Daily Devotion for May 8, 2018
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Worship His holy name!
Prayer for the Morning (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Prayer in Times of Low Spirits (from Psalm 42)
Like a deer thirsts for the water of a clear cool stream, my soul thirsts for you, my God. I await with longing the day when I may finally appear before you. I sometimes become unhappy; my spirit becomes downcast, as my enemies deny you and mock me; and yet, always, I discover the joy of your Spirit and turn my face to you, and you heal me.
By day you command my steadfast love, and by night your song comes to me. The wickedness of the world taunts me and evil people put a bullet in my back, saying “Where is your God”? But why are you in turmoil, oh my soul? My hope is in God. I will turn again to you, my Lord, and praise you, my salvation and my God.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in His sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
Where does the Bible tell us that it is inspired by God?
How to Treat Others
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 (KJV)
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Notes on the Scripture
I originally wrote the following Notes in a different order, with the long introduction to problems in Bible translations first, then specific recommendations last. But it got very long, and a lot of readers are going to be more interested in the comments on specific translations. So, if these Notes seem a little out of order, that is why.
I have done a fair amount of research on Bible versions/translations. Here are some observations about five or six commonly used Bibles:
- New American Standard Bible (NASB) If you want an accurate Bible, this is the gold standard for English translations.
- English Standard Version (ESV) This is an excellent translation, that is a little easier to read than the NASB. It is my “go to” Bible for reading.
- New Living Translation (NLT) This is a very easy-to-read translation, but suffers from a lack of accuracy. I only use it to read long, difficult passages in the Old Testament, although newcomers might find the difficult Epistles of Paul easier to grasp, using it.
- King James Version (KJV) The KJV is actually an excellent and accurate translation, but it suffers two problems. First, scholarship has produced a much more accurate Greek Bible since 1611, so there are mistakes in the KJV that have been corrected. Second, the language has changed so much in 400 years that English words which were accurate in 1611 are now misleading. For instance, 1 Thess. 4:15, an important passage about going to heaven, tells us that the living will not “prevent” those who have died. In 1611, “prevent” meant “precede”; now, it means something entirely different.
Still, there is no later Bible even approaching the KJV in its beauty, in the power of its poetry. So, Daily Prayer will use it for specific famous passages (John 1, 1 Corinthians 13). We also use the updated New King James Version (NKJV), sometimes, for especially poetic passages (e.g. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes).
- New International Version (NIV) The early version of the NIV (1984-2010) is, perhaps, the worst Bible translation ever done, at least among those widely read. It is highly inaccurate, and many of the inaccuracies are apparently intentional. I do not recommend it for any use. The 2011 version is much better (although some might find its self-conscious gender-elimination a bit awkward in some spots); but it still is not as accurate as the ESV and no more readable.
he most important lesson we take from 2 Timothy 3 is that the Bible is “inspired” by God, or in the words of the KJB, “given by inspiration of God.” The second most important lesson is that the Bible we read in English does not always mean exactly what God intended it to mean.
Okay, I am going to get really technical for a minute. If you don't really follow or enjoy the next few paragraphs, just skim them and realize that there are enormous problems translating the Bible into English.
The Greek sentence for “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” is only three words: pasa graphē theopneustos. Pasa is pretty easy: it does indeed mean “all,” precisely the same in Greek and English. Graphē is a little trickier, because literally it means “writing.” But we are still on firm ground, translating it as “Scripture,” because we have clues from the context and from frequent use of graphē in ancient Greek to mean “scripture.” We are also on firm ground adding the verb “is,” because this is a well-attested syntactical structure in Greek, i.e., the omission of the verb “to be” in specific constructions.
The word theopneustos, however, causes some problems. First off, it is not an actual word. It does not appear anywhere else in Greek. It literally appears to mean “Godbreathed.” Some Bibles try to translate it literally, some use phrases such as “inspired by God.” You can see the problem. A person reading the Bible for the first time would not correctly understand either phrase, without instruction. “Inspired” as the word is used here—revealed to a human mind directly by the Holy Spirit—is not at all what “inspired” means to most people. And “God-breathed”, to a layman, is just weird.
The Greeks and especially the ancient Hebrews did not have dictionaries. This is even more problematic in the Old Testament. What kind of wood did Noah use to build his ark? Nobody has a clue. The Hebrew word is gibberish. Scholars believe it would have been pronounced “gph_h” and so they call it “gopher” wood, but there is no such thing as gopher wood. This happens many hundreds of times in the Bible.
One more quick example. The Lord’s Prayer actually might read, “Give us this day our ________ bread.” Nobody actually knows what the Greek word translated “daily” means. (Here is a more thorough discussion, if you are interested.) In fact, earlier Catholic Bibles indicated that Jesus was actually praying for the supernatural bread of communion, that is, spiritual food from God, rather than our daily sustenance—and it is a perfectly plausible reading.
(Note: It is absolutely right to pray “give us this day our daily bread” or “give us this day our spiritual bread” and to believe we are praying as Christ Himself taught us. What we cannot do is make some theological argument based on the precise phrase “daily bread.”)
So, especially when we get deeper into our Bible study, we have to be careful when we read an English language Bible and then say “it is in the Bible.” Some translations are quite literal (e.g., “all Scripture is God-breathed”). Some translations sacrifice the accuracy of specific words to try and make the meaning easier to understand (e.g., “all Scripture is inspired by God” or even “all Scripture is given by God”). Some translations are really pretty bad; and some are, believe it or not, intentionally incorrect! There have been translators who added, changed, or deleted parts of the Bible, because they did not agree with their theology!
The most famous example of changing the Bible is the creation of the doctrine of the Trinity. In 1522, the Catholic Church pressured Erasmus to add a phrase to the book of 1 John, which does not appear in any Greek text prior to around 1000 A.D. Here is what the Greek Bible does not say: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (Compare the same passage in the NASB: 1 John 5:7).
The reason? The invention of the printing press. Bibles had begun to be widely available and even translated into languages other than Latin. The Church taught the doctrine of the Trinity, and it wanted to be able to point to a place in the Bible that clearly supported its teaching. So, Catholic theologians pressured Erasmus into adding a phrase that supported Catholic teaching on the Trinity.
We aren't going to pick on Catholics, though; Protestants sometimes do the same thing. For instance, James 5:20 reads: “[H]e who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death.” The NIV, however, simply omits the word “soul.” It thus reads, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death.” Why the glaring omission? Because the denominations which commissioned the NIV espouse the doctrine that the soul, once saved, cannot die (“persistence of salvation” or “once saved, always saved”). James 5:20 undermines the doctrine. So, they change the Bible to conform to their theology!