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  • Writer's pictureRob

The Hundred-Forty-Ninth (Inerrant)

Has anyone ever called you perfect? Or, have they called something that you did perfect? To be perfect, something or someone has to be without fault or defect. We all know man is not perfect, but calling someone perfect has become something people throw around these days without a second thought, and definitely without intending to mean full perfection as the word itself requires.

Now, context is important, as we know, and perhaps claiming perfection of a person, thing, or action is actually a case where the context is implied rather than stated outright. For example, if someone in a relationship calls the other person perfect, perhaps the unspoken context is that the person is perfect for them. In other words, the individual sees every aspect of that person as being completely in line with everything that individual looks for and wants in a significant other. We can debate whether or not this is possible, or whether there needs to be further detail in the context (for example, to exclude habits the individual might find annoying), but the point is that generally there has to be some context with using the word perfect.

You see, when using a word with a definition of such an absolute nature, it's difficult for us to make a statement that is 100% true. The same goes for calling the Bible inerrant. It is nearly impossible to prove 100% that there are absolutely no errors in the Bible. It is, however, very easy to disprove the statement because that only requires us to find one error. If there is even just one error, then a statement that the Bible is inerrant cannot be true.

The truth is, there are many errors in every translation of scripture. If you search the internet, there are plenty of sites that will confirm this. But not all "errors" are equal. This is a fact we, as Christians, must remember or we'll get caught flat-footed when the more dubious "errors" are presented by the enemy.

For example, in Luke 14:26, Yeshua seemingly tells us that in order to be His disciple we have to hate some of the people we're closest to here on earth. The Greek word here is μισέω, or miseó, which actually does mean "to hate," and is translated this way in every verse it is present. So, where's the supposed mistranslation, right? Well, how much worse is hate than anger, yet Yeshua also taught that if we are angry with someone we commit murder in our heart and we will be subject to the fires of Gehenna (Matthew 5:22). Some claim that His statement in Luke should be more of a prioritization above family rather than hate, however translating anything other than hate moves into the realm of interpretation rather than translation. In other words, this is not an error as some would claim.

There are true errors in the Bible, however. The KJV has an instance where the Greek word for Passover is translated to Easter. Out of the 29 occurrences of the word, this mistranslation occurred once (Acts 12:4). It also uses the names of Roman gods rather than the Greek gods in the original text of one verse (Acts 14:12), and changed YHWH to Jehovah (Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, Isaiah 26:4, etc.), among other errors. In other translations, Moses had horns (Exodus 34:29, Douay-Rheims Bible), the commandments say you shall not kill instead of you shall not murder (Exodus 20:13, multiple), and in many translations the Hebrew word for young woman was instead translated to virgin (Isaiah 7:14, multiple). (As a note on that last one, we do know she was a virgin via other verses like Matthew 1:18)

These examples just cover translational errors. There is a whole other category that involves missing or added text. In both the KJV and NKJV, as well as other versions, the words "...in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost[Spirit]; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in the earth..." were added (1 John 5:7-8). It turns out, these words were added into manuscripts much later than the original writing, so some translations have removed those words.

You might also find on the web or social media videos of people with multiple translations out showing that passages or verses are missing from some of them. John 5:4, for example, has "missing text" describing the stirring of the water in the pool of Bethesda. These words are not found in many Greek texts, and some believe it was added by a translator in an attempt to provide context to John 5:7 and explain why the man wanted to be in the water when it stirred.

There are also videos where people show that the majority of translations say the mark of the beast in Revelation is on the hand or forehead vice in, like the KJV says (Revelation 13:16). The individual then suggests that this is a ploy of the devil to hide what Christians should be looking out for, or even that an injection could be the mark. What they fail to realize is just because a translation is older than others doesn't mean it is more correct. The same goes for the manuscripts from which the scripture was translated. It is sometimes assumed they are more accurate, but that may or may not be the case. As far as the mark, the more accurate translation is on/upon since that is what the Greek word actually means.

So, is the point of all this to cast doubt on the word of YHWH? Should we throw our Bibles in the trash? Of course not! The point is there are Christians out there that are 100% "KJV only" or "[insert translation here] only" or even "[insert translation here] is evil and from the devil and you shouldn't use it because it's a tool of Satan" and those are completely the wrong positions to take. Our studies of the Word need to include all available sources, otherwise we will come to some very wrong conclusions and develop faulty beliefs not based on truth.

The other aspect of taking such positions is the ministry and evangelism aspect. If you go to a new believer or someone you're trying to bring to Christ and tell them they should only use the KJV because it's perfect, for example, they're going to be confused and frustrated trying to decipher old English. And worse, once they see there are actually many errors in the translation they'll likely be turned off altogether because it was sold to them as being perfect, or inerrant.

And what's the overall big picture anyway? I think a lot of times Christians talk and teach about the Pharisees, how wrong they were, and how we're not, and shouldn't be, like them. But isn't holding one man-made translation above another just the same type of Pharisaical attitude? The real point of YHWH giving us His Word is to show us Yeshua, our salvation, and for us to develop a relationship with Him. And in that respect, in that context, the translations we have available today are certainly inerrant.

The bottom line is, we can argue all day and night about which manuscript has the truly original words YHWH inspired, and maybe if you had all the time in the world you could come to an agreement, based on a set of assumptions, as to which portions of which manuscripts should be used. Then, perhaps, you may eventually agree on what translation is accurate to those writings. But the next day we could have another "Dead Sea scrolls moment" where older, or in some other way more accurate, manuscripts are found and have slightly different wording in various places.

In the end, the true inerrancy in scripture is the fact that Yeshua, the Son of YHWH, died for our sins so that we may be saved, and that believing in Him and that fact provides us with the grace to be given eternal life despite our sins. That's what we should focus on, and that's what we should be sharing with others as the gospel to bring them to Him.

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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