Which Modern Translation Should I Use?

The importance of verbal inspiration of the Bible can hardly be over emphasized. When God revealed His message to mankind, He did it by ensuring that every word in that message precisely expressed His thoughts. Think about how He “verbally inspired” every word on the tablets of stone at Mt. Sinai. His finger chose every word and wrote every letter.

A question worth considering is whether He was as equally involved in the giving of the rest of the Bible. Peter shows that He was when he described the process which gave us our Bibles. “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). The Greek word translated here as “moved” can be understood when we note that it is the same word used to describe the transporting of the head of John the Baptist being carried to give to Herodias (Mark 6:27-28). It is the word used to describe the carrying of the man who was lowered through the roof so that Jesus might heal him (Mark 2:3). It is used of taking food from one place to another (John 21:10) and bringing money to give to another person (Mark 12:15; Acts 4:37; 5:2). These examples so vividly illustrate how involved God was in giving the scriptures!

Because every word of the Bible is a word selected by the Spirit of God (see 1 Cor. 2:13), we must pay attention to the words of the Bible. Our English language is often limited but the Greek was not. We have one word for love; the Greeks had two vastly different words. We have one word for fear, the Greeks had six. The Lord chose a perfect language to use in giving the perfect law. It is an amazingly precise language. As readers, we must respect the fact that God chose every word used to deliver His message to us.

The practical side of this is that we should make sure the translation we use as our primary study Bible respects verbal inspiration. We do not need a translation where the message is filtered through the fallible mind of a translator who tries to give us the thought of the original message in simpler English. Several popular translations use this method. Among these are the Living Bible, the New English Bible, Good News for Modern Man and the New International Version. They seek to enhance the original message and give a “dynamic equivalent” without regard to the precise words chosen by God. Far better recent translations are the New American Standard, the English Standard Version and the New King James. Verbal inspiration is designed by God. Make sure your Bible allows you to use it in your personal study.

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