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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Bible Translations

Don Stewart :: Are Translations Really the Word of God?

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Question 9

Are Translations Really the Word of God?

The Old Testament was mainly written in the Hebrew language with parts in Aramaic. The New Testament was originally written in the Greek. Must a person study the Scriptures in their original languages to really understand them, or can English translations accurately bring across the meaning of the Old and New Testament Scriptures? To put the question another way, “Should every Christian learn to read Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to understand the Word of God, or are translations sufficient to understand God’s message to humanity?” What is the answer to this question?

Translations Are Indeed the Word of God

It cannot be stated too strongly that faithful translations of Scripture are the Word of God. Indeed, we must recognize the truth in what the translators of the King James Version declared in their preface. It said:

We do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest [worst] translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King’s speech, which he uttereth in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere... No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it.

This statement is very well put. Translations are indeed the Word of God.

Jesus Christ Provides the Answer to This Question

We also find that Jesus Christ, as well as His apostles, provides the answer to this question. About eighty percent of the Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament are from the Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation. The Septuagint is not only a translation, it is not a word-for-word translation from the Hebrew text. The quotations from the Septuagint were treated as Scripture and were accepted as God’s authoritative Word. When Jesus quoted this translation, He made it clear that He was quoting the Word of God. Modern translations of Scripture can be placed in the same category.

Therefore, Bible translations are indeed the Word of God. We should not feel somehow cheated if we cannot read the Scripture in the original. The message of the Lord to the human race still comes across loud and clear.

Summary - Question 9
Are Bible Translations Really the Word of God?

Can we trust the various translations as being the Word of God? Or do we need to learn the biblical languages in order to correctly understand the message of Scripture? This is an important question and the answer is abundantly clear. These translations are God’s true Word. They should be read, compared, studied, and trusted. People must be able to understand Scripture, and to do so they must have it in their own language. Translations accomplish this.

Jesus gave us the answer to this issue by the way in which He cited the Old Testament. When citing the Old Testament, Jesus usually cited the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Although He was only citing a translation, He considered it the Word of God. In fact, He specifically called what He cited as “God’s Word.” Since Jesus is the last word on every subject, then His statements about the Old Testament settles the issue.

Confidently, we can read modern translations and assume we are reading God’s Word to the human race.

How Should a Person Choose a Bible Translation? Which Bible Translation Is the Best? ← Prior Section
Does It Have the Final Say on All Matters? Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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