Which Bible Translation?

by Rayola Kelley

Q:  A couple months ago you wrote about how our particular Bible translation might spiritually dull us down. I am confused, isn’t the Bible the Bible regardless of the translation? Would you please clear up my confusion? 

A: The word “Bible” means “book.” There are many books out there touting that they are a form, paraphrase or translation of the Bible, but are they truly representative of the book that contains God’s Word?

           What makes the “Bible” unique among other books is that it is God’s Word. He said it; therefore, it is the essence of truth. However, there are criteria as to what constitute God’s Word. In summation, not any “bible” will do. God’s Word is meant to make an impact on us down to our very spirit, the intents and marrow of our innermost being (Hebrews 4:12). If the criteria are missing, then the best it can be is a story book with some great literature that is comprised of history that will feed the intellect, poems that will stir up our sentiment, and inspiring thoughts and teachings that will feed our religious conscience, but it will lack the spirit and life that makes it revelation to our spirits with the reality of the living God (John 6:63). Let us consider the criteria that must be present:   

            Inspiration: The Bible is an inspired book (2 Peter 1:20-21). The inspiration of it comes solely from the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16). He is our true teacher of Scripture and will lead us to all truth about what we need to understand (John 16:13; 1 John 2:17) If the right intent is missing, then the Spirit will be missing. Intent has to do with changing the meaning of something. Anytime man adds or takes away from the intent of the Bible, he perverts it. It becomes strange to the Holy Spirit; thereby, He cannot honor or illuminate it to our spirits. He is the One who brings the Bible alive with godly wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17-21).

            Revelation: Revelation involves an unveiling to our spirits the deep matters of God. This is one of the main purposes for the existence of His Word, other than salvation. Without revelation, everything we know and understand about God remains within the natural or carnal arena of knowledge and sentiment (Romans 8:4-13). Revelation is the way the Spirit connects us to the throne, heart and mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). It is what transforms the mind, as well as feeds and renews the inner man. Instead of simply remaining a fact, concept or creed, revelation is what makes God alive to our spirits, a living Person who works on our behalf and whom one day we will have to face as our ultimate Judge.

            Sacred: The Bible must be sacred. I am not talking about adorning our coffee table with a Bible as it collects dust. I am talking about regarding it as God’s Word. The problem with many “bibles” is that their particular take on it has made God’s Word “common.” By watering it down to accommodate worldly agendas and pursuits, perverting its intent to make it more acceptable to our cultural, pragmatic view, and adjusting it to sound more tolerant towards sin so people can merrily go to hell without being challenged, has made the Bible common. We do not have to ponder its deep truths because we assume we understand it. We do not have to think about it because it has been adapted to fit into our cultural philosophies. We do not have to spiritually discern and wait before the Spirit to illuminate it because we have our theology and doctrine down pat. Ultimately, it has been reduced to a good moral, religious book or work of literature that can be lightly considered, applied when convenient to do so or ignored if it does not serve personal purposes.

            The translation that I feel possesses all of these criteria is the King James Version. Although there are those who mock my preference, while others become insulted that I would even suggest their particular version might lack one or all three of these criteria, I can testify that in my personal experience it has proved to be the version that seems to flow with ease when it comes to inspiration, revelation and power. In my attempt to bring Holy Spirit inspired truth and instructions from God’s Word, I have been thwarted because of other translations. I have repeatedly discovered that the King James translation makes the greatest impact into people’s lives as it has set them free, transformed their way of thinking, and caused them to ponder and consider the eternal depths of God’s character, power and purpose. In fact, in some cases the people went out and purchased a King James Version after discovering the inconsistencies and weakness of their modern version.

            On the other hand, I am not one of those arrogant individuals who go around touting how I am a King James Version person. In my experience with such individuals who do so, they may believe that the King James Version contains the necessary inspiration to qualify it as a credible translation of God’s Word, but some of these individuals have never read or studied it for themselves. You would think if such people believe it is the credible Word of God, they would not only know it, but they would be obeying it. Clearly, it even appears that we have made the type of version or paraphrase we read a matter of debate, common doctrine or religious elitism, along with many of the other things we tout from our religious pinnacles of self-righteousness. The Apostle Paul, who rebuked the Corinthians for finding religious elitism based on who baptized them, summarized their foolishness as being carnal. He referred to them as babes in Christ who could not bear the meat of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

            Perhaps as Christians, we need to quit majoring in minors, swatting at gnats while swallowing camels and spiritually grow up into our high calling as Christians. We are living in precarious times. We need to be spiritually equipped to stand in these days against the great darkness that is engulfing this world. There is no doubt we will need the inspiration, revelation and integrity of God’s Word to do so.