The word "convert(s)" is NOT in the Bible - Twisted Bible Part 4

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.

"Greet my beloved Epae
netus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia." -Romans 16:5b
"You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia" -1 Corinthians 16:15b
"He must not be a recent convert" - 1 Timothy 3:6a
"And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas," -Acts 13:43

Are we called to make converts to Christianity? 
If we read these verses we would conclude that we are indeed called to make converts - but you would be wrong. The word "convert" is not in the Bible; it is a terrible mistranslation. Listed above are the only three times the word "convert(s)" occurs in the New Testament. The first two verses use the Greek word "aparchÄ“." This word is found eight other times in the New Testament, but in all these other instances it is translated "first fruits." The 1 Timothy 3:6 verse is actually the only occurrence of the Greek word "neophytos" which is a compound word that literally means "new sprout." And Acts 13:43 refers to converts to Judaism which is the word "prosÄ“lytos" as seen in Matthew 23:15, this word refers to Gentiles who become Jews, more literally translated "newcomer." While this verse and word does not connect to Christianity, I wanted to include it to be thorough. So how does this impact the translation of the word to "convert"?

The truth is this translation is horrible and it matters! Because of these four verses, we think the idea of conversion is a Biblical concept. Because of this, the idea of Great Commission can be (or is) completely twisted. Instead of the example of Jesus making 12 disciples by sharing life together, we see Billy Graham "converting" thousands in an unbiblical prayer. It's not that a prayer can't start our journey of faith, but we mistakenly believe that after this magical prayer we have 'arrived.' If we think all we have to do is convert people, we miss the point of discipleship and process of faith. 

In this light, may we all remember we are not in the same place we used to be - we all began as "new sprouts." May we also give grace to those who have just started this journey, coming alongside others so all can be benefited. 
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home


Post a Comment