The Twisted Bible: Part 2

This Twisted Bible series seeks to unpack and develop many words in English translations of the Bible that seem to be lacking. In this series, we will start by looking at words that could have been translated better (or at least more accurately), and then we will gradually build to translated words that were more heavily twisted, censored, or out-right butchered. If you have not read the introductory post on this series, please read it here. For every word I will give you the link so you can look it up on Blue Letter Bible. There you can see the Greek word, the full definition, and the cross references. Here is an article on how to use it for all its worth.

1) "Rubbish" 
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" -Phil 3:8

Almost all translations use the word "rubbish," though a few use the word "garbage." The Greek word is "skybalon" and it is a compound word that literally means "what comes out of dog." Yup, it means dog crap. If I step in what comes out of a dog, I would not use the word "rubbish" or "garbage" when describing what would be stuck on my shoe. So why is the verse translated this way? Censorship. While we might defend the translation by realizing that kids might read this, we do have to keep in mind Song of Solomon is in those same kids Bibles. Let's be consistent. 


2) "Incredible"
Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? -Acts 26:8

Every translation I could find translates "apistos" as incredible, however what the translation should have been is clear: "A" as a prefix, before a word means the opposite, like atheists, apolitical or asymptomatic, and "pistos" means belief or faith. Every time this word is translated in our Bibles, some form of "belief" is used  except this one. Why would we change this one occurrence? While I don't pretend that it changes the meaning drastically, "unbelievable" makes much more sense and should have been used.

3) "Patience/ Perseverance/ Endurance/ Steadfastness"
The Greek word for  "hypomonē"  is used 32 times in the NT and the linked "hypomenō" is used 17 times  This word is not mistranslated, but rather it is misunderstood in English. We can praise an athelete for their endurance or a missionary for their perseverance  but do we equally praise a parent or a teacher for their patience? The Greek word for all three is the same. Again this does not change the meaning, but this knowledge adds depth. Look at these words in that light:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. -Romans 12:12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,- Hebrews 12:1

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. - James 5:11

4) "Gain"
"But godliness with contentment is great gain." -1 Tim 6:6


This word is only used twice in the New Testament, here and the verse previous. The entire context is talking about money and the word's use in secular sources is always in the context of material acquisitions. While "gain" isn't a terrible translation, it is a weak one when "wealth" make more sense. If Paul wanted the Greek word for gain he would have used "kerdos"  instead of "porismos." Not only would "wealth" be a more fitting translation, but it would keep with the power of Paul's words in this context. Check it out for yourself by reading 1 Timothy 6, especially verses 3-10 and 17-19.


5) "Ineffective"
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. -2 Peter 1:8

The translators used "kids gloves" with this verse in almost all English translations. The Greek word "argos," similar to the word for gain, has "a" as a prefix which means the opposite, so this word is literally the opposite of work. This is the same word that is translated as "useless" in James 2:20 or "lazy" in Titus 1:12, or "idle" in Matthew 20:6. So when we read this in the context of 2 Peter 1:3-12, we see what happens if our faith is not growing. If we have an active faith it will keep us from being "useless" or "idle" or "lazy" or "not working." It is clear to me that the translators probably thought Peter was being a little harsh, so they toned down his words. Let's let Peter can speak for himself.

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