Wise Man Says

You're absolutely correct.

wise man's book

I was impressed by a sermon on unity offering two contrasting illustrations: a wise man who was able to tell each of the contending parties in turn, "You are absolutely correct," and a church (true story) that couldn't decide on a guest preacher, so they brought in two who preached simultaneously. I'm trying to see how a sermon on disagreements among Christians might apply to some issues I'm involved with, so I shall take up again from an earlier discourse--of January 27, 2003--which I'll quote in part and then go on from it. An earlier sermon--the subject of that letter--had been about applications of Romans 14.

The list was left open ended, but said it might impact on other matters. I know the preacher's said he has the liberty to use the NIV in the service, so I guess that would be one of them. As I understand our Bible origins, God insisted after the flood that mankind have various languages, and Noah's blessing on Shem eventually resulted in the Greek and Hebrew tongues in which our scriptures were written in the fullness of time. Our English that most closely matches the state of the Greek in which the NT was written was that developed by Wycliffe and then Tyndale which passed into the King James Version. Sort of like, "If it's good enough for the apostle Paul, it's good enough for me." The newer English versions necessarily are worse because they have to substantially change the wording in order to copyright it, even the New King James.

The introduction of modern versions would necessarily exacerbate the differences among Protestant churches, as on writer in the mid 1800's put it:

    The objections against a multitude of sectarian translations are very serious. The dialect of the English Bible is also the dialect of devotion and of religious instruction wherever the English language is spoken, and all denominations substantially agree in their sacred phraseology, with whatever difference in interpretation. There are always possibilities of reconciliation, sympathies even, between men who, in matters of high concernment, habitually use the same words, and appeal to the same formulas; whereas a difference of language and of symbols creates an almost impassable gulf between man and man. When, therefore, we have, not different churches only, but different Bibles, different religious dialects, different devotional expressions, the jealousies of sectarian division will be more hopelessly embittered, and the prospect of bringing about a greater harmony of opinion and of feeling among English-speaking Protestants proportionally darkened.
--George Marsh, The Student's Manual of the English Language181

A number of years ago I'd started going to a newly formed church. When I asked what kind of a church it was, they told me they'd all come from so many different church backgrounds they didn't rightly know themselves. So we went around in a circle and everyone told his church background. No two were the same. Then we went around again and everyone stated which Bible version he used. Everybody used the King James Version except for the pastor who used the Revised Standard Version. Then we went around and told when we'd come to the Lord. I was the oldest one in the Lord in that church, except for one other man who didn't come all the time.

From my background it was instilled in me to shun denominationalism, and here was my one opportunity that at least this group of people from all their different backgrounds would be "one in the Lord" if I had anything to do with it, and I might hold some responsibility simply on account of my age in the Lord. Would the use of a different version by one member, the pastor, make it more difficult? I'd soon find out. And if it caused problems in just this one group, we could not expect all of Christendom to be immune either.

I wasn't particularly intimidated by the pastor there as he, along with about everyone else, was my younger brother in Christ and I'd had enough experience not to let myself be cowed by him, which I guess is the advantage of having elders to have someone who doesn't mind bringing up issues with the minister. So, I enquired why he wasn't using the KJV like everybody else. He agreed with me it was an excellent translation, but he had various other reasons for using the other one, all of which I could pretty well refute--even before I found my current reference work181. Eventually I got to the heart of the matter when he gave as his reason, "But that would be the spirit of conformity!"

It comes down to: (I Peter 5:1-11) "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. ..." If we consider as elders the men who gave us our Bible, not having done so for gain but willingly, and receiving their heavenly reward, then the rest follows. "... Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. ..." We are submitting to our elders, the ones who brought us the Bible, when we read the Bible and obey it. We are submitting to one another when we all read the same Bible, translated from the Textus Receptus into our respective language, and the younger are submitting to the elder by desiring the sincere milk of the word. This mutual submission is reinforced by habitually reading the word and having it preached from to us weekly. Furthermore, any brother may come up to a fellow believer and ask him why he isn't conforming to such-and-such from the Bible and that other brother would want to consider it, answer him, and/or perhaps change something in his walk. Thus the Bible is ipso facto the submission to our elders-way-back, to one another, and from the younger.

It is a curious point, this wish to keep abreast of language changes rather than retain its old forms, as:

    According to Caesar Zedd, one cannot be strong until one first learns how always to be calm. Strength and power come from perfect self-control, and perfect self-control arises only from inner peace.  Inner peace, Zedd teaches, is largely a matter of deep, slow, and rhythmic breathing combined with a determined focus not on the past, or even on the present, but on the future.
--Dean Koontz, From the Corner of his Eye182

That is in contrast to:

     From what I have said it will of course be understood that I see no sufficient present [1859] reasons for a new translation, or even for a revision, of the authorized version of the Bible; but there are certain considerations, distinct from the question of the merits of that version, which ought to be suggested. The moral and intellectual nature of man has few more difficult practical problems to resolve than that of following the golden mean between passion for novelty and an ultra-conservative attachment to the time- honoured and the old. Both extremes are inherently, perhaps equally, mischievous, but the love of innovation is the more dangerous, because the future is more uncertain than the past, and because the irreverent and thoughtless wantonness of an hour may destroy that which only the slow and painful labour of years or of centuries can rebuild.

And let us not forget (Ecclesiastes 1:9f) "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us."

In the final analysis God saw to it that through Shem came the languages of both the Old and New Testaments and per Galations 4:4-5 we understand that Christ came in the fullness of time so that the Biblical languages were the ones God wanted and in the stage of development He wanted them to be to have penned his holy word.

Now I'm reading it in the king James Version English. The King James Version that I go by came out in 1611; that's four centuries ago. But when I read it, I'm reading something older:

In fact, with here and there an exception, the difference between Tyndale's New Testament and that of 1611 is scarcely greater than is found between any two manuscript copies of most modern works which have undergone frequent transcription; and Tyndale's, Cranmer's, the Bishop's, the Genevan, and the [King James] version coincide so nearly with each other, both in sense and in phraseology, that we may hear whole chapters of any of them read without noticing that they deviate from the text to which we have always been accustomed.  When, then, we study our Testaments, we are in most cases perusing the identical words penned by the martyr Tyndale nearly [five] hundred years ago; and hitherto the language of English Protestant faith and doctrine may fairly be said to have undergone no change.

Okay, that makes what I'm reading half a millennium old for the most part. But it's older than that.

    The difference between the version of Wycliffe and that of Tyndale was occasioned partly by the change of the language in the course of two centuries, and partly by the difference of the texts from which they translated; and from these two causes the discrepancies between the two versions are much greater than those between Tyndale's, which was completed in 1526, and the standard version which appeared only eighty-five years later.  But, nevertheless, the influence of Wycliffe upon Tyndale is too palpable to be mistaken, and it cannot be disguised by grammatical differences, which are the most important points of discrepancy between them.  If we reduce the orthography of both to the same standard, conform the inflections of the fourteenth to those of the sixteenth century, and make the other changes which would suggest themselves to an Englishman translating from the Greek instead of from the Vulgate, we shall find a much greater resemblance between the two versions than a similar process would produce between secular authors of the periods to which they belong. Tyndale is merely a full-grown Wycliffe, and his recension of the New Testament is just what his great predecessor would have made it, had he awaked again to see the dawn of that glorious day of which his own life and labours kindled the morning twilight. Not only does Tyndale retain the general grammatical structure of the older version, but most of its felicitous verbal combinations, and, what is more remarkable, he preserves even the rhythmic flow of its periods, which is again repeated in the recension of 1611. Wycliffe, then, must be considered as having originated the diction and phraseology which for [six+] centuries have constituted the consecrated dialect of the English speech; and Tyndale as having given to it that finish and perfection which have so admirably adapted it to the expression of religious doctrine and sentiment, and to the narration of the remarkable series of historical facts which are recorded in the Christian scriptures.

    When it [KJV] appeared, it was by no means regarded as the embodiment of the everyday language of the time. On the contrary, its archaisms, its rejection of the Latinisms of the Rhemish Romanist version, and its elevation above the vulgarisms of the market and the kitchen, were assailed by the same objections which are urged against it at the present moment.... I remarked that the dialect of the authorized version was not the popular English of the time, but simply a revision of older translations. It is almost equally true that the diction of Wycliffe and of Tyndale was not that of the secular literature of their times. The language of Wycliffe's Testament differs nearly as much from even the religious prose writings of his contemporary and follower, Chaucer, as does that of our own [KJV] Bible from the best models of literary composition in the present day; and it is still a more remarkable and important fact, that the style which Wycliffe himself employs in his controversial and other original works, is a very different one from that in which he clothed his translation. This circumstance seems to give some countenance to the declaration of Sir Thomas Moore, otherwise improbable, that there existed English Bibles long before Wycliffe; and hence we might suppose that his labours and those of his school were confined to the revision of still earlier versions.    If we compare Tyndale's New Testament with the works of his contemporaries, Lord Berners and Sir Thomas More, or the authorized version with the prose of Shakespeare, and Raleigh, and Bacon, or other writers of the same date, we shall find very nearly, if not quite as great a difference in all the essentials of their diction, as between the authorized version and the best written narratives or theological discussions of the present day. But, in spite of this diversity, the language of the authorized version, as a religious dialect, is and always has been very familiar to the English people. ...If the Bible is less understood than it was at earlier periods, which I by no means believe, it is because it is less studied; and the true remedy is, not to lower its tone to a debased standard of intelligence, but to educate the understandings of the English people up to the comprehension of the purest and most idiomatic forms of expression which belong to their mother-tongue. ...Scarcely 200 words occurring in the [KJV] Bible are obsolete [compared] to a century ago [from 1868] when hundreds of words in its vocabulary, now as familiar as the alphabet, were complained of as strange or obsolete.

So to look at the translation of the KJV means looking also at Tyndale and Wycliffe.
    In a lecture on the principles of translation I laid down the rule that a translator ought to adopt a dialect belonging to that period in the history of his own language when its vocabulary and its grammar were in the condition most nearly corresponding to those of his original. Now, when the version of Wycliffe appeared, English was in a state of growth and formation, and the same observation applies, though with less force, to the period of Tyndale. The Greek of the New Testament, on the other hand, was in a state of resolution. It had become less artificial in structure than the classical dialect, more approximated to modern syntactical construction, and the two languages, by development on the one hand, decay on the other, had been brought in the sixteenth century to a certain similarity of condition. Besides, the New Testament Greek was under the same necessity as Early English, of borrowing or inventing a considerable number of new terms and phrases to express the new ideas which Christianity had ingrafted on the Jewish theology; of creating, in fact, a special sacred phraseology; and hence there is very naturally a closer resemblance between the religious dialect of English, as framed by the Reformers, and that of the New Testament, than between the common literary style of England and the Greek of the classic ages. It will generally be found that the passages of the received version whose diction is most purely Saxon are not only most forcible in expression, but also the most faithful transcripts of the text, and that a Latinized style is seldom employed without loss of beauty of language, and at the same time of exactness in correspondence. Whatever questions may be raised respecting the accuracy with which particular passages are rendered, there seems to be no difference of opinion among scholars really learned in the English tongue as to the exceeding appropriateness of the style of the authorized version; and the attempt to bring down that style to the standard of to-day is as great an absurdity, and implies as mistaken views of the true character and office of human language, and especially of our maternal speech, as would be displayed by translating the comedies of Shakespeare into the dialect of the popular farces of the season.

In other words, "If it was good enough for the apostle Paul, it's good enough for me." Our King James Version is the closest English we've got to the language and its condition that God chose to reveal his holy word in. That's because of how it came about:

    In the first place, then, the dialect of this translation was not, at the time of the revision, or, indeed, at any other period, the actual current book-language nor the colloquial speech of the English people. This is a point of much importance, because the contrary opinion has been almost universally taken for granted; and hence very mistaken views have been, and still are, entertained. respecting the true relations of the diction of that version to the national tongue. It was an assemblage of the best forms of expression applicable to the communication of religious truth that then existed, or had existed in any and all the successive stages through which English had passed in its entire history.

Thus God's chosen vessels, the English translators of the Bible, the elder ones of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and the appointees of King James, built on each other's work and used in humility the best forms of English for their purpose, as we are instructed: "... Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. ..." They were not so proud as to use their current colloquial English of the day, but submitted themselves to the best forms of English for God's purposes of revelation. I mean, if we are supposed to be clothed with humility, that clothing should include covering our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, which means we don't exalt our own way of doing things above God's. (Jeremiah 2:25) "Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidest, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go." We aren't supposed to thirst after that which is not good for us either. And if we do, we're not supposed to regard ourselves as stuck with it. Our elders the translators whom God chose did not withhold their foot from being unshod with humility. They translated according to wisdom (Prov. 8:12-13) "I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate." And we younger are supposed to submit to these elders clothed with humility as in: (Ecclesiasticus 51:13-28) "¶ When I was yet young, or ever I went abroad, I desired wisdom openly in my prayer.  I prayed for her before the temple, and will seek her out even to the end.  Even from the flower till the grape was ripe hath my heart delighted in her: my foot went the right way, from my youth up sought I after her.  I bowed down mine ear a little, and received her, and gat much learning.  I profited therein, therefore will I ascribe the glory unto him that giveth me wisdom.  For I purposed to do after her, and earnestly I followed that which is good; so shall I not be confounded.
    "My soul hath wrestled with her, and in my doings I was exact: I stretched forth my hands to the heaven above, and bewailed my ignorances of her.  I directed my soul unto her, and I found her in pureness: I have had my heart joined with her from the beginning, therefore shall I not be forsaken.  My heart was troubled in seeking her: therefore have I gotten a good possession.  The Lord hath given me a tongue for my reward, and I will praise him therewith.
    "Draw near unto me, ye unlearned, and dwell in the house of learning.  Wherefore are ye slow, and what say ye of these things, seeing your souls are very thirsty?  I opened my mouth, and said, Buy her for yourselves without money.  Put your neck under the yoke, and let your soul receive instruction: she is hard at hand to find.  Behold with your eyes, how that I have had but little labour, and have gotten unto me much est.  Get learning with a great sum of money, and get much gold by her."
¶ Now, there is another philosophy abroad:

    Humility, Caesar Zedd teaches, is strictly for losers.  For the purpose of social and financial advancement, we must pretend to be humble----shuffle our feet and duck our heads and make self-deprecating remarks----because deceit is the currency of civilization.  But if ever we wallow in genuine humility, we will be no different from the mass of humanity, which Zedd calls "a sentimental sludge in love with failure and the prospect of its own doom."

We must only pretend that we are humble, for to apply humility to which Bible version we take up would "for the purpose of social and financial advancement," make us losers. Socially we'd be losers because those with modern versions would not appreciate our sticking with the King James, and we'd lose financially because those with the modern versions would have to retool, buy the authorized version. That's in contrast to:

    Too often Christians, in attempting to present the gospel, weaken the message to the point of no longer declaring the truth. ... A softer message may increase church membership, but it will decrease the number of true conversions.
- -George E. (Jedd) Smock, Grieve Not the Spirit190

These soft versions come across like Junior's project:

    Junior had come to believe that every well-rounded, self-improved person ought to have a craft at which he excelled, and needlepoint appealed to him more than either pottery-making or decoupage. For pottery he would require a potter's wheel and a cumbersome kiln; and decoupage was too messy, with all the glue and lacquer.  By December, he began his first project: a small pillowcase featuring a geometric border surrounding a quote from Caesar Zedd, "Humility is for losers."

It harks back to a previous day: "The colossal massif of the Tower, which the Jew of the Old Testament considered to be the epitome of human arrogance."192 Uniting their society with their own language instead of maintaining separate languages including the ones to eventually produce the original Bible was an arrogance associated with the tower of Babel project, and today we find a similar arrogance in wanting just one dialect to convey both everyday affairs and our Bible reading. It has something to do with Progress.

    He was a future-focused, focused man.  The past is for losers.  No, wait, humility is for losers.  "The past is the teat that feeds those too weak to face the future." Yes, that was the line from Zedd that Junior had stitched on a needlepoint pillow.

It seems that those too weak to move on to the newer versions are stuck with the KJV. We need to be strong to move with the flow.
    Zedd teaches that the present is just an instant between past and future, which really leaves us with only two choices--to live either in the past or the future; the past, being over and done with, has no consequences unless we insist on empowering it by not living entirely in the future.  Junior strove always to live in the future, and he believed that he was successful in this striving, but obviously he hadn't yet learned to apply Zedd's wisdom to fullest effect, because the past kept getting at him.

If we accept a need to make new versions on a whim, we are always going to be making new versions, whence the future, otherwise we are stuck in the past, KJV etc. We are going for the future, but obviously we haven't mastered it yet because the past keeps getting at us.

    We should be so reminded, for a part of our thinking and feeling derives from Babylon. More accurately: from Babylonia, as a geographic entity, though not necessarily from the Babylonians as such.
    As we get to know more about the history of mankind, the time comes when we begin to feel the faint breath of the eternal wafted to us across the great gap of the years. We begin to see glimmerings of evidence that little human experience during five thousand years of history has actually been lost. ... The forces of the past still live on and exert their influence on us, though we may not be consciously aware f this. It is frightening to realize in full depth what it means to be a human being: that is, to realize that we are embedded in the flux of generations, whose legacy of thought and feeling we irrevocably carry along with us.
- -Ceram195

I think there's a misconception about what we're attempting to exchange for what. The NIV and its ilk want to update our English from 1611 until now, and they put forth an effort to do so, but the KJV dialect is older than that and more valuable for having been incorporated into the hearts & minds of the English-speaking people for six and a half centuries.

But wait, isn't the whole idea of coming out with the NIV to make an easier-to-understand English? That's nonsense. I was a member of Shiloh Youth Revival Centers, the largest Christian communal organization in the history of America, and we were not for the most part scholars. We were an organization of disenfranchised youth with our share of high school dropouts. All we used was the King James Version, no problem. One fellow didn't even know how to read so he taught himself to read from that Book. I remember our Bible studies going through Acts in the KJV with about 130 young people whose English was way behind that at my current church and we didn't need any NIV.

Then I went to a Chinese church for a few years where they had a bilingual service, and they'd give the Bible readings in both Chinese and NIV English. When the Chinese version was being read, I'd read the KJV and then compare it with the NIV. The NIV never seemed easier to me, Sunday after Sunday, month after month, year in, year out.

    At the intersection of Bible Boulevard, Madi$on Avenue and Wall $treet, there are many crooked turns of the truth. Advertising campaigns create a cloud of confusion, calling the KJV "obscure, confusing and sometimes incomprehensible," while they crown the NIV's "clarity and ease of reading" and the NASB's "contemporary English." Christians are coerced by full color ads written to color the plain facts by advertising, not English majors.
    The Flesch-Kincaid research company's Grade Level Indicator betrays the strictly black and white nature of the issue showing the new version's true colors. The KJV ranks easier in 23 out of 26 comparisons. (Their formula is: (.39 x average number of words per sentence) + (11.8 x average number of syllables per word) - (15.59) = grade level. The first chapter of the first and last books of both Old and New Testaments were compared. (All complete sentences, whether terminating in a period, colon, or semi-colon, and all incomplete phrases ending in a period, were calculated as 'sentences.')

                      KJV       NIV      NASB      TEV       NKJV
                  Grade     Grade     Grade     Grade     Grade
                  Level     Level     Level     Level     Level
          Gen. 1      4.4       5.1       4.7       5.1       5.2
          Mal. 1      4.6       4.8       5.1       5.4       4.6
          Matt. 1     6.7      16.4       6.8      11.8      10.3
          Rev. 1      7.5       7.1       7.7       6.4       7.7

          Level       5.8       8.4       6.1       7.2       6.9
    To extend the inquiry, one each of the three book-types (Gospel, Pauline epistle, General epistle) were surveyed. The resulting data confirms the readability of the KJV.

                   KJV      NIV      NASB     News     NKJV
         John      3.6       3.6        4.2       5.9       3.9

     Galations     8.6       9.8       10.4       6.7       8.9

         James     5.7       6.5        7.0       6.0       6.4
    Why is the KJV easier to read? The KJV uses one or two syllable words while new versions substitute complex multi-syllable words and phrases.

The perceived difficulty has to do with adjustment to the Bible dialect. Remember (per Marsh) that a sacred dialect had been developed for our English Bible. Others also confirm that it is a separate Bible dialect, as opposed to, say, a 1611 dialect.

    ... he had previously obtained a sight of, and was soon convinced that the whole book was the work of some skeptic in England, in imitation of the language of scripture.
--Book of Jasher197

    In the case of the hymns, a different technique has had to be adopted. The hymns are written in the style of the Biblical Psalms; but to the composer this style was a conscious archaism, while it fell on the ears of the reciters with the same effect as does the language of the Anglican Prayerbook or the King James' Version upon the modern churchgoer. The only feasible way of reproducing this effect is to fall back on 'Biblical English.' Readers who may be irritated or impeded by the 'howbeits' and 'whiloms' and the like need only to be reminded that the original reciters were, in all probability, just as much put out by the plethora of rare and recondite words and by the artificial manipulation of Biblical 'tags' in which the authors indulged. But to smooth this out would be to lose the flavor; it would be like trying to make Lyly talk the language of Housman. And, after all, do not the English Bible and the Prayerbook Psalter have to retain the infuriating 'Selah', even though no one has the faintest idea what it means?
--Theodor H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures198

That sounds about the norm for dialects.

    Within the territory of a language, wide deviations of dialect may be found ... Such deviations disturb communications, they do not completely disrupt it. And they are, in all known languages, past and present, a constant feature, like archaisms (e.g. in religious or legal terminology)...
    ¶The distinction between kindred dialects and kindred languages is a matter of degree. The test is intelligibility. When communication is disturbed between speakers, we say that we have to do with related dialects; when it is completely broken, related languages. Thus the speakers of standard English and German are mutually incomprehensible; but speakers of standard English and that variety of English known as 'Lowland Scots' understand one another well enough even though at times they may encounter difficulties.
--Joshua Whatmough, Language A Modern Synthesis199

Generally we understand the KJV well enough even though at times we may encounter difficulties. An occasional archaic word, say, but not more prevalent than in much of our modern literature including modern Bible translations. Communication is disturbed, not disrupted, so we don't need to retranslate it as if it were a different language we couldn't understand. We go back to the passage: (I Peter 5:1-11) "...  Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. ..." After we've humbled ourselves in not exalting our own current dialect above the Bible dialect developed by our elders of old, we cast our care on the Lord who helps us master it, through study and prayer, through helps, and also through our ministers who know it better and preach from it. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

The Bible is a mechanism for us younger to be subject to our elders-of-old who brought it to us, and each to one another in adhering to the same Book. It is only in that each is subject to each other that the elder can go along with a younger if that's a legit enough way to go, and such liberty as all liberty is subject to the criteria, (I Cor. 10:23) "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."

Besides leaning something about a preacher's exemption from conformity when I attended that church where I was about the oldest in the Lord, and everybody used the KJV except the pastor, there were several other beneficial learning experiences. As we went along at our Bible studies at that church where every member was from a different denomination, we eventually got to a spot where a woman there told us her belief related to a passage, where only her particular kind of background church believed that particular way, nobody else. I explained to her why believing that way wouldn't hold water, giving her something to think about, planning to return to the subject again. People don't change their beliefs all at once; it's sometimes a process, and anyway, the pastor later thanked me for making the attempt. But he wasn't content merely to have told it right and then go on, but he took that woman to task right there in front of the class. Of course, she never returned.

My only point here is that patience comes with maturity, not necessarily with being pastor. People are not always going to be changing their cherished false beliefs just because some preacher man lays the right way on them. Oh, he should be preaching it right in the first place, but getting straight a lot of times is more a process of maturity than of convincing arguments, and if we are looking to benefits from the maturing process, then we want to be quoting important matters from the mature version.

So, coming back to Romans 14, the newer versions are going to introduce added disagreement in the church which we note:

                              ... not in
                               strife and

The question gets asked, if Romans 13:13 prevents us from using Romans 14 as an excuse to fornicate, how can we not let it also prevent us from using Romans 14 as an excuse for divisiveness? Introducing more English versions necessarily introduces more difficulty surmounting church division.

I am thinking that my trying to put up with the NIV used in sermons at churches where I was going while at the same time trying to follow them in the KJV has been like listening to my favorite preacher (KJV) while somebody else's favorite preacher ( NIV) is preaching simultaneously. Mad! The preacher's reference to the dispute in the church in [was it] Scotland [?] where two preachers were going at it simultaneously put me in mind of that. From his sermon material it got really bad when the congregation attempted to sing two sets of hymns at the same time. Yes, and in my case, going to the men's TLC group reading a book published by Zondervan--the publisher of the NIV--and reading them quote a Disney song without giving credit and then putting down Disney with it was the final straw. During the hymns in Scotland it got so bad one man called the police. Yes, and after giving fair warning, I sent Zondervan's material to Disney's legal department. There was no copyright on the Pauline epistles to allow us to sue a publisher for their perversion, but Disney is another matter.

The police told the congregants to go home, and my church disbanded the men's TLC group. Churches aren't made for fighting. We're supposed to be studying the Bible, not suing the Bible.

Now I'm trying to think in terms of Sunday's sermon. Two different preachers, each of them according to the wise man "absolutely correct." Okay, let's take the first preacher. Here is his profile:



  1. Acts 11:19-24 - Barnabas was a "good man" - Impressive!
  2. Acts 4:36: "Son of consolation" (PARAKLESIS)
    1. "A calling near, summons ... imploration, exhortation, admonition, encouragement ... consolation, comfort, solace .... that which affords comfort or refreshment .... persuasive discourse ... instructive ... powerful hortatory discourse" (Thayer, 483).
    2. Of Barnabas: "a man gifted in teaching, admonishing, consoling" (Ibid.)
  3. Important ideas in "consolation" include:
    1. Exhortation (encouragement) - Heb. 6:18.
    2. Comfort - Alleviation of grief; Cheering & supporting influence - 2 Cor. 1:6-7.
    3. Persuasive discourse - Acts 13:15.
  4. What was it about Barnabas that made him such a source of comfort & encouragement to his brethren?
    1. He Was Full Of The Holy Spirit - Acts 11:24; cf. Eph. 5:18.
      1. Non-miraculous - cf. Lk. 1:15 (Jn. 10:41).
      2. Led by the Spirit - Gal. 5:16,18.
      3. Fruit of the Spirit - 5:22-25.
      4. Cf. Acts 6:3 - See wisdom & reputation.
    2. He Was Full Of Faith - Acts 11:24.
      1. Believed in what he was doing! - Heb. 11:6
      2. His faith influenced others! (11:24)
      3. Those w/ stronger faith bear respon. to strengthen the weak - Gal. 6:1-2; 1 Ths. 5:14.
    1. An Example In Giving:
      1. Of his possessions - Acts 4:36-37. -(cf. Our giving - 2 Cor. 9:6-8).
      2. Of his time/energy - Acts 11:22,26; Acts 13-14 (1 Cor. 9:6). (cf. Use of ours - Eph. 5:16).
    2. An Example In Trustworthiness - Acts 11:22-23, 30; 13:2; 15:2.
      1. Time & again, when a work needed to be accomplished, Barnabas was the man!
      2. cf. Acts 14:14 - He was "one sent" - He could be trusted!
      3. Phil. 2:21-22 - Aptly apply to Barnabas!
      4. We must follow this example!
    3. An Example In Promoting Unity Among Brethren - Acts 9:26-28; 11:19-23.
      1. 9:26-28 - Used truth to achieve it.
      2. 11:19-23 - Taught gospel to secure it.
      3. Acts 15:1-2 - Would not compromise truth for peace/unity/fellowship. (cf. Gal. 2:13)
      4. Acts 15:36-39 - Would go separate ways over a matter of judgment rather than cause lasting damage (cf. 1 Cor. 9:6; Col. 4:10).
    4. An Example Of Repentance - Gal. 2:13; 1 Cor. 9:6.
      1. Wasn't sinless, but was a humble man!
      2. 1 Cor. 9:6 - Clearly, he repented, or Paul would not have commended his conduct on this later occasion!
    1. He Exhorted People With The Word Of God-Acts 13:5-12; 15:35. - Strength of our exhorting must be our message!--2 Tim. 4:2.
    2. How He Used The Word Of God To Exhort:
      1. Ground new saints-Acts 11:22ff; 13:43.
      2. With boldness - Acts 13:46.
      3. With persistence - Acts 13:50-51.
      4. Confrontational when necessary - 15:1-2.
-(Good pattern for us to follow!)


  1. Encouragement, comfort & persuasion - These are the hallmarks of consolation. He gave these to others thru his maturity of faith, his examples & his teaching.
  2. When these qualities are put into our lives, w/ Barnabas, we will be "sons of consolation."

Say we want him to come preach at our church one Sunday. The Son of Consolation, which name includes "exhortation, comfort, and persuasive discourse." We ask the wise man if he's the right preacher to bring and he tells us, "You're absolutely correct."

    Encouragement201     In Acts 4:36 Luke translates Barnabas to mean "son of encouragement" or "son of consolation." The original Greek word rendered "encouragement," paraklesis, means encouragement, consolation, comfort, exhortation and entreaty. It may be that the apostles who gave Joseph the name Barnabas, saw all of these qualities in his character.

Somebody else has a different preacher in mind.

Passage To Study:202 Acts 4:32-37
    (Verse 36) Barnabas, which is - This word properly denotes "the son of prophecy." It is compounded of two Syriac words, the one meaning "son," and the other "prophecy" The Greek word which is used to interpret this, translated "consolation," means properly exhortation, entreaty, petition, or advocacy. It also means "consolation or solace"; and from this meaning the interpretation has been given to the word "Barnabas," but with evident impropriety. It does not appear that the name was bestowed on account of this, though it is probable that he possessed the qualification for administering comfort or consolation in an eminent degree, but on account of his talent for "speaking," or "exhorting" the people to holiness, and his success in preaching. (Compare Acts 11:23).

We ask the wise man if this is the right preacher to bring and he tells us, "You're absolutely correct."

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Barnabas, "son of exhortation"
This name was applied to the associate of Paul, who was originally called Joses or Joseph (Acts 4:36), as a testimony to his eloquence. It's literal meaning is "son of prophecy" (bar, "son"; nebhu'al, "prophecy"). Compare word for prophet in Genesis 20:7; Deuteronomy 18:15,18, etc. This is interpreted in Acts 4:36 as "son of exhortation" the Revised Version (British and American), or "son of consolation" the King James Version, expressing two sides of the Greek paraklesis, that are not exclusive. The office of a prophet being more than to foretell, all these interpretations are admissible in estimating Barnabas as a preacher.

Of course, the wise man would agree with either selection; that's why he's a wise man. Wise man says either okay, so you've been reading "son of exhortation" from the modern versions. My problem is I don't like him.

    "Did you know him?" he asked her. It took her a moment to understand that he meant the absconded Hylan.
    "My brothers know him," she said. "I rarely met him because his operation was in Boston." She paused and saw that he was waiting for more. "He spoke at Maggie's grammar school graduation."
    "And did she have a crush on him?"
    Anne laughed as much as she dared.
    "Not at all. The kids all thought he was a boob. The nuns told them to overlook his bad manners."
    "The nuns took his money, though."

--Robert Stone, Outerbridge Reach204

If lecturers are like Bibles, then having a crush on one's lecturer is like "worshipping the book." I don't get inspired by the NIV (or other modern versions), I think it's a boob and only tolerate it out of politeness. It's like the difference between Churchill and Clinton. Churchill inspires us with his speech, "Never give up!" I read my Bible (1 Cor. 7:17) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." and I see it telling the new sister in Christ not to give up on her fiancé of nine years but to stick with him in hope that he too will get saved. I am inspired by the King James Bible.

Clinton on the other hand, I remember more for his saying, "That depends on what the meaning of is is." Right! The NIV has changed an adverbial phrase, (I Cor. 7:39) "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." which tells the widow only to marry in a manner fitting to her Christian faith--avoiding (I Tim. 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith."--to an adjectival phrase telling her to marry only to another Christian. However good an exhortation Clinton gives, I'm like the woman that wants him to stay away from me.

Therefore when Clinton's speaking, I'm listening to Churchill. When the NIV is being read, I'm looking up the passages in the KJV. So at these services the way they stand it's like having two competing lecturers, the son of consolation and the son of exhortation.

Now, if I've understood this sermon, the preacher's saying that for the sake of peace, they should divide out their territory. Divide to multiply, was it? Well, fine, we've got two services, a traditional and a contemporary. He referred to the KJV as the "old King James Version" in an earlier sermon, meaning, I take it, that this is the traditional version. Quoting from my letter of Nov. 8, 2003, The King James Version says, (Acts 4:36-37) "And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet," and the older (1526) Tyndale version put it, "And Joses which was also called of the apostles Barnabas (that is to saye the sonnne of consolacion, beynge a levite, and off the countre off Cipers) had londe, and solde itt, and layde the pryce doune at the apostles fete." The (2nd) Wycliffite version (mid 1300's) has it, "Forsothe Joseph, that was named Barsabas of apostlis, that is to seie, the sone of coumfort, of the lynage of Leuy, a man of Cipre, whanne he hadde a feeld, seelde it, and brou3te the prijs, and leide it bifor the feet of apostlis." Of the two sides of the Greek paraklesis, the "consolation" side in English goes back some 650 years that I can document, so it's the traditional one. The "exhortation" side is the contemporary one. I don't see any reason why the preacher couldn't read the KJV in the traditional service and a newer version in the contemporary. At least that's what I see that sermon indicating.

Okay, the wife of the wise man points out that both sides can't be right. She is absolutely correct. What happens when the whole church meets for just one service as in the park? It can't be both son of consolation and son of exhortation for every verse the preacher quotes. That's why we have submission to the elder (version) as I've developed above.

Disturbance of formulas.205
    § 11. From what I have said it will of course be understood that I see no sufficient present [1859] reasons for a new translation, or even for a revision, of the authorized version of the Bible; but there are certain considerations, distinct from the question of the merits of that version, which ought to be suggested. The moral and intellectual nature of man has few more difficult practical problems to resolve than that of following the golden mean between passion for novelty and an ultra-conservative attachment to the time- honoured and the old. Both extremes are inherently, perhaps equally, mischievous, but the love of innovation is the more dangerous, because the future is more uncertain than the past, and because the irreverent and thoughtless wantonness of an hour may destroy that which only the slow and painful labour of years or of centuries can rebuild. The elements which enter into the formation of public opinion on great questions of Church and State are so very numerous, and their mutual relations and influences are so obscure, that it is difficult to control and impossible to predict the course of that opinion. In free states, ecclesiastical and political institutions are of themselves in so mutable a condition, that any voluntary infusion of disturbing ingredients is generally quite superfluous, and under most circumstances not a little hazardous. Intimately connected with the changes of opinion on these great subjects are the changes constantly going on in language, and which so many circumstances in modern society are accelerating with such startling rapidity. Fluctuations in language are not merely a consequence, they are yet more truly an indication of and a cause of corresponding fluctuations in moral and intellectual action. Whoever substitutes for an old word of well-understood signification a new vocable or phrase, unsettles, with the formulas into which it enters, the opinions of those who have habitually clothed their convictions in those stereotyped forms, and thus introduces, first doubt, and then departure from long received and acknowledged truth.

In summary I believe that the sermon I heard suggests we should split the traditional and contemporary versions between the two services, and use the KJV when we combine them.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403

Contact: feedbackatbibles.n7nz.org

Copyright © 2002, Earl S. Gosnell III

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