Thought for Thought, or Word for Word?

Robbie came through the den in a very conversational, talkative mood today. He usually talks a little, but today he just had more that he wanted to share than usual. I stopped what I was doing, left my desk, and took a seat on the sofa to listen to him. Since I love him, what he has to say is important. I try to really listen when I can.

Are you happy with the gist of what someone said, or do you want to really know the whole perspective?

When we stop to listen to someone, our relationship with that person grows. We come to know them better. Words contain specifics that we want to consider to really know and understand the other person and what they are feeling. Capturing a thought or the gist of something really is not the same thing as hearing the specific individual words and taking into consideration their meaning.

Scripture can be that way too.

What translation of the Bible are you reading? I’m not going to try to tell you that you must read a certain translation, but I am going to tell you what some of the differences are between the translations so you can make an informed decision.

There are some translations that are so far outside of the norm that I would not call them Bibles at all. I think there was one that did not even refer to God as being male. For the purpose of today’s discussion, we are not going to be talking about those.

Where traditional scripture is concerned or what most of us would think of as a Bible, there are some things that need to be considered. Some translations are word for word, some are thought for thought, and some are a blend. If you are not reading a word for word, you may find it enlightening to compare what you are reading to a word for word translation.

Consider the following verse for comparison:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
Matthew 5:3 MSG

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3 KJV

For those of you who know me, you know I am all for the King James. However, I have read from other versions in the past. Again, my point today is that you must know what you are reading. I found a graph of a “Translation Continuum” online. Believe it or not, the King James was not the closest thing to a word for word on that continuum. However, The Message was the farthest thing away.


Today’s challenge is to find out what you are reading. Where does your translation stand among the rest? Is it a word for word? Is it a thought for thought? Is it a blend? Somewhere in your Bible it may tell you. If you have Internet access, I’m sure you can find out. If you are not reading a word for word translation, consider getting one so that you can compare when you are studying.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

1 Comment

  1. Personally I read and study out of the NIV, I was teaching my children out of the NIRV, easier to read and understand version. But starting 9.11.2011, we have purchased Hard Bound NIV’s, they will last longer, now I will be able to teach actually from my bible. The NIV has everything that the KJ does, it is just listed different, but still in there.

    When I study I use many versions, so when I teach I am able to get across God’s message and not mine. God is never changing, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. But we on the other hand are supposed to change, for without change, we are unable to grow. We start on milk and progress to meat, that shows change. I agree with Jean know what you are reading, but count on God to open His scripture to your understanding in His Holy Word…Bones in CHRIST…!!!