The History of the English Bible, Part One

by M.F. Bartling

history of the English Bible GOD'S WORD Translation Bible

Many Reasons for Translating the Bible into English

God’s Word! The Word of God! His Word created all things. “His Word became flesh and lived among us... full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14). His written and spoken Word has “the power to save everyone who believes it” (Rom. 1:16).

His Word penetrates stony hearts of pride and leads sinner to repentance and to the forgiveness of sins. His Word moves people to do good works. And His Word moves believers to proclaim the saving Word to the nations, to every living person—and in their own language. (Beck, Preface New Testament)

Primarily, God’s Word is to be communicated for understanding, so that all people may “come to know the truth” and be saved. This is the most important thing—not holding to some customs or traditional expressions.

Yes, God wants to be understood. He is the Great Communicator. For centuries He has communicated through His creation. Throughout the New Testament era He has continuously communicated through His Son (Heb. 1:1,2).

This has been done whenever His written Word was read and spoken. In this way God, the Communicator, has also clearly spoken through the work of His Spirit. Long ago the Spirit inspired the Holy Scriptures to be written (2 Tim. 3:16).

Today the Spirit still motivates and helps men to produce accurate and easy-to-understand Bible translations, which communicate the same life-giving Word. (Preface to The New Testament, GOD’S WORD Translation).

And what is the language of the New Testament. When Matthew, John and Paul and the others wrote the New Testament, what language did they use?

Not the Hebrew of the Old Testament. Not the classical Greek of Aristotle and Plato. Not even the literary Greek of the first century. But the everyday Greek of the people of Jesus’ day.

If Jesus came into our home today, how would He talk?

Just as we talk to one another. He would take the words out of our lives and put heaven's meaning into them. This is the most winning way. We see it on Pentecost. Watch the people from many different countries, talking their own dialects and see the sparkle in their eyes as they are stirred to say, “How does every one of us hear his own language in which he was born.” (Acts 2:8-11) (Beck, The New Testament)

When we talk about the doctrine of inspiration and the inerrancy of Holy Scripture, it should be stated and understood, we are speaking about the original, the autographs, of the Bible. God inspired and gave the very words to the prophets and apostles who wrote the books of the Old and New Testament.

He promised that His Holy Spirit would guide them in all truth and the words that they wrote were the very words of God, without any errors or contradictions.

God has given no promise that when men would copy these Holy Scriptures or translate them that He would guide them in all truth and keep them from all errors of copying or translating the Bible.

Our English Bibles are the Words of God only in so far as they agree with the original words that God gave to the writers of the Old and New Testament.

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