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In recent days I have been reading and studying the letter of Jude in various translations. Everything was going along swimmingly until I picked up the Common English Bible. (By the way, be careful not to confuse the CEB with the CEV, the Contemporary English Version. Too bad they have such similar names and acronyms.)

Anyway, I ran across this rendering in the CEB that I consider questionable, and I will explain in a little bit.

5 I want to remind you of something you already know very well. The Lord, who once saved a people out of Egypt, later destroyed those who didn’t maintain their faith. (emphasis added – GZ)

Here is the way the new NIV (2010) renders this verse:

5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

The two Greek words translated in this portion are πιστεύω (pisteuō), which means “them that believed”, and μή (mē) which means “not” (Blue Letter Bible). In other words, the phrase means “them that believed not” or “those who did not believe”.

That’s quite a bit different from the concept that is presented to us in the CEB, “those who didn’t maintain their faith”. That makes it sound like the people who were destroyed were people who at one time had faith, but they failed to maintain that faith and so lost it, and because of that failure they were destroyed. That concept is nowhere even implied in these verses. In fact, one would be very hard-pressed to prove that the concept is even present in the whole of the scriptures!

Is this a betrayal by the translators of their own belief that a person can lose their salvation, injected into this verse?

As I have said before, I am not a Greek scholar; I am no expert in this and I could be proven wrong. But it appears to me that this is yet another example of shoddy workmanship by the translators of the Common English Bible, and yet another reason I cannot recommend that Bible to my readers.

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