Verse of the Day

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Bible - All Versions are the same, some are just easier to read - Or, are they?

The following remarks taken from talk given by Dr. Lloyd-Jones in 1954:

"I suppose that the most popular of all the proposals at the present moment is to have a new translation of the Bible.... The argument is that people are not reading the Bible any longer because they do not understand its language - particularly the archaic terms - What does your modern man....know about justification, sanctification, and all these biblical terms? And so we are told the one thing that is necessary is to have a translation that Tom, Dick, and Harry will understand, and I began to feel about six months ago that we had almost reached the stage in which the Authorized Version was being dismissed, to be thrown into limbo of things forgotten, no longer of any value. Need I apologize for saying a word in favor of the Authorized Version in this gathering...?

"It is a basic proposition laid down by the Protestant Reformers, that we must have a Bible 'understanded of the people.' That is common sense...we must never be obscurantists. We must never approach the Bible in a mere antiquarian spirit... but it does seem to me that there is a very grave danger incipient in so much of the argument that is being presented today for these new translations. There is a danger, I say, of surrendering something that is vital and essential....

"Take this argument that the modern man does not understand such terms as justification, sanctification, and so on. I want to ask a question. When did the ordinary man ever understand these terms?... Did the colliers to whom John Wesley and George Whitefield preached in the 18th century understand? They had not even been to a day of school...they could not read, they could not write. Yet these were the terms that were used. This was the version that was used - the Authorized Version. The common people have never understood these terms...We are concerned here with something that is spiritual; something which does not belong to this world at all; which, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, the princes of this world do not know. Human wisdom is of no value here - it is a spiritual truth. This is the truth about God primarily, and because of that, it is a mystery...

"Yet we are told - it must be put in such simple terms and language that anybody taking it up and reading it is going to understand all about it. My friends, this is sheer nonsense. What we must do is to educate the masses of the people up to the Bible, not bring the Bible down to their level. One of the greatest troubles today is that everything is cheapened. The common man is made the standard of authority; he decides everything, and everything has to be brought down to him....

"Are we to do that with the Word of God? I say No! What has happened in the past has been this - ignorant, illiterate people, in this country and in foreign countries, coming into salvation have been educated up to the Book and have begun to understand it, to glory in it, and to praise God for it, and I say that we need to do the same at this present time. What we need is therefore, not to replace the Authorized Version....we need to reach and train people up to the standard and the language, the dignity and the glory of the old Authorized Version."


We've heard the accusation of obsolescence leveled against the Authorized Version (AV) since time immemorial. There is a book written providing definitions for the archaic words used in the AV and Book of Common Prayer, The Bible Word-Book, at least one edition of which was published in 1866

Other versions, such as the English Standard, may have “modernized language”, but are no easier to read and much less imbued with the grandeur of The Word. Even worse, they not only grate on the ear when read, but contain numerous theological changes which are unacceptable and often hidden in wording which seems to attempt to sound like the truth, but differs.

Consider this – The words like justification, sanctification and so forth are mostly terms we use to describe concepts inherent in the Bible. Where they show in the AV, they are understandable. The AV was written at the High School level of the time, no more. It is one of the better examples of English writing. This is in no way meant to condone Paul’s apparent fear of PERIODs. For whatever reason, he feels strongly they are not to be used more than one to a page!

Yet, today more than any time in the past, those who are considered “literate” are barely so. Real reading and study for most people is a thing of the past. The AV is above most people’s level. The solution is not to lower the standard, but raise people to that standard.

We need no substitute for the AV. We could use a Change One that re-words Commandment Six to the correct wording of Thou shalt do no murder. Other than that, the AV seems accurate in its translation and does justice, as far as possible, to a work that is the Word of God. You hear the complaint, “People don’t talk like that anymore.” They did not talk like that at the time the Bible was published. The Bible was intentionally put together to have grandeur that would be rightly associated with the Word of God. One of the words often pointed out as in need of modernizing is THOU, which revisionists change to YOU. Thou is the second person familiar, for which they substitute the second person formal, you. There is a real difference between the two, particularly when we use it for God. How wonderful to be able to call our God in the familiar? How personal? How meant to be? Yet, in our collective ignorance we should change that?

Yet, this is not to argue the point that most people find it off putting at first, once in they generally love the work.

So, is there a solution?


A paraphrase of the Bible, such as The Message, paraphrasing into modern American (not English, thank you) the concepts the AV contains. Easy reading and compacted, substituting drawings and tables for Numbers, so to speak. Once people taken a small bite of the subject, they will be interested, many will be willing to work their way through the AV to see what the “source document” says. The paraphrase is not meant to be the “Real Thing”, but is it better than no thing, or a poor thing, or an inaccurate thing or worse an intentionally wrong thing.

If I had the resources, I would sponsor an accurate, both theologically and doctrinally, paraphrase to bring people in contact to God’s Word, so they can be drawn closer to Him.

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