will not be lost, and the Holy Spirit can help us find truth in the different translations we read.

When I preach a sermon in English, which is the only language I can preach in by the way, if you had three people translating it into Spanish, each one would translate it differently. To get the big picture you would not choose one translation and throw the rest away. You would put all three together to get the big picture. Likewise I do not think it is wise to try to find one perfect Bible translation. I think it is wise to examine several to get the big picture.

Do we Keep The Commandments, Or Just Wash Our Robes?

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

A Protestant lady visiting my church asked why we keep Saturday as the Sabbath. I explained that we love Jesus, and Jesus said if we love Him to keep His commandments. (See John 14:15) She responded indignantly, “But you can’t keep the commandments!” I should have been surprised, but I had heard such a response before from others. While many professed Christians say we can’t keep the law or commandments, my Bible says otherwise.

The author of Revelation sees people keeping the commandments. So it must be possible.

And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus.Revelation 12:17 NLT

Later John sums up the three angel’s message by saying,

This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.John 14:12 NLT

Again John sees people obeying. He also sees how they obey. Faith makes them obedient. Faith does not do away with obedience. It leads to obedience! Now let’s look at a text where many see a great discrepancy, but I don’t  see any

Revelation 22:14 in the King James Version says,

Blessed are they that do his commandments…

However other versions like the NIV and NLT read,

Blessed are those who wash their robes… Revelation 22:14 NLT

So which is it? Do His commandments or wash their robes? Are the NIV and NLT making an attempt to do away with the law, by saying “wash their robes” instead of “do the commandments” as some suggest? Is this some sort of conspiracy to do away with the commandments?

While KJV proponents suggest that the KJV “Do His Commandments” is the more accurate reading, I see no discrepancy, because all those who wash their robes will be keeping the commandments. Just like Revelation 14:12 showed us, all those who have faith keep the commandments.

Revelation 7 is talking about the law and the seal of God. Here John describes  those sealed with the law in Revelation 7:14 KJV ,

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Here even the KJV describes those who have been sealed with the law of God as those have washed their robes, just like the NIV and NLT describe later inRevelation 22.

I conclude that “Do His Commandments” and “Wash their robes” are not contradictions, but rather mean the same thing. In Revelation 14:12 we see those who have faith keep the commandments. You can’t separate the two. And by comparing Revelation 22:14 with the NIV, NLT and KJV we see that all those who have washed their robes keep the commandments. Just like 1 John 1:9 tells us, Jesus forgives our sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness, which means He makes us righteous and obedient to the law.

In Genesis 2:15 God told Adam to “keep” the garden. What He meant was to  cherish it and protect it. Care for it. So when Jesus tells us to “keep” the commandments He is simply telling us to cherish and protect them. In Luke 7:50Jesus tells a woman who had just washed His feet that her faith had saved her. That faith was more than a mental acknowledgement of truth. It was a love response. By washing Jesus’ feet and anointing Him with perfume she was cherishing and protecting Him.

When we literally cherish Jesus, it produces a literal faith, which literally washes our robes from sin and lawlessness, which turns us into literal doers of the law and commandments.

If my theory is correct, perhaps it could explain why Jesus, speaking of the woman who had washed His feet, said,

Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Matthew 26:13 NLT

Jesus intended for this woman’s story to go right along with the Good News about the seal of God and the three angels’ message.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.