An Excellent Example

Yesterday, my friend and co-worker said to me:

“Hey! You know that New Testament you gave me? I’ve been reading it everyday. I can actually understand it!”

I’ve been hearing comments like that quite a bit over the last several months. See, I’ve been giving English Standard Version (ESV) Bibles and New Testaments to friends who’ve only ever known the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible.

Now, I happen to like the KJV. It has within it some wonderfully poetic language. However, the fact is that languages change. Over the years words come to take on different meanings. What was clearly understood centuries ago may very well cause serious misunderstanding today.

Here is an excellent example:

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ” – Philippians 1:27 (KJV)

How would you understand the word “conversation” in that verse? I think most readers today would think it refers to the exchange of ideas or opinions when we talk. In fact, everyone I’ve asked this question gives me that answer.  It’s a good guess, but wrong.

When the King James Version was written the word “conversation” was routinely used to mean our conduct or behavior. It referred to how people lived their whole life. What was clear hundreds of years ago is easily misunderstood today.

Here it is in the English Standard Version:

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ”

And in the New American Standard:

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”

This is why we need new translations. So people can understand God’s Word. So that people like my co-worker can, for the first time in their lives, actually make sense of Scripture.

What a joy it is to hear a friend relate how excited she is to be reading the Bible everyday! May there be many more like her.

Blessings in Christ,

David

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “An Excellent Example

  1. Nice job, David!

    I totally agree with you…the Bible needs to be understood…so read it in the language you are accustomed to.

    Just be aware of the Bible translations that have an agenda, that are not faithful to the original text…such as the Living Bible. (there is a definite Baptist slant to that one)

    I happen to like the RSV or the New English translations.

    Now, help your friend to understand the meaning behind what she is reading. (teach her how to seperate, or distinguish law from gospel) and she’ll be alright.

    Thanks David!

    – Steve M.

  2. Course now you’ve raised the ire of the KJO people but you’ve pointed out the obvious unless you understand the Greek and Hebrew languages and can read the copies of the original texts then you need a translation that promotes perspicuity of the scripture. Unfortunately the KJV isn’t that translation.

    However, you ever notice that its the version that atheists like to use the most?

  3. 1david1970

    Steve M. –

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Peculiar –

    The KJO folks raise my ire. Also, I have noticed the KJV is used by athiests. I don’t know why though. Maybe it’s what they heard as a child? Any ideas?

    David

  4. DJ

    David – the answer that the KJO folks usually give (about atheists using KJV) is that “even these God-deniers have enough sense to know the Word of God when they see it!” Yeah… something along those lines.

  5. 1david1970

    DJ –

    Interesting. Well, I won’t argue with them. It’s too often fruitless. Instead, I’m just going to keep giving clear translations to everyone else!

    David

  6. Praise the Lord!

    I see you are a “David!” So am I. Ain’t that amazin’?

    I appreciate what I’ve seen here so far. It’s so neat & a blessing to meet new brothers & sisters in our magnificent Lord Jesus Christ! God Bless you.

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