Do You Want to See More Miracles in Your Life?

I subscribe to an excellent free resource from an organization called Koinonia House, the ministry of Bible teacher Chuck Missler.  It’s called “K-House eNews” and it’s a weekly e-mail update that includes brief news highlights from around the world and medium-sized articles on Scripture and life.  If you’re interested, you can subscribe here.

The past two issues have featured an EXCELLENT series on “Faith and Miracles” that blessed me very much, so I thought I’d share it here.  There are six articles, each about a page-and-a-half long.

Enjoy!

— Pastor Phillip


Faith and Miracles: a six-part series of articles from Koinonia House

Part I: Faith in What?
“Have faith,” people will often say when troubles come along, even people who don’t claim to follow Jesus Christ. Billy Joel once crooned about “keeping the faith” complete with a music video. Faith is popular.  When people tell us to have “faith” though, we ought to ask, “Faith in what?…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2010/1704/


Part II: A Mustard Seed and An Empty Fridge
Sheri Munson gazed into her refrigerator. She saw a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, a bottle of ancient mustard, and some very old packets of soy sauce. The barren cupboards held a can of pumpkin and the last cup of a bag of rice. That was basically it.  Sheri had five children to feed. As she stared into her empty cupboards, she said, “Okay Lord. I’m going to trust you. You’ve brought me this far. I can’t believe you’re going to let me fall off a cliff now. You said you would be my husband. Please provide for us…”
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1707/


Part III: Even Our Hairs – Hamster Time
When we hear [miraculous] sorts of stories, we’re grateful for God’s coming through in times of great need. However, we don’t always think that God is willing to take care of us in the “small” things too, things that maybe not all people will recognize as important.  Fear and doubt edge into our prayer-lives in a variety of ways…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2010/1710/


Part IV: Expecting The Unexpected
In 1933, when education guru John Dewey and 33 others signed the Humanist Manifesto, they were casting off what they saw as the outdated chains of established religion. They were forming a religion of their own, one in which man made the ultimate determinations of good and bad, right and wrong…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1999/


Part V: The Fiery Furnace
The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is one of the most fun miracles in the Old Testament.  These three Hebrews stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar and were thrown into the furnace for it. They obeyed God and remained faithful to Him, trusting that God could marvelously, miraculously save them…
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/1998/


Part VI: But If Not
“But see, there’s a problem when Grandma prays to be healed and she isn’t healed. She thinks she doesn’t have strong enough faith or that God doesn’t love her. What about Grandma?” – An anonymous skeptic …
Read more: http://www.khouse.org/enews_article/2012/2000/

Bible Translations: KJV vs. NIV (pt3)

Is the NIV the translation of “a compromising church”?

From time to time people ask me questions of a more “theological” nature.  I love it because I get a chance to dig into subjects that I don’t always have occasion to explore, but I also realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  So, when topics like these come up, I post them on what I like to call “Theology Thursdays.”

Hope you enjoy this post, and if it’s not your thing, check back tomorrow 🙂

— Pastor Phillip


QUESTION: I’ve heard some theologians recently speak critically on the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), that many of the powerful truths have been altered for a more palatable presentation to general audiences.

So, this was the issue raised by a good friend of mine, and what a great topic it is! He’s a very intelligent person with good insights, so I enjoyed researching some of the links he sent. I was drawn to one in particular, specifically some of the individual claims the author makes.

I decided to test them out.

I have read the NIV all the way through (twice) but don’t use it day-to-day.  Though I don’t remember finding any problems with it before, I am personally VERY committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the importance of having accurate translations, so I set out to use the tools I have available to explore the context of the passages, the original Greek words used, and how other translations have handled some of these passages.  The original criticism site can be found here, and below are some of the things I discovered in my search.

NOTE 1: My intention here isn’t to attack or even defend any particular translation, simply to explore the texts referenced by the author and try to dig underneath the surface to see what’s there in each individual case.

NOTE 2: This is part three of a three-part series on this issue. Part one can be found here and part two, here.

 

CLAIM THREE
The word “Lucifer” was removed from Isaiah 14:12 and Satan was actually called, “O morning star,” the same title given to Jesus in the Book of Revelation. 

Here is the text in both versions, with ESV and NLT as well.

Isaiah 14:12
-KJV: How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
-NIV: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
-ESV: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
-NLT: “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.

Here’s the issue with this claim: The Hebrew word is “heylel“, meaning “From H1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star: – lucifer.”  The root word is “halal“, which is a big-picture word that means, “A primitive root; to be clear (originally of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence to make a show; to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively to celebrate; also to stultify: – (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool (-ish, -ly), glory, give [light], be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, [sing, be worthy of] praise, rage, renowned, shine.

This is the ONLY place the word is used in all of Scripture, and the context of the passage is found in Isaiah 14:4, “That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! ”  So yes, there is a sense in which the word is assigned the proper name “Lucifer”, but THAT’S NOT THE CONTEXT OF THE PASSAGE!!

Conclusion

Based on these examples (the rest are found in part one and part two of this series), it seems that the criticisms against the NIV in favor of the KJV are not nearly as serious as imagined in the mind of the author.  Furthermore, it appears to be much more a case of the author/critic having grown up believing the KJV was the only “real” Bible, and then taking the English words found there and being frustrated that the newer translations (the NIV in particular) did not import English meanings back to the original text.  The problem is that to do that would be unfaithful to the original text in an effort to preserve the primacy of the KJV.  That, in my opinion, is not an issue of scholarship, but idolatry.

There are other issues the author raises, primarily about verses left out or changed.  These issues are based almost exclusively in the belief that the “Textus Receptus” is the best manuscript collection from which to translate, even though it is much more recent than the manuscripts used by other translations.  The reason stated for this is that the other manuscripts are accepted by the Catholic church and they come from the region of Egypt, rather than Antioch, where the Textus Receptus comes from.  Digging into manuscript integrity is beyond the scope of this piece, but suffice it to say, based on the way in which the other issues are approached by the author, I’m unconvinced of his position.  Plus, what I’ve studied so far for this series has already been close to four hours of time, and I must move on to other things 😉

 

FOLLOW-UP COMMENTARY
There is definitely some compelling evidence here for why the NIV is certainly not the translation to choose for serious study.  One of the reasons I personally use and recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) is because they took great pains to maintain the full integrity of the original texts, even to the point of using many -if not most- of the same sources as the KJV, while one of the main beefs that “KJV only” people have with modern translations is that they often use different, more recently discovered sources that some will say are corrupted. For studying, give me that good ole’ “propitiation” and “regeneration” stuff all day long!

Now, that said, I take great exception to the tone and spirit in which much of this type of criticism is written. To me, while they may have some valid arguments as to why the KJV is more accurate, to start accusing Bible translators of “working for Satan” and being tools of the devil I think is WAY over the line, and sounds much more like the Pharisees than the disciples of Jesus.  Just the other day I was reading Ephesians 3 in which Paul’s prayer for the church atEphesusis that they would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”(Ephesians 3:19, ESV)

Knowledge is VERY important, but not as important as love. “Knowledge puffs up but love builds up,” as the Scripture says. Again in James we find “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17, ESV)

Oh, how I long that we would be a people passionately committed to rightly dividing the Word of Truth and constantly seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures! What I long for even more, though, is that our highest goal would not be knowledge alone, but love.

Now, we must be careful here, as well, because some may take “love” to mean that we don’t engage and battle for truth. Nothing could be further FROM the truth! Indeed, here’s what Paul writes in Galatians. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1, ESV)

See the theme? To pursue truth for truth’s sake alone is to court the danger of self-righteous Pharisaism. That’s why Paul exhorts the Galatians to “Keep watch on yourself, lest you, too be tempted.”  To pursue truth for the sake of love means we engage directly, but in a spirit of gentleness with the goal of restoration, not condemnation.  When I read articles/websites like most of what the KJV-only crowd tends to put out, what I find is a bunch of people whose approach to truth is not to gently correct brothers in error, but to arrogantly condemn anyone who doesn’t share their point of view.

See the difference?

Next, regarding the specific examples of “heresy” in the NIV, do I think that words like “regeneration” and “propitiation” are very important? Of course!  Should they be addressed and shared with all believers so they understand the truth of God’s Word and the greatness of His gift? Absolutely.

However, we live in a world where the vast majority of people simply don’t have the training to rightly understand many of the words we use to explain the truths of Scripture, and that’s why God appoints pastors and teachers, and calls some to mentor and others to write, etc.

It is the privilege and responsibility of each believer to read and study the Scriptures for themselves and not rely solely on one person’s interpretation. But it is also God’s gift and command that each believer should belong to a local church where the Bible is rightly taught, so that they don’t have to bear the full burden of interpretation and understanding on their own.

A person sitting by themselves reading the KJV who is not in the community of faith and in submission to Biblically qualified pastor/elders is just as much in error as a person who goes to church every week and reads little or no Scripture on his or her own except a few verses here and there from the NIV.

That’s why I feel so strongly about the power of Biblical community and the priority of the local church, because it is in the Church that God’s Spirit provides a safety net for both people, to keep one from the desert of legalism and the other from the shallows of the nominal Christian life.

Finally, whenever questions about translations of the Bible come up, the thing in which I always find great peace is this: “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)

Do we really believe that the “living” power of the Word of God depends solely on the people who translated it?  Do we not see horrible sin in the lives of the original authors themselves? Think of David. Think of Moses. Think of Matthew. Think of Paul. All of them, sinful men whom God chose to use anyway, and it was not because of their holiness or even good intentions, but simply because of His sovereign will and grace.

When people ask me about translations, I always have to ask, did His grace run out on us? Was the Holy Spirit on vacation when the translators were doing their work? Does He no longer care enough to be involved in the transmission of His Word so that now it’s only up to us to make sure it’s right?

I would not recommend the NIV to anyone seeking to study deeply (I would point them to the ESV). I would not really recommend the NIV to anyone seeking to read casually (I would refer them to the New Living Translation). But I also would not deny the ability of Jesus Christ to still change lives through imperfect translations of His Word, any more than I would deny His ability to change the World through imperfect people like me.

I believe He’s more capable and creative than some people give Him credit for.

NOTE: This is part three of a three-part series on this issue. Part one can be found here and part two, here.

Bible Translations: KJV vs. NIV (pt2)

Is the NIV “a Bible that has blasphemed the Son of God”?

As a pastor, I often get questions about the Bible.  This is a good thing, of course, not only because people need a place to go with questions, but also because it gives me the chance to study topics and ideas I may not normally have the occasion to explore.  However, since “theology” isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to read about, I’ve decided that when more academic or scholarly topics come up, Thursday will be the day to post them.

That said, I hope this post is a blessing to you, and if not…try tomorrow!

— Pastor Phillip


QUESTION: I’ve heard some theologians recently speak critically on the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), that many of the powerful truths have been altered for a more palatable presentation to general audiences.

When a good friend of mine raised this issue, I enjoyed researching some of the links he sent. I was drawn to one in particular, and decided to dig a little deeper into some of the individual claims the author makes.

I have read the NIV front to back and though it’s not a translation I currently use, I don’t remember finding any problems with it before.  However, I am VERY committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the importance of accurate translations, so I took a good bit of time to explore the context of the passages, the original Greek words used, and how other translations have handled some of these verses.  The original criticism site can be found here, and below are some of the things I discovered in my search.

NOTE 1: My intention here isn’t to attack or even defend any particular translation, simply to explore the texts referenced by the author and try to dig underneath the surface to see what’s there in each individual case.

NOTE 2: This is part two of a three-part series on this issue.  Part one can be found here and the rest will be posted next Thursday.

 

CLAIM TWO (A and B)
“Sodomy” was eliminated from [the NIV] text. The rendering was changed to “temple prostitute.” Yes, the Sodomites were “temple prostitutes” but were more than just “temple prostitutes.” This is a serious violation and was applauded by Virginia Mollencott, a lesbian that served as a consultant and English stylist (The word “fornication” was also completely removed.) 
The actual word “Sodomy” is not included in the KJV text.  The word “sodomite” is included once, and “sodomites” four times.  All mentions are in the Old Testament, and all use the Hebrew word “qadesh“, which literally means  “(quasi) sacred person, that is, (technically) a (male) devotee (by prostitution) to licentious idolatry: – sodomite, unclean.”  The first mention of the term is in Deuteronomy 23:17.  Here it is in context.
Deuteronomy 23:17-18
– KJV: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God. “
-NIV: No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.  You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.
-ESV: “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute.  You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God. (NOTE: “dog” is listed in the footnotes as a euphamism for “male prostitute.”)
-NLT: “No Israelite, whether man or woman, may become a temple prostitute.  When you are bringing an offering to fulfill a vow, you must not bring to the house of the LORD your God any offering from the earnings of a prostitute, whether a man or a woman, for both are detestable to the LORD your God.
I looked closer at the groupings of words in this passage, and found something interesting.  “whore” in the KJV is the Hebrew word “qedeshah“, defined as Feminine of H6945; a female devotee (that is, prostitute): – harlot, whore.”  So the word rendered “whore” is the SAME word as that which is rendered “sodomite,” just in feminine form.  It seems in this case that the other translations’ pairing of the two words as the same type of offense is a sound approach.  Similar issues are found in 1 Kings 15:12.
1 Kings 15:12
-KJV: And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
-NIV: He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made.
-ESV: He put away the male cult prostitutes out of the land and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.
-NLT: He banished the male and female shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made.
Note how the New Living Translation actually adds to the passage the reference to “female shrine prostitutes,” presumably because the context of the passage is not individual deviant sexual practices, but the pagan rituals surrounding idol worship.  The same issue is found in 2 Kings 23, where the whole context of the passage is about removing the methods and practitioners of pagan idol worship from the land.
The NIV faithfully preserves passages such as Leviticus 20:13 “”‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”  Also Romans 1:27 is written this way, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”  Hardly an approval of homosexual practice.
The author of the site also mentions that “the word ‘fornication’ was also completely removed“.  Here is an analysis.
2 Chronicles 21:11  Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto. 

Isaiah 23:17  And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. 

Ezekiel 16:26  Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. 

Ezekiel 16:29  Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith. 
These passages use the word “zanah“, which means literally, “A primitive root (highly fed and therefore wanton); to commit adultery (usually of the female, and less often of simple forniciation, rarely of involuntary ravishment); figuratively to commit idolatry (the Jewish people being regarded as the spouse of Jehovah): – (cause to) commit fornication, X continually, X great, (be an, play the) harlot, (cause to be, play the) whore, (commit, fall to) whoredom, (cause to) go a-whoring, whorish.”
We can see, then, that it is a multi-faceted word.  In fact, it appears 93 times in the Old Testament, and is almost always translated as “whore”, “whoredom”, “whoring”, etc.  Look, now, at the passages again, this time both in the KJV and NIV.
2 Chronicles 21:11
-KJV:  Moreover he made high places in the mountains of Judah, and caused the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit fornication, and compelled Judah thereto. 
-NIV: He had also built high places on the hills of Judah and had caused the people of Jerusalem to prostitute themselves and had led Judah astray.

Isaiah 23:17
-KJV: And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the LORD will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. 
-NIV: At the end of seventy years, the LORD will deal with Tyre. She will return to her hire as a prostitute and will ply her trade with all the kingdoms on the face of the earth.

Ezekiel 16:26
-KJV: Thou hast also committed fornication with the Egyptians thy neighbours, great of flesh; and hast increased thy whoredoms, to provoke me to anger. 
-NIV: You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity.
Ezekiel 16:29
-KJV: Thou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan unto Chaldea; and yet thou wast not satisfied herewith. 
-NIV: Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied.

So the NIV takes the translation most regularly associated with “zanah” when the context seems to be prostitution or religious idolatry, and yet also includes the idea of promiscuity in general in the Ezekiel passage.
Now, what of the New Testament?  In the KJV, the word “fornication” appears 32 times.  In all instances except the book of Jude, the Greek word is either “pornia” or “porneuo“, related words that mean, respectively,
Pornia: “From G4203 harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry: – fornication.”
Porneuo: “From G4204; to act the harlot, that is, (literally) indulge unlawful lust (of either sex), or (figuratively) practice idolatry: – commit (fornication).”
Porne:  “Feminine of G4205; a strumpet; figuratively an idolater: – harlot, whore.”
We can see, then, that the original words comprise much MORE than the standard definition of the English word “fornication”, which is “voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.”  The original intent of the text includes adultery, incest, prostitution, and “unlawful lust” in general.
So then, comparing passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18 reveals this:
1 Corinthians 6:18
-KJV: Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
-NIV: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

1 Thessalonians 4:3
-KJV: For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
-NIV: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality;
So the issue in the King James Version seems to be sexual intercourse between unmarried persons, while the NIV broadens the warning to include all forms of sexual immorality that don’t line up with the Biblical ideal.  Seems like the latter is a little more helpful and consistent with the whole of Scripture.  Here’s the kicker though…
Matthew 5:32
-KJV: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
-NIV: But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
Matthew 19:9
-KJV: And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
-NIV: I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Wait, so if someone wants to divorce his wife, in the KJV he can only do that if she has committed “fornication”, yet how can she do that at all if we maintain that “fornication” is sexual intercourse between unmarried persons???  If one of the parties to the act is married, that’s not technically fornication anymore, it’s adultery.
Therefore, “marital unfaithfulness” seems to cover the bases rather well.
CLAIM THREE
The word “Lucifer” was removed from Isaiah 14:12 and Satan was actually called, “O morning star,” the same title given to Jesus in the Book of Revelation. 

(To be continued…)
REMINDER: This is part two of a three-part series on this issue.  Part one can be found here and the rest will be posted next Thursday.

Bible Translations: KJV vs. NIV (pt1)

Is the NIV truly “Apostasy in print”?

As a pastor, I often get questions about the Bible.  This is a good thing, of course, not only because people need a place to go with questions, but also because it gives me the chance to study topics and ideas I may not normally have the occasion to explore.

Now, I’ve also realized that “theology” isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so a steady diet of it isn’t always the most helpful thing to be posting, at least not one hopes to reaching more readers!  So, I’ve decided that when I have questions or topics that come up that tend towards a more academic or scholarly feel, Thursday will be the day to post them.

Why Thursday?  Because it starts with a “th” just like “theology.”  DUH!

That said, I hope this post is a blessing to you, and if not…just check back tomorrow 😉

— Pastor Phillip


QUESTION: I’ve heard some theologians recently speak critically on the New International Version of the Bible (NIV), that many of the powerful truths have been altered for a more palatable presentation to general audiences.

So, this was the issue raised by a good friend of mine, and what a great topic it is! He’s a very intelligent person with good insights, so I enjoyed researching some of the links he sent. I was drawn to one in particular, specifically some of the individual claims the author makes.

I decided to test them out.

I have read the NIV all the way through but don’t use it day-to-day.  Though I don’t remember finding any problems with it before, I am personally VERY committed to the inerrancy of Scripture and the importance of having accurate translations, so I set out to use the tools I have available to explore the context of the passages, the original Greek words used, and how other translations have handled some of these passages.  The original criticism site can be found here, and my and below are some of the things I discovered in my search.

PLEASE NOTE: My intention here isn’t to attack or even defend any particular translation, simply to explore the texts referenced by the author and try to dig underneath the surface to see what’s there in each individual case.

 

CLAIM ONE
“Jesus is called ‘Master’ forty-six times in the New Testament. The NIV used the term ‘teacher’ instead of ‘Master.’ Why reduce Jesus to a teacher when His very Person calls for the term ‘Master’?”

I searched for “master” in the New Testament, to see what Greek words were used and how they were translated.  Here are some examples of the words used.

WORD NUMBER ONE
“Didaskalos”  (G1320) From G1321 (“didasko”) ; an instructor (generally or specifically): – doctor, master, teacher. Additionally, the root word “didasko” means “A prolonged (causative) form of a primary verb δάω daō (to learn); to teach (in the same broad application): – teach.”

Matthew 8:19
-KJV: And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
-NIV: Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
-ESV: And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
-NLT: Then one of the teachers of religious law said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Matthew 26:18
– KJV: And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.
– NIV: He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'”
– ESV: He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”
– NLT: “As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.'”

This seems to be a common theme, where the KJV translates “didaskalos” as “master” and other translations translate it “teacher.”  It seems the Greek supports “teacher” more readily than “master” in this case.

WORD NUMBER TWO
“Kathegetes” (G2519), From a compound of G2596 and G2233; a guide, that is, (figuratively) a teacher: – master.  This is made up of the words “kata” which means “down”  and “hegeomai“, which means “to lead, that is, command (with official authority); figuratively to deem, that is, consider: – account, (be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.”

Matthew 23:8
– KJV: But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
– NIV: But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers.
– ESV: But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.
– NLT: Don’t let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are equal as brothers and sisters.

Matthew 23:10 (two verses later, Jesus continues His speech)
– KJV: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
– NIV: Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.
– ESV: Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ.
– NLT: And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.

These are the only two places this word is used in the New Testament.

WORD NUMBER THREE
“Rhabbi” (G4461) Of Hebrew origin [H7227] with pronominal suffix; my master, that is, Rabbi, as an official title of honor: – Master, Rabbi.

In the KJV, this word is transliterated eight times as “Rabbi”, and occurs an additional nine times as “master”.  However, look at what Vines Word Studies has to say…

Rabbi
My great one; my honorable sir. Explained by Jesus himself as διδάσκαλος, teacher (Matthew 23:8, where the proper reading is διδάσκαλος, instead of καθηγητη’ς, guide, master, found in Mat_23:10). Used by the Jews in addressing their teachers, and formed from a Hebrew root meaning great. It occurs commonly in John, and is found in Matthew and Mark, but not in Luke, who uses ε’πιστατής. See note on Luke 5:5.

Note the passage referenced, Luke 5:5.  Here the word used is “epistat’ace”, “From G1909 and a presumed derivative of G2476; an appointee over, that is, commander (teacher): – master.”

Luke 5:5
– KJV: And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
– NIV: Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
– ESV: And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”
– NLT: “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”

We can see that all the translations render this word “master,” so no problems there.

From these examples, it appears the issue of “Master” vs. “Teacher” is almost more a case of the KJV imposing terms of Lordship on the text when “teacher” seems to be actually more applicable and faithful to the original Greek.  There are plenty of other passages that rightfully explain Jesus’ Lordship, so it seems unnecessary to find serious ill-intent in the way these particular passages are translated.

 

CLAIM TWO (A and B)
“Sodomy” was eliminated from their text. The rendering was changed to “temple prostitute.” Yes, the Sodomites were “temple prostitutes” but were more than just “temple prostitutes.” This is a serious violation and was applauded by Virginia Mollencott, a lesbian that served as a consultant and English stylist (The word “fornication” was also completely removed.) 

(To be continued…)

 

Why God Killed His Son (pt4)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part four of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend.  If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3.  I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” -John 10:17b

In any discussion of the cross, we must never forget the resurrection.  Jesus says that He is sacrificing Himself, but that embedded in the core of the plan to die is also the joyful expectation of resurrection!  To forget this is to miss the heart of the story.  God doesn’t sacrifice His Son so that the Son will be dead, but so that the Son may be resurrected and in the process bring many more to new life with Him.

Jesus doesn’t have some maudlin death wish or misguided martyr complex.  He is fully aware and fully in control of His destiny, and He knows that on the other side of the cross is an empty tomb and a glory that surpasses even the glory he had before.

We are such finite creatures, locked into a world where death seems so final and suffering so unwelcome.  But in the mystery of eternity, God Himself prepared His grand drama of love and salvation, and of His own free will chose to play all the parts Himself.

That’s His prerogative.

That’s His plan.

That’s His love, painted in deeper colors than we can fully grasp, but painted boldly for all to see.

(Missed the previous posts? Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

Why God Killed His Son (pt3)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part three of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend.  If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1  and Part 2.  I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15

Anyone who has been through suffering can tell you that the comfort and love and encouragement that meant the most to them was that which came from someone who had been through similar suffering, too.  Nothing connects two hearts more deeply than suffering, and the greater the pain, the greater the bond.

Hebrews 4:15 speaks of Jesus as the “High Priest” of a new covenant between God and humanity, one who can “sympathize” with us.

A few verses later, the writer continues, “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.  And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9)

If Jesus truly loves “His sheep” like He says He does in John 10, then it makes sense that He would want to be able to empathize with them.  We don’t often choose pain only for the purpose of empathy, but if we do find ourselves in that place, we can appreciate that after we ourselves have suffered we can better show love to those who have felt the same way.

Jesus doesn’t want to be a far-off deity who looks on with cold indifference at the human condition.  He wants to enter in to it Himself because of His love and care for us.  Note how the writer of Hebrews highlights the fact that Jesus prayed to the Father in the midst of His suffering, and he was heard.  Not ignored, not abandoned for the long-term, but heard.  What, then, was Jesus praying about?  Surely not for escape or deliverance from the trial, because He Himself said in Matthew 26:53 that He could have stopped the whole thing at any time (“ten thousand legions of angels” is a hefty backup force.)

Jesus did indeed pray that if there was any other way to accomplish redemption for humanity, it would have been His preference.  However, His desire is not to escape pain but to complete the mission of love for which He volunteered and was therefore sent by the Father.  Luke’s Gospel records that “there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22:43)  Jesus’ prayer was answered with strength from heaven, enabling Him to go forward with the plan.

What’s more, Hebrews tells how He “learned obedience through what He suffered, being made perfect.”  It is not that Jesus was lacking perfection, but that through the cross He was given the opportunity to manifest it fully through His voluntary obedience.  It is not obedience if one is forced into something.  That is slavery.  What Jesus experienced was both being chosen and sent by the Father, AND volunteering and initiating a mission of redemption for the fallen humanity that the Father, Son and Spirit all deeply love.

But that’s not all.

To be continued… (Missed the previous posts? Part 1 | Part 2)

[NOTE 2: You might know this already, but you can get the next post and more delivered daily to your e-mail inbox!  Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day.  You can also unsubscribe at any time.  Give it a try!]

Why God Killed His Son (pt2)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son? How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part two of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend. Part 1 can be found HERE. I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” -John 10:17-18

At one point or another, most people have heard that “God is love.” Of course, while it doesn’t seem at all loving to intentionally wound your own son, the situation looks different if the son offers himself on his own.

Why would Jesus offer Himself like this, though? Is this an example of undue influence on the part of the Father? After all, Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me…” so perhaps Jesus really doesn’t really want to die, but He is doing it under coercion, more fearful of losing the love of the Father.

This isn’t the case at all.

In another section of the Gospel of John, Jesus says something that is crucial to the equation: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) From Jesus’ own mouth, we see that the most supreme display of love is that act that sacrifices oneself for the good of another, and that is what Jesus wants to do.

Look again at John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus’ motivation is not a fear of losing the love of His Father, but a desire to show His love to us.

Returning to the first Letter of John, from which we get “God is love,” we see this: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

Why does the Father send the Son to die? Because the Father loves us. Why does the Son choose to come and die? Because the Son loves us, and the Son loves the Father.

But that’s not all.

For any good parent, they long to see their children achieve the goals they set for themselves. Good jobs, nice families, stable futures, personal growth; these are the things parents wish for their children, because they love them. If a child wants to do something that will fulfill them and bring them joy, any good parent wants the child to have every opportunity to have their dreams come true.

If Jesus is telling the truth, and He truly desires to show His love by laying down His life, then for God the Father to allow and even plan for that is not unloving at all. In fact, to deny His Son the right to lay down His life would be the unloving thing to do.

God the Father plans for God the Son to sacrifice Himself, because that’s what the Son wants to do.

But that’s not all.

To be continued… (Missed Part 1? Click here.)

[NOTE 2: Do you have an e-mail address? Do you want to get updates from phillipgonzales.com in your inbox? Good news! Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day. You can also unsubscribe at any time. Give it a try!]

Why God Killed His Son (pt1)

How could God plan to sacrifice His Son?  How is that a loving, good, and right thing to do to a son whom you love?

[NOTE: This is part one of a four-part series of posts based on a question brought to me by a friend. I hope it’s helpful to you. -Phillip]

GOD IS LOVE. (1 John 4:8b)

It is one of the most quoted and most popular truths of the Bible.  People all over the world –whether followers of Christ or not– smile and nod in agreement, for who wouldn’t want to hear that God is love?

How, then, can such a loving God be willing to sacrifice His Son for His enemies?  It’s all well and good for the enemies, but what about the Son?  Doesn’t He deserve more love from the Father than anyone else?  How can God be good and yet plan to sacrifice His son?

It’s a valid question, and a deeply important one, because if God says He is loving and isn’t, then how can He be trusted, much less loved in return?  On the other hand, if He says He is loving and we can discover that He truly is, then we can take Him at His word after all.

The key to the question lies, unsurprisingly, in the person, the work, and the words of Jesus Himself.  In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus speaking to His disciples about just what type of person He really is, and what is the nature of His relationship with His followers.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
(John 10:11, 15-18)

Jesus makes it clear that He is not being subjected to death unwillingly, but that He is volunteering for the cross.  He emphasizes this again shortly before His arrest, a moment recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:   “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and He will at once send me more than twelve legions [72,000] of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

“God is love,” yes, and while it doesn’t seem at all loving to intentionally wound your own son, the situation looks different if the son offers himself on his own.

Why would he do this?  Is this an example of undue influence on the part of the Father?  After all, Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me…” so perhaps Jesus really doesn’t really want to die, but He is doing it under coercion, more fearful of losing the love of the Father.

This isn’t the case, either.

To be continued…

[NOTE 2: Did you know you can get updates to this and other posts delivered to your e-mail inbox directly?  Just use the “Subscribe via e-mail” form above on the right, and you’ll get a new article each day.  You can also unsubscribe at any time.  Give it a try!]