Can we trust our modern English language Bibles? What choice do we really have? Unless we are committed to becoming expert at each of the dozen or more levels of technology that it takes to become a Bible translator, we will have to accept the output of each of these kinds of experts:
It takes a veritable army of experts, a team of various skills, working side-by-side to take the scope and work of translation from moiling in the sands of deserts or in the dust of ancient libraries to a finished published and printed output.
- radiocarbon technologists
- ink and material experts
- restoration experts
- preservation experts
- cognate language experts
- experts at meter and scansion
- literary experts
- and much, much more.
We have no real choice. Pick any translation we like; pick several if we wish: then ask the Holy Spirit to teach us what they mean. Better yet, ask the Holy Spirit to help us with our choices. Which of these translations is inerrant? None. Which of these translations is protected by the providence of God? None. All English language translations are seriously flawed.
This seems like some sort of truth test. Perhaps we are asking the wrong question if what we want is the Truth. John declares:
“You have Anointing from the Holy.[i] You also know all.[ii] I did not write to you, because you do not know the truth; but, because you know her; and because any lie is not of the truth. Who is the liar, if not the denier[iii] [who claims] that Jesus is not[iv] the Christ? This is the antichrist, the denier of the Father and the Son. Any denier of the Son, neither has[v] he the Father.[vi] You, therefore, let[vii] what you heard from the beginning dwell in you; if what you heard from the beginning would dwell in you; you will also dwell in the Son and in the Father. This is the promise which He promised us, the life eternal. I wrote these to you about your [would be] deceivers.[viii] The Anointing which you received from Him, dwells in you; so, you do not have need that anyone would teach you: but, as the same Anointing teaches you about all; is true; is not a lie; and just as He taught you, dwell in Him. Now, Dear Children,[ix] dwell in Him; so, whenever He should be revealed we would have confidence and might not be ashamed before Him in His Presence.” — 1 John 2:20-28
John, indicates that the real test of Truth is having the right relationship, not in finding the perfect translation. Specifically, he indicates that it is the internal, indwelling Holy Unction, the Holy Spirit, Who, confirms in us, more than any other spiritual fact, that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is God in exactly the same way that the Father is God.[x]
Deniers, Liars, and Antichrists
There remain among us, to this very day, a great number of world religions and a wide variety of cults that deny this spiritual fact openly: they openly deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.[xi]
Denial comes in a broad variegation of patterns. There is, of course, blunt denial.
More commonly, denial comes in the form of a partial affirmation: Jesus is a great prophet, He’s just not the greatest Prophet; He certainly is not the Anointed King of Israel; He certainly isn’t God.
Jesus Grows into God
Another popular denial insists that Jesus is a man who increased in authority and power until He was finally Deified, the same way the Caesars were deified: with the same false-validity as gods.
Or, how about the claim that this resonates with other “monotheistic” world religions; there is no resonance here; there is only discord, lies, and antichrist: for, no other “monotheistic” world religion confesses that Jesus is both Christ and God.
There are others. Of course, it is no problem for a polytheistic religion to add another god. These are all identified by John as liars and antichrists.
In spite of John’s firm warning, some modern twenty-first century churches have come to embrace these liars and antichrists, making them principal teachers in our churches, schools, and universities. Yet, all the deniers of the fact that Jesus is the Christ, equally and inseparably God with the Father, all these deniers are liars and antichrists.
Before Jesus speaks the words, we must get straight in our minds that Jesus is Himself, the Word.[xii] Until that singular fact grips our souls, we look in vain for the right Bible. The first lesson of the Holy Spirit, the Anointing, the Unction; that singular lesson upon which all else depends; that lesson, which when it masters us gives us all knowledge; must be learned first.
So, before we begin to doubt the Bibles we already have, or go looking for the perfect English language translation: perhaps, we should find out Who God is… Father, Son, and Spirit… Trinity, One in Essence, Undivided, Equal, Infinite…. We must learn to trust God first, above all else.
[i] Perhaps, “You have a Holy Anointing,” would be smoother in English idiom, if somewhat less true to Greek idiom. John writes of the Holy Spirit who is the sole giver of all knowledge. Knowledge in the Bible is more relational; less an assembly of perfect lemmas; less argumentative.
[ii] Not everything; yet, they know all the essential fundamentals of the Faith. This is not flattery: these things are known because the Spirit indwells them and the Church is blessed with lesser faithful teachers. Most importantly, they know Father, Son, and Spirit in relationship: this is all knowledge.
[iii] Subjective use of the participle, the one contradicting, declining, denouncing, denying, disclaiming, disowning, refusing, renouncing. John may have in mind an act of public voting that required voters to acknowledge Caesar as God; or a court legal action that required witnesses to swear. In any case the hypothetical denier would be publicly and readily identifiable.
[iv] The second negative, in Greek idiom makes the negation emphatic: μὴ in the world of forms is the perfect conceptual denial; οὐκ in the physical word is the true outward act of denial. This suggests that denial is something demonic that becomes exposed by physical speech or other actions.
[v] This play on have and have not, has and has not, is about the Holy Anointing, which is the Baptism of the Spirit (Matthew 28:19); which, everywhere, shows forth the Trinity: more specifically, here, the denial that Jesus is God, One in essence with the Father.
[vi] There is little manuscript support for the phrase, “the confessor of the Son also has the Father”: אBAC; אBAC are usually considered Alexandrian text, especially outside of the Gospels. However, this support is from among stronger manuscripts. The phrase has every evidence of being an added theological clarification: usually we would expect to see such additions in the Byzantine text, but not in the Alexandrian text. This reverses our usual expectation.
[vii] third person imperative
[viii] It seems to us that John deals more with the prevention of a potential danger, that with the correction of a present fault; heretics are seeking to deceive: John does not say that these have had success: yet, John may be dealing gently and tenderly with a harsh reality.
[ix] John may be addressing the newly baptized. The term used here is one of endearment, not necessarily that of age: John, their spiritual father, counts them as his spiritual children.
[x] It seems very clear to us that John is leaning heavily on Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which every Jew knew by heart, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”
[xi] What shall we do with these are adversaries, our enemies. We shall persist in telling the truth about God, loving them as Christ commanded us to love them. We will not wage war against them, harm them physically, or deny them basic human kindnesses. Proverbs 25:21-22; Romans 12:20
[xii] Hebrews 1:1-3