You appear to be very insistent that the words of Scripture are accurately conveyed. Surely it is the concept of a passage rather than the words that is important?


   What we are dealing with here is a difference of opinion over the meaning of inspiration. To the Questioner, the inspiration of Scripture is simply that God imparted ideas to His writers, but left them free to express those ideas in their own words. To the writer, the inspiration of the Bible is of such fulness that it extends to the control of its very words, that is verbal inspiration. This does not, however, mean that Scripture was dictated, (apart perhaps from what Moses transcribed on Mount Sinai), for then its style and writing would be uniform. Its writers were not automatons in the hand of God but spoke as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit, (2 Pet. 1: 21). In the writing of the Bible the human authors wrote with such liberty as to leave evidence of their own personal characteristics, yet nonetheless recorded the precise message of God, even down to the words. Inspiration is thus miraculous.

   What then is the evidence that the words of Scripture are inspired? If we look first of all to the Lord Jesus we find that the Father did not give Him
concepts to hand over to the disciples, but words: “for the words which thou hast given me I have given them, and they have received [them]”, (John 17: 8). Paul in 1 Cor. 2: 13 says he spake “not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, communicating spiritual [things] by spiritual [means]”. His words were the words of God. John, twice, speaks of the hearing of words, (Rev. 1: 3, 22: 18, see also 22: 19), and not simply concepts or ideas. Indeed, Scripture, when referring to its own message never draws attention to a mere concept, but to words.

   An inspiration, such as suggested, extending only to the thoughts would be useless as far as giving us authoritative Scriptures is concerned. To assure us that Paul and Peter and John had wonderful ideas given of God, but that they were left without any divine guidance when it came to be a question of expressing those ideas for the benefit of others is to take away with the left hand what is offered by the right. You and I have no means of getting at those wonderful thoughts in the apostle’s mind except in the
words in which he clothed them. The difficulty of putting the simplest and lowest thoughts into proper and adequate words is notorious, and without inspired words we have nothing inspired at all, whatever Paul may have had. To put it another way: if we have not Scriptures verbally inspired we have no inspired Scriptures at all, and the Bible, though interesting and elevating, could not be AUTHORITATIVE.

   Some so–called versions of the Bible have as their basis the presentation of concepts rather than words, and these paraphrases often bill themselves as
bringing Scripture alive. They may or may not do that, but it should be remembered that they cannot properly be called Bibles. At best, they are merely interpretations of Scripture. Indeed to re–write Scripture as one sees fit is to charge God with incompetence.

   It follows that if the
words of Scripture are important, then it is vital that we obtain a translation that accurately conveys the Greek and Hebrew original. Those who assert that it does not matter what version is read, as long as one is read, fail to grasp that an inaccurate rendering of Scripture leads to an inaccurate grasp of the mind of God. What is the point in reading a translation that only poorly conveys what God has said? It may be easy to read, but accuracy must always take precedence over readability.

   Over against this, some have considered their particular translation to be so accurate that they have claimed inspiration for it! Now some translations are worse than others, some better, but none are infallible and none are inspired. A translation is simply an attempt by man to convey in another language the words of the inspired original.
It is not the translations that are inspired, but the original Scriptures. What we hold in our hands may be a very good copy, but it is nothing more than a copy. Great care then must be taken over the meaning of the words of our English Bibles. Sometimes it will be necessary to compare a particular translation of a verse with others, or better still with the original language if one is able to. Over and above all this however, is the absolute need of casting oneself on God where a point of translation appears uncertain.

   One final point. A concordance that does not separate the words of Scripture according to the original languages is of little value. This is bec
ause several different words in the Greek or Hebrew may be rendered by only one word in our English version!

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