Category Archives: translations

“By” or “Through”: That’s the Question (An Examination of John 1:3)

Introduction

Tuesday morning, after a cup of coffee with some great, godly men in our community, I was standing out in the parking lot of a local restaurant discussing the morning’s plans. It was during this short conversation that the subject matter briefly switched to that of Bible translations.

There we were, standing by the cab of a pickup truck when one of these men – a great friend to our family and church – said something akin to the following:

“The reason I will only use the King James Bible can be illustrated by the change in one word, and that word is found in the first chapter of John. There, the King James Version says, ‘all things were made by Jesus,’ but every other version – every single one – changes that word ‘by’ to ‘through.’ I have a problem with that. As I see it, there’s a big difference between ‘by’ and ‘through.’ Either everything was made by Jesus, or it wasn’t.” (Again, this was not an exact quote, but close.)

Therefore, it might take more than the average 500-word blog post to unpack, but I want to address this apparent conflict between “by” and “through” as found in John 1:3.

Doing the Research

You know, the last thing one should do when confronted with an unknown is say to the one making the assertion, “Nuh uh!” Right after my friend said what he did about every other translation of the Bible changing “by” to “through,” I pulled out my iPhone and pulled up BlueLetterBible.com.

Seeing what I was doing, the gentleman goaded me a little and said with a slight chuckle, “You gotta look that one up, don’t ya?” I grinned as I nodded…the subject changed back to hardware for about 30 seconds…then we went our separate ways.

But I did look it up. It wasn’t difficult to do, either. The Bible-study tools we have access to in an instant, even on our smartphones, are literally mind-blowing. At no other time in history have we had so much knowledge available so quickly right in the palms of our hands. Therefore, it didn’t take more than a few seconds to learn that my friend’s assertions were spot on… The KJV was actually the only one to render John 1:3 with a “by,” not a “through.”

For example:

  • John 1:3 (KJV) – All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  • (NKJV) – All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
  • (NIV) – Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
  • (ESV) – All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  • (CSB) – All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.

Yes, I did my research, and what I found was that my friend’s assertion was true: every other translation of the Bible changed the word “by” to “through.” However, my research wasn’t complete; it was time to consult the original languages.

It’s All Greek

Like I said above, the study tools we have these days are amazing, and there’s really no good excuse for any Bible student to claim ignorance. For example, if all one had was access to one online tool such as BlueLetterBible.com, then what used to take hours of study could be done in mere moments. Then if you add to that all the other free websites available, including what’s available from online libraries, and then throw in some relatively inexpensive (but voluminous) programs like Logos, oh… my… goodness! It’s hard to comprehend how blessed we are!

So, when it became obvious that “by” had been replaced by “through,” I decided to take the next logical step and look up the source of the translations in question: the original Greek word, διά (dē-ä’).

It may sound unbelievable to you, but there are still people out there who think Jesus spoke Elizabethan English. However, the Bible was not originally written in the language of Shakespeare. In actuality, John 1:3 was written in Greek, so “by” and “through” are only translations of the Greek word διά (Strong’s G1223).

The next question should then be: “What does dia mean?”

Grab Your Concordance

Well, every Bible student should have a Strong’s Concordance in his personal library, even if his library only consisted of a Bible and one other book. Therefore, let’s take a look at Strong’s and see what we find.

G1223: διά diá, dee-ah’; a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through (in very wide applications, local, causal, or occasional):—after, always, among, at, to avoid, because of (that), briefly, by, for (cause) … fore, from, in, by occasion of, of, by reason of, for sake, that, thereby, therefore, × though, through(-out), to, wherefore, with (-in).

According to Strong’s Concordance, dia is a word that denotes “the channel of an act; through…” Therefore, is it really an act of theological sabotage to translate John 1:3 with through instead of by?

Is it possible that Jesus was the One through whom God the Father made all things?

You see, it is not heresy to say that the Father made all that is through Jesus, the Word of God. No, it is actually MORE theologically sound and true to Jesus’ own words to say that He was the agency or “channel” of creation, rather than the one acting unilaterally in creation. Why do I say this? Consider the actual words of Jesus as recorded by John…

  • John 4:34 (KJV) – Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
  • John 5:19 (KJV) – Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
  • John 6:38 (KJV) – For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

If Jesus had acted alone and created all things by Himself, then His own words would expose a critical inconsistency. The fact seems to be that even though Jesus was and is God, the Second Person of the Trinity, He still had to act in accordance with the will of the Father, and therefore saying “all things were created through Him” is more theologically consistent with the nature of the Trinitarian understanding of the Godhead.

A Dose of Commentary

I learned a long time ago that commentaries can be very useful if used properly; I go to them after I have already read the Scripture and done all the exegesis I can do with the study tools at hand. Therefore, it was only after I did the above study that I consulted several scholarly commentaries. For the benefit of this discussion and for your edification, allow me to share the following directly from the sources.

The New American Commentary: John 1-11

The preposition dia (“through”), used in connection with creation here, should not be taken to mean that the Logos is essentially inferior to God, as the Arians argued. But the early Christians, in attempting to discuss simultaneously the work of both the Father and the Son in creation, sometimes tried to hold both together through the use of two prepositions. The Father’s activity was linked with the preposition ek, which carries the sense of “origin,” and the Son’s activity was linked with the preposition dia, which carries the sense of “mediation” (e.g., the early Christian creedal statement in 1 Cor 8:6; also see Heb 1:2 for the use of dia).

The Pulpit Commentary: St. John (Vol. 1)

In asserting that the Logos is he or that through whom all things were made, the writer does not lower the dignity of the Logos by regarding him merely as the οργανον of the Father, because the same preposition is used of the relation of the Father to the world or to his servants (Rom. 11:36; Gal. 1:1; Heb. 2:10). Elsewhere St. Paul powerfully affirms the same application of διά (1 Cor. 8:6) to Christ’s part in the Creation, reserving for the One God, the Father, the preposition ἐκ. From God and by or through God are all things, still “all things” derive their existence “through” the activity, the will, the thought, of the Logos.

Word Studies in the New Testament (Marvin R. Vincent)

By Him (διʼ αὐτοῦ). Lit., through him. The preposition dia is generally used to denote the working of God through some secondary agency, as διὰ τοῦ προφήτου, through the prophet (Matt. 1:22, on which see note).* It is the preposition by which the relation of Christ to creation is usually expressed (see 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), though it is occasionally used of the Father (Heb. 2:10; Rom. 11:36, and Gal. 1:1, where it is used of both). Hence, as Godet remarks, it “does not lower the Word to the rank of a simple instrument,” but merely implies a different relation to creation on the part of the Father and the Son.

Again, it would seem to me that it is more theologically sound to translate John 1:3 the way all the other translations do it as opposed to the KJV.

Right or Wrong?

But after all that has been said, was the King James Version’s translators wrong in their use of the word by instead of through? Actually, no.

You see, the whole reason we have newer translations of the Bible is because the English language changes over time. Some words have different meanings today than they used to, and that is why we rarely speak of wearing our “gay clothing” to church, or “fetch[ing] a compass” as we travel (Num. 34:5).

At the time the KJV translators did their work, the meaning of “by” was probably more nuanced than today and would have been understood by the reader of the day to have the same depth of meaning as “through.” However, for the modern reader, by implies more of a literal meaning. For example, if my daughter made a wooden elephant figurine, and if you asked who made it, I could answer, “It was made BY Haley.” If we applied the same meaning to the “by” in John 1:3, then we would literally be on the road to heresy, for Jesus did not act unilaterally (own His own), but by the will of the Father (John 5:19).

So, by may have been the best word for the verse in the 17th-19th centuries, but through better conveys the Truth to those in the 21st.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, the translators of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible were men of superior capability. I dare say that finding modern scholars and intellects with similar credentials would be exceedingly difficult. Therefore, because they did such a great work, it would be wise to consider their words when debating the heart of this discussion.

Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most Holy place … Indeed without translation into the vulgar tongue (the modern, common way of speaking), the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well (which was deep) [John 4:11] without a bucket or something to draw with…”

“For is the kingdom of God become words or syllables? why should we be in bondage to them if we may be free…?”

 – from: “The Translators to the Reader,” a prefix attached to the original 1611 edition.

It really boils down to this: What does the Bible really say? Sometimes we have to set aside our preconceived notions in order to honestly exegete Scripture. The last thing we want to do is let a literary bias lend support to a faulty theology, even if our intentions are noble.

Ultimately, though, Jesus is the Door “through” whom we must enter; there is no other Way to the Father. If a translation can’t make that clear, then we have a problem.

So, let me say “Thanks” to my friend. Without his comment, I’d never walked down this rabbit trail 😉 

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My Most Popular Post of All Time

Now that we are beginning a new year (2018) I thought I would skip the anual list of “Top Posts” and go straight to the top – the consistent #1 – the most viewed post in 2017 and every year since it was first published (2011):

“Was John R. Rice a Heretic?”

Here’s your chance to read the post that put me on the map…without all the drawn-out, hateful comments 😉


On the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: was John R. Rice a heretic? If you do not know to whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. Rice, who died in 1980, was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries.  He fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice. I have in my personal library several of his works published back in the 1960’s. He was a great writer and a great preacher; however, he was not flawless. He said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he had some things to say that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord and the typical legalist who believes the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.  Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor? Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to many legalists, at least to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal. Poor guy! He did so much!

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James Version, is a translation.

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever. READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study and then a wonderful thing will happen – you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that….right, Dr. Rice?

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For Thy Stomach’s Sake

An add I’m about to place:

“Desperate Baptist school bus driver is actively seeking a Greek scholar who can verify στόμαχος (stomachos) also refers to one’s nerves.”

It’s been that kind of day. 

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Filed under Alcohol, baptist, Bible Study, Do not judge, Humor, legalism, Struggles and Trials, Theology, translations

Was Dr. John R. Rice a Heretic?

Back in 2011 I wrote what has been my #1 most visited post every year. I’ve only re-posted it once, and that was in April of this year (2016). I would like to beat my total viewing stats for 2013, so why not post it again? Couldn’t hurt, right?

The Doctor

I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: Was John R. Rice a heretic? If you don’t know of whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. John R. Rice (d. 1980) was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries, and fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, the Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice, and my personal library contains several of his works published back in the 1960’s. However, even though Dr. Rice was a great preacher and author, he was not flawless; he said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he also said some things that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord, especially those who believe the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.

From 1611 to 1901

Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. (OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor?) Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal.

What a shame! He did so much!

Original or Translation?

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James, is a translation.

Do No Harm

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever.

READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study. If you do, several wonderful things will happen: you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that!

Wouldn’t you agree, Dr. Rice?

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The Humble God Brings Revival

On June 15, 2011, I preached a short message from Isaiah 57:15 entitled, “Three R’s and Revival.”

Later, I read through the chapter again on my iPhone, this time in the NET version:

“For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: “I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.” – Isaiah 57:15 NET

My eyes filled up with tears! The Holy One is not too good to sit down with the humiliated and discouraged! Hallelujah!

News Flash! God is humble!

Of course He is! Just look at what He did! Jesus became flesh (John 1:14) and walked in our shoes. He allowed Himself to be humiliated and beaten, even crucified, although He had every reason to look down on us, being God (Phil. 2:6-7). The “High and Lofty One” became the “meek and lowly” (Matt. 11:29).

There is no pride in God!


The Three R’s

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” – Isaiah 57:15 KJV

There are three “R’s” that I see in Isaiah 57:15… Reign, Realm, and Residence.

  1. I see the first one in the words “high and lofty.”
  2. The second one I see is found in the words “inhabiteth eternity.”
  3. The third “R” is located in the words “I dwell,”and “with him also.”

1. Reign

Earlier, in chapter 6, Isaiah said he “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up…” The “high and lofty” One is none other than a King. And not just any king, this is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. The same description is found in Revelation 4. In verse 2, John saw a throne “set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.” Who was the One that sat on the the throne? Evidently the same Person who was seen by Isaiah, because in both accounts the angels were crying out “Holy, holy, holy...”

God is not a man-made idol or idea formed in the human mind – He is “high and lofty.” He is “exalted” above every other creature, whether in heaven or in earth. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11 KJV).

Because He is king, there remains only two options with regards to His reign: you are either His subject, or you are His enemy. God does not operate like earthly kings and nations. We have allies; but not God. His kingdom demands total loyalty (every knee shall bow). Serving another king is not a good thing at all, for it will only result in His judgment. No king is greater than He. To serve another is to live in rebellion.

2. Realm

God is the One that “inhabiteth (inhabits) eternity.” This is His realm. His influence reaches not only across all known and unknown areas of the universe, but across time immortal!

It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British realm. All over the world there were colonies under the control of the throne of England. But even more impressive than that, God’s realm isn’t limited to the present rising and setting of the sun, it is in ETERNITY.

It is important to note something here. I am not opposed to reading different translations, but a good example of when a new translation misses the mark is changing the word “inhabiteth” to “rules/lives forever.” Of course it is true that God lives and rules forever; however, there is more to it than that. The word “inhabit” touches upon His eternally sovereign omnipresence. God/Jesus is not just king over the here and now, or the future, but over the past, present, and future at the same time! He inhabits eternity! There is nothing in the realm of time, no matter where it is, that is out of His scope of authority.

Stop and think about this, folks. Think about the practical application of the above statement. Let’s just say you need $100 tomorrow to pay a bill. Or, it could be $1 million, a billion – doesn’t matter. You could go to an earthly king and ask for help, but the king would be limited to the time frame in which you needed the money, the amount that he had, and the limitations of his realm. Not God.

I have seen money come in for a need that was desperate. God provided what was needed. But, when you look at the sequence of events, God started answering that prayer long before it was ever prayed – decades before! God is not limited by time, space, or anything. His realm covers it all. When George Mueller prayed for milk (for his orphanage), do you not think that God had already put in place the neccessary sequence of events to make that milk wagon drop a wheel? It is not even out of line to think that He went back to when the tree was planted that provided the wood for the wagon.

3. Residence

God not only lives in the “holy place,” but He dwells with lowly man. His name is Emmanuel – God with us. But notice this, He only dwells with the humble, the contrite, the broken-hearted, the cast down, the weary, the needy (“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6). Even though He could choose to stay in His high and holy place, far above the heavens (as most men would do, given the opportunity), He makes His bed right on the floor with the lowliest, shivering beggar.

Of all people, God should be the one who looks down His nose at us. He is the “lofty” One upon the throne. We are the helpless sinners. How ironic is it that the only ones who will not open the door of their hearts are the prideful? Pride closes the door to the King.

and Revival

He said “I dwell” in order “to revive.” It is the presence of the God who cares; the God who understands where we are; the God who makes His home with the “discouraged” and the “humiliated” that brings revival. Oh, to live without hope, without compassion, without a tender touch from a caring hand, brings death. But to have a King step down from His lofty position in the heavenlies, from the eternal, to a lowly place in time – that revives the heart.

The gulf that separated me from Christ, my Lord 
It was so vast, the crossing I could never ford 
From where I was to His domain, it seemed so far 
I cried “Dear Lord, I cannot come to where You are” 

CHORUS 
He came to me, He came to me 
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me 
That’s why He died on Calvary 
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me 

He Came to Me – by Squire Parsons

Don’t let pride shut the door to your heart when the King of Kings seeks to dwell with you.

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Was John R. Rice a Heretic?

Back in 2011 I wrote what has been my #1 most visited post. As far as I know, I’ve never re-posted it…until today. Therefore, the following is a slightly updated rendition of the “classic.” Enjoy!

In the meantime, this morning (April 6, 2016) I’m going to be preaching to the student body of Bryan College, Dayton, TN. Prayers appreciated.

The Doctor

I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: Was John R. Rice a heretic? If you don’t know of whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. John R. Rice (d. 1980) was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries, and fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, the Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice, and my personal library contains several of his works published back in the 1960’s. However, even though Dr. Rice was a great preacher and author, he was not flawless; he said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he also said some things that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord, especially those who believe the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.

From 1611 to 1901

Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. (OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor?) Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to many legalists, at least to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal. What a shame! He did so much!

Original or Translation?

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James, is a translation.

Do No Harm

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever.

READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study. If you do, several wonderful things will happen: you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that!

Right, Dr. Rice?

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General Survey of Understanding and Belief

In the twentieth chapter of Acts, the Apostle Paul called for a meeting with the elders of the church at Ephesus. Knowing the dangers posed by “wolves” from the outside and perverse deceivers on the inside (vs 29-30), He warned them to pay close attention to the things he had taught them. After all, they were responsible for flocks purchased by God with his own blood (v28) – what a thought!

Paul said (v27), “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Well, folks, I’ve been pastoring this little flock for nearly 8 years, and I’m afraid I might have left something out. Therefore, I thought this little survey (conducted anonymously) might help me determine some areas where I need to do some “declaring.” I don’t want to be guilty of shunning any of God’s counsel.

Glance over the following survey. How would you answer? (The “U” is for “unsure”)

2o16 General Survey of Understanding and Belief

  1. Jesus became God
    1. When born of a virgin
    2. When filled with the Holy Ghost
    3. When resurrected from the dead
    4. None of the above
  2. How many books in the Bible
    1. 55
    2. 66
    3. 100
  3. There are errors in the Bible because it was written by men. T / F / U
  4. God is
    1. One God, but with three names
    2. Three Gods with one Name.
    3. One God in three Persons.
  5. Jeremiah fought the battle of
    1. Jericho
    2. Nineveh
    3. None of the above
  6. Because Jesus prayed to the Father, that made him less than the Father. T / F / U
  7. You have to be filled with the Holy Ghost to be saved. T / F / U
  8. Where does the Bible say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”?
    1. Matthew 7:19
    2. Romans 12:1
    3. None of the above.
    4. Unsure
  9. Have you determined your own spiritual gifts? Y / N
  10. Do miracles still happen today? Y / N / U
  11. Christians and Muslims worship the same God, but by different names. T / F / U
  12. Jesus was the first “born again” Christian. T / F / U
  13. Adam and Eve were literal people. T / F / U
  14. Salvation can be lost because man has a free will. T / F / U
  15. We become angels when we die. T / F / U
  16. Everyone will eventually go to heaven, sooner or later. T / F / U
  17. Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead; He was a spiritual being. T / F / U
  18. Those who have died are
    1. Asleep until the resurrection
    2. In heaven or hell right now
    3. No more – they ceased to exist
  19. The proper day to worship is the Sabbath, but it was changed to Sunday by the Catholic Church. T / F / U
  20. You must be baptized to be saved. T/ F/ U
  21. Abortion is OK until the baby can breathe on its own. T / F / U
  22. The only difference between the religions of the world is how we choose to worship God T / F / U
  23. It is a sin to drink or smoke. T / F / U
  24. The King James Version of the Bible is the only one given by God to the English-speaking world. T / F / U
  25. Modern translations of the Bible deny the Virgin birth and divinity of Christ. T / F / U
  26. God’s power on earth is limited when we don’t give Him permission to use us. T / F / U
  27. We should only pray to God the Father or Jesus, not the Holy Ghost. T / F / U
  28. I feel God is angry or disappointed with me most of the time. T / F / U
  29. It doesn’t matter how you live as long as you love God. T / F / U
  30. Preaching and teaching are pretty much the same thing. T / F / U
  31. There’s a difference between the God of the OT and the God of the NT. T / F / U
  32. I am sure of my salvation. T / F / U
  33. Things I’ve done in the past keep me from being used by God. T / F / U
  34. I feel confident I could show another person how to be saved. T / F / U
  35. People who answer surveys in Church are guaranteed a blessing. T

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