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Why I Am Not a Paedobaptist

baptismI do not believe that there is any evidence that the New Covenant leaves any room for unregenerate membership, which would be required to be able to prove paedobaptism from the Scriptures. I believe that the entire book of Hebrews is quite clear on the face that the sacrifice and intercession of Christ is perfect and efficient, accomplishing eternal redemption for all for whom it is made, that is, every member of the New Covenant. Christ died to secure it, therefore, if any who are in it are ultimately lost, something was lacking in the sacrifice and intercession.
A friend of mine recently wrote an article on why he practices paedobaptism. You can read his article at four-simple-reasons-why-we-baptize-infants. This note is my brief response, and hopefully a helpful summary statement on the key issues in the baptism debate.
I appreciate Able’s statements clarifying that PB does not provide saving grace in itself. I recognize that paedobaptists who hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith or similar do not hold to baptismal regeneration, therefore consider this discussion to be one among brothers that hold much otherwise in common.

Able stated that “baptism begins the discipling process”. I would disagree. Where is the biblical evidence for that statement? In every single example of baptism in the New Testament, baptism demonstrates that discipleship has begun, but it always follows the first act of discipleship, i.e. belief. It is always preceded by a gospel proclamation that is received by the hearer. I’m aware of the “household” arguments, but think that they are a bit weak.

The second point is that “LIFELONG DISCIPLESHIP IS A BETTER EXPRESSION OF COVENANT AND WHAT IT MEANS TO BE SAVED THAN MAKING A ONETIME DECISION.” I would absolutely agree there. I am raising my children with this idea in mind. Yes, they must come to trust in Christ, but it’s far more than a single event, prayer, day, etc. We must be constantly teaching, showing the gospel both by speech and practice, and having conversations that point to Christ.

Able’s third point is that baptism is an outward New Covenant sign. I wouldn’t completely disregard the statement, but I think we would probably mean different things by it. He makes a direct connection from circumcision to baptism as its direct successor. I don’t believe that to be the case. The apostles specifically and categorically stated that circumcision was no longer necessary. They never instructed the church to therefore baptize instead of circumcise. I don’t believe that Colossians 2 is making that point – New Covenant circumcision there is spoken of as that which is made without hands. I believe that is pointing to the work of the Holy Spirit, that is, without human instrumentality.

Regarding the household baptisms, I believe that in every case, it is implied that the rest of the household was also believing. That seems to be explicit in Acts 18:8. Further, that argument seems to assume the presence of infants in those homes – an impossible thing to prove! Would the paedobaptist also then argue that if a man is converted, he should bring his unconverted wife and teenagers to be baptized? That seems to be the only consistent practice, but I don’t see how that could be maintained.

Further, an even more explicit sign of the New Covenant is that of the Bread and the Cup! Jesus specifically said, “This cup IS the new covenant in my blood”. The consistent paedobaptist must therefore also practice paedocommunion! (I do know of many who do, but the majority I have talked to either do not, or do not contest it as strongly.)

I agree that the heart is the ultimate target. Certainly, there are those who present themselves for baptism who are not truly regenerated. It is impossible for us to see that through our fallible human eyes. But we can seek to be faithful in how we administer baptism and trust that God will sort it all out. But as the heart is the target, the true sign of the Covenant is the circumcision of the heart. It is not a symbol of grace that is performed on the individual. It is only something that the Spirit of God can provide. It’s not just a temporal sign, but a reality.

I’ve spent a bit of time studying this issue. I have seriously considered the biblical merits of PB. Many of my friends who have come to the doctrines of grace have followed that path. But the bottom line for me is the nature of New Covenant membership. If it could be demonstrated biblically and convincingly that New Covenant membership includes physical offspring, I would become a paedobaptist. However, it seems to me that that idea has gone away with the Old Covenant. Paul is too clear – not all who are BORN of Israel are truly Israel. Unlike under the Old, in the New, birth is not a guarantee of covenant membership. Peter seems to also make it clear in Acts 2 (my slightly rearranged paraphrase to clarify what I believe he was saying): “The promise is for everyone who the Lord our God calls to himself–whether you, or your children, or all others who are far off–whoever he calls will come and will receive repentance, forgiveness, and the gift of the Spirit.”

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Bible Study

 

We Perish!

We Perish!

It was a dark and stormy night.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way. The day had been stunning. They had seen and heard wonderful things that made their heads swim. They didn’t understand most of it, but knew it was amazing. So when they jumped in the boat to make the crossing they had made many times before, they expected a relaxing trip to give them opportunity to consider the events of the last hours.

But storms come up fast and without warning at night on Lake Gennesaret. This one was particularly frightening. The waves rolled over the railing, threatening to sink the boat. As these seasoned fishermen shook in their sandals, wondering what to do, they realized that the One who had taught in such an amazing way that day was sleeping in the stern of the boat!

The disciples had learned much of the kingdom of God that day. They heard how the kingdom would grow and increase as it filled the earth. Implied was the amazing truth that God, as the sovereign creator of the world, would irresistibly drawn his people to himself. His kingdom would stand, as the prophets foretold. Though Jesus had concealed much from the crowds through the parables, he made it clear that he was explaining those truths to his disciples in plain language.

It would seem that as they boarded the boat that evening, they would be meditating and considering the implications of such teaching. This God who had, in times past, seemed to focus His revelation on a tiny nation in a concentrated part of the world would now reveal Himself across the globe! He would cause the seed of His word to grow in hearts and transform the dead natures of men. What power would be shown!

But when the storm whipped up, those thoughts were gone. Maybe they didn’t forget, but it sure wasn’t their focus. All they could ponder was their certain death at the hand of the capricious wind.

Somewhere in the back of their minds, they remembered that Jesus was powerful. Maybe one of them recalled the paralytic who walked at His command, or the withered hand that was made whole at a word. But even as they looked around to see how He could help, they saw that He was asleep. How could He sleep at a time like this?

Incredulously, they ran to His berth. I love the accuracy of the ESV, but the incomparable words of the KJV ring in my ears at this point: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?!”  Don’t you realize that we are about to be destroyed in this tempest? Has it not crossed your mind that we are about to DIE?

It’s pretty easy for us to criticize the disciples. We’ve heard the story hundreds of times. We know that they had seen countless miracles already. Yet they still forgot who was in control.

I told a friend recently, “I will never criticize those disciples again!”

My family has been going through the storms. Financially, emotionally, spiritually, we feel the tossing of the boat. And it’s not just my immediate family. Other family members, dear friends – so many people I know are in the midst of circumstances that seem to leave no hope.

Perhaps you know how it feels. I’ll give you my personal experience as it stands right now: I know my Savior is there. But to be perfectly honest, I feel as though I’m crying out, “Don’t you know that I’m dying here?!” Yes, it feels like he’s asleep in the boat. He created it all, he controls it all, and I know intellectually that he has a purpose in it all, but it sure is hard to see right now.

Perhaps one day, we’ll be able to look back and see that the storms were good for us. That they strengthened us. But right now, it sure feels like it’s just going to kill us.

I can’t imagine how hard Paul must have had to swallow before he said, “I believe God, that he will save us all alive.” I wish I had that kind of faith! But for now, I must continue crying out, “Master, save us.” For it is he alone who can deliver. No matter how impossible it seems.

I say it to you, as I say it to myself every day. Through the tears, take heart. He has overcome.

 
 

The Translation of Philippians 2:6-7

I don’t often engage Will Kinney in discussion. It’s typically pretty pointless – I’m not going to get anywhere with him, and circular reasoning from an intelligent person (yes, I do think he’s intelligent, while I also think he’s very foolish) gets extremely exhausting. I only engage with the desire that perhaps the discussion will help someone following it. That said, I posted on his group in response to his article on Philippians 2 regarding “thought it not robbery to be equal with God” vs. “did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”. I love that passage, and really despise it being broken up the way it must be to force the idea of the perfection of the KJV on it, so felt I had to at least offer a comment.

Mr. Kinney’s article can be found at http://brandplucked.webs.com/phil2notrobbery.htm. My response follows. Perhaps someone will be edified by it!

I’m not planning to spend a lot of time on a debate. I’ll simply present a few points, knowing that I’m in your “home territory”, and trust that truth will prevail in the hearts of those who truly seek it.
I find it very interesting how you argue. If the ESV “deletes” something that the KJV includes, you point it out. If the ESV “adds” something that the KJV does not contain, once again, it must be wrong. I don’t start with my doctrine and then seek to find the translation that most accurately fits. Rather, I seek to find the evidence of how the text was transmitted, desire to understand what the author actually said, understand what he meant, and build my doctrine based on that.

In your article, you make the argument that the JW’s use the “modern” translation of this passage to argue against the deity of Christ, and therefore it must be wrong. No, the problem is with their erroneous interpretation of the passage. Remember, Mormons use the KJV to demonstrate their false doctrine. So do Pentecostals (snake handling, tongues, etc.), Church of Christ (baptismal regeneration) and other cultish groups. Does that mean we should reject the KJV? That’s a ridiculous idea!

I’ve also seen places where you ridicule “modern” versions for using dynamic equivalency in their translation. But I’m sure you defend the KJV’s use of the same! (Take, for example, the rendering of “God forbid” to translate με γενοιτο (me genoito)- would that be the only valid “translation” in your mind?) That duplicity is seen here as well. The KJV’s “made himself of no reputation” is certainly accurate interpretation of the passage. But it’s not exactly a formal translation of εαυτον εκενωσεν (eauton ekenosen). Accurate interpretation? Yes. But “emptied himself” is a valid translation, and certainly more literal. And of course, the context elucidates the meaning of how it came about – He did not “empty himself” by the elimination of any of the essence of deity, but by taking the form of a servant; by humbling himself. Correct hermeneutics leads to proper interpretation with either translation.

Finally, you said, “The phrase “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”, as found in the King James Bible, clearly teaches that Jesus Christ was in fact God.” Perhaps. But once again, we don’t approach the text by our doctrinal presuppositions (even if they’re true!), but let the text rule in how we understand doctrine. The question is not which translation better teaches the deity of Christ. What we need to see is what Paul intended to communicate. In the flow of the passage, Paul has already made it very clear that Jesus is God. He was “in the form of God” – that is a CLEAR statement of deity, no matter what the JW’s think.

But the primary purpose of the passage is not to teach the deity of Christ. Christ’s deity is assumed here. Rather, Paul is holding Christ forth as an example of humility – a virtue that all Christians must possess in our dealings with one another. Even though he was God, he condescended to enter his creation to redeem us. His exaltation is a result of his humility. With that larger context in mind, we can see Paul’s progression: Christ is the very essence of God. Yet he lowered himself to earth, took on the form of a slave, was born as a man. It’s a downward spiral. Not only that, but in human form, he submitted to death – the result of sin of which he had none – and to add insult to injury, it wasn’t simply the death of natural causes and old age, but the most shameful, cursed death ever devised. See the downward progression of his humility? The passage is not a polemic on the deity of Christ, but demonstrating what he did because of his transcendent love for his people.

So is Paul trying to express the idea that Christ did not think he was stealing from God by being equal with God? Granted, this is not the easiest phrase in the New Testament. And unfortunately, we don’t have other examples of the word in the Scriptures with which to compare the meaning. However, Greek literature does use the word. And from what I can see, when it uses the term to indicate “robbery”, it’s not a theoretical idea, or an attempt. It’s used to indicate the actual seizure of property. If Christ is not God, he can’t seize equality with God, so it’s use with that understanding seems pretty meaningless. The normal use of the word indicates grasping onto privilege, whether it’s already held or not.

Of course Christ is equal with God. But in the flow of the passage, Paul is indicating that he did not tenanciously hold on to the glory that he had with the Father before the world came into being (John 17), but that he laid aside his rightful claim to that glory for the purpose of humility. In other words, his glory would be more magnificently displayed to his creation by being made lower than the angels for the suffering of death.

So the “modern” translation of the phrase is not a denial of the deity of Christ, but an accurate rendering of Paul’s original words. (Yes, I said original, and I meant it. No, I haven’t seen Paul’s autograph here, but there are no variants to even muddy the waters at all, and I am 100% confident that we have the “original”!) And a proper hermeneutic will not lead one to deny the deity of Christ by the phrase, but to glory in the suffering that Christ undertook on behalf of those he would redeem. It’s a glorious passage, made much more precious by careful exegesis rather than the blind defense of a particular translation that just might not be “perfect” in the sense you believe.

You’re right about one thing: I don’t get it. You begin with the premise that the KJV is absolutely perfect as a translation, and therefore must go about to prove it, no matter what the cost to logic and reason. I’ve read enough of your website to understand your position, and reject it completely. Yes, I’ve seen your questioning to others who hold my beliefs, and reject the premise of the questions. I believe God has preserved his word. And I hold it in my hand, whether I’m studying my copy of the Greek New Testament, the KJV, the ESV, or even (gasp) the NIV. The biggest problem we face as believers and teachers of God’s precious truth is not the translation. Our challenge is correctly interpreting the Scriptures. You can twist the language of the KJV and pervert it by wrong interpretation, just as you can with any other translation. There is a reason we have been called to diligence!

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2015 in Bible Study, Commentary

 

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The History and Reliability of the New Testament Text

The issue of biblical authority is very important to me. I’ve been studying and researching textual criticism and translation philosophy since college, and hope that I have a decent grasp on the issues involved. I’m still learning, and have a long way to go, but following is a 6-part series I gave on the subject. I hope it is helpful!

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Bible Study

 

Leaning in TRUTH

It has been my intention to continue jotting down some notes from my meditations on Isaiah 10. As you can tell, I haven’t exactly done what I planned! Things are just busy, and when I get home, I’m worn out and ready to relax a little bit. Therefore I don’t have much time to spend in front of the computer screen. However, as I have time, I’ll write down a few thoughts.

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”—Isaiah 10:20-21

As we continue to meditate on “leaning in truth”, we must recognize that the idea of truth relates to God’s revelation of himself. As God speaks through the prophet Isaiah, he bases his proclamations on what the nation of Israel already knows. They have received the oracles of God, and have been disobedient to them. In the covenant God made with them, he made clear the consequences for disobedience. Despite that clear Word, they have repeatedly rejected God’s truth. God now prophesies of the future. His people will return. They will obey. They will learn to depend absolutely on their gracious God. And they will do it because God has faithfully revealed himself repeatedly through their history.

But not only has God revealed himself to the nation of Israel, he has in these days spoken unto us by his Son! Peter tells us that we have a more sure word of prophecy. Jesus told his disciples is that they would do greater things than he had done following his ascension to the Father. It would not be through their skilled efforts, but because of the sure work of the Holy Spirit in them.

God does not expect us to depend on mere myths and fables. We do not rest on platitudes or clichés. Rather, we lean on him in truth—through his clear revelation of himself in the Scriptures that he has so graciously given us.

May we read, study, memorize, and meditate in what he has given so that we do not simply trust in a god of our own making, out of our imagination, but in the One who alone has the words of life. May God give us the grace to LEAN on him in TRUTH!
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Perseverance in our Leaning

I haven’t been able to get away from Isaiah 10 – so much meat here! Of course, I have been reading more, but my meditation continues in these verses.

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”

Notice that the prophet proclaims that God’s remnant will lean “in truth”. This is a powerful description. In both the OT and the NT, this idea carries much weight. Over the next couple days, I’ll point out a few brief thoughts on what this statement includes.

“In truth” means that God’s people lean steadfastly – faithfully. This is the perseverance of God’s saints! As you read the book of Isaiah, and later the New Testament, I believe it is plain that these prophecies find their fulfillment in the time of the Messiah. Christ came as the suffering servant to provide redemption for His people. As he draws his remnant to himself, he is faithful to perform that which he has begun in us. That is, He causes us to lean on Him, and causes us to continue to lean.

All of life is for this purpose: that we might know the Father, and the Son He sent, through the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit. That’s why God worked the way He did in the Old Testament, and He has not changed. He is bringing us to Him that we may lean on Him, and find our complete satisfaction in His goodness.
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Leaning on our Rock

I’ve continued meditating on Isaiah 10.20-21. It’s really an astounding passage!

 

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”

 

Who “struck” them? In context, the striker was their enemy, the Assyrian. Are we expected to believe that they actually leaned on their enemy? The history of the nation demonstrates that they did!

Just look at the fulfilled prophecy in their return from exile in Ezra and Nehemiah. We make much of the return, but often fail to remember that the majority of the nation actually stayed behind in the enemy land. If this should seem odd, it was a pattern. Don’t you remember how that, when things got tough, the Israelites in the wilderness longed to return to Egypt, where they had it so much better? Was it really better? Of course not. But when their eyes were not fixed on Yahweh, it was easy to confuse reality.

How the same is true even of us! So often, we “lean” on the very thing that will destroy us. We cling to our sin instead of our Savior. We lean on our enemy instead of on Ebenezer. We trust in the riches of this world instead of the reward of eternity.

May God, in His sovereign mercy, redirect our lean. Instead of finding support in those things that will fall away, bringing us with them, let us plead that we will lean on the rock which endures forever.
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Learning to Lean

On my mildly stressful drive this morning, I was listening to the book of Isaiah. I was in chapter 10, listening to the section on God’s sovereignty even over evil emperors to accomplish his purpose, when I was struck by something a little later in the chapter:

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.” (vs. 20-21)

So even in God’s purpose being accomplished by the sin of the nation of Assyria, his purpose is to draw his people to himself. It is a guarantee (election will be accomplished). I’ve focused much from this passage on God’s sovereignty even over sin. However, these verses jumped out at me declaring God’s purpose – it’s to glorify himself by surely drawing His people.

Be comforted: while you are absolutely responsible for your sin, it does not thwart God’s purposes! Nor is God scrambling to figure out how to “fix” it. He is always at work to make us lean on Him.

May we lean in truth, no matter the circumstances!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Commentary, Devotional

 

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Review of “One Bible, Many Versions”

“My work as a translator brought me to the realization that literal Bible versions in English often take turns being the most (or least) literal among their peers. . . I was shocked to find that not only are literal versions not always literal, but sometimes the notably nonliteral versions are more literal than the so-called literal ones.”  (p. 30)

“All translations use meaning-based translation principles to varying degrees.  It is not a question of whether or not translators will change the form but rather how much of the form will they try to preserve.  It appears that the one thing that is truly consistent in Bible translation is the fact that it is impossible to be truly consistent.” (p. 132)

The following is a helpful review of a recently published book. The review itself is well worth reading. The review was written by Doug Kutilek, and published in his monthly e-magazine. The magazine is free to subscribe, and contains helpful articles on diverse subjects. You can find more information at http://www.kjvonly.org/aisi/aisi_intro.htm.

One Bible, Many Versions by Dave Brunn.  Downer’s Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2013.  205 pp., paperback.

The author is “director of education for New Tribes Mission Missionary Training Center” (to quote the back cover) and was formerly phonetics instructor at the NTM Language and Linguistics Institute.  He is an experienced Bible translator, having made a translation of the Scriptures into Lamogai, one of the tribal languages of the interior of Papua New Guinea, a twenty-years-long labor.

Brunn discusses at length the theory and practice of Bible translation, particularly the tension between “formal equivalence” / “essentially literal” translations such as, e.g., the KJV, ESV and NASB, and “functional equivalence” / “meaning equivalence” versions such as the NIV, HCSB and NLT.  With numerous charts, he shows that while on the whole the ESV and NASB are more “literal,” there are numerous times where one or both of these abandon a formal equivalence translation for a meaning equivalence one, and in not a few of these cases, one or more of the meaning equivalence versions is more literal than the “essentially literal” versions!

While it is true that the form of the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek is verbally-inspired, inspiration also includes the meaning of those words (see my article from As I See It 7:6, “Inspired Words and Inspired Thoughts, or Variant Readings in the Inspired Autographs”).  Sometimes strictly preserving the verbal form of the original–say, an infinitive, or a genitive case, or subjunctive verb form, or a participle, or an idiom–, would actually impede comprehension by the reader of the translation, and in such cases strict adherence to the form of the original would fail to convey the meaning of the original.  So there is always this tension: how literal is too literal?  How free is too free?  This is why Bible translation is commonly referred to as both an art and a science.

The issue of literal versus literary translation is less an issue in languages not related to Greek or Hebrew.  English is part of the same family of languages as Greek (Indo-European; of the 6,909 known living human languages, “only” 426 are I-E), and so formally and syntactically has many features in common with Greek, making literal translation possible much of the time.  But Hebrew is from a wholly unrelated family (Semitic) and so literal translation from Hebrew into English is much less often possible (anyone who has studied Hebrew and the OT original can testify that this is the case); on the other hand Hebrew can be much more readily and literally translated into other Semitic languages such as Aramaic, Syriac and Arabic.  But when you seek to translate both Greek and Hebrew into wholly unrelated languages such as Lamogai (or Japanese, Chinese or Swahili), it immediately becomes apparent that meaning must take precedent over form when the two are at odds, if the translation is to be intelligible and effectively and accurately communicate God’s inspired truth to the target people.

Among the difficulties every translator faces is dealing with the matter of gender in translation.  Some languages have three grammatical genders, some have two and some have none, possessing only “natural gender” or even none at all.  The nature and use of pronouns varies from language to language, and there is regularly an imperfect correspondence between languages, which renders formal equivalence translation impossible.  This requires adjustments and improvisation in translation.  The work of translation, if done accurately and intelligibly, is often extremely laborious and exhausting, and those who haven’t or couldn’t do it have insufficient appreciation for the difficulties that it involves.

The author affirms with entire justification that one major cause of much of the long-standing controversy in English over Bible translations is the monolingualism of our culture and of most English speakers.  Such is not the case in many other parts of the world–e.g., bi-lingual continental Europeans are commonplace, and tri- and quadra-lingual Europeans are not rare.  We on the whole don’t have the broad linguistic experience, exposure and knowledge to have a clear and well-informed perspective on the issue.

The author does not quote two of the most famous aphorisms regarding the issue of translations, though I am sure that he would affirm their accuracy.  The first is the Italian, “traduttori traditori,” lit. “translators are traitors,” that is, they always fail to do full justice to the text they translate in conveying its meaning but only its meaning in translation.  The second is the “golden mean” of translation: “As literal as possible, as free as necessary.”

It is suggested that a person should, if possible, regularly read both an “essentially literal” and a “functional equivalent” translation.  I whole-heartedly concur (see As I See It 10:3, “Which Bible–For Today?” in which I recommend two of each sort–NASB and ESV, and NIV (1984) and HCSB.  Decades ago (1965), F. F. Bruce produced a parallel edition of Paul’s epistles, The Letters of Paul, with the highly literal ERV of 1881 in parallel to Bruce’s own paraphrase of these letters.  I read it through with considerable profit.  Zondervan has a parallel NASB-NIV edition with an interlinear translation of the Greek text [Nestle 21st ed.]–a very handy format, especially for the beginning student of Greek.  I also own and use a parallel Spanish Bible with the RV 1960 and NVI, and a four-version Spanish NT, as well as a two-translation German NT with the Nestle Greek [26th ed.]).

Two subjects not addressed in this volume are 1. the matters of translator bias—corrupt theology and down-right dishonesty–which seriously, even fatally, mars the reliability and usability of such English versions as the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation, the RSV and NRSV, the NEB and several others; and 2. translator competence, that is, does he have the necessary language and linguistic knowledge and training to produce an accurate and reliable version?  Brunn no doubt assumes that a Bible translator should be both honest and competent before beginning his work.  Oh, that all in fact were!

There are a few factual errors.  On p. 77, he writes as if Wycliffe made his translation from the Greek (logos) when of course his work was made from Jerome’s Latin translation of the Greek; and it is implied that Tyndale was influenced in his translation by Wycliffe, when this was almost certainly not the case (both knew and used the Latin Vulgate, which no doubt accounts for their common rendering in the place in question; Tyndale also had Erasmus’ Latin version and Luther’s German NT).  On p. 80, in quoting a word from the Greek of Rev. 22:18 (three times on the page), he gives the nominative singular “vocabulary” form logos instead of the form actually found in the text, logous, the plural accusative.  On p. 97, note 27, he inadvertently incorrectly inserts the words “of-the” in his literal rendering of a phrase from Matthew 1:6

This is an worthwhile book on the theory and practice of Bible translation, and will introduce that reader to the problems, pitfalls and possibilities of Bible translation in the modern era.  For those with limited or no foreign language training or knowledge, it will certainly serve as an eye-opener.  Some who are unjustifiably vehement in their opinions regarding English Bible versions might find cause for re-evaluation of some of their dogmas.

Doug Kutilek

Some quotations from One Bible, Many Versions.–

“My work as a translator brought me to the realization that literal Bible versions in English often take turns being the most (or least) literal among their peers. . . I was shocked to find that not only are literal versions not always literal, but sometimes the notably nonliteral versions are more literal than the so-called literal ones.”  (p. 30)

“All translations use meaning-based translation principles to varying degrees.  It is not a question of whether or not translators will change the form but rather how much of the form will they try to preserve.  It appears that the one thing that is truly consistent in Bible translation is the fact that it is impossible to be truly consistent.” (p. 132)

“In such a version as the one commonly in use [i.e., the KJV] in this country [i.e. England], there are scarcely two consecutive verses where there is not some departure from the original such as those indicated, and where these variations may be counted by tens of thousands, as admitted on all hands, it is difficult to see how verbal inspiration can be of the least practical use to those who depend upon that version alone.” (p. 162.  Quoting, not approvingly, Robert Young [1822-1888], famous for his analytical concordance of the Bible, and his literal English translation (1863).  Young strongly favored the translation principle of “as literal as possible, and then some.”  The quote is notable in being the opinion of a strong literalist toward the KJV’s frequent lack of literal translation–Editor)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Bible Study

 

An Interpretation of Acts 1:1-8

Someone on a forum asked a question about the interpretation of Acts 1:6-8 in regards to the kingdom of God from the “Gospel Millennial” position, also unfortunately known as “amillennialism”. This is my attempt to give an answer.

Dispensational theologians break up the passage. They see Jesus speaking of the kingdom of God in verse 3, and then, in their minds, he drops this subject until the disciples ask about it in verse 6. I don’t believe he changes the subject back and forth, rather, he’s dealing with the kingdom throughout the passage.

Remember that Jesus has addressed the kingdom much already. He spoke much of it throughout the Gospel records. He told Pilate very plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Now, he spends 40 days speaking of it to his disciples. To make the assumption that his teaching is substantially different here from what he’s been teaching throughout his ministry would be eisegesis.

Further, why would he spend 40 days teaching on something that wouldn’t really matter a bit in the lives of the disciples? According to DT, the disciples will go through their lives, suffering for something that Jesus promised but they would never see. And if he really taught of a physical, earthly reign of 1,000.000 years, how could he have missed teaching them concerning the timing of it?

Rather, consider that the entire passage is dealing with the same truth. Go back to verses 1-2: “…all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands…” Verse 3 tells us more about what he was teaching – “the kingdom of God.” Then verse 4 continues the theme. They are instructed to wait for the promise of the Father. What is that promise? The very thing he’s been teaching for the last 40 days: the kingdom! His continued statement of John’s baptism with water compared with the baptism of the Holy Spirit coming soon is simply an extension of that teaching. He does not give them a day, just tells them to wait for the promise. The Spirit will empower them, making it very clear that God is working through the church. Note the groups on whom the Spirit comes throughout the book of Acts – Gentiles and Jews alike, demonstrating the broken wall of partition.

In verse 6, when the disciples ask the question of timing, they are continuing the conversation. Jesus has said, “Wait.” He is now preparing to ascend, and they are assuming that the fullness of the promise is at hand. Their wrong assumption is that of the centrality of physical, geographical Israel in the kingdom (Israel is central, but it is as described by Paul in Galatians 4 and Romans 9/11). Far from ignoring their question, Jesus answers it by showing the universality of the spread of the kingdom.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In other words, “Wait!” Do exactly as you have been instructed, and let God work in his own time. The kingdom will be manifested, but its fulness and consummation are up to God (compare Daniel 2 and 1 Corinthians 15).

“But you will receive power” – The promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the kingdom that were addressed in 3-5

“When the Holy Spirit has come upon you” – This is, I believe, a clear reference to Isaiah 32. The first verse makes it plain that “a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.” Now note verse 15, to which I believe Jesus refers: “Until the spirit is poured upon us from on high…” The reference is plain. Read also Isaiah 44:3 – “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Much prophecy is fulfilled at Pentecost, not only Joel 2!

“And you will be my witnesses” – Could it be another Old Testament reference? It sure is! Read Isaiah 43. God speaks there of gathering his seed from the ends of the earth. From the north, south, east, and west, he will gather all of his elect. How will he accomplish this work? Verse 10 says, “You are my witnesses…”, and again in verse 12, “You are my witnesses, declares the Lord.”

“In Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” – Yet another reference to Isaiah here: in chapter 49, God speaks again of gathering Israel (his elect) to himself. in the end of verse 6 he says, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

And just in case you try to say that those passages in Isaiah cannot be used in that manner in this “dispensation”, take note of how Paul himself uses those very passages. In Acts 13:47, he defends turning to the Gentiles based on the Lord’s command in Isaiah 49:6, the very passage quoted above!

Peter seems to follow this interpretation in chapter 2 as he speaks of the fulfilled prophecy of Joel, as well as the fulfillment of the covenant with David in Christ. Finally, note one other passage in Acts that supports the understanding that this was the belief of the apostles themselves. We’re all familiar with the dispute and resolution of the questions of law in chapter 15. Note James’ words in verses 14-18:

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
“‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.'”

It just so happens that James is quoting from Amos 9:11-12, demonstrating that it is fulfilled exactly as God had promised!

Therefore, Jesus was not evading the question of the disciples. Rather, he answered it in a way that they clearly understood when the promise of the Father had come upon them.

I hope I have been clear. Even if you disagree, I trust you will see recognize the desire to carefully interpret Scripture.

Grace and Peace to you.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Bible Study