Translations of the Word

Living Abundantly 
According to God's Word Series

Read Time: 9 Minutes

There is something we must recognize as workman of God's Word. No translation or version of the Bible can be accurately called The Word of God. The Word of God is that which holy men of God wrote as they were moved by God. There are no originals in existence today. The best we have are copies. The oldest manuscripts today are written in Estrangelo Aramaic dated 464 A.D. If any student or Scholar refers to "original manuscripts" they are talking about the copies that were written around 460 A.D. 

It is my experience, and probably yours as well, that when I attempt to copy text it is difficult to do with absolute accuracy. The scribes who copied these texts paid meticulous attention and had checks to insure accuracy but men are fallible. When translations are made current theological ideas creep in. By the time Paul was at the end of his ministry he was instructing Timothy to confront those that were teaching doctrines that were not given to Paul (I Timothy 1:3, 6:20, 21). God has called all to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth, that includes the Gentiles. Many were saved but their beliefs started to contaminate the apostles doctrine. We see that even the Jews were trying to enforce the law which we have been freed from because Jesus Christ paid the price, he was the sacrificial lamb. These theological ideas have crept into the translations of the Word. Any reworking of a translation then becomes a version. I use the King James Version which was translated from the Stephens text in 1611.

Now we must ask; how do we get back to the God-Breathed Word? How do we find out what God wrote to us? We must study, compare verse with verse, look at the words in context, check to see where they have been used before, and consider the accuracy of our understanding of the words. The Words of God are pure words as silver purified in a furnace seven times (Psalms 12:6), it cannot contradict itself. If we see apparent contradictions it must be in the translation(s) or our understanding. 

The oldest manuscripts that we have available today are called uncials. The word uncial means "all caps." Each letter is ornately and artistically done. The words are also not separated with spaces, verses, chapters or punctuation. It would read FORGODSOLOVEDTHEWORLD.  

The next oldest manuscripts are the cursives which means running hand. They are written like this: forgodsolovedtheworld.  There is no punctuation in the oldest manuscripts.

We must also recognize that there were no chapter and verse divisions in the originals. Chapters were first introduced in a Bible in 1250. The Geneva Bible (1560) was the first Bible to have verses. Then the King James of 1611 incorporated verses. Chapters and verses were not part of the original Word of God. Man added them. God is not responsible for any error in chapter and verse markings. 

Here is an example of an erroneous division:

Genesis 1
:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, 
    and, behold, it was very good. 
    And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Genesis 2
:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, 
    and all the host of them.
:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; 
    and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
:3 And God blessed the seventh day, 
    and sanctified it: 
        because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

:4 These are the generations of the heavens 
        and of the earth 
    when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

The subject is creation and all seven days are included in Genesis 1:2 - 2:3. Genesis  2:4 begins a new subject, the generations of the heavens and of the earth. Genesis 2:1 begins with the word 'thus' which is a conjunction that binds together the statements. A new chapter should have begun at Genesis 2:4. 

In John 7 there is an example of chapter divided in the middle of a verse.

John 7:
:53 And every man went unto his own house.

John 8
:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. [the Interlinear says "But Jesus went"]

The next verse starts with the Jesus going to the temple again the next day.

Now I am not advocating a change in the Bibles, but we must be aware of the context of each verse and subject  which may cross chapters and verses.

Chapter headings and center references were also added by men. You can look at different publishers like Nelson and Cambridge and see different headings and center references. They were added by the editors as they saw fit. Sometimes they are relevant, sometimes they are not. I cross out the ones that are not.

Paragraph markings are also added by man. They are the translators opinions as to when a subject should end and a new one should began. Also, there are no paragraph markings after Acts 20:36. If God had intended paragraph markings to be in His Word He would have completed the work.

Punctuation can also skew the meaning of a verse. The translators would punctuate the sentences to coincide with their theological beliefs. We know that by the end of Paul's ministry there was error creeping into the beliefs of the Believers. By the time the translations were done the Gentiles that had entered the Church of God had brought in their pagan beliefs and they started developing their own theology.

An example of punctuation compromising the integrity of the Word is in Luke 23. The context is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Luke 23
:39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, 
        If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.
:40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, 
        Dost not thou fear God, 
            seeing thou art in the same condemnation?
:41       And we indeed justly; 
                for we receive the due reward of our deeds: 
            but this man hath done nothing amiss.
:42 And he said unto Jesus, 
        Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
:43 And Jesus said unto him, 
        Verily I say unto thee, 
        To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Some translations have set the comma after the words "To day." The translation above indicates that they will enter paradise today. Putting the comma after the words "To day" means that Jesus is telling him today that they will be in paradise, a promise for the future. Which meaning is correct? 

First of all what is paradise? Paradise, in the Septuagint,  is the Greek word paradeisos translated Eden 16 times and garden 19 times. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament done by 70 priests in Alexandria Egypt around 300-200 B.C.* According to God's Word paradise is a place on earth and was present in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Adam and Eve was driven out of paradise after their disobedience to God in chapter 3.  It then becomes inaccessible until the book of Revelation when it will be restored when death has been destroyed and there will be new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 2:7, 21:1-4, 22:1-5, 14, 17). Therefore, if paradise is not available then Jesus and the Malefactor cannot enter paradise on that day. 

Also, the Malefactor requested of Jesus that he remember him when he comes into his kingdom (Luke 23:42). A kingdom is a time when the king reigns. This will also not happen until Christ returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

We must also consider the statement "I say unto thee To day." It is a Hebrew custom that whenever they wanted to emphasize something they would make the solemn statement "I say unto thee this day." For example:

Deuteronomy 6
:6 And these words, 
        which I command thee this day, 
    shall be in thine heart:

:11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, 
        and the statutes, 
        and the judgments, 
            which I command thee this day, 
    to do them.

:3 Understand therefore this day, 
    that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; 
a consuming fire he shall destroy them, 
        and he shall bring them down before thy face: 
    so shalt thou drive them out, 
        and destroy them quickly,  [this didn't happen in the selfsame day]
    as the LORD hath said unto thee.

When the comma is removed, which man had added, the truth is exposed. 

Luke 23
:43 And Jesus said unto him, 
        Verily I say unto thee to day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

Jesus said unto the malefactor that day,  that he will be, in the future, with him in paradise. That day was not the day of deliverance, it was the day of death. A more accurate translation according the God's Word would be:

:43 And Jesus said unto him,
        Verily I say unto thee today, 
        thou shalt be with me in paradise.

We have compared verse 43 with other clear verses and have come to the truth of God's Word. It is important to understand that chapters, chapter headings, center references, paragraph markings and punctuation are all added by man and devoid of authority.

Next time I will show you another punctuation error that you should be aware of. God's Word is so wonderful, edifying and comforting when we let it speak with accuracy.

God Bless


* Septuagint, December 27, 2004. 
        Return to text.