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Question #1:  

Dear Bob,

Today, I've started Hebrews (or am going to), and despite having finally (mostly) gotten over what I did a long time ago, and the assurances you gave me of my salvation being, in fact, secure... I still feel nervous about starting the book. Part of me still feels scared to even read Hebrews, because of that first initial scare I received from it, from when I misunderstood it's meanings, so long ago. Is this normal, considering the shock it gave to me? Should I continue on reading it or skip it? Part of me doesn't want to skip it, because I want to get over this fear once and for all, but at the same time, it does bring up old feelings about whether or not I'm actually saved. I know I am, and I still have the link to Ichthys you sent me back when I first contacted you. How can I get over this nervousness?

I hope to hear from you.

Response #1: 

We should never be afraid of God's truth. Whenever reading scripture we should, however, always keep in mind that the definitive meaning of anything we read may not be initially obvious to us for a variety of reasons. Even those with the gift of teaching and even those who are prepared and educated and experienced to teach do not "get" everything immediately or without intensive study when it comes to "hard cases", and sometimes the answers on certain passages are a long time in coming (occasionally measured in years). The best policy is to read scripture with a view toward encouragement to remind us of truths we know and to reinforce them. If we bump into something that seems to contradict what we know and believe, we should not ignore the passage but we should also not immediately throw out what we have made our own by faith. If, for example, we know we are saved through faith by God's grace, and we know that we are saved and safe as long was we hold fast to our faith, encountering a passage which may possibly seem at first glance, out of context, in an English translation to suggest the opposite ought not to throw us into a spiritual tail-spin. After a while, after we becoming experienced in reading the Bible, we come to recognize that there are passages we don't yet understand, and there are passages about which we have questions. But we need to have faith that all scripture comes together in a perfect way, and that if we continue to pursue the truth, we will eventually have our questions answered and our concerns allayed. Part of that is the job of the pastor-teacher, and asking questions is certainly a legitimate way to navigate some of these issues. So on the one hand it is important to read carefully and not close our hearts to what the Spirit may be telling us through our personal reading of the Bible; but on the other hand we also have to accept that there are usually going to be answers to our questions and concerns which fit in with what we have been taught to be the truth and have believed as the truth – that is assuming that we are "sitting" under an orthodox and effective teaching ministry. Part of the reason we need to keep reading scripture is precisely so that we may be able to tell the difference. A teaching ministry which is genuinely from God will prove itself over time, even if all of our questions are not immediately answered to our total satisfaction. A ministry which is not from God or which is woefully deficient in its basic doctrines will run afoul of the scriptures so often that the Spirit will be able to use our personal Bible reading to warn us off of that ministry (and lead us instead to a place where we can grow in grace and the knowledge of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).

In hopes and prayers for your continued spiritual growth and walk with the Lord,

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Thanks again for your help.

1) With so many translations, which bible best presents Gods word in its purest form. With so many interpolations, which Bible would best reveal what was actually said, without additions and mistranslations?

2) Where could I find a list of all verses that should not be included in scripture? Or would you have a list?

3) What would be your advice for a layman trying to learn Gods word in a world like today?

Response #2: 

Hello Friend!

1) As I say in the study "Read your Bible" (which answers many of these questions you have; please see the link), it isn't a bad idea to make use of more than one version. With good internet sites like the Blue Letter Bible, for example, it's easy nowadays for Christians to compare without a lot of expense or a lot of onerous page turning. I like the 1984NIV, the NASB, and the NKJV, but one thing most published versions have in common is that in 99% of the text they clearly mean the same thing, even if phrased a bit differently. So my rule of thumb is that any Bible you read in English is most likely going to be very beneficial, but that any time you read something that seems "odd" or out of touch with what you believe to be true, consulting another edition and/or Bible teaching ministry you trust where the passage is interpreted is a very good idea. The number of interpolations is actually quite small (see the link for the most egregious ones). It is an important topic but not by any means an insurmountable one. For example, the KJV, which suffers the most from this problem (although several modern versions, notably the NET, have followed suit for reasons that escape me – unless it has to do with money), but the KJV can be forgiven based on the limited availability of Greek manuscripts when it was done . . . AND most good study Bible versions of the KJV will have ample notes to alert the reader when such things happen (Scofield has several pages on the erroneous longer endings of Mark for example). So even here, if a good tool is used, the chance for inadvertent "damage" is extremely small (especially for those adopting the methodology suggested above).

2) I list the major ones here at the link: interpolations. Please note that the question of deliberate interpolation is different from that of textual problems. The Bible has these as well – as all ancient texts universally do – but there are ample witnesses to the original text available for anyone who knows Greek and Hebrew and has experience in textual criticism so as to be able to straighten out the important problems. When I post studies I sometimes do my own translations for critical verses. More often than not, however, the reason has to do with wishing to bring out the precise meaning and proper emphasis more clearly rather than with any need to correct a textual problem not picked up by the main versions. In most other cases, a quotation from a major version is quite acceptable (for one important exception, please see the link: 2Cor.5:3).

3) Please see the link "Read your Bible" for details on this. The short answer is, read your Bible every day, develop a comprehensive reading plan, ideally one that incorporates more than one version. And of course for serious spiritual growth consistent accessing of good Bible teaching is also necessary – we all have our own gifts and ministries, after all. Church is ideally the place to get this teaching, but since I know of so few churches where any sort of substantive and orthodox Bible teaching is taking place, please know that you are always welcome to the studies posted at Ichthys.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:   

Dear Bob,

I remember you said you would not be back until the new year, and I do not expect this email to be answered for awhile, nor do I want you to rush to answer it on my account. Please, answer this when it is convenient for you, since again, I really don't like being a bother. lol Anyway, I wanted to ask real quick: do I read the old testament more than once? See, as I mentioned in a previous email, I'm doing the "2 OT/2NT" plan I saw suggested on your site, and I'm nowhere near done with the OT yet (at least I don't think I am: I'm just now starting Joshua today), but I am thinking of the time where I do reach the end of the OT. Since the NT more applies to us, after that first reading, should I start rereading the OT again?

I'm pretty sure I should, but wanted to see what you think. Sometimes I get a little bit confused as to what applies to me in the OT and what doesn't. I'm still trying to get a good 'feel' for how or why good works should be done, and what the difference between 'working out of faith' and ' "working" for salvation" is. I believe the big difference is intent. Is this assumption right? I'm working to change myself and cast off sinful was/thoughts not because I feel I have to in order to be saved (though part of me does continually tell me this is so), but a majority of it is I WANT to change for Him. Is this a right mentality on my part? Thank you, and again, answer this whenever, or even if you wish to at all. I certainly hope I don't make you feel pressured to answer whenever I do email.

Response #3: 

Good to hear from you as always. Apologies for the long delay in response – I was out of town visiting family for Christmas.

As to your question about Bible reading, whatever system/approach you enjoy is all to the good. Most people read the Psalms more often than they read Leviticus, for example. I read some in Psalms most every day, and while I have a bad memory for word-for-word memorization, I do have some of my favorite Psalms memorized. The important thing is to be consistent in spending time in the Word in personal Bible reading and in the taking in of good, substantive Bible teaching.

As to works, I wouldn't worry about it. Most legitimate "works" are really doing whatever it is God wants you to do. So Abraham is praised for his "good work" in offering his son Isaac – which is nothing like charity, after all. If we are reading our Bibles, if we are praying, if we are learning from a good Bible-teaching ministry, if we are believing the truth of the Word of God, and if we are making a genuine effort to live our lives in accordance with the principles of truth we are committing to our hearts by faith, then much of what we do will be "good work" in God's eyes (even if the world does not see it that way); on the other hand, if we are really living for ourselves in legalism and self-righteousness, giving billions to charity won't count for a thing (and, indeed, the majority of people who do this sort of thing really aren't even saved). Finally on this score, the number one way we are to "work" for the Lord is through the function of our spiritual gift(s) in the ministry(s) to which we have been called. Clearly, this won't begin to happen (at least at an efficient level) until we have reached some level of spiritual maturity. And it is also important to point out that most ministries that are truly from and of God are not necessarily what most people might think of as "genuine Christian ministries" at all. If a person keeps plugging away at spiritual growth and application, production will come as God leads that person into just what He wants that person to be doing in terms of producing a good crop for Jesus Christ. You might have a look at his link: Christian Production and Eternal Rewards (Peter #18).

Here's wishing you and yours a blessed 2013!

Please feel free to write any time.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:   

I know myself well enough to know that without a plan, I will not follow through on my good intention to read the Bible every day. During Lent I did. I read Luke, John, and Acts. I know you recommend reading a portion of old Testament, and a portion of New Testament every day. Could you recommend a plan? Ideally, I would like to read the New Testament is such way that the readings correspond to the Sacred Days. Also, are there teachings on your website that correspond to the Bible readings. From what I've read, there are many wonderful topics presented, with Bible references ... but I saw only the Book of Revelation discussed verse by verse. Are other books discussed that way?

Thank you.

Respectfully,

Response #4: 

Good to make your acquaintance. I do have a small bit of advice on this posted (I will paste it in below in case what you reference here comes from somewhere else on the site), but the best such plan would be one you develop yourself and tailor to your own needs. For example, as a Christian who "considers every day alike" (Rom.14:5; cf. Col.2:16-17), I probably don't even know all the "Sacred Days":

A common stumbling block for those who set themselves to read the Bible regularly is the length and complexity of the Old Testament. Consider reading several books of the Bible at once (be sure to include something from the New Testament). A simple approach is to read two chapters a day: one from each Testament. That way you'll get through the New Testament several times before completing the Old Testament once, but that is perfectly fine since the New Testament is the more concentrated and explicit revelation of Jesus Christ. Many Bible bookstores sell multiple string bookmarks that will easily allow you to read a number of books of your Bible at once without losing your various places.

My own procedure in terms of the English Bible (I do read in the Greek and Hebrew every day also, as a rule) is to read a chapter from the Pentateuch, Psalms, Prophets, New Testament every morning in one version (currently 1984NIV), from Psalms in the evening in another (currently NASB), and listen to the KJV tapes I have while commuting. This has changed some over the years as I have tailored my approach.

There are also daily Bible reading plans available on the internet (Bible Study Tools has a whole list of them; see the link). As I say in the same place where the citation above comes from, "how you do it is not as important as that you do it".

As to your other question, the Peter series also approaches things verse by verse (see the link), but is incomplete at present. I do hope in future to do more of that sort of thing, but the systematic part of the ministry is in my view more important to get done first (even if it is taking quite a long time).

Thanks for your interest in Ichthys!

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #5:  

Is there a physical printed bible that is chronologically accurate? Surely many of the actions of the apostles cris-crossed each other as they spread.

Thank you

Response #5: 

Good to make your acquaintance. There is not, to my knowledge, any such version. That would be a most difficult thing to achieve in any case, and if anyone did try it, their attempt would probably be gainsaid by almost everyone. There is, simply put, almost no reliable evidence for the acts of the apostles outside of Acts and the epistles. As a result, while commentaries and general works on Acts address these issues in general terms, it is rare to attempt to reorganize the material chronologically. For the gospels, there have long been "harmonies" which do attempt to place things in chronological order. The best of these of which I am aware is Thomas and Gundry's A Harmony of the Gospels – but even here I have some fundamental differences, especially regarding passion week (for my interpretation of the order of those events and the other events in Jesus' life, please see the link: in BB 4A Christology, "The Life of Jesus Christ"). In regard to the apostles in particular, the only thing I know of which would be helpful in this respect is A harmony of the life of St. Paul according to the Acts of the apostles and the Pauline epistles by Frank Goodwin. This doesn't help with the earlier portions of Acts, of course, and Goodwin doesn't solve all of the problems at least to my satisfaction (key among which is relating the epistles to Acts). In respect to the Bible generally, the Bible is the only reliable evidence, so that, at least for conservative exegetes like myself, that is the only source that can be used for determining these issues. Internal evidence tells us quite a bit, but it is safe to say that 1) there is nothing even close to an agreed upon chronology among those who take the Bible to be God's Word, and 2) developing a Bible version which reflected such a theory would be a very dicey proposition: hard to do well, certain to be wrong in some respects, and even more certain to be highly criticized.

I would be happy to attempt to answer any specific questions you might have on these issues (to the best of my ability).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior.

Bob Luginbill

Question #6: 

Thank you. I understand. Which as much reading as I've done, have never had the gift of memory that others seem to have not only with scripture itself (perfectly memorized passages and where they are exactly in the Bible). Right now I'm remembering Peter and Paul being imprisoned together yet cant remember whether I read this in or out of the Bible. The list you have on your site then would be the closest to what I'm looking for I suppose.

Thank you again,

Response #6: 

You're very welcome,

In the book of Acts, Peter is imprisoned at Jerusalem three times (Acts 4, 5 and 12) and Paul twice: at Philippi and then Jerusalem-Caesara-Rome (Acts 16 and 22ff.), but they are never in jail together, at least not in the biblical record. There is a substantial amount of extra-biblical tradition, but outside of what occurs in Eusebius, most of it is highly improbable (and I wouldn't accept much of what Eusebius records either). I'm not aware of a tradition that puts them in jail at the same time and place. There is a tradition that the Mamertine prison at Rome was the place where both apostles were held before being put to death (at different times), but of course the New Testament does not tell us even that they were executed, let alone where.

Feel free to write any time.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:  

I believe it was of all things The History Channel. I stopped watching everything biblical they show finding it misleading. Here was another example. Did Paul ever meet any of the original 12?

Thank you again, I can never get enough from the Bible,

Response #7: 

Ah, that explains it – the "Hysteria" Channel. A friend of mine calls it "Bigfoot TV".

Yes, Paul met Peter on several occasions (Gal.1:18; 2:11), but specifically says that in his early journey to Jerusalem he met none of the other eleven apostles (Gal.1:19) – although he does seem to have met John at some point (Gal.2:9). Paul's purpose in the first two chapters of Galatians is to stress his independence from Jerusalem church and the directness (from God) of the revelation he had received.

You are most welcome!

Keep on fighting the good fight of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #8: 

Hi,

Please could you list the books of the bible in the order of events rather than when they were written. As I think reading my bible in this order will help me to understand it better.

Many thanks.

Godbless

Response #8: 

What you ask is not really possible for a number of reasons (please see the link: "Ordering the events of the Bible"). For example, the book of Acts covers the events of the early Church from the ascension of our Lord to Paul's arrival at Rome – but within this period Paul wrote a good number of his epistles (and the dating of these letters is not entirely agreed upon). For another example, the books of I and II Chronicles and I and II Samuel and I and II Kings overlap in their treatments of the history of events, and many of the prophetic books were written during the periods covered by these annals – and there are serious questions about the dating of these books as well, especially when one wishes to pin them down beyond "circa century X". The best one can do, in my view, is to give an approximate chronological list of the dates when the books were written (see the links below) – which is often different from the dates of events they may be recording.

Chronology of the Books of the Bible I

Chronology of the Books of the Bible II

In any case, it is generally understood that the New Testament contains more concentrated doctrinal information which is more necessary for Christian spiritual growth, so that while it is good and important to read the entire Bible and to re-read it all regularly, rather more time ought to be spent on the much smaller New Testament than the much larger Old Testament. I always advise new readers to start with the New, then split their time after gaining some familiarity with it: e.g., one might read some of the Pentateuch, something from Psalms, and something from the prophets everyday in the Old Testament, while reading something from the gospels and something from the epistles everyday from the New Testament (and a systematic approach which covers everything in time is the best way to go). Here is an important link which will give you some solid guidance on how to go about the process: Read your Bible.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #9:  

Hello again Dr. Luginbill, just a few more questions

Why would later manuscripts copyist take away or add on anything to the Holy Scripture? Especially in Revelations where it is specifically stated that it should not be done?

Response #9: 

Hello again – good to hear from you.

As to your questions:

I suppose it's the same question that might be asked about any human being opposing God in any way. Why would anyone reject the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ when the alternative is eternity in the lake of fire? Give people free will, and they will do all manner of sinful things (Adam and Eve and all of us their children). We only do know that this sort of thing has happened with the scriptures (see the link: Interpolations in the Bible), but blessed not that often and not consistently in the ms. tradition with the result that the few false additions which do exist are easy to spot and consequently well-known. See also on the next question – sometimes it is just a mistake.

Question #10:   

Any thoughts on the recent Lexham English Bible (LEB)?

Response #10:

I am not a user of this version. I checked out a few chapters and it seems entirely conventional. Since you asked about Revelation above, I note that in Revelation 22:3 they incorrectly have "curse" (just like almost everyone else; the correct reading is "division"), and that at Revelation 20:5 they include the false interpolation "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed". It is possible, by the way, that this is a "gloss", that is, something someone wrote in the margin to explain what was meant (giving an incorrect explanation at that!) and then assumed by later copyists to be part of the text (that sort of thing happened in secular Classics all the time as well). However, at Bible Gateway, although the text does have footnotes, there are no notes in these instances even to let the reader know of the possibility of a problem. What is really remarkable is that the false pericope of the woman caught in adultery at John 8 is not only present in this version but, although abundantly footnoted, Lexham gives no indication that this is not part of scripture (which it clearly is not)! So while it doesn't seem to offer anything particularly new in its diction, its apparent ignorance of some very basic problems with the KJV text is something I would have to consider a fatal flaw.

Question #11:

Do you recommend any bible commentaries or study guides? What would you suggest that would help in daily Bible reading?

Response #11: 

For daily Bible reading, the best thing in my view is a good study Bible. My favorite is the Kenneth Barker version usually associated with the 1984NIV (but I believe now also available with other versions).

Question #12:  

In FAQ 20 you wrote:

Put simply, square brackets indicate words supplied by me which are added to the text to bring out the full meaning of what the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic is actually saying (i.e., square brackets contain interpretive information). The King James version, for example, uses italics for this same purpose (although much more sparingly than I do). On the other end of the spectrum, the New International Version, for example, only explains such things via footnotes (and is not consistent in doing so): in the NIV it is usually unclear that words or phrases have been added for the sake of interpretation. Parentheses, on the other hand, when they are followed by explanatory abbreviations (such as cf., e.g., i.e., lit., etc.) are used to provide explanatory information, such as the Greek or Hebrew word being translated, parallel passages, etc. Where no such abbreviation follows, the words in the parenthesis are a part of the text. You can find out more about this and other information about the sigla and about how to understand and use these translations generally at the following link: How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys.

Could you please explain the difference between interpretive information (square brackets) and explanatory information (parentheses)?

Response #12: 

More simply put, I use square brackets in the same way the KJV uses italics, namely, to supply words to the actual translation that are to be understood from the Greek and from the context for the meaning to be made clear. I use parentheses to expand on the meaning or to give examples, which is at least one large step further removed from filling out the translation.

Question #13:   

G'Day Brother!

Hope your keeping well! Is there any bible commentary book or books on the market that you highly recommend? Old and New Testament would be great. It would be handy to have something at hand to refer to when seeking a explanation for a passage or verse.

Love In Christ

Response #13: 

The only thing I usually recommend on this score is a good study Bible. My favorite is the 1984NIV Study Bible ed. K. Barker – very good notes, few of which I would strenuously disagree with. Commentaries are usually a terrible waste of money (mostly homiletic, and sermons are a waste of time even when free). Here is a link which will take you to more info on all this and to other links too where these matters are discussed in greater detail with some commentaries mentioned (JFB for NT and Unger for OT being the best of the lot, with the latter much better than the former).

Bible Study Tools and Methods

Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #14:   

G'Day Brother!

I've never used a NIV Bible, I've only used a KJ. Is there much difference if any between the two? Should one be trusted more than the other?

Love In Christ

Response #14: 

Zonderan publishers also have this Bible edited by Barker with similar notes in the KJV version.

As to versions, none of them is perfect. KJV is pretty literal, but ambiguously so with the result that it is often tough to understand what the English even means. This problem is intensified by the fact that the KJV also suffers from anachronism (the NKJV or "New" KJV alleviates this but makes some changes which are not merely for modernizing). Another problem with the KJV is that it was based on some inferior Bible manuscripts. Even though it was not based on the "queen of the manuscripts", KJV is still the "queen of the versions" nonetheless, but there are other good ones as well. I like 1984NIV for reading (of course, because it is an "interpretive" version and they sometimes get it very wrong I am always annotating mine where there are some real "whoppers" in mistranslation). Translating the Bible is a difficult task because it is a question of trying to balance faithfulness to the text with communication of the meaning. In other words, because of the nature of the problem there will always be a need for Bible teachers in the Body of Christ – even for people who know Greek and Hebrew well. You can find out more about what I have to say about versions and translations at the following links:

Read your Bible!

New Bible Translations: Part of a Conspiracy?

Tools and Techniques for Bible Translation

Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations II

Yours in our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:  

Hello sir,

How are you? I need a little help. My wife has started reading the Bible and wants to learn more about all that she reads. Problem is that she doesn't understand English well. English language is a real problem for Her. She has studied at Hindi medium schools and colleges. I have downloaded a Hindi Bible pdf file for her. She reads it happily. She would love to read from your website but that's not possible. So I have to tell her (and sometimes translate) your articles and answers to questions (this is not one of my strengths). I am thinking of buying (when I have the money to buy) a Charles Ryrie NIV study Bible in Hindi for her. I think there are such Bibles available in Hindi but I am not sure. What do you suggest sir?

"God allowed us to get married because I had to come close to God one day" this what she said (not the exact words) with tears in her eyes. She knows she won't be able to consistently read as she is seven months pregnant, but still wanted me to ask you for some guidance.

Sir, you are in my prayers.

In Him,

Response #15: 

Hello my friend!

This is wonderful news! You and your wife have been in my prayers daily since I heard about your marriage, and I will definitely keep you both in my prayers faithfully to the end.

I am not sure if there is a Ryrie version in Hindi. Ryrie is not my favorite in any case. I much prefer the 1984NIV Study Bible which is Zondervan's top seller if I am not mistaken. I don't know whether this is available in a Hindi version, but there is an NIV-like Hindi translation now.

A few words about teaching. First, it is all about the desire to communicate and the patience to do it. If a person has those two things, that person can teach. Second, like all other things, one gets better by actually doing it. Third, I could be mistaken but I am sure that your wife would rather hear it from you than from anyone else. And, fourth, just as no doubt the Lord worked things out for her to be married to you in order to find the path to eternal life, I would consider the possibility that the Lord worked things out for you to be married to her for just this purpose, her salvation but also your development. I have prayed much for you that the Lord would open up a door of ministry. Given your acute intelligence and rare insight into the scriptures, I would be very surprised if the Lord is not meaning to use you in some teaching capacity. Perhaps you should consider this your "boot camp" – an experience which I can tell you from personal experience is very challenging, very memorable, but all to the good in the long run.

And congratulations and your coming child!

God is very good, and He will deliver us through all challenges and trials, come what may.

Thank you for your prayers!

Your friend in Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill

Of course I will be doing the best I can to teach her. I don't know about patience (I am working on it) but the desire is certainly there. Thank you for the link. They have a Hindi study Bible (only new testament). I will find out more about it.

I know your favorite is Zondervan study bible. What is a study bible? Does it have commentary also? I am very careful while reading other people's commentary, but it can be of some help sometimes.

I thought I would find a Hindi bible easily and went to a church ( a huge 16th century building) to inquire. It was not a Sunday so the church was closed. A person was standing there at the gate. He told me that there are no Hindi or Gujarati (local language) Bibles here. They had only one Bible in Portuguese language and he had a hard time recalling where it was. I wonder what they do with a Portuguese language bible!!

I still think it shouldn't be that difficult to find a good Hindi bible.

Thanks a lot for your prayers

In Him

Response #16: 

Great to hear back from you. Given the Portuguese connection in the history of your city, I am pretty sure the church you went to was a Roman Catholic one (especially if it dates to the 16th century). So it doesn't surprise me that they are not distributing Bibles. Before the RC's reacted and adapted to the Protestant Reformation, it was a capital crime for the laity to possess, read or translate scripture. Even today, the Bible is the last thing that generally is of any concern to the RC's. So as to your question, they probably do with it what most people in our lukewarm era of Laodicea do with their Bibles: nothing.

As to study Bibles, they generally have explanatory notes at the bottom of the pages where one finds the text (too pithy to be the same as a commentary – a very good thing!). Ryrie's are curiously insufficient in my view. The 1984NIV Study Bible explanations of things at the bottom of their pages are both generous and fairly good. Not that they either explain anywhere near everything a person want's explained or are right every time they do, but they are well worth having. 1984NIV-SB also has the best cross-reference notes to other verses which say comparable things of any Bible I know. And their introductions, charts, appendices, etc., are, as I have already opined, quite beneficial.

Keeping you and your wife in my prayers. And thank you so much for yours, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #17:  

Hello Dr.,

I hope all is well with you, I want you to know your friend is in my prayers. I also want to thank you once again for your previous answers to my questions.

I was wondering if you knew much about the "net bible" ( https://net.bible.org)? I first heard of it when looking for an electronic bible on my phone and I have really enjoyed its resources. I don't know how accurate the translation is but it often explains the reasoning for translation choices. I don't always understand their explanations but I do enjoy reading their thought process. On the link I sent they also offer various additional study content that is tailored to each passage. Overall it seems like a wealth of bible studying material but I wondered if you knew much about it, or had any thoughts on it?

I also have a question about a specific passage I read in 2nd Timothy chapter 1:

1:16 May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my imprisonment. 1:17 But when he arrived in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me. 1:18 May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day! And you know very well all the ways he served me in Ephesus.

I wondered why Paul would phrase verse 18 the way he did. If we are saved, we have of course accepted God's mercy already so it should already be found. Perhaps this is Paul hoping that Onesiphorus finishes his race but I still wonder why the phrasing "May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day." I hoped you might have some insight.

Response #17: 

First, thanks for your prayers! They are greatly appreciated.

As to your questions:

1) The NET: The "New English Translation" website is a good resource offering easy-to-navigate access to multiple versions of the Bible (although for searching the Bible I very much prefer the Blue Letter Bible site). As to the NET version, it claims not to be based upon prior versions, but that is impossible since translators are human and have read many versions. In that vein, the translation itself strikes me as entirely conventional and offering nothing particularly noteworthy. Its somewhat stodgy without providing new insights – sort of a watered down RSV. So I would prefer NKJV for those who like the KJV but are put off by the archaic language, or 1984NIV for those who want an English translation that actually communicates. Still, that is about style as a general topic. We would have to compare individual passages on the question of accuracy to judge quality over all (and no version is perfect there since all translation is interpretation and no version has managed to understand correctly every verse in scripture).

I find the NET notes troubling from a textual standpoint. I checked out a number of famous interpolations, e.g., John 8:2ff.; Rev.16:13; and 20:5, and note that not only are the false additions included in the text without any indication that there is a problem but that there are not even any indications in the (seemingly "scholarly" notes) to that effect. The two in Revelation are, it is true, less well known to English readers, but this is supposed to be a scholarly venture after all. But the passage in John is one of the most famous false additions in all of scripture and the NET lets people read it as it if were scripture. Even an annotated KJV would give a curious person some indication that they'd better think twice about quoting "let him who is without sin cast the first stone" as if it were biblical.

The other passage that those mostly unfamiliar with the Bible love to quote is "forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk.23:34). Here the NET does bracket the passage, but although the half verse is absolutely not legitimate, the side note leaves the reader with the impression that maybe it does have some legitimacy (it most certainly does not). My overall take would be that the site is useful and the notes occasionally helpful, but I would be wary of putting too much weight on them because they give the impression of erudition and completeness but are in fact wanting in many respects. That is to say, my advice would be to use it if you like it, but not to put all of your eggs in this basket.

2) I think you are certainly correct in your view of 2nd Timothy 1:18. I would add that for Paul reward motivation is a key issue, but so is the "fear" in anticipation of being evaluated by the Lord on "that Day":

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
2nd Corinthians 5:10-11 NIV

After all, "the bad" or worthless things we have done or failed to do will be "burned up" right in front of us with the entire Church looking on when we are evaluated for our lives on this earth (1Cor.3:12-15), therefore "mercy" is certainly something we are right to desire for ourselves and for others (none of us is fighting a perfect fight). So on the one hand we who survive this life with our faith intact have absolutely nothing to worry about in eternal terms and do anticipate blessing beyond imagination in the New Jerusalem; on the other hand, we and our lives will indeed be scrutinized carefully by the Lord and very publicly so on "that Day", something that should motivate us not only to wish for mercy for others (not just salvation but also their spiritual growth and success in the Christian walk), but also to make every day count for the Lord so that we may have as little reason for regret as possible when our turn comes to be "graded" for what we have done or failed to do.

In anticipation of rejoicing at your reward on that great Day of Days!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #18: 

Okay, well I am bit bummed out about the translation and their notes but thank you for looking into it. I noticed when reading Genesis 1 that the notes on verse 2 attempted to discount the gap theory (my impression at least) which got me wondering about other portions of the translation. I definitely like the online study interface though, because I can compare various translations, as well as read articles related to the verses, or find name definitions, or even look at the Greek/Hebrew text (not that it would do me any good), all in one screen. Even so, I see the value in not placing all my trust in the site and its translation.

Thank you for the verse explanation! I sometimes forget that our lives will be thoroughly examined even though we are confident we will enter into His kingdom. It definitely leads one to hope for mercy!

Response #18: 

You are very welcome,

I appreciate your spirit. We are all tested in many ways. I know folks who are "KJV lovers" who have gotten thrown for a loop by suggestions that the version is not perfect. It takes some serious spiritual maturity to continue to love something/someone even after the flaws become obvious (and we all have them, after all).

I also appreciated very much your question on 2nd Timothy 1:18. You are approaching things exactly right. Everyone of us should be reading scripture as carefully as possible and allowing it to speak past our preconceptions. This is the only way to keep growing. It is precisely these sorts of verses which seem at first a bit "off" which, if carefully and fully considered, will bring us closer to "thinking like Paul thought" (e.g.) – and that is a good thing, believe me. Better to read a little scripture every day and actually listen to it as you are doing than to memorize an entire version with spiritual tone-deafness.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:  

Hullo Robert,

I was so delighted to read about Revelation 2 and how if we overcome we will receive a new name in eternity - wow how wonderful - hope I'll make it! Just saw in revelation 3 v 12 "... and I will write upon him my new name ... " Is that the whole Godhead , the Person? There has been so much that I picked up that went crooked and now to get straightened out! Thanks so much. Hope you all well and your mom settled with your brother now ... it is such an upheaval at this our later age!

Could you also include in your answer - what Bible do you use mostly? I have got KJV and an Amplified, but methinks yours is better!

I am just following the lead of the Holy Spirit in the studies and when I come across something will be glad for your answers.

Many thanks

Response #19: 

Revelation 3:12 says "My new name" (Jesus is speaking) while Revelation 22:4 says "His name" (speaking of the Lamb. Since 1) the name is "new"; 2) the form is not specified; 3) we have many names for Jesus in the Bible; and 4) we are not sure at this point what language or what orthography will be employed in eternity, in my opinion it is impossible to say anything beyond what scripture in these passages affirms: we shall all bear the Name of our dear Lord Jesus (in some perfect form or another) for all eternity. One application I would draw from this is that since it is very clearly impossible to state the exact graphic representation of the Name, individuals and/or groups who make a great point about their spelling being correct are entirely unjustified in doing so – and are in fact contradicting what the Bible implicitly tells us here.

As to Bible versions, I use a number of them. The 1984NIV (the original iteration, not the newer one which is not distinguished by name), the NASB, and the KJV more than any others (and in that order). I also have benefitted from the NKJV and the ESV from time to time. I read my Greek NT and my Hebrew OT nearly every day and try not to lay any theological weight on anything I read in an English version before going back and checking the original language. You can find my comments on various versions at the following links:

In "Read your Bible: Protection against Cults" under "Versions".

The New International Version

The King James Version

Who wrote the KJV?

The ESV version

Thanks for your good words – and prayers (very necessary at the moment especially),

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #20:   

OHHH thank you so much Bob. I will study the Bible even more now - not a day goes by that I don't read one or 2 chapters, but now I'll put my nose down and go forth! I am praying for you all the time - I have always been severely attacked by satan to prevent me from this - so I understand what pressures you are under running such a VITAL stream of the Word

I will get a NASB and a 1984 NIV and then have more to refer to.

Yours in our loving Saviour Jesus

Response #20:

You are most welcome,

And thank you so much for your prayers, as things are still awaiting resolution here. I appreciate your efforts on my behalf so much.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Dear Professor,

Please take your time with the questions. Even though I'm always very excited to see your reply in my inbox and hungry for all the answers, I've got a lot of studying to do aside these (your studies, Hebrew, Greek, email responses) and my progress is never hindered if you take longer. I also understand that you are very busy with your classes, your ministry and other commitments.

I was away yesterday and only read your email in the morning without being able to look at the website (I hate days when I cannot commit to studies to the degree that I would like), but only a short while after I left my house in the morning a friend sent me a message about this new Ref-tagger feature on your website saying how helpful it was!

And indeed, having now seen it, I think it's such a helpful addition. I also wasn't aware about this software, so although I thought it could be somehow probably possible to have the passages 'pop up' and I believed it could be useful for the readers, I wouldn't know how to go about installing such a feature. With regard to selecting other versions - now this would be a treat, hopefully it can be done too, but even having one really helps as one doesn't have to constantly cut and paste the verses into biblegateway.

With constant prayer for you and your ministry and in our Lord,

Your student in the Word.

Response #21: 

Thanks for everything, my friend. You can now very easily switch versions from the default as well to whatever version you prefer to have displayed (see the link).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:  

There is something so wonderful on the website now. I don't have to copy paste scripture references to read them. I don't know how you did it , but this going to save some time. When I started reading ichthys I had a very old cell phone (no PC, and still no PC) which had no multitasking, I had to write down all the references on a piece of paper close ichthys , open biblegateway, paste and read passages, close bible gateway, open ichthys, scroll to the point where I was( scrolling was tedious too!). This was the only reason why I bought Blackberry

I pray that a lot of people find this wonderful website.

In Him,

Response #22: 

Good to hear from you my friend! I'm glad this is a helpful feature. People have asked for this for years, and, after one of the recent postings included that suggestion, a reader/user clued me into Reftagger. There are still a few bugs but I'm in the process of working them out. By the way, there is also the option to change to your preferred Bible version (see the link).

I am not a cell-phone user (nor a tablet nor a notebook user). I work from a desktop device both at home and at work. Now that more and more people are migrating to the other devices exclusively, I suppose I am very late in beginning to ask how the site may be made more accessible for, say, Blackberry users (or any smart-phone users). Any observations you might share with me would be appreciated!

Keeping you in my prayers day by day my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:   

Thank you and God will help you continue the good works. Concerning your translations in your teachings. I found them more understandable when I read them to really know what the passage is saying than any other translation. I believe if I could get full canon of your translation it will help me to understand the word of God better as I have come to trust your ministry as my bible study center and you are my teacher. Can you help me with that if you have?

Response #23: 

Thanks for your good words, my friend. I'm happy to hear that the translations I've posted are helpful. They are not in the most poetic English – I have sacrificed stylistics for the sake of bringing out the meaning in most cases. I do not have anything approaching a full translation of any book of the Bible. What I do have is an index where you can find my translations (and in some cases explanations) of the passages I have rendered anew (see the link: Translation Index). If I were to try to translate just the New Testament (which in terms of volume is maybe 15% of the whole) it would take me many years, maybe more than I have left, and would keep me from doing the other things related to the ministry that I need to do. Even if I suddenly became independently wealthy (no great danger of that at present, just the opposite), I would probably prefer to use my time to do more with exegesis of individual epistles rather than embark on a traditional translation.

Two other problems which affect any thought of this are, 1) the fact that to be readable a translation has to make hard choices about each passage which I as a Bible teacher am not really willing to make. For example, if a passage means something that is not necessarily readily apparent out of context without some explanation, then I would wish to put in additions (marked by square brackets) and explanations (marked by round brackets) to bring the full meaning out; but that would make a translation composed of many such expansions hard to use as a stand-alone Bible; 2) I learn new things every day, and so I often find myself tightening up the translations I have done in the past and improving them, or just casting and phrasing them in ways I find better; but if I were seeking to complete a New Testament translation, for example, I would have at some point to "stand pat" with what I had done. As a Bible teacher, however, I can approach the issue anew whenever someone asks a question or whenever I revisit a given passage in the course of my systematic treatment of things.

I do appreciate the sentiment, however! My advice to readers is to compare several translations and try to make use of several versions in their day to day devotionals. There are some pretty good ones out there, even if none of them are perfect – and if I did produce one it wouldn't be perfect either.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:   

Dear Sir,

I am preparing a Bible study on the Gospel of John. Your site is one that I have read as I have prepared. I am wondering about the translation of this passage as shown on Part 1 of Satan’s Rebellion and Fall. Is this your own translation and, if so, how should I reference it?

Sincerely,

Response #24: 

Yes, this is my own translation. You may assume that wherever verses are translated but not attributed (i.e., no "KJV" or "NIV", etc.).

As to citation, well, there is no specific "version". I translate verses for these studies or in response to readers' emails when that is helpful to bring out what is actually in the original language (as in the case you mention).

For an informal Bible study, I would imagine just stating where you got it would be good enough. For more on that issue you might check the link: About Ichthys.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #25:  

Greetings

I found your website at //www.ichthys.com/mail-Biblical-LanguagesI.htm through a search engine.

It is a fact that there are DOZENS, DOZENS, and DOZENS of translations of English Bible. Such as: ASV, Beck, CEV, Dallas James, Defined KJV, ESV, Fenton, Geneva Bible, GNB, God Word "translation", Holman, ISV, Jerusalem Bible ( Catholic), Koren Jerusalem Bible ( Jewish), KJV, KJ21, KJV2000, Knox's N.T. ( Catholic), Lamsa, Lexham ( N.T.), MKJV, MLV, NAB, NASB ( 77 & 95), NCV, NEB, NET, N.Ev.T., NIV, NKJV, NRSV, the Org. N.T., Peterson, RSV, Stern, Tynale, Unvarnished N.T., Vic, Williams' N.T., Wuest, YLT, and others.

It is a fact that there are websites ( //www.net-comber.com/bible.html) that list MANY of the English Bibles that have been made over the past hundred years or so.

Concerning Hebrew and the Older Testament. Given the fact that I attend a Messianic congregation I do know SOME ( Enough to enjoy Friday evening services) Hebrew. At the same time I do want to find help in finding out which translations ( Maybe the top 5 to 7. It is just a sad fact that even the best of them do not have ALL of the correct readings and notes that are needed to bring the Bible ALIVE!!!) are CLOSEST to what I am looking for in a Bible. It is a fact that there are THOUSANDS of verses and many questions that could be asked. Since there is sooooo much I know that even if I listed ALL that I have research it would still not cover all of the questions about the Bible.

Concerning Lev.18:3, even though I approve of a literal translation 99% of the time, this is one example where I would prefer a not so literal translation. There is a need to know what the Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic says and also what it MEANS.

Concerning Aramaic, I know that some parts of the O.T. were written in Aramaic. But I am more concerned about places in the Gospels and Acts where Aramaic is likely being used. Such as: Matt. 1:20-22, 4:25, 5:1-7:29, 6:9-13, 9:9, 13:44, 23:1-39 ( Granted there are some things that could have been said in Hebrew rather than Aramaic), 27:46, 28:5-10; Mark 16:15-18: Luke 1:11-20 & 28-38, 2:8-15, 23:28-31; John 1:19-51, 2:3-5, 3:1-21; ect..

Concerning Greek and the New Testament, to me Greek ( Even though it might be more like English than Hebrew is) seems to be an "alien" ( as in UFO) language that FEW are able or willing to translate correctly. It is sad that it seems that all my favorite scholars ( A.T. Robertson, Williams, Wuest, and maybe others) and translators of the New Testament are no longer alive. Sadly it is hard to find people these days who know the biblical languages.

Maybe you could help me. I find it truly sad when translations of the Bible made in these days ( Such as: the CEB, the Message, the TNIV, the Voice) are so full of errors that even one who does not know Greek can find errors in them. There is a need for to know the correct readings and at the same time it is still- even in our modern days of computers and dozens of books- it is still so hard to find a lexicon that UNLOCKS the Greek word so that one can see a PICTURE of what the word, "grace", for example, means so that one can clearly understand what the text says and means.

Concerning Matt. 20:30, I was doing some research on the syntax- in Greek and Aramaic- of the statement the men in this verse gave. It is easy for me to look at and play with the syntax of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The struggle I have is that I cannot find help to know what a word MEANS. For example what does the Greek word for "mercy" mean? What is the PICTURE of this word? The website //concordances.org/greek/elee_son.htm list a bunch of Greek words, but it does not explain what the Greek word means and if this word has any richness to it. Also there is the need to Aramaic and Hebrew. ( We must not FORCE people in the Gospels to speak Greek just because the text of the Gospels and Acts were written in Greek over the century.) [ See Mat. 4:1-11; John 4:6-42; Acts 9:3-7 ( cf. Acts 26:14), 13:14-42, 21:40-, 22:2; ( translations that use the term Aramaic: ESV, Lexham, NIV, and Stern).

It is a fact that many more verses, questions, and ideas need to be looked at. I am just wondering if someone could help me find a couple of Bibles- both that has the readings I would be most comfortable with and also that explain in footnote the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek words and phrases when needed. We need to remember that the Bible was not written in English. It was written in languages that FEW people know these days.

Thank you for you time and possible help.

Response #25: 

As I often have recourse to say, translation is more of an art than a science. There is no such thing as a truly "literal" translation – whatever that would mean – because no word in language "A" means precisely the same thing in language "B", and because on top of that languages are built up of phrases and sentences and paragraphs all of which will have different sounds, textures, nuances and (ultimately) meanings in the target language from what we find in the source language. For that reason, although people often ask me about it, I would never undertake to do a translation of the entire Bible or even of the New Testament. For one thing, I find it necessary to translate in a way that brings out all of the meaning as best as possible, and that seldom results in a flowing and pleasing translation (especially when I include many parenthesis to further explain). Secondly, I am always learning things. Luther kept on "fiddling" with his "Luther Bibel" until his death, and I certainly understand that. In order to do anything approaching a "perfect" translation would require perfectly understanding the scriptures one is translating in terms of their history and language . . . but also in terms of their theology in every particular. Your question about "word pictures" is illustrative of this dilemma. "Grace" or any other word that has not only a long history in scripture but a long history of interpretation and a large fund of contemporary assumption built into it is not an easy word to render short of turning every verse into a long paragraph. Please see the link: "Tools and Techniques for Bible Translation".

But God has not left as orphans. Jesus Christ has equipped the Church with sufficient men with the gift of pastor and teacher to train up as many as are willing to receive it. If this seems counter-intuitive to your experience, well I suppose that is because in my observation there are so very few willing to receive the truth today beyond a bare and superficial level (and correspondingly fewer places where the truth is available in depth and detail).

This ministry, Ichthys, is dedicated to the in-depth, doctrinal, orthodox teaching of the Word of God, I think your email demonstrates the need for ministries such as this, and I believe that the "solution" you seek is in finding the right one for you. You are certainly welcome here any time. I am also happy to answer your questions.

In Jesus Christ the Messiah and the only Savior of the world,

Bob Luginbill

 

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