Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. [2 Tim 3:16-17 MSG]

The Holy Scriptures is inerrant. God inspired men and women of various characters and background to speak and write down His heart. (2 Pet 1:21)

The Hebrew Language and the Old Testament. Moses wrote down the first five books of the Bible that spanned about 2000 years before his time. Most of the 39 books in the canonized Old Testament were written in Hebrew.

The Greek Language and the New Testament. After the prophet Malachi, there was a standstill on divine revelation for 400 years. In that period of prophetic silence, nations continued to conquer other nations, and cultures and languages were merged.

The Greek language rose as a World Language. The New Testament heroes spoke their native language, Aramaic, but they also wrote down in Greek. They were multi-lingual.

During this time, the reference for the Holy Scriptures was in Hebrew text and the Septuagint - the Greek version.

The Church continued to thrive and the Bible with its 66 books were completed and canonized. Other versions contained extra books called Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. The Bible continued to be translated in other languages until 600 AD when Latin was the only language allowed for Scripture.

However, God is not distant; He never was. He watches over His Word. (Jer 1:12) The Lord had rent the curtain separating the Most Holy of Holies and the masses. We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, and God lives among His people. He wants to be relevant.

A Bible in our Language.

In 1382 (or 1400), Wycliffe wrote by hand the first English Bible (with Apocrypha). He was condemned and burned at the stake. In 1445, the printing press was developed and the first ever printed book was Gutenberg’s Latin Bible. Translations and versions continued to be produced, even before and after the printing press.

Then came the KJV Bible with Apocrypha in 1611. (Even though the Hebrew canon were only set to 39, the KJV translators still worked on the other books as well.) The other books were officially removed by 1885. KJV became the standard translation since then. By 1947, Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, and they shed light into how some Biblical text were translated and interpreted.

Wikipedia reports that there are a thousand languages the New Testament has been translated into, and yet there are 5 times more languages waiting to have a Bible in their own translation.

The Death of a Language and the Birth of Biblical Linguistics

Latin is dead. I wonder if our joyful God, in His humor, caused Latin to die because it was once used to put believers in the dark. During that time, the knowledge of the Bible was reserved for the elite, and the masses were controlled in ignorance. There are timelines that show translations of the Bible were done even before these were banned in the Dark Ages.

These unknown heroes-translators believed that the Word of God should be in the language of the people to be read, studied and cherished.

The Limitations of an English Bible

As it turned out, English is now the World Language. However, the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek. There are words the English text cannot fully describe as a counterpart. We would need adjectives and phrases to complete some thoughts.

One example is ‘love’ in John 21:15-17.

[15] So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. [16] He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. [17] He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (KJV)

The Lord Jesus was, at first, asking Peter to love Him with an agape kind of love. But Peter responded, ‘I fileo you.’ Jesus asked again, and Peter responded the same way. By the third time, Jesus went down to his level, and asked ‘Do you fileo me?’

The Solution and Resolution: Study Multiple Bibles

The concise timeline and brief history showed that the authenticity of the Bible is not dependent on translation.

A zealous disciple should not stick to one Bible version. Even Jesus had 4 writers to sketch his earthly life and ministry. A true study of the Word should refer back to its original Hebrew and Greek meaning.


A Bible for Evangelism and Discipleship

The Growing English Language. The English language is still growing and developing. Old Translation Bibles are good for poetry. However, we do not pray and converse in archaic English using thous and thees. We do not enter a time warp back into the past to have our devotions or to spend time with God.

The God of the Bible is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He has always wanted to be relevant. A qualified modern Bible that helps people understand God’s saving grace is a start for spiritual growth. Digging deeper is better.

The Issue of Language Translation. It is short-sighted to believe there is only one qualified Bible translation, and that, it is in English. The Holy Scriptures was not written in English to begin with. The Lord of the Harvest who desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9) does not require every single believer to read their Bibles in English. God is too Omnipotent and Omniscient for that.

When Moses went up the mountain to meet with God, the Lord wrote down with His own finger the Ten Commandments. (Exo 31:18) He wrote it in a language Moses and the Israelites could understand.

God is not vague. He is expressive and comprehensible. He does not waste words. (Mat 5:18)

When Paul instructed the public reading of the Scriptures, he didn’t specify a version. (1 Tim 4:13) But why do we, now?

While some members of the Body of Christ fuss and fight over which English Bible Translation is authentic, the rest of the world in non-English regions are dying and going to hell. (A few weeks before this writing, some families and clans of Japanese people were wiped out in one tsunami sweep. 3 generations gone: grandparents, parents, and children - just like that, in one event. No one will remember them anymore; their family names will never be mentioned in any prayers. Their opportunity for salvation has been wiped off the face of the earth. While they were still living, no English Bible translation could ever help them. But now, it doesn't matter anymore...)

For a long time now, English is the World Language, just as Greek was before in Jesus’ time. Who knows...Mandarin Chinese could be next? Would there be people insisting on the authenticity of the Mandarin text? Would there be people favoring the Traditional Mandarin characters over the Simplified one?

Bible Copyright and Usage. Old Bible translations, just like any other old book, goes through a time lapse where they fall into the Public Domain. A book in the public domain is made available for all without royalty and copyright infringement. That means, when you quote a Bible in a publication, you have to abide to their terms. (Check your Bible’s first few pages.)

Here’s an example with the NIV:

The text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without the express written permission of the publisher, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for 25 percent (25%) or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.
Permission requests that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to, and approved in writing by, International Bible Society...

Because of such restrictions, most authors prefer using KJV or other public domain Bibles on their books and magazines.

In Other Words...

My dear Christian family who reads old translations (because they grew up with it) is not saved ‘more’ than those who do not. Modern Bible readers are not less spiritual than those who read old translations.

The claims that some verses are missing in some modern Bibles can actually be found in the footnotes. I don’t want to insult the theological intelligence of the translation committees who decided to put them at the bottom. Besides, other passages could still verify those specific truths.

God is faithful; He is more faithful than us. It is not the Lord’s desire for baby Christians to read their Bibles without help. We should be there to disciple them. The Great Commission is not to make converts, but to make disciples - followers who would go to church every Sunday and listen to be taught, believers who would join a Bible study group and learn the Word, Christians who would spend time to read their Bible every day and write down questions for clarification.

If, by any chance, that the new believer has no one to disciple him, the Holy Spirit is closer than we think. (Just like those in the mountains who just received pieces of the Bible...)

But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (1 Jn 2:27 NKJV)

As brothers and sisters in the Lord, we should not (be quick to) condemn other Christians. We are called to unity, not uniformity. When we condemn those who do not read what we read, what kind of spirit is that? [NCV]

There is also this danger of attributing the work of God to the devil - and that is profanity. (Mat 12:31-32) The Holy Spirit is grieved when we call ‘false’ what He has made true. God’s manifold wisdom works on people on any language and background.

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. [Gal 6:14-16 NLT]