Translation Troubles

Reposted with permission from A Ruby in the Rough:

I can understand why my unbelieving family members and friends have trouble knowing and believing what the Bible actually says when they are confronted with confusion like this:

Psalm 7.11 (YLT): God ‘is’ a righteous judge, And He is not angry at all times.

Psalm 7.11 (KJV): God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

Source:, Comment #3

Or this:

Matthew 20:22 (ESV): Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”

Matthew 20:22 (KJV): But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.


Mark 9:49 (ESV): For everyone will be salted with fire.

Mark 9:49 (KJV): For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

Source:, Comment #1

Or this:

Genesis 27:39-40 (KJB): thy dwelling SHALL BE the fatness of the earth

Genesis 27:39-40 (NIV): Your dwelling will be AWAY FROM the earth’s richness

Genesis 27:39-40 (NASB, ESV): AWAY FROM the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling


2 Kings 23:29 (KJB): “In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt WENT UP AGAINST the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and king Josiah went against him; and he slew him at Megiddo, when he had seen him.”

2 Kings 23:29 (NKJV, NIV, NET): “In his days Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt WENT TO THE AID OF the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him, And PHARAOH NECHO (Footnote – literally ‘he’) killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him.”


Jeremiah 51:3 (KJB): LET the archer BEND his bow

Jeremiah 51:3 (ESV): Let NOT the archer BEND his bow


Hosea 10:1 (KJB): Israel is an EMPTY vine

Hosea 10:1 (NASB): Israel is a luxuriant vine




Source and read more:

Yes, I am aware that there are textual issues underlying the different translations.  However the plethora of English translations, in my experience, makes witnessing to unbelievers more difficult and adds to their confusion.  The more that different translations are consulted, the more work the reader has to do to figure out what God actually says, which places the reader in the position of determining what the actual word of God is since contradictory statements can’t all be right.  This is hard enough for a believer, let alone an unbeliever or new believer.  Not everyone has the time or ability to wade through the textual issues for each verse in order to properly understand the Bible.

Consider these words of David Engelsma:

“Third, preachers weaken the people’s trust in the reliability of the Bible which they use when they so often and so casually say, “The reading of the KJV is wrong; the better reading is…” I find evidence of mistrust when, in a debate in a Bible study class, a member will say, “Maybe the Greek is different,” or, somewhat cynically, “Probably, the original has something else.””

Source: APPENDIX: THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE to the article, “Modern Bible Versions,” in the section, “The Issue of the Greek Text of the New Testament”

Have you found that different translations have caused confusion amongst unbelievers or new converts?  If so, how have you helped them figure out which translation is “correct” regarding any given verse?  How many translations should people be expected to consult when reading the Bible? How can Bible readers “know” with any degree of certainty what God actually said?

~1 Corinthians 14:33 (KJV): For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…~



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