My Response to the Teaching, “Read the Scriptures, not the Bible”

For a while, I have come across notable believers charging the rest of us to stop depending on the Bible but to read the Scriptures in the original languages: Hebrew for the Old Testament and Greek for the New Testament. This is similar to the notion that unless you call the Son of God by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, you are not addressing Him. That means your prayers are in vain at best or they are idolatrous at worst.

According to American television personality, Kathy Lee Gifford, in a Christian Post article. “We have not been taught The Truth. And we wonder why we have no power in our lives. We’re quoting Scripture that isn’t true understanding.

“If we’re not quoting what it actually says in the Greek, actually says in the Hebrew, then we’re not speaking The Word and The Word is everything.”

While I support reading the Scriptures in the original languages and improving our understanding of it if we can, I do not see that as the reason Christians lack power in their lives because that argument does not take into account believers who are illiterate and the basic conditions for receiving God’s power.

This idea that revelation and power can come only to those who can read the original Bible languages fails to answer the question, “How about those with limited education?” The apostles weren’t educated and yet they exhibited so much power that thousands upon thousands of souls were saved and the Jewish authorities tried so hard to stop their ministry.

This was the assessment of the Jewish leaders when Peter and John were summoned before them after they healed the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate of the temple and converted thousands with their subsequent preaching:

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13

In their translations of this verse, the NIV described them as “unschooled,” ESV called them “uneducated” and the NLT said they had “no special training in the Scriptures.”

Although they quoted Scripture, it’s possible they couldn’t read it for themselves but depended on what they heard in the synagogues, what they were taught by the Lord Jesus and what educated members of their group read to them.

Similarly, I have seen believers who can hardly read and even those who have just been saved gloriously anointed and exercising the power of God.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was not much different in educational,terms. Although He could read, He had no special training in teaching the Scriptures such as the Pharisees and teachers of the law could boast of.

“14. When the feast was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple [court] and began to teach. 15. Then the Jews were perplexed. They said, “How did this man become learned [so versed in the Scriptures and theology] without formal training?” 16. Jesus answered them by saying, “My teaching is not My own, but His who sent Me.” – John 7:14-17 (AMP)

What the Jews failed to realise was that God was teaching Jesus directly as His Son, a privilege we also have today via His Spirit (John 14:10).

The insistence to learn the original languages is like the Jews’ expectation that one cannot handle the Word rightly without formal training. The gospel has been embraced by people all over the world who speak many different languages and have different levels of education. Learning Greek and Hebrew can never be a precondition for them to understand Scripture, to teach and live out its power in our day.

Such an insistence makes light of the great work that has been done by Bible translators to make the Scriptures accessible to millions in the languages they speak. It also fails to recognise the role of the Holy Spirit as the Teacher and Interpreter of the Word to each believer.

“But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie-just as it has taught you, abide in him.” – 1 John 2:27 (ESV)

“11. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” – 1 Corinthians 2:11-13

I believe that whatever errors are transmitted in translation are not sufficient to shut us off from the true revelation of God and His power because of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Varying interpretations of words and passages cannot affect the essence of our faith when the Spirit of God is actively working in our hearts.

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And talking of errors, I imagine that even the Scriptures in the original languages may contain some as well. These scriptures were written by fallible human beings albeit under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They could have missed something of what they received in their writing. I personally doubt that any human language can fully capture a heavenly message.

Furthermore, there was no technology for duplicating the Scriptures, so these original writings were duplicated by scribes. These scribes were human beings copying the words. Every copy was written by hand. It is quite possible that in that laborious process, they could not always make entirely perfect records. A jot or tittle misplaced could change the meaning of a word and several more could change the meaning of a passage. And so what is technologically multiplied in the Hebrew and Greek translations today may still be short of the original revelations.

However, more damaging than the notion of unintended errors in translation is the allegation which I read on the Facebook wall of a famous Nigerian Christian, Reno Omokri, that “many of the translators of Scriptures were either occultists, or worked for occultists, and they translated the Scriptures with their agenda in mind.”

Wowl Telling fellow believers that the Bible they are reading is misleading and was translated by occultists to promote an evil agenda? How distressing! But to what gainful purpose? None of these “insights” promote faith or joy in our walk with God. Rather, they breed a sense of betrayal and defeat. Why pray or trust God if the Word we have came from occultists?

This “insight” fails to acknowledge that God will use any available person to accomplish His purpise, including the heathen like King Cyrus of Persia (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Isaiah 45:1-4). And that regardless of anyone’s agenda in doing anything, God can use the product for His own purpose.

The point I’m making is that nothing is perfect this side of heaven but we can make the best of what we have because God is in control and His Spirit is in us. Rather than burden believers with this notion that the Bibles they are reading are inaccurate, I think it’s better to point out the more dangerous misinterpretations, like those that diminish the incarnation of Christ and make certain sins acceptable.

This is because spreading the idea that only the Scriptures in original languages are reliable could destroy the faith of many and send them on the journey of learning these languages before believing, which is no mean task and detrimental to their ability to withstand the devil meanwhile in these perilous times.

Besides, knowledge of the Scriptures in the original languages does not necessarily translate to more piety or power. In fact, 1 Corinthians 8:1 warns that, “Knowledge puffs up.”

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A lot of hardened “Christians” out there have seminary degrees (including PhDs), they can dissect the Hebrew and the Greek but they spend all their time arguing about words and phrases and tearing one another down. Some of them do not believe in the authority or infallibility of the Scriptures and do not submit to the rules of godly living.

Their adventure into digging deeper into these languages only show them “contradictions” and what they consider the possibility of varying interpretations to crucial verses upon which Christian moral teachings and conventions are based. They, therefore, question the Scriptural foundations for forbidding things like fornication, adultery, homisexuality and same-sex marriage. I came across many of these “learned Christians” in some Facebook groups and was shocked at their coldness, arrogance and unbelief. They were dismissive and callous towards Bible-believing Christians and those who differed from their particular opinions.

Note that I am not alleging that every knowledgeable Christian is this way but I am warning against the pursuit of knowledge that, if we are not careful, will throw us into confusion, make us ungracious and ultimately render our profession of faith meaningless. Any study we wish to undertake should be done with the guidance of mature Christians who love the Lord and are living in submission to His Spirit.

Conclusion:
The Apostle Paul wrote that, “the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified” – 1 Corinthians 1:22-23. It doesn’t take a knowledge of the original languages to do that and when we do, the signs the Lord promised follow us.

“And these signs shall follow them that believe …” – Mark 16:17

“Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” – Acts 14:3-4

But what ultimately matters is not how much we know (Titus 1:16) or how much power we exercise (Matthew 7:22-23) but how faithfully we have followed the Lord. That is what will grant us entry into His presence now and in eternity.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” – John 14:23

Prayer:
Lord, guide my search for knowledge but keep my heart pure. May I not put any stumbling block before fellow believers and may I not allow anyone’s knowledge or declarations to dampen my faith. Keep me earnest in my service to you and wholly open to the instruction of Your Spirit in Jesus’ name.

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The scriptures in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
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Amplified Bible (AMP) Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers

❤️
I welcome your views on the matter addressed in this post. Have a happy new month!

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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

58 comments

  • Ezike Winifred udochukwu

    Nice one…what I just believe is that most times we are guided by the Holy Spirit in all our endeavours..Jesus was not a literate so it baffled the scribes on how he got to know so much about the scriptures but what they failed to realize was that he was being guided and taught by God ,a privilege we also enjoy as well.?

    • lthough the Lord Jesus did not go to school, he knew how to read and write. He also knew the Scriptires and taught with more authority than the teachers of the law. God at work! And He said we can do more than Him. Amen in Jesus’ name.

  • MBAM PATRICK C.

    I strongly believe that there is ultimate power in the scripture(Bible) whether it was wrongly translated or not.And for those preaching that will read the scripture in it’s original language, I have a simple question for you, are you equally charging those who can’t even understand Hebrew or Greek language to go and read the original scripture ? Or one should not read the normal scripture till when he/ she learns Hebrew or Greek language ?… Thank you ?

    • Man, people are just laying heavy burdens on others as if things are easy for everyone. The problem is that ordinary people will be stressing over something people in the upper class said and be demoralised in the process. That advice should be highly qualified. It’s not for people that are struggling in life. It’s well with you!

  • Ugwuanyi Maryann

    Nice write up ma’am. These languages remind me of speaking in tongues. My question today is who knows about the truth in the bible because I feel everyone doesn’t know. And then how can we actually know what’s the truth and what’s not……

  • Nkwocha Chibueze Innocent

    We have seen people perform miracles even without reading the original scriptures. On the day of Pentecost, people spoke different languages that were understood by the apostles. That means we can reach God through any language.

  • Ngene Bob Charles

    Did Daddy Freeze make that statement because I know he’s one of the very many over zealous scholars that advocate for originality in reading the scriptures

    Well..I’ll always say that God’s power is not in the pages, it’s carved in our hearts and our spirits…the true test of faith is the ability to excite and activate the Word of God in our hearts.

  • Abah Okpe Gabriel

    Thanks ma for bringing this topic out, I believe we are at liberty to give or call our God any name we want to, we don’t really need to live by a script written by another person to live or do some things in some certain ways, I will relate this to the catholic church where readings of the daily masses are same but are translated in different languages, can we now say they are not following the order of reading. Happy new month ma

  • Chigbu Pamela Chinwoke

    Everything that the scripture says may not always be true. Sometimes some parts of what the original scripture says may be omitted because it is human beings like us that wrote the scriptures in the Bible. May we never be misguided on losing the strong faith we built by ourselves…God bless you ma?

  • Abah Okpe Gabriel

    On the day of ascension Jesus commanded his disciples to preach the good news, he knows very well that different tongues abound in the world but yet he charged them with that responsibility, before he created us he knows who we are so he understand whatever language we use in our communion with him, Hallelujah

  • Ossai Chidimma Linda

    In the past this was an issue for me and I realized that thinking in that direction led to me doubting the existence of God and that feeling didn’t give me peace,so I returned to the scriptures and realized that I had peace , this peace did not come from reading the original Hebrew version but from God’s undeniable voice in my heart. So let each believer believe what he or she wants and serve God as they deem fit.

  • Ejiofor Emmanuel

    I agree with you ma. It doesn’t matter whether we read the Bible in its original languages or not. What matters is that we understand the message through the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ gave Christians the assignment to share the word of God to different parts of the earth, He didn’t say they should make people to learn the languages in which the Bible was originally written for them to be converted to Christianity.

  • Biniboi Ehima Blessing

    Indeed, this is an issue that has led to diverse controversial debates among our Christian leaders…… It has ended up weakening the faith of our younger believers and made them see Christianity as a religion of too many rules that can never be followed accurately…..
    Thanks for this wonderful work!!!

    What the Jews failed to realise was that God was teaching Jesus directly as His Son, a privilege we also have today via His Spirit (John 14:10).
    This caught my attention and got me thinking ???

  • Ibe Favour Kalu

    Knowing Greek and Hebrew can never be a precondition for understanding God’s word and having power in our lives. We should recall that most of the Bible literates were the Pharisees and Sadducees,yet they never understood God’s word and his love. I believe that God gave the Bible translators the knowledge to translate the word of God to many languages because he(God) wants everyone to be able to read and understand the Bible(word of God) in our own way. Let’s not forget that the holy spirit will always teach and lead us to the truth.

  • Ogbonnaya Noble Comfort

    The truth remains that great transforming power lies in the word of God and it is only when you believe that it will have effect on you as a Christian.

    Thank you ma for uplifting souls

  • Anekwe Paschaline

    I’ve come to accept the fact that no matter how we search, we will never be able to truly comprehend God. I also believe that it is not all about reading the scriptures but it is all about seeking God in all sincerity.

  • Ozioko Glory Oluchi

    Bible is full of mysteries and only the holy spirit can unveil them. Reading the Bible in Greek or Hebrew language does not guarantee a full knowledge of the word. Anyone who reads the Bible without the help of the holy spirit will definitely end up in confusion. Well I believe that the person who preached about reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew language does not know the work of the holy spirit in the life of a believer and I pray that God will help him in Jesus name

  • Obeta Lillian Chiamaka

    The knowledge of the word of God is the greatest knowledge

  • Ezidimma Odinakachukwu Oluchukwu

    The word of God remains our guide and knowing God means you will shine in His light

  • Anokwuru Catherine Ihuoma

    No matter what language you read the Bible in, if you’re not reading it with the spiritual guidance of the Holy Spirit then you’re just reading story or history. I think this is an issue of misplaced priorities, we as Christians should be spreading the word of God and bringing people to the light not having vain arguments that will push unbelievers further away from the gospel of Christ.

  • Ikea Joy Chiamaka

    I believe that Christians should open up their hearts and accept the holy spirit. The holy spirit gives guidance in every aspect of life. Even a theologian or Bible student can read the Bible cover to cover and not understand, but the holy spirit grants understanding and discernment. In everything we do as Christians, we should always channel the holy spirit because it will definitely make us not just better Christians, but also better human beings.

  • Adebanjo Adenike Rebecca

    God works with His spirit in men that seek Him and not the original use of language in which the Holy Book “Bible” was written. There are various interpretations of the word of God to guide us, with simple understanding as a Christian, which, I will say, I prefer the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (RSV) to King James Version, because it exokayterms to me in the way I will comprehend God’s words to me, unlike the archaic use of English language.
    If original use of language in interpreting the Bible or calling the name of God will pose a barrier in knowing who this God is, it will eventually lead many out of this religion.

  • Abiayi Ifeonuchukwu

    I’ll always say that God’s ability to do powerful things is not limited to the words in the bible,it’s beyond that.. His power is inside of us as His children that bears His Spirit. So whether you read the Bible in Greek or Hebrew,it doesn’t stop God from working in you as long as you are a yielding vessel, and as long as you open your heart to understand His word through the help of the Holyspirit

  • Oruma Nneoma Goodnews

    We should remember that Jesus sent the holyspirit to us to be a comforter and a teacher.Therefore, no matter what errors are in the version of the scriptures you are reading,he will teach you and correct all errors.He will guide you into all works of righteousness once he dwells in you so the issue of bot reading the original scriptures does not come into play.

  • Ibaro Harrison Chidalu

    Sometimes people argue with limited knowledge or out of ignorance just to consolidate or validate their personal opinions on some issues.
    We pray God for the peace that surpasses understanding.
    Thanks for this insightful submission ma!

  • Ndukwe Akwara

    Reading the Bible from the original word does guarantee
    understanding of it, all translation of the Bible still says the same thing but different English words . let’s be conscious of that to avoid being confused

  • Sambo Deborah Friday

    I believe that the power in the word of God can be exercised by any one no matter the language he/she speaks, come to think of it, was it not the same God that created every language?

  • EMMANUEL AGBOWO

    The word of reno unthoughtful…. the scripture is for all nations and races and that’s why we have the igbo translation everyone is not a Prof.

  • Ezeh Loveth chinemerem

    I totally agree with you ma.it doesn’t matter if we read the Bible in it’s original language.what matters is the way we understand the meaning and seeking God in all sincerity.

  • Ugwu Doris chinenye

    From all this write up I was able to get one important thing. You don’t read the Bible but the holy spirit teaches you the word of God from the scriptures. Some people won’t still get this because they’ve not climb up to the realm which interprets while reading the scripture. Till you climb that realm of spiritual exposure then you can hear the holy spirit teach you his words.

  • Eze Esther Nzubechukwu

    I agree with you ma
    I think people are free to give a different translation to the scripture provided it’s saying the same thing.
    We communicate to one God in our different ways of understanding.

  • Sochi

    This particular statement says it all”The apostles weren’t educated and yet they exhibited so much power that thousands upon thousands of souls were saved and the Jewish authorities tried so hard to stop their ministry.”
    To me what matters is believing in Jesus Christ and having the holy spirit

  • Reading God’s word in the original language does not make us have power,we don’t need to be educated to have God’s power. It’s the holy spirit who makes us understand the deeper meaning of the word of God and it gives us power.

    • Ibrahim Mariam

      In as much as there are different translation of the Bible it all says one thing, and the holy Spirit is needed for the interpretation of the scripture.

  • John Adoyi

    I love this, I wish Daddy Freeze would read this and learn.
    It doesn’t matter the language the bible is written, what matters is the message and how well people get the good will message of the bible.

  • Chisom Efobi

    All these arguments are what leads the church astray.
    The Bible says that ‘God knows Our shortcomings yet He accepts Us’.
    We are all the same whether literate or not before His eyes.
    The only thing God is interested in,is Our hearts for the scripture says’ He knows what is in our heart’s even before we say it’.
    Guarded by this assurance, we know that God listens and hears Us irrespective of our faults and sins.

  • Amalu precious

    One do not need any degree or the highest education to be saved or be a true child of God. The holy Spirit is the real teacher for both spiritual and physical matters. With the holy Spirit upon you as a Christian, even moving the biggest mountain would be the least of what you will be able to do.

  • Ugwu Bridget

    You are right ma. Wether we read the one written in the original language or not. God has given us the holy spirit to teach and guide us to understanding.

  • Odumuko Oluchukwu Victoria

    Some people think it’s until they read the Bible in it’s Hebrew or Greek form, they’ll understand the word of God, but they forget that it’s the Holy Spirit that teaches and gives understanding.

  • Zita Ezechi

    It doesn’t matter what language or translation you read the bible in
    What matters is the knowledge of God in your heart and how you put what you read to practice

  • Iyorakpo Dorathy

    Nice write-up ma. I strongly agree with this line you wrote, that “varying interpretations of words and passages cannot effect the essence of our faith when the spirit of God is actively working on our hearts”.

  • Obong Phebe

    Yes. One key thing I learnt is that as believers we should not focus on the knowledge but allowing the inspiration of the scripture to change and guide our daily lifestyle. Because its not how much verses we can quote that matters but how well we’re able to put those verses into practice while running the race.

  • Mogekwu Esther

    Knowing the Greek and Hebrew doesn’t necessarily birth mor understanding and revelation . The Holy spirit is our revealer and guide into all truth not the version or language.

  • ONAH IFEANYI CALEB

    This lines really mattered to me “Rather than burden believers with this notion that the Bibles they are reading are inaccurate, I think it’s better to point out the more dangerous misinterpretations” this is because the devil seem to have been very good at opening the minds of many intentional believers to what really does not add to another Christian’s faith neither advance the Kingdom but rather tears down the church and causing upheavals of misunderstanding.
    But I pray that the true Spirit of the Living God will open our eyes into the true knowledge of Him. 2Corin 3:18

  • ONAH IFEANYI CALEB

    “Rather than burden believers with this notion that the Bibles they are reading are inaccurate, I think it’s better to point out the more dangerous misinterpretations”

    The above lines really mattered to me which is because the devil seems to have been very good at opening the minds of many intentional believers to what really does not add to another Christian’s faith neither advance the Kingdom but rather tears down the church.

    But I pray that the true Spirit of the Living God will open our eyes into the true knowledge of Him. 2Corin 3:18

  • Mercy Nnenna Otisi

    Personally, I believe that translating the scriptures to a language other than the one they were originally written in renders it completely literal and saps out every ounce of spirituality from it (this is why most Christians lack spirituality). I believe this is why everyone that practises the Islamic religion has to first learn the Arabic language which the language that the holy book of Islam was written in.

  • UTAZI PATIENCE

    Very interesting, the main thing is to understand the scripture and we can only achieve it by the help of the holy Spirit.

    • Victor Adimchimma Ogenyi

      God doesn’t look at our illitracy, what he’s looking for is our heart towards him.
      1john 2:27 as you quoted said “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie-just as it has taught you, abide in him.”
      What need is to abide in him thats all.
      Your conclusion also summarized it all ” But what ultimately matters is not how much we know, or how much power we exercise, but how faithfully we have followed the lord.”

      It is only our faithfullness that can garantee us the enternity we are hoping for.

  • Emeka Nnaji

    Many people forget that Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a relationship in which language isn’t a barrier.

  • Adiele Onyedikachi

    I have never heard of such a thing before, this can lead to loss of faith, just like telling someone that before Christ can forgive them they have to beat their sins our of them and you see people being flogged in the name of being born again, all these are false doctrines

  • Okoli Ifunanya

    No matter the language or translation, interpretation of the bible or scripture is from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth, if we have been getting answers to our questions from reading the bible then is that the “wrong” Holy Spirit too?

  • Obajie Chinonyerem

    This is eye-opening

  • Ani Gift Onyinyechi

    Thank you ma for this wonderful insight.

  • Aguguesi God'sfavour Idimmachukwu

    The most important thing about reading the Bible is under standing it, whichever way that works for you is good. Just let the Holy Spirit work on you and lead you

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