Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man
Weekly Devotional 10-19-20 Why so Many Versions of the Bible?
Recently I was listening to a discussion between an atheist and a well-known Christian apologist and the atheist (her own label) asked if the Bible is true, why are there so many different versions of it? In answer the apologist agreed that there are many versions and then began to develop an answer to her question. She interrupted several times and it was hard to follow the discussion. However, listening to the discussion I felt led to add my thoughts to the issue as there are many who are genuinely confused.
First: The Bible was written in Hebrew and in Greek. The Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Both Testaments were written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It was their hands that penned the words, but their minds were guided by the Him (2nd Timothy 3:16; 2nd Peter 1:21-22).
Turning to the New testament we read of Peter and Paul and their writings. Peter was a close associate of Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh, and for three years he was taught of Him. Even though Paul did not follow Jesus during His three-year ministry he had been personally taught by Him (Galatians 1:10-22). Both men were reassured by the Holy Spirit that what Jesus taught was in fact the word of God (John 14:13-21; 16:13-15). Both men gave their lives in defense of Jesus’ and the Holy Spirit’s teaching. They would not have given their lives for something they were not absolutely convinced of. The other writers of the original text of the Bible (Both Old and new Testaments) were also inspired by the Holy Spirit as they wrote. Most of the New testament writers also gave their lives in defense of what they had been inspired to write. Thus we can conclude that the original writings were correct.
Second: moving then from the original writers to all writers who followed, is must be acknowledge that they were not inspired as were those first writers. They were subject to copy error, and translation error, mistakes could and were/are made. However when comparison of Scripture with Scripture is made most of those errors are resolved. That is the uniqueness of the Bible. It supports itself.
There were/are however other writers who produced/produce versions who had/have biases or personal agendas. Some of these folks were/are well intended believing that modern language is more readable. But in so doing they do not copy or translate from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek but copy and translate from versions of versions. Versions that were/are the work of men who did/do not have the benefit of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They used/use modern words that they thought/think have the meaning of the original languages, but not all words do so, and overtime translations of translations lose the impact of the original languages. Never-the-less these new translations were / are accepted as having the right determination.
Third: there were/are other writers who produced/produce new versions for nefarious reasons. Some sought/seek a financial gain, others sought/seek notoriety and still others denied/deny God’s Word. They may have been/may be religious (as all men are, in some sense or another) but they were/are not led by the Spirit of God. They have been/are led by a fallen nature, and worse, influenced by the powers of darkness; evil, demonic beings led by Satan (Ephesians 6:12) who’s desire is to frustrate God’s Word.
Jesus told Nicodemus and indirectly us, that a man must be “born again” to see (understand) the kingdom of God (John 3:1-8) and the apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote: “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1st Corinthians 2:14).
Consider how Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, contrasted the man who is enlightened with those who were/are in spiritual darkness.
“17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24). This is applicable to all persons, one way or the other.
So, in determining which translation/version of the Bible is correct or is as close to the original manuscripts as possible one must have been made spiritually alive (John 3:1-8), one must be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15), and one should diligently study the Scriptures, comparing Scripture with Scripture (2nd Timothy 3:15).
Thank you and God bless
Hopefully, what I have written in this little work will help explain why there is so many versions of the Bible.
Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
Ascribed to by:
Lian Muan Kim
Koinonia Baptist Seminary – Yangon, Myanmar