Choosing a Bible to Pick up and Read

A friend of mine recently got a new Bible. But unlike most printings of God’s word, this Bible does not have any chapter or verse markings whatsoever. It has no footnotes, no cross-references, no headings, and nothing in the margins, and the text is arranged in one column that takes up the entire page. It is also printed in four volumes, each one about the size and thickness of a typical library book.

Picking up a Bible like that might seem pretty strange, until we stop and consider that the chapters, verses, headings, and other study and reference tools in our modern Bibles were indeed put there by man centuries or even millennia after the original works were complete.

As I flipped through one of the volumes of this Bible, I was struck by the way this arrangement of the text altered my perception of it. No longer did the Bible feel like an academic reference book to be squinted at, or digested in little doses. It felt like a powerful story to be read, perhaps even for hours at a time.

There is no doubt that the way any text is arranged, including the Biblical text, can affect the way we respond to it.

Translations are another factor in our experience of God’s word.

One translation might make it a priority to translate the same Greek word into the same English word as consistently as possible, and that might help us to recognize patterns and recurring themes in the text more easily, but in the process it will sacrifice some ability to account for the effect of the context of a word on its meaning.

Another translation might make literalness a top priority, allowing us to focus on the specific role of each word in a sentence, and the specific definition of each word as it relates to the overlying message. Of course, this approach may yield a text that is more difficult to read and comprehend quickly.

Another translation might seek to draw out the ideas in a text using more contemporary styles and expressions in order to make the text easier for our modern minds to understand quickly, but it may give up some of the specificity present in the original language.

Translations lie all across this entire spectrum, from works so literal they are barely readable, to works so liberal in translation technique that they would be more aptly referred to as a paraphrase or a commentary than a legitimate translation.

So how do we decide which text to open?

Here are some tips on selecting a Bible text to read from:

  • Do not choose just one text to use exclusively. We have access to so many different translations and arrangements. Why settle for just one approach when you can consult many?
  • Use a Bible that corresponds to your intended purpose.
    • If you are engaged in a topical study that requires you to jump around frequently and look up various references from commentaries, using a Bible without verse markings could be a nightmare.   On the other hand, if you just want to dive into the narrative without any distractions, the plain uninterrupted text could be perfect.
    • If you are concerned with what the specific grammar in a particular passage can teach us, be sure to use a “word for word” translation.  On the other hand, if you want to listen more passively for the ideas and the flow of a particular work, and idea-for-idea translation or even a paraphrase may be more appropriate.
  • Read the introduction written by the translators. You may have to read between the lines a bit, but this will tell you which principles were most important to the translators for this particular project.
  • Try something new! Getting a new Bible or looking at a translation you do not spend much time in can give you a fresh perspective and a renewed interest. You may notice something that you missed before.
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Scriptures and Thoughts on “Creation”

Our church is embarking upon a weekly study, with a particular word being the focus of each week.  The second word we devoted our attention to was: “creation.”

We have had several requests to make the scriptures and brief notes from these studies readily available online.  Hopefully this can be a helpful resource.

Creation
Genesis 1:1 – in beginning God created
Genesis 1:27 – man created in God’s image
Genesis 2:3 – God rested after He created and made
Genesis 2:4 – in the day that God made earth and heaven
Genesis 2:7 – man formed from dust of ground
Genesis 2:22 – woman made from man’s rib
Genesis 4:51-52 – Ephraim born second
Genesis 5 – genealogy indicates time since creation?
Genesis 6:7 – God sorry He made man and animals
Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart”
Psalm 102:18 – a people not yet created will come
Psalm 104:20 – “you send forth your Spirit, and they are created.”
Isaiah 20:46 – “see the One who created all these stars”
Isaiah 43:7 – God creates people for His glory
Isaiah 45:18 – God, as creator, has authority and deserves glory
Isaiah 48:7 – things created now, and not long ago
Isaiah 65:17 – I create a new heavens and new earth
Isaiah 65:18 – I create for rejoicing and gladness
Jeremiah 31:9 – Ephraim referred to as firstborn
Ezekiel 28:11-19 – Origin of the Devil?
Amos 4:13 – God as creator has authority and glory
Malachi 2:10 – God created us all, so we ought to live in harmony
Matthew 1 – genealogy helpful for chronologies
Matthew 1:17 – “14 generations” and the way Jews did genealogies
Matthew 19:4 – Male and Female an important part of creation
Mark 16:15 – preach the gospel to all creation
John 3:3-8 – born again of water and spirit
John 8:58 – “before Abraham was, I am”
John 17:5 – Jesus was there before the kosmos
Romans 1:20 – we learn of God by His creation
Romans 1:22 – professing to be wise, they became fools.
Romans 1:24-25 – worship and serve creature or creator
Romans 5:12, 18-19 – Sin entered when Adam sinned
Romans 6:1-4 – saved people still need to be told not to sin, why?
Romans 8:18-25 – creation itself to be set free?
Romans 8:29 – conformed to image of His Son
Romans 8:37-39 – no created thing can separate us from God
1 Corinthians 15:42-44 – our new bodies will be spiritual
1 Corinthians 3:1 – mere babies in Christ still live carnally
2 Corinthians 5:17 – old has gone, new is here
Galatians 6:15 – being a new creation matters, not circumcision
Ephesians 2:10 – created for good works
Ephesians 4:24 – new self is created by God
Colossians 1:15 – He is the firstborn of all creation
Colossians 1:16-17 – all things created by Jesus, and FOR God
Colossians 3:10 – we are renewed according to the image of Him who created us
1 Timothy 2:13 – Male leadership reflected by creation order
1 Timothy 4:3 – God created food to be gratefully shared
1 Timothy 4:4 – everything God created is good
Hebrews 12:25-29 – created things that can be “shaken” will be removed
1 peter 2:2 – the new creation is a newborn who must grow
2 Peter 3:4 – “all things will go on like they have since creation…”
2 Peter 3:10 – creation to be burned up
Revelation 3:14 – Jesus is beginning (meaning?) of the creation of God
Revelation 4:11 – all things exist because of God’s will
Revelation 5:13 – every created thing blessed God and the Lamb

Why did God create the universe?
Isaiah 43:7
– for His glory
Colossians 1:16-17 – for Himself
Isaiah 65:18 – for rejoicing and gladness
Ephesians 2:10 – for good works
1 Timothy 4:3 – for grateful sharing
Revelation 4:11 – because of His will

Did God use evolution?
Science has not demonstrated macroevolution, because there is no viable means for adding new, meaningful information to the genome.
Gen 1:27 – Man is made in God’s image, not through unguided, chance processes.
Genesis 2:7, 22 – describes process and does not mention common ancestry and gradual change.
These verses are used as basis of Biblical doctrines throughout the New Testament.
Romans 5:12, 18-19 – Sin of Adam
Matthew 19:4 – Male and Femaleness and marriage
1 Timothy 2:13 – Male leadership reflected by creation order and because Eve was deceived

Literal 24 hour days?
Compare Genesis 1:5 to Genesis 2:4 interlinear (Hebrews word depends on context)
Genesis 1 – Notice, there was no sun by which to judge a day.
Genesis 2:3, God rested on seventh day, Jews also. We worship every seven days.
The Hebrew word itself is ambiguous, but the context of “evening and morning” lends credence to 24 hours being a natural reading, and why posit another period of time? What agenda does that advance?

How long ago was the creation?
Genesis 5
– genealogy/ Matthew 1, focus on verse 17 (in the thousands of years since Adam)

Is Jesus created?
Colossians 1:15
– look at context and at Greek
Genesis 4:51-52 and Jeremiah 31:9 – firstborn indicates preeminence
Revelation 3:14 – look at Greek
Romans 1:24-25 – distinction between creation and creator, as highlighted by placing Jesus in the beginning, before heaven and earth, and before the kosmos – John 17:5
John 8:58
– before Abraham, “I am”
Mark 16:15 – preach gospel to all creation (preach it to Jesus?)
Romans 8:37-39 – no created thing can separate us from Christ
Revelation 5:13 – all created things bless God and Lamb

Will creation be destroyed or renewed?
Isaiah 65:17
– new heavens and new earth
Romans 8:18-25 – creation to be set free? Similar to how Christians will – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 the natural becomes spiritual
2 Peter 3:4, 10 – last time it was a flood, this time it will be fire
Hebrews 12:25-29 – created things that can be “shaken” will be removed

Is Satan created?
Ezekiel 28:11-19
– Origin of the Devil?
1 Timothy 4:4 – everything God created is good

Did God create evil?
1 Timothy 4:4
– everything God created is good

What does it mean for a saved person to be a new creation?  Why do they still sin?
2 Corinthians 5:17
– old has gone, new is here
Romans 6:1-4 – yet they still need to be told not to sin, why?
John 3:3-8 – born again of water and spirit
1 Corinthians 3:1 – mere babies in Christ still live carnally
1 Peter 2:2 – the new creation is a newborn who must grow

Can science explain creation without God?
When scientists try, their answers increasingly converge on God but just insist on using another name.
You have a being that is: eternal… immaterial… present everywhere and constantly, powerfully active… filled with meaningful information… containing a fundamental consciousness… etc.
Stephen Hawking say that the universe can and will create itself from NOTHING! – Romans 1:22

Scriptures and thoughts about: “Word”

Our church is embarking upon a weekly study, with a particular word being the focus of each week.  The second word we devoted our attention to was: “creation.”

We have had several requests to make the scriptures and brief notes from these studies readily available online.  Hopefully this can be a helpful resource.

Question/Discussion topics in bold: scriptures and thoughts follow.

Psalm 33:6-9 – words had power to create
John 1:1-5, 14 – Jesus is Word
John 5:21-24 – Words give us life
John 12:44-50 – Words Judge us
Revelation 12:10-12 – Words overcome the accuser

Inspiration:
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is inspired by God (God breathed)
2 Peter 1:19-21 – not of private interpretation, men were moved by Spirit
Ephesians 6:17 – and the sword of the Spirit; is the word of God
John 14:26 – Holy Spirit will remind you of all I said
Deuteronomy 18:18 – I will put my words in His mouth

Jesus as the Word:
Philosophical History of term Logos
Philosopher quotes
John 1
Colossians 1:19

Do we have the original words of the Bible?
Thousands of manuscript at CSNTM.org

Why Koine?
Widely spoken over a huge area, the common language of the day uniting countless cultures. Also, very highly inflected and specific language.

Why use men to write His words?
Colossians 4:16 – They provided a means of circulating it.
1 Corinthians 16:21 – I Paul, with my own hand – lend credibility

Power of Words
Acts 2:24-27 – God said, so it had to be
Hebrews 4:12 – sharper than a sword

Jesus’ literal words recorded?
“Talitha Cumi”
Mark 15:34 – “Lama Lama Eli Sabacthani”
Consider Inspiration by Spirit, sent by Jesus – John 14:26

Most powerful words?
John 19:30 – it is finished!
Genesis 1:3 – Let there be light!
Matthew 11:28 – Come and I will give you rest

“Words are ambiguous!”
1 Corinthians 14:33 – Not a God of confusion
2 Peter 1:19-21 – not of private interpretation, men were moved by Spirit