by Dr. Stanley L. Morris
The sacred words from God which are recorded in the Bible must be dealt with in a very special way. No attempt should be made to be “politically correct.” Church politics or the undue influence of money cannot be allowed to hold sway. In translating the Holy Bible, we must not yield to man-made “theological slants” or other dubious human opinions. Regardless of the consequences, denominational doctrinal bias must not be permitted to change God’s Word (Rev. 22:18-19) or obscure the original historical meaning. As much as is humanly possible, The International English™ Bible is a faithful record what God actually said.
Here are some examples which will illustrate the necessity of maintaining scholarly integrity: Serious sporting events simply would not be possible without impartial regulation. We have to have referees in football games and umpires in baseball games to observe objectively and to rule accordingly. Sometimes the decisions of these officials are unpopular. They do miss a call on some occasions (even with the advantage of instant-replay cameras)! The fans who are present at these games have their own opinions about what really happened, but the spectators are not skilled experts in seeing close calls! The paid officials must make each call immediately, and they are trained to do just that. Most of the time, the officials get it right — but not always. The same is true of journalists. In an unbiased way, they are paid to report all the facts that they collect. They either saw an event themselves or they carefully gathered the facts from eye-witnesses. Reporters are not supposed to impose their own agenda on their audiences. Neither are Bible translators.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the Christians in Galatia: “Do you think I’m now trying to win man over? No! God is the One whom I am trying to please. Am I trying to please man? If I were, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10, IEB). We must stand up for God’s truth, regardless of what others may think (compare Josh. 24:15). Always say what we know to be true. We must never allow earthly pressure to dissuade us (see Dan. 3:1-30; John 12:42-43; Acts 4:20; 5:29). With the burning flame (see Jer. 20:9) of the precious Word of God, we must never allow ourselves to compromise God’s message of salvation!
Some Controversial Words In The International English™ Bible.
1. Baptize, Baptism
Forms of “baptism,” “baptize,” etc. are not used in the IEB because they are not translations of the underlying Greek words, which they are supposed to represent. Instead, they are transliterations (letter-by-letter representations) of their Greek counterparts. They’ve been Anglicized, and therefore, they have never communicated the historical meaning of the original Greek words.1
Nevertheless, the root meaning of bapto (“to dip”) communicates clearly in Luke 16:24. There the rich man cried out from Hades asking for Lazarus to “dip” his finger in cool water and cool the rich man’s burning tongue. The root meaning of baptizo (“to cause to dip”) is clear in the LXX’s rendering of 2 Kings 5:14, which incontrovertibly translates the Hebrew verb tabal as (Naaman) “dipped himself seven times in the Jordan.” So, “immerse” is the proper rendering.
Even early Roman Catholic churches employed immersion for the first few centuries. Archeologists have found many large baptisteries at ancient sites. Dr. Geoffrey W. Bromiley has pointed out that the original Greek verb baptizo “denotes the action of washing or plunging in water, which from the earliest days (Acts 2:41) has been used as the rite of Christian initiation.” 2
The English word “church” is a very poor rendering (and therefore, an inaccurate translation) of the New Testament Greek word ekklesia. It simply meant a “called-out group,” or a “congregation,” an “assembly,” a “gathering” of people. Again, the father of the English Bible, William Tyndale, properly translated this Greek word as “congregation” in 1525. However, the monarch, King James I, being the official head of the Anglican Church, and having a vested interest in using the word “church”, commanded his 54 revisers to replace Tyndale’s “congregation” with the word “church”. They did so in the New Testament. This act instantaneously laid the foundation for the institutional connotation of the word “church”. Historically speaking, the English word “church” derives from the Middle English “cherche” or “chirche”, which in turn, comes from the Anglo-Saxon “circe” or “cyrce”, which is akin to the German “Kirche”. It can be compared to “kirk” in Scotland. The etymological pedigree of all these related words are traceable to a different Greek word—namely, kuriakos, meaning “belonging to the Lord (kurios). cf. 1 Cor. 11:20, referring to the Lord’s Supper, and Rev. 1:10, denoting the Lord’s Day. Webster’s dictionary states that the Greek word doma (“house”) must be added to kuriakos in order to make the English word “church” what it has come to mean today — “the Lord’s house,” i.e., an edifice consecrated for public worship, an idea that is totally foreign to the New Testament. The original Greek word, ekklesia (which occurs more than 100 times in the Greek New Testament) had nothing to do with our modern conception of “church”. Instead, ekklesia had within it the inherent meaning of “separation from others” (see 2 Cor. 6:17; John 17:14-16; 1 John 2:15-17). In the New Testament, ekklesia is a word closely related in meaning to another Greek word—sunagoge (a synagogue, a congregation, an assembly). Sunagoge sometimes refers to the buildings in which the Jews met (see Luke 7:5), but, in the New Testament, ekklesia was never used to refer to a building! In fact, the early Christians generally did not have buildings for the first 300 years or so of their history. Stephen used the word ekklesia to denote a “congregation” (Hebrew, qahal or ‘edah) of about 3 million Jews that came out of Egypt (see Acts 7:38). Finally, ekklesia was used in a non-religious sense in Acts 19:32,39,41, referring to a “lawful gathering of citizens” (but some thought of it as a “mob”). No matter what the varying contexts are, ekklesia always specifies people. In the IEB, sometimes ekklesia has a universal meaning (when it refers to the collective body of Christ). See Matt. 16:17- 18; 1 Cor. 10:32; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:27,29; Philp. 3:6; Col. 1:24-25; 1 Tim. 3:15.
3. The Personal Name of God (Yahweh = the Always Present One = I AM)
Sometimes this Name has been spelled “Jehovah,” or the shortened form, “Yah” or “Jah”.) This is the personal Name which God Himself chose to be known by. See Exo. 6:3. The meaning is associated with the eternal existence of God. The Name seems to suggest the timelessness of God, the very Foundation of all existence. Perhaps there is a hint of this in Rev. 1:4, “… from the One who is, who was, and who will be ….” Jesus probably alluded to this in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Since the original Hebrew text had only consonants, this sacred Name (called “the tetragrammaton,” 4 letters) was YHWH. No one can be sure of the original pronunciation. Because ancient Jewish people thought that the Name of God was too holy to be uttered (Deut. 28:58), and because they were afraid of violating Exo. 20:7 and Lev. 24:16, they routinely substituted the Hebrew word for “Lord” (’Adonay) for YHWH. That custom is still being practiced today. This is the reason for the traditional “LORD” (with small capital letters). This Name occurs more than 6,000 times in the Old Testament. See the full implications of the meaning of this divine Name in Exo. 33:18-20; 34:6-7; Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2. It is now time to break this tradition which has lasted for more than 2,000 years.
2 See “Baptism,” Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1960), pp. 83ff.