Which Bible is the Right Bible?


In the early 1980s I participated in an Elder's Training Class at a local church.  The senior pastor rightly recognized that the real Bible is the version written in the original Hebrew and Greek languages.  He also apparently recognized that something is gained or lost in each translation, so he taught us to look to the meaning of the original words in the Hebrew or Greek text.  He even had each of us purchase a Greek-English New Testament as a research tool.  It has the Greek text in one column, a literal translation in another column, and the King James translation in a third parallel column.

So, that evening when I took my new Greek-English New Testament home I opened that book randomly and opened it to a passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus walks on the water:

Mat 14:22-29 KJV  And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

When looked at the Greek original version and the literal translation I was shocked!  It read:

Mat 14:23-29 LIT  And having dismissed the crowds, He went up into the mountain alone to pray. And evening coming on, He was there alone. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. But in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the sea. And seeing Him walking on the sea, the disciples were troubled, saying, It is a phantom! And they cried out from the fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be comforted! I AM! Do not fear. And answering Him, Peter said, Lord, if You Are, command me to come to You on the waters. And He said, Come! And going down from the boat, Peter walked on the waters to go to Jesus.

The difference was striking!  I checked all the translations available at the time, and found that all the translations said this:

Jesus comes walking on the water;
the disciples are fearful, thinking it's His ghost;
Jesus says, 'Don't be afraid.  It's Me'
Peter responds, 'If it's You, tell me to come to You on the water.'
Jesus says, 'Come.'

The Greek says:
Jesus comes walking on the water;
the disciples are fearful, thinking it's His ghost;
Jesus says, 'Don't be afraid.  I AM' [the name of God told to Moses during his burning bush experience in Exodus]
Peter responds, 'If You Are [the God Who talked to Moses], tell me to come to You on the water.'
Jesus says, 'Come.'

My faith in translations was immediately shaken!  As a result I began to home study Biblical Greek, and have done so now for over thirty years.  I am starting to get the hang of it.  And I have found many such poor translations which affect how we understand spiritual realities, and which explain why the Body of Christ is in the sad shape that it is in!

NOTE:  Even the published Literal Translation of the Bible got the second part - Peter's response wrong.  It says that Peter said 'Lord, if it is You' when the Greek clearly says that Peter said, 'If You Are'!

THE MORAL OF THIS STORY:  Ask Jesus to lead you into all truth, and to enable you to discern what is true from what is not so true!

ANOTHER MORAL:  People who revere one translation over others are being carnally unwise.  Only the original languages express what God wants us to know, and it takes the help of His Spirit to lead us into all truth, and to keep us from relying on our own understanding!