Why write another commentary on the Gospel of John? Aren’t their enough Bible Commentaries written already by Bible Scholars far more knowledgeable and more skilled and equipped for this task than I?
Come to that, why write another English Translation of the Holy Bible.
I first became aware of problems with our English Bibles, in the late 1980s when I started work on my first book, which I published in 2000. It was in 2001 that I first considered and started work on writing a modern English translation based on the text of the K.J.V; But soon realized that this task was way beyond me and soon threw the task into the too hard basket.
It wasn’t unto 2010, when I started writing my first Bible commentary (on Ephesians), and had to face this question of what version would I use to do this work? That I once again took up the challenge of writing a new English version based on the text of the K.J.V.
Yes it was and still is a task way beyond me, but with God’s help I made a start. In the process of translating the K.J.V. into modern English, my knowledge and understanding has grown in many ways, but I am still very reliant on the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me in this work of the Lord’s.
As I have worked on this translation work and the commentary on John, it has been and is my intention to:
1: Stick as close as I possibly can to the meaning of the original text.
2: Stick as close as I possibly can to what God through the scribes wanted to tell and revel to us, his saints.
3: Without watering down the first two intentions, keep the language as simple and basic as possible; bearing in mind that for many of my readers, English is their second language.
It was while studying the Scriptures prior to writing my first book “Death, Resurrection and the Last 10½ Years” I became more aware that the since English Bible Scholars first began work on translating the Bible into King James English, up till this time, our understanding of and meaning of some words have changed greatly; making it almost impossible for the average English speaking Christian to do any meaningful study of the Scriptures on subjects touching on death, resurrections and end times.
But before we look at these words, let us consider one of the rules, if not the golden rule followed by the Hebrew Scholars when they translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek.
It is almost as if the Hebrews when they wrote the Scriptures would use one word to describe something. Then they would sanctify and set apart that word, for that purpose only. Then almost without exception they would use no other word for that purpose.
Then when the Hebrew scholars translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek, (as far as it concerned these sanctified words) they were to find the one common Greek word that best describe the purpose of that sanctified word; then the Greek word became sanctified for that purpose. When the New Testament writers wrote the New Testament, they too, almost without exception, sanctified and set apart these same words, for the same purpose the Hebrew to Greek translators had set them apart.
However this golden rule of sanctifying and setting words apart for a specific purpose was not followed by the English Scholars when they translated these sanctified words into English; as they often translated these sanctified words in two or more ways. The argument often used by Scholars for abandoning this golden rule, is that the Greek words were often use in a number of ways, or that no one English word fitted the fuller meaning of the Greek word.
While it may or may not be true, that Secular Greek writers words used these words in a number of ways, these sanctified words were only used in one way in the Scriptures. So far in my research I have found that for most of these sanctified words, there is available one of the English word for each sanctified word; that will fit well the usage and purpose of that sanctified word.
The other problem we often find is that the K.J.V. translators have usually used two, three or more words to replace one sanctified word. Sometimes they have done this because their favoured English word does not always fit. Other times, it appears, they couldn’t agree what English word to use. Then over the last 600 years, some of these English words have taken on a meaning far removed from meaning intended by original writers of the Scriptures. And to a greater or lesser extent our modern Christian doctrines has been distorted by use of these English words that don’t really fit the purpose of the original sanctified word.
We will start with the Hebrew word we most often either translate into English has heaven or sky.
In the Old Testament, the most common Hebrew word translated into English as heaven is shamayim. This word literally means the heaved up things. From this word comes the thought, the mountains tops are heaved up things that have become places in the sky. In Genesis 1:1 – 8 (the first mention of the heaved up things) what we would call the sky and the earth’s atmosphere is called and identified as the heaved up things. In Jeremiah 4:25 & 9:10 we are told of a time, when the birds of the heaved up things will flee. In early to mid English, the heaved up things became the heaven up things, which was then shortened to heaven. Therefore any further references in the Old Testament to the heaved up things (or heaven) could either literally translated into English as the heaved up things, or as the sky.
Some say that there are a number of heavens or spiritual realms layered one above another with the highest heaven or spiritual realm way out there in outer space. But God’s written Word places all these heavens or spiritual realms in the sky, within the earth atmosphere, between the waters below and the waters above.
Psalm 148:4 (KJVA) Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens.
God’s Word places the clouds above the heavens, even above the highest heaven. So all the heavens, even the highest heaven are within the earth atmosphere, the sky.
According to the Universal Dictionary, in Old and Middle English the words heve and hefen were both used to describe;
1: the act of heaving something;
and 2: the sky. It is very possible, even most likely, that back in time when the English language was being formed, that the phrase the heaved up things was shortened to heaven.
In the New Testament, the most common Greek word translated into English as heaven is ouranos. This word literally means the sky.
It is the Greek word epouranios which (in the K.J.V & N.K.J.V.) is translated three times as heavenly places (Eph 1:3; 2:6; & 3:10.) and elsewhere (in the K.J.V & N.K.J.V.) it is translated three times as heavenly things (John 3:12; Heb 8:5; & 9:23.). Perhaps it would not only be correct, but also easier for us to understand what the writers of the Scriptures were saying if we use the phrase in the sky or above the sky instead of heavenly places.
This Greek word epouranios is made up of two words;
1: epee meaning (according to the Strong’s Greek Dictionary) a primary preposition properly meaning ‘superimposition’. This word epee is often translated into English as one of the following, in, on, at, by, upon, above, about, unto, into, ect.
2: ouranos meaning the sky.
So by looking at meaning of the two Greek words that make up the word epouranios, and contexts of the usage of this word, we can say it meant any of the following; ‘to be one with sky’, ‘to be in the sky’, ‘things in the sky’, ‘from the sky’, or ‘above the sky’.
Heaven, that is the sky, the air we breathe, is also used to describe the spiritual realm, the realm of the angels and demons. Whatever we bind on earth, we bind in the spirit realm. Whatever we lose on earth, we lose in the sky (Mat 16:19).
While heaven may have been a good translation back in the 16th Century, for the average English speaking person today, both in the mind of the Christian and non-Christian it creates an understanding far removed from the understanding of original writers of the Scriptures.
Therefore I have mostly translated both the Hebrew word shamayim and the Greek word ouranos as sky.
On a few occasions I have translated these words as above. This I have done so in recognition that:
1: The sky is above the earth.
2: The spiritual realms are above the earth.
3: God and Christ are enthrone above all principalities, powers and authorities.
4: “The kingdom of God” is “the kingdom above” all principalities, powers and authorities.
The next group of sanctified words we shall look at are the words which largely ended up in the K.J.V as one of the following. “Grave”, “Hell or Hades”, “Life”, “Spirit or Ghost” and “Soul”.
• The Hebrew word ‘qeber’, which was translated into Greek has ‘mnemeion’, and then into English as ‘grave’, (I translate as grave).
• The Hebrew word ‘Sheol’, which was translated into Greek has ‘Hades’, and then into English as ‘Hell’, (I translate as Sheol).
The Hebrew word Sheol, which was translated into English has ‘Hell’, is translated into K.J.V. 31 times as Hell, and 33 times as grave. Considering there is not only a big difference between what is the grave and what is Hell, and that both the Hebrew and the Greek writers of the Bible made a clear distinction between the grave and Hell, one wonders how the translators of the K.J.V. could get it so wrong. But if we take the N.I.V. as an example of a Modern English Version, we find that the number of times they have translated the word ‘Sheol’ as grave is 59, and not once do they correctly translated Sheol as Sheol, Hades or Hell.
• The Greek word ‘Gehenna’ which is translated into English has ‘Hell’ (I either translate as ‘Sheol’ or ‘the fires of Sheol’).
Matthew 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in the fires of Sheol.
Note: The word often translated, as Sheol (Hell or Hades) in this verse, is the Greek word ‘Gehenna’. This word Gehenna was usually used to describe the fires that burn eternally in the pit of Sheol. The fires into which the unjustified dead, both their body and soul, will be thrown after the resurrection and the judgment. The Greek word usually used to describe Sheol, being Hades. Therefore Matthew 10:28 is referring to the second death. In the first death, the body goes to the grave, not into Sheol or into the fires of Sheol.
• The Hebrew word ‘chaiym’, which was translated into Greek as ‘zoe’ and then into English as ‘life’ (I translate as life).
• The Hebrew word ‘ruach’ which was translated into Greek as ‘pneuma’ and then into English as ‘spirit’ or ‘ghost’ (I translate as spirit).
It is of interest to note that all widely accepted English translations, almost always translate both the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ and the Greek word ‘pneuma’ as ‘spirit’, ‘ghost’ or ‘breath’. Traditionally man is never described as a spirit in the Bible, nor is spirit ever translated as a person or persons.
• The Hebrew word neshesh, which was translated into Greek has psuch, and then into English as ‘soul’ (I translate as soul).
Between them the Hebrew word ‘neshesh’ and the Greek word ‘psuch’, are translated into K.J.V. over 500 times as ‘soul’, 120 times as ‘life’, 28 times as ‘person’, 21 times as ‘self’, and 15 times as ‘heart’. While most modern English Bibles have further reduced the use of the word soul by 80 to 95%, making it almost impossible for the average Christian to do any meaningful study on makeup of man, body, soul and spirit, or on the doctrine of death and resurrection.
The apostle Peter writes; Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls (I Peter 1: 9). Or as the N.I.V. says “for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Considering the goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls, we should ask; why have the modern English translators all but removed any mention of the soul of man, and of Hell from our Bibles?
Clearly action needs to be taken to restore the written word of God to its original meaning. It is in part, for this reason my brothers in Christ and I took up the task of writing the “Clarks English Translation” of the Bible and why all Scripture (unless otherwise stated) in this book is taken from the “Clarks English Translation”. However do feel free to use your own favourite version of the Bible, along with the K.J.V. a good concordance and Bible dictionary to check these things out. In fact I recommend you check out all my writings and teachings, so that your beliefs and understanding of these things should not be founded on my teachings but on the written word of God.
The next group of words we need to consider are words usually translated into the K.J.V. as forgive, forgiven, forgave, remit, deliver or deliverance. While the K.J.V puts the emphases on our sins being forgiven, I believe if we put the emphases on our deliverance from sin, which once held us in bondage; we end up with an understanding much closer to intend meaning of the original Scriptures.
The finial group we need to consider are words usually translated into the K.J.V. as righteous or righteousness, and other times as just, justice, justification or justified. On checking out the usage of these words;
1: The words just, justification and justified, more closely agree with original meaning of Hebrew and Greek words, than does righteous and righteousness.
2: I find while righteous and righteousness often does not fit the original meaning of passage; just, justification and justified nearly always fit.
3: To say we are justified by the blood of the Lamb; fits overall content of the original Scriptures and Biblical doctrine, much better than saying we are, made righteous by the blood of the Lamb. This will come out much clearer when I do my commentary on Romans.
For these reasons I believe we should stick with just, justification and justified.
I do pray that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures; in reading this study/commentary it will result in your understanding of the Scriptures and in your spiritual maturity in Christ being greatly increased.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
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