Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the
THE BIBLE ITS OWN INTERPRETER
(REVELATION 14; 1 CORINTHIANS 2:11-14; PROVERBS 15:22)
Introduction: In our last two lessons we discussed how the Bible came
into existence. We wanted to have confidence that this was God's word to
us. That brings us to our next problem, if the Bible is God's word, why
do so many Christians understand it differently? Is it because of the
different translations? Let's dive into our study!
I. TESTING THE BIBLE BY OUR DOCTRINES?
Why do you think we have so many different, and conflicting,
doctrines among the churches?
1. Is it because people come to the Bible with preconceived ideas?
2. Is it because of the different modern translations?
3. Is it because people do not really accept
the Bible as the final
word on God's will?
In our study last week Art complained that the "modern" versions of
the Bible made it difficult to prove some of the doctrines of the
church. An evangelistic team said the same thing to me a number of years
ago. My answer then is the same as my answer now: "Maybe we need new
1. Let's discuss this a bit. What point do
you think was Art making?
Is that a concern that you have?
2. What point do you think I was making?
Are you sympathetic to my
point? (Art was saying that he feared that a Bible translator would
"spin" the translation to fit his theological point of view. I was
saying that the Bible is the standard for belief, not a church
3. Do you think that a Bible translation can be subject to "spin?"
4. Should doctrines of the Church be based
on a single passage of the
a. If they are not, is it more difficult to "spin" them?
5. Should we give great deference to a long-held
doctrine of the
Church? (Read Nehemiah 8:8, Proverbs 15:22 and 1 Corinthians 2:11-14.)
a. What do these texts suggest are critical
understanding God's word? (They suggest that we should be concerned
about being "lone rangers" in our Bible doctrines. That we should be
concerned about what leaders say. However, taking advice from a group
supposes that the group is led by the Holy Spirit.)
One of the most critical concerns of Christians today is sharing the
gospel with others. A text that describes the last day efforts of the
Church in sharing the gospel is Revelation 14. Let's turn to that and
compare old and new translations to see if this text gets "muddied" or
"spun." I have also thrown in a paraphrase for us to consider.
1. Revelation 14:6-7 gives us the message
of the first angel. Let's
read this in the King James version.
6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the
everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to
every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the
hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and
earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
2. Now let's look at this in the New International version:
6 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal
gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-- to every nation,
tribe, language and people.
7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the
hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the
earth, the sea and the springs of water."
3. Now let's look at this in the Living Bible paraphrase:
6 And I saw another angel flying through the heavens, carrying the
everlasting Good News to preach to those on earth-- to every nation,
tribe, language, and people.
7 "Fear God," he shouted, "and extol his greatness. For the time has
come when he will sit as Judge. Worship him who made the heaven and the
earth, the sea and all its sources."
4. See any differences that require a different
understanding of this
5. Let's go next to the message of the second
angel. First, let's look
at the King James version:
8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is
fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine
of the wrath of her fornication.
6. Now let's look at this in the NIV:
8 A second angel followed and said, "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the
Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her
7. Now let's look at this in the Living Bible
8 Then another angel followed him through the skies, saying, "Babylon is
fallen, is fallen-- that great city-- because she seduced the nations of
the world and made them share the wine of her intense impurity and sin."
8. See any important differences here?
9. Finally, let's look at the message of
the third angel in the two
translations and the paraphrase:
9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any
man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his
forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured
out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be
tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels,
and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and
they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image,
and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the
commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
10. Let's look at that in the NIV:
9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone
worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead
or on the hand,
10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured
full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with
burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.
11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no
rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for
anyone who receives the mark of his name."
12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey
God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.
11. Now compare the Living Bible paraphrase:
9 Then a third angel followed them shouting, "Anyone worshiping the
Creature from the sea and his statue, and accepting his mark on the
forehead or the hand
10 must drink the wine of the anger of God; it is poured out undiluted
into God's cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and
burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.
11 The smoke of their torture rises forever and ever, and they will have
no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the Creature and his
statue, and have been tattooed with the code of his name.
12 Let this encourage God's people to endure patiently every trial and
persecution, for they are his saints who remain firm to the end in
obedience to his commands and trust in Jesus. "
12. After comparing these, do they seem to be different
ways to say
the same thing? Or, are they saying substantively different things?
II. FOLLOWING THE LEAD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
As we have gone through the studies this quarter I do not think we
have found anything that would cause us to doubt God's word to us, even
in the modern translations. To the contrary, I think we have found that
the modern translations give us a better understanding of God's word.
Let's say, however, that you have held a certain belief for many years.
What would you do if a further reading of the Bible in a modern
translation caused you to doubt your past belief? What would you
recommend that a student of the Bible do in such a situation?
1. Read Revelation 22:18-19 (Again! I know
we are reading this every
week.). What does our old friend from Revelation suggest to us? (That we
should investigate to be sure that the modern translation (or any
translation for that matter) faithfully reproduces God's word and does
not add or subtract from it.)
2. Read John 16:13. Who is the "Spirit of truth?" (The Holy Spirit.)
a. We touched on this earlier. How important
is the Holy Spirit to a
correct understanding of God's word? (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-11. This
tells us that we cannot properly understand God's word without the Holy
b. Do you pray each time before you read
the Bible that the Spirit
will guide your mind?
3. Any other step that you would take to
determine whether you should
change your past beliefs? (Read John 8:47.)
a. What does this suggest we need to do to
understand God's word? (We
need an attitude that wants to know and obey God's word. We need to be
"on His side" we need to "belong to God!")
4. How important is a teacher to the process
understanding the Bible?
a. Should you challenge what you are taught? (Read Acts 17:11)
5. How important a consideration is context
in studying the
6. How important is it to compare different
verses, so that we make
the Bible its own interpreter?
a. Let's compare two verses. Read Matthew
6:16 and Matthew 9:14. If
you just looked at Matthew 6:16 would you conclude that Jesus' disciples
fasted? What understanding does Matthew 9 provide?
Praise God that He wants to communicate with us and that He
continues to communicate to us through the Bible and the leading of the
III. NEXT WEEK: THE UNIQUENESS OF THE GIFT OF PROPHECY