Monthly Archives: January 2013

I need to state here that my posts are not intended to be a full exposition of Old and New Testament surveys.  I just want to get the general point across.

 The New Testament is the revelation of the New Covenant, which was foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make pa new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

 If we are not teaching the born again walk from the position of the new covenant, as heirs of the kingdom, with the new nature implanted in us by the Holy Spirit, then all we are doing is preaching the law.  The law, in essence, was a picture of what the new man would be like.  Just preaching what we should do doesn’t get us there.  It is merely recapping the law that we couldn’t keep in the first place. 

Transformation comes from nurturing the seed of faith that was planted in us at the time we turned to the Lord to believe on him for our salvation.

 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

(2 Corinthians 3:17-18)



When reading the Bible, it is important to keep in mind the contexts of the Old and New Testaments.  Both are historical accounts of the happenings during the eras they report on.  But in the Old Testament, God is dealing with an unregenerate people.  Their spirits are still dead inside them, and God speaks to them as such.  The Old Testament has many layers of purpose besides being historical. Included, it relates the law which God proscribed Israel to follow, it points to the redemption of mankind through the Messiah, and serves as a shadow of the New Covenant.


Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.


(Colossians 2:16-17)


They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.”


(Hebrews 8:5)


For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.


(Hebrews 10:1)

So now that we see that translating from the ancient manuscripts is not like translating sentences from your textbook in French class, it is more clear why a translator’s knowledge of God is of equal importance in the task.  I’m not setting aside the scholarly knowledge of the language and idioms of the culture of the biblical times, etc., but scripture is spiritual, and one must have the spirit of God dwelling in him in order to be able to discern their meaning.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

 nor the heart of man imagined,

 what God has prepared for those who love him”—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 2:9-16)

The only way one can receive the spirit of God is to be born again (John 3), believing on Jesus Christ (not merely a mental assent) to the effect that He makes alive in us the spirit which was dead because of the sin of Adam:

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for fall men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

(Romans 5:15-19)

I will write more on the subject of what “born again” means, but the point here is that with a dead spirit, translation and interpretation of the scriptures is futile.

In my previous post, I made the statement that translations of scripture are only as accurate as the translator’s knowledge of the language, as well as his or her knowledge of God.  To understand what I am saying, you need to know what the translators are working from.

The original scriptures were written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament), and some small portions in Aramaic.  In the translations we have today, the content is all laid out in chapters and verses, and most modern bibles even have sections laid out with topical titles in an effort to assist the reader.  But the original (or earliest) manuscripts were not that way.  The Greek manuscripts were written in all capital letters, with no spaces and very little punctuation.  There were no chapters or verse numbers. Hebrew manuscripts were very much the same. Here are examples of portions of Greek and Hebrew texts.  And here is a link to a discussion on punctuating the bible.

So you can see that translation is not just a cut and dry task, and the interpretation of where a sentence ends or begins can be unclear.  While most translations do their best to be accurate and true to the original, we must be aware in our own study that what is translated may not be the meaning that was intended.  That is why we need consult many versions, rather than sticking to one translation.

And above all, we need to read prayerfully. Remember, the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, and will reveal to us all things.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:14-17)

15And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

(2 Peter 3:17-18)

I have deep respect for the inspiration and authority of the bible. It is my conviction that all scripture is inerrant. That is the platform from which I launch my study of the Word. If you want to argue that foundation, go do it on another blog. I have no interest here in that debate. For me it is settled.

However, it is not my belief that all translations of the scriptures are inerrant, nor does every sermon delivered portray an accurate reflection of what God has revealed about Himself and our relationship to and with Him. Bible translations are affected by the translators’ knowledge of the language, as well as their knowledge of God. A pastor or teacher’s deliverance of the word of God is affected by their study of the Word, and, most importantly, the submission of the heart, soul and ear to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

14Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness . . .

(2 Timothy 2:14-16)

In my forty-plus years of walking with the Lord, I have sat under a wide range of teachers. Some were skillful and anointed in their handling of the scriptures, delivering accurate interpretation and soul-piercing application. Many were not. I have sat in congregations and winced while the pastor or teacher proceeded to quote scriptures out of context, using them to proof-text their own opinions. I remember sitting in one service when the pastor preached from a scripture using the old King James Version, but applied the 21st century definition of the words to the 16th century language. BIG difference in the meaning. Too many rely on traditions to interpret scripture, delivering second-hand lessons instead of first-hand revelation gleaned from disciplined study and much, much prayer. We too often get taught from the soul rather than the Spirit. It does little benefit to the church in the pursuit of maturity in Jesus Christ. In fact, it does much to retard spiritual growth.

Well, what to do?

10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

(Acts 17:10-12)

Paul’s charge to Timothy to show himself approved as someone who rightly handles the word of God does not only apply to church leaders. It applies to each and every one of us. Ultimately, we are responsible before God for our own relationship with Him. We are not to sit dumbly in the congregation and swallow everything that comes from the pulpit without question. We don’t pray through church leadership, we have direct communication God through Jesus Christ. While the church leadership is there to help teach and exhort us to grow up, that is not our only source of instruction. In fact, Jesus did not leave us orphans. (I’ve quoted the following verses separately for the sake of brevity, but I encourage the reading of them in context).

16“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;17that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

(John 14:16-17)

25“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you.26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

(John 14:25-26)

We have the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. He will bring to our remembrance all that Jesus taught. For us in this day, that means we need to read the word of God in order for the Holy Spirit to teach us regarding it. How to do that will be a continuing topic of this blog.