The Best Translation of the Bible

By Gary Amirault

(Also see The Best Bible Translation and The Myth of "The Bible"

Because I do a lot of writing on the subject of Bible translating and Bible studies, I am often asked which is the best translation. This is my answer.

Mother's Translation of the Bible
(author unknown)

There is a story about four clergymen who were discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version best because of its beautiful English. Another liked the American Revised Version best because it is more literal and comes nearer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked Mofatt's translation best because of its up-to-date vocabulary.

The fourth minister was silent. When asked to express his opinion, he replied, "I like my mother's translation best."

The other three expressed surprise. They did not know his mother had translated the Bible.

"Yes, she did," he replied. "She translated it into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw."

From Peterson's "The Message" translation:

"In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation an aroma redolent (diffused) with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.

"This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.

"Does it sound like we're patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our own credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we're not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives and we publish it.

"We couldn't be more sure of ourselves in this that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with the Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!" (2 Cor. 2:14-3:6, Peterson's "The Message" translation)

Now how is YOUR translation coming along? The key to writing a good living translation is paying very close attention to the Holy Spirit. There will be scores of messengers of Satan disguised as men and women of righteousness who will try to make you lettermen or stonemen (women included) anything except filled with the Spirit. Oh, they will try to cram those engraved stones down your throat and make you regurgitate them at command AND use them to kill your friends and enemies alike. They will ask you to support drives to get them engraved in court houses and posted in every classroom in the nation and all it will produce is death and hypocrisy.

From Peterson's "The Message" translation:
"The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets (what was written in stone in the Bible?), had a dazzling inaugural. Moses' face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun. How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?

"If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about the Government of Affirmation? Bright as the old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?

"With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn't notice that the glory was fading away and they DIDN'T notice. They didn't notice it then and they don't notice it now (and most Christians still don't notice it) that there's nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can't see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there's nothing there.

"Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did. God removes the veil and there they are face to face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him." (2 Cor. 3:7-18, Peterson's The Message Translation)

We see, then saints, that the glory of the Mosaic Law, the glory of the Ten commandments was condemnation. How can there be glory in condemnation you might ask? Because we use the law to elevate ourselves while putting other people down with it. We usually judge others harder than we judge ourselves. We use double standards. We judge unrighteously with it. As we judge and condemn others with it, it automatically elevates ourselves.

Picture a balanced scale. When we judge someone else, put someone else down, we add the weight of the law, the weight of our judgment to their side. What does that automatically do to our side of the scale? It lifts us up, which is another way of saying that it glorifies us at the expense of someone else.

The Old Covenant, which Paul called the "ministry of condemnation" and the "ministry of death" in the King James Version, consists of certain components all of which needed to be in place for that covenant to be in effect. The covenant must have an inaugurator, Moses. It had to be ratified by blood, animal blood. It had to have a priesthood, Levites. There had to be a God-specified location for gathering and offering sacrifices, Jerusalem. It had to have a set of laws, the Torah, the Mosaic Code. If one part of this structure was missing or if one failed to do any part of this covenant, the whole covenant was broken. (James 2:10) For example, if Jerusalem was destroyed, Israel could no longer offer up sacrifices. Therefore, the whole covenant was null and void. And what was the penalty? DEATH! That's why Paul called it the "ministry of death." (James 2:10)

Paul told us over 1900 years ago just before the total destruction Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the only lawful place in which to offer sacrifices, that the glory of the Mosaic Covenant was a fading one that was passing away even as he was writing. The destruction of Jerusalem would signal the absolute end of the Mosaic Covenant. A New Covenant was being ushered in. It had a new inaugurator, Jesus, the Messiah. It was ratified by the blood of the Son of God, Jesus. It had a new priesthood, Melchizedek. It had a new city for sacrifices of praise, New Jerusalem, the mother of us all. It had a new law, "the Law of the Spirit of the Life in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1, 2, KJV) In this law there is NO condemnation. The Mosaic code was FULL of condemnation and death.

We can see clearly from the layout above that each of these covenants were laid out separately and were NOT to be mixed. What almost all of the church has done through Satan's deception is mix the two covenants together in various devious and fatal ways. Under this mixed arrangement, we often find ourselves applying the grace of the New Covenant to ourselves while applying the law part of the Old Covenant against our enemies. We have mixed the blood of bulls and goats with the blood of the Son of God, by taking parts of the Old Covenant and adding them to the New Covenant. The blinding power of mixing these two covenants is absolutely incredible. Many Christians swear they are not mixing the two and when in fact they have. Just see how many Christians, especially ministers and leaders, are zealous for getting the Ten Commandment of Moses written in stone into government buildings and schools. That will give one an indication of how prevalent and blinding this mixture has become. Anyone who comes along and tries to explain this to them or to church leadership is often labeled as one with a "divisive spirit" or a servant of Satan. Things haven't changed that much since Jesus was in the earth, have they?

When we mix the two covenants, it is like using two sets of stone weights to do business. In Biblical days (and even today in many third world countries), a dishonest merchant might use weights that were not accurate giving his customer less than what the stones on the scales revealed. Or he might use one set of stones for buying and a different set of stones for selling making sure the advantage would go to him.

This is what mixing the two covenants has produced in the body of Christ, dishonest merchants, crooked judges, deceitful workers. God has always sought a people who can be trusted with "righteous judgment." This is how the world will learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9) We MUST get back to judging honestly. We MUST get back to using ONLY the "Law of the Spirit of the Life in Christ Jesus." When was the last time you heard a sermon on this Law of the New Covenant? If you never have, maybe it's time for you to find leadership who has not only heard of it and has taught on it, but actually practices it!

Our heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus, are looking for a people who will judge righteously according to the "Law of the Spirit of the Life in Christ Jesus." How can anyone qualify for this if they don't even know what it is?

Mixing Mosaic Law, even the Ten Commandments written in stone with the New Covenant VOIDS the grace of the New Covenant and brings one back under the curse of the Old Covenant. (Galatians 3:1-11; 5:1-8) This is why there is so little power and holiness in the church; it has fallen from grace and has become so blind by the mixed poison that it doesn't even know it is blind.

It is absolutely impossible to become "The Best Translation," (a life led by the Holy Spirit) while mixing up the two covenants. The best one can become is a very, very good hypocrite a chief Pharisee. And that is what many of the best seats in the modern houses of God are filled with. The reader can be assured they will NOT learn about the "Law of the Spirit of the Life in Christ Jesus" among them. One must go "outside the camp" and partake in the cup of His suffering. If you want to become the best translation you can be, you will have to go through a sifting process, which filters out all the impurities, which were added through the mixing process. There is no other way. There is a baptism of fire, which must be applied to one's life to purge out the leaven of the Old Covenant to make full room for the New Man of the Spirit. Moses is dead. Neither he, nor his covenant can bring one into the land of promise. Moses and his law, ALL of it, including that part written in stone must be set aside and exchanged for the "Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." That doesn't mean we can't learn spiritual truths from Genesis through Malachi, it means we must read those pages very carefully with the aid of the Holy Spirit so that we "rightly divide the word of truth" and not be mixing up covenants. (2 Ti. 2:15)

This mixing of covenants that set the church on its course into the Dark Ages began in Paul's day and hasn't ceased since. Were Paul alive today, he would say the same thing to modern Christians that he warned his Galatian church about over 1900 years ago. Here would be his words to us paraphrased by Eugene H. Peterson in his "The Message" translation of the Bible:

"Oh crazy Christians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.

"Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God's Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren't smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up.

"Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened to Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.

"Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews by faith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed in you.'

"So those who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed by failure. Scripture backs this up: 'Utterly cursed is everyone who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the Law.'

"The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: 'The person who believes God, is set right by God and that's the real life.' Rule keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: 'The one who does these things [rule keeping] continues to live by them.'

"Christ redeemed us from the self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the Cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. And now, because of that, the air is cleared and we can see that Abraham's blessing is present and available for non-Jews, too. We are all able to receive God's life, his Spirit, in and with us by believing just the way Abraham received it." (Galatians chapter 3, The Message translation by Peterson, Navpress Publishing Group, )

Dear Christian, return to the Spirit of Truth (John 14:14-18; 16:12-15) and let Him lead you into all truth. He has the power to sort out this poisonous mixture so that you can become the Best Translation which He planned and purposed for your life from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 2:8-22) And if you have never been introduced to the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would lead us into all Truth, ask Jesus to send Him. If you have grieved or quenched the Spirit (which is easy to do), ask Him for forgiveness. Ask Jesus to renew a right Spirit within you and to give you a genuine hunger for His Truth and Righteousness.

For other articles on Bible translations see:

Bible Matters

Bible Scholars Corner

For a list of articles discussing the differences between the Mosaic and New Covenants see:

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