First of all, you may have noticed the little feature at the top of my sidebar that I added yesterday, which I call “My Bible Preferences Today”. It’s exactly that! It’s simply the Bible translations that I prefer to use myself, at this time, i.e., “today”. The list is based on my own preferences, and my own educated opinion. If you disagree with my list, that’s OK, it’s my list, not your list! 😉
You may also have noticed that right now the top spot belongs to the TNIV. Yesterday it belonged to the NLT, but I changed it today. You see, I was doing some studying in the NLT last evening, reading in Romans 5 and 6.
Romans 5:1-2 in the NLT reads this way:
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
Verse one is fine. But when I read verse 2, something just didn’t seem right about it to me. The first three words, “Because of our faith”, make it look almost like Paul is insinuating that Jesus is doing this for us because of something we did, that is, that we decided to place our faith in Him. Of course, that goes against, and doesn’t allow for the normal reformed interpretation that says salvation is wholly a work of God, not of ourselves. I honestly doubt that the translators at Tyndale intended that interpretation, but that’s the way it appears to me, unfortunately.
Other translations put it more clearly in the Calvinist camp:
“1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (ESV)
“1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (NASB)
“1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” (TNIV)
All three clearly attribute the work to the Lord Jesus Christ, even though they do not completely downplay the existence of our faith or its acting in this.
I’m no great theologian, of course, but it seems to me that the NLT is perhaps interpreting this passage a bit too much.
Let’s look at another passage, Romans 6:3-4.
“3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (NLT)
The NLT clearly is talking about water baptism. But the wording of the Greek is such that a number of excellent commentators, particularly John MacArthur, tell us they don’t think water baptism is even in view in this passage. Let’s look at the other three translations:
“3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (ESV)
“3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (NASB)
“3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (TNIV)
Notice these three all have the same terminology, “baptized into Christ Jesus”, “baptized into his death”, and “baptism into death”. Now I won’t presume to lecture anybody on Greek, but we all know that the Greek word translated here as “baptize” actually means to “immerse”. And that doesn’t necessarily mean in water. In fact, if you substitute “immerse” wherever these verses say “baptize”, it still makes perfect sense. We are immersed into Christ Jesus; we are immersed into his death; and immersion into death. It really doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with water baptism. It could be talking about water baptism, but the Greek is ambiguous enough that we can’t say absolutely.
However, the NLT translates this as definitely, positively referring to water baptism, and I don’t think that is wise. They are pushing their own interpretation on an ambiguous term. And that’s why I am becoming hesitant to use the NLT as one of my main translations. There is just too much of a tendency by the translators to interpret terminology as definites when the actual meaning is more uncertain.
The TNIV, on the other hand, gives us the ambiguity without interpreting it for us. In that, it is a more “accurate” translation, and is a major reason that I am now rating the TNIV as my personal #1 translation to use for my own Bible reading and study.