Two kinds of Bible translations include formal equivalence and functional equivalence. These terms describe either word-for-word versions (formal) or thought-for-thought versions (functional or dynamic). Some versions, like the New King James Version and English Standard Version, seek to make a comparable one-to-one connection between the original form of words in the biblical languages to their new form in English. It is why we call them word-for-word translations. The translators of these versions believe that mimicking the syntax (order) of the original wording should have some priority—that standard English syntax should bend to imitate Hebrew and Greek syntax.
Other versions, like the New International Version, New Century Version, New Living Translation, and Good News Bible, seek to make a corresponding connection between the function of the biblical words in English. These are called thought-for-thought translations. The translators of these versions believe that the original content of the message should have priority over the syntax (order) of the wording. The philosophy of the translators of The Passion Translation is that the meaning of God’s message to the world has priority over the grammatical rules of the biblical languages.
This was the basic philosophy Martin Luther used when he translated God’s Word into German for his people: “I must let the literal words go and try to learn how the German says that which the Hebrew expresses. . . . Whoever would speak German must not use Hebrew style. Rather he must see to it—once he understands the Hebrew author—that he concentrates on the sense of the text, asking himself ‘Pray tell, what do the Germans say in such a situation?’ . . . Let him drop the Hebrew words and express the meaning freely in the best German he knows.”
We have prayerfully followed the same model, seeking to understand the essence of the text and express and reproduce its meaning in the best English we know. We have worked to remain faithful to the biblical languages by preserving their meaning while conveying God’s original message in a way that modern readers can understand, resulting in an entirely new, fresh, fiery translation of God’s Word. This translation represents an attempt to translate the original tone of God’s Word, and not just the linguistics, so that every English speaker can clearly and naturally encounter the heart of God through his message of truth and love.
Many wonderful versions of the Bible grace our bookshelves, bookstores, software programs, and even apps on our phones. In fact, 88 percent of households own an average of nearly five Bibles! So why add one more?
The reason is simple: God wants his message of love to be received in every culture, every community, and every language. About every hundred years or so, the vocabulary of people undergoes a dramatic change. In this era of modern technology, we find an even more rapid shift. Therefore, it is important to keep translations of the Bible in step with changes in the English language. That’s where The Passion Translation comes in. The goal of the translators of The Passion Translation is to bring God’s fiery heart of love and truth to this generation, merging the emotion and truth of God’s Word, resulting in a clear, accurate, readable translation for modern English readers.
God refuses to meet us only in an intellectual way. God also wants to meet us at a heart level, so we must let the words go heart deep—which is what the translators are trying to do with this project. There is a language of the heart that must express the passion of this love-theology. That’s why The Passion Translation is an important addition to peoples’ devotional and spiritual life with Christ.
To see the differences between The Passion Translation and other versions of the bible, click here!
The purpose of The Passion Translation is to reintroduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader. It doesn’t merely convey the literal meaning of words. It also expresses God’s passion for people and his world by translating the essential, original, life-changing message of God’s Word for modern readers in a way that is clear and readable.
You will notice at times certain words or phrases are italicized. These italicized portions are not in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts but are implied from the context and their essential meaning. They expand the essential meaning of the language by highlighting the essence of God’s original message. This practice is a common one, used by many mainstream translations including the King James Version and New American Standard Bible. Where the text requires clarification, such translations have added English words.
Following in this translation tradition and mainstream practice, we have made implications explicit for the sake of narrative clarity and stronger conveyance of the essential meaning of the Bible’s message. Without distorting or detracting from the Word of God, this practice helps modern readers enjoy a natural, accessible understanding of God’s message, just as ancient readers experienced.
Every translation rests on a set of standards, criteria, and principles and embraces a certain process for expressing God’s originally inspired texts in another language. Our team has engaged a three-stage process for bringing the original languages into modern English. First, they analyzed the passage in the biblical language to establish its essential meaning. Next, they conveyed the meaning of the words in English. Finally, they converted the meaning in a way that expressed the language of the English world while preserving the original message’s meaning.
Fee and Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth say:
Our view is that the best theory of translation is the one that remains as faithful as possible to both the original and receptor languages, but that when something has to “give,” it should be in favor of the receptor language—without losing the meaning of the original language, of course—since the very reason for translation is to make these ancient texts accessible to the English-speaking person who does not know the original languages.
Our team wholeheartedly agrees. Furthermore, we used the same widely used standards marked by mainstream evangelical translations to make The Passion Translation an accurate, faithful, clear, and readable translation for twenty-first century English readers. A passage was adjusted if required for grammar, meaning, clarity, and readability.
First, grammatical correctness had priority over rigidity of form, given the differences between Hebrew and Greek and English grammar. Second, the essential meaning of a passage took priority over the form of the original words. Third, while correct meaning is important, so is clarity. Every translation makes frequent adjustments to ensure not only that a passage’s meaning is correct but also that it is clearly understood. Our team made the same adjustments in favor of clarity. Fourth, adjustments were often necessary for the sake of readability, or naturalness. Like other translators, Brian Simmons made adjustments to make a passage or verse better reflect the way we speak modern English. These four criteria are standard for the process of converting the essential meaning of God’s words so that people can understand the essence of God’s original message.
Finally, the translation was theologically reviewed by professionals such as Rick Wadholm Jr. (PhD), Gary S. Greig (PhD), Jacqueline Grey (BTh, PhD), Jeremy Bouma (MTh), David Housholder (Fulbright Scholar in New Testament), Stephen D. Renn (BA[Hons]; DipEd; MDiv; MA [History]; EdM), Justin Evans (MTh; MA), and others.
The resulting translation is one that remains faithful to the original form of the ancient biblical languages, while functioning in a way that preserves the essential meaning of God’s message for English readers. It follows in the tradition of mainstream functional, dynamic equivalent translations while also transferring the essential meaning of God’s original message found in the biblical languages to modern-day English. We believe that the essential meaning of a passage should take priority over the form of the original words so that every English speaker can clearly and naturally encounter the heart of God through his message of truth and love.
Over the past several decades, there have been many new discoveries regarding the documents and manuscripts that have been compiled to form our Bible, especially the Aramaic manuscripts of the New Testament. Aramaic and Hebrew are related linguistically, and both are considered to be emotional and poetic. Greek speaks to the mind while Aramaic and Hebrew speak powerfully to the heart.
It is widely known that Aramaic was the language Jesus, the apostles, and the earliest Christians spoke. It was the dominant language in most settings in which Jesus taught, probably the first language of most Galileans outside urban areas and the common tongue of most Judeans. It was the lingua franca of the ancient Near East until nearly the third century. Some recent biblical scholarship has begun tracing many of Jesus’ teachings back to an original Aramaic source. Some even argue the original Greek manuscripts were translations of even more Aramaic sources. For instance, Jesus’ famous “Son of Man” reference doesn’t make sense in the Greek; it’s a downright Semitic, non-Hellenized, Aramaic figure of speech if there ever was one. And an ironic wordplay can be discerned in Matthew 23:24, where “gnat” (qamla) and “camel” (gamla) are in obvious parallelism, signifying an Aramaic layer beneath the Bible. In order to fully utilize this layer and the recent developments in biblical textual and source criticism, Brian Simmons compared both Greek and Aramaic translations throughout this monumental project. Although based on Greek primacy, when he has resorted to using the alternative Aramaic text, which may vary minimally from the Greek, you will notice an explanatory footnote to let you know. We believe using the ancient Aramaic sources in addition to the original Greek ones adds an important lens through which to read God’s Word and understand his revelation of truth and love. We trust you will find the nuance added by the Aramaic to bring a greater clarity to the inspired text.
Craig Keener notes, “The bilingual milieu of the Syrian and Palestinian churches undoubtedly facilitated the ready translation on a popular level of Jesus’ sayings from Aramaic to Greek…” (Craig Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2009], 159). Likewise, Michael Bird argues that large sections of the Gospels “are capable of being retroverted back into Aramaic,” suggesting Aramaic sources have a place in the Jesus tradition (Michael Bird, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2014], 44). Given these recent advances in textual criticism regarding the Aramaic of the Bible, Brian Simmons believes it’s time to bring this forgotten, neglected language into the translation equation because of how influential the language was during the first and second centuries on the biblical world and the Bible itself. A growing chorus of scholars is recognizing certain idioms and phrases are better understood by referring to the Aramaic behind them. Therefore, where appropriate, our team has applied the lens of this language better to capture the original cultural and historical context of God’s Word. It is also meant to act as sort of a prism through which to further illuminate the meaning of God’s original message, acting as an alternative perspective to the typical Greek-centric one.
The truth is that Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic) differ foundationally from our Indo-European languages (Greek, Latin, English). Not just having a different grammar and vocabulary, Semitic languages have an entirely different operating system. Their speakers employ spatial tools, rather than temporal (timeline-based) tools, to describe their world. Classical Semitic languages don’t even have past, present, and future tenses as we know them! Semitic thinkers expressed themselves with full-bodied physicality and passion that can be uncomfortable for English readers. What we think of when we hear the word kingdom and what a Hebrew speaker pictures with the word malkuth can be orders of magnitude apart. Jesus was not just a theology teacher; he was teaching a potent Semitic spirituality and worldview centered on God’s power, available to us who are made in his image. He did not come just to forgive sins but also to teach us how to walk and live our lives in step with the dynamic source of all things: his Father and ours. Why not carry as much of this passion and vitality as we can into our translations of the Bible?
Brian Simmons is the lead translator for The Passion Translation. His background in translating the Bible originated while assisting in translating the Paya-Kuna New Testament, providing the unreached Paya-Kuna people group of Panama with a copy of God’s Word for the first time. Since then, he has leveraged this linguistic and biblical-languages background to translate the entire New Testament and a growing number of books of the Old Testament into modern English.
Single-author translations have deep, historical roots. In the early church, Jerome composed the Latin Vulgate; during the Reformation, Martin Luther translated the biblical languages into German; and William Tyndale’s English translation later impacted the King James Version. There have been many single-person translations in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the translation of J. B. Phillips, J. N. Darby’s Darby Bible, The Complete Jewish Bible by Dr. David H. Stern, Young’s Literal Translation by Robert Young, Kenneth Wuest’s The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, The Kingdom New Testament by British New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, a translation of the New Testament by American philosophical theologian David Bentley Hart, and more.
Although Brian Simmons is the lead translator of The Passion Translation, he is part of a team that gives oversight and accountability to the translation project in the historical missionary translation tradition. Working in Panama, Brian’s skills were shaped according to this missionary tradition. Unlike the committee translation tradition of many Western Bible versions of the Christianized, developed world, by necessity new translations of God’s Word in the unreached majority world are undertaken by either single individuals or small teams of people who are skilled in biblical languages and linguistics. They also go beyond translation to transculturation, where the goal is transferring the essential meaning of God’s message into contemporary relevance for the people group.
Relying on these same skills with the biblical language, linguistics, and transculturation that were honed during his time translating in Central America, Brian has sought to faithfully translate the essential message of God’s Word into the contemporary, relevant language of today. And adopting the same stringent guidelines used through his missionary work, including teamwork and accountability, his work has been theologically reviewed by professionals such as Rick Wadholm Jr. (PhD), Gary S. Greig (PhD), Jacqueline Grey (BTh, PhD), Jeremy Bouma (MTh), David Housholder (Fulbright Scholar in New Testament), Stephen D. Renn (BA[Hons]; DipEd; MDiv; MA [History]; EdM), Justin Evans (MTh; MA), and others.
From: “On Translating The Second Testament” by Scot McKnight, Scot’s Newsletter July 10, 2023:
Know this, there are lots and lots of individuals who have translated the Bible. I would guess that more translations are by individuals than groups or committees. But I get it. Since it’s the Bible shouldn’t a translation transcend one person? Yes, I would say, for the most part.
Think about the individuals who have translated the Bible: Jerome translated the whole Bible. Luther translated the whole Bible. Tyndale translated most of the Bible. They are not the exceptions that prove the rule of committee translations. They are not that exceptional. I just grabbed this from Wikipedia:
While most Bible translations are made by committees of scholars in order to avoid bias or idiosyncrasy, translations are sometimes made by individuals. The following, selected translations are largely the work of individual translators:
- Noah Webster's Bible Translation (1833),
- Young's Literal Translation (1862),
- Emphatic Diaglott by Benjamin Wilson (1864),
- Julia E. Smith Parker Translation (1876), "Translated Literally",
- J.N. Darby's Darby Bible (1890),
- Five Pauline Epistles, New Translation (1900) by William Gunion Rutherford,
- Bryant Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (1902),
- Modern Reader's Bible (1914) by Richard Green Moulton (1918)
- Helen Barrett Montgomery's The Centenary Translation (1924)
- George Lamsa translated The Holy Bible from Ancient Eastern Manuscripts (1933)
- S. H. Hooke's The Bible in Basic English (1949),
- R.A. Knox (1950),
- J.B. Phillips (1958),
- Verkuyl's Berkeley Version (1959),
- Holy Name Bible containing the Holy Name Version of the Old and New Testaments (1963) by Angelo Traina,
- The Living Bible (1971) by Kenneth N. Taylor,
- The Bible in Living English (1972) by Stephen T. Byington,
- Jay P. Green's Literal Translation (1985),
- Heinz Cassirer's translation (1989),
- The Complete Jewish Bible (1998) by Dr. David H. Stern,
- American King James Version (1999) by Michael Engelbrite,
- Eugene H. Peterson's The Message (2002),
- The Original Aramaic Bible in Plain English (2010) by David Bauscher,
- Father Nicholas King's translation of the Greek Bible into English.
- The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary, by Robert Alter (2019)
Others, such as N. T. Wright, have translated portions of the Bible.
Now I’m not so sure the word “most” is accurate above, but that list ought at least to give us pause about questioning one person translating the Bible. Plus, that list is not all that accurate. I’d give William Tyndale and Coverdale and Charles Williams, which a friend of mine in college used often. Matthew’s Bible was basically one-man efforts: Tyndale and Coverdale completing what was unfinished by Tyndale.
Commentaries, pastors, professors, and Greek teachers all over the world singularly translate the NT constantly in classes. All the time.Read the Full Article Here
Although some Bible readers might assume making a translation permanent and unchanging is a good thing, Bible scholar Tremper Longman III explains why this is unwise: “Most translators and linguists would say that such an approach to translation is actually less accurate in terms of communicating the thought of the ancient writer to a modern audience” (Christianity Today, 9/28/2016). The reason is because our knowledge of the Bible’s language and culture increases, and English language usage changes over time.
We affirm this position, believing that advances in our understanding of the original biblical languages, discoveries in biblical scholarship, and continued developments of English usage necessitate regularly assessing the translation and its notes to ensure faithfulness, accuracy, readability, and clarity.
It is a common practice for modern, mainstream translations to make minor or even significant revisions and updates to the translation. In 2011, the Committee on Bible Translation updated the New International Version, unlocking the 1984 edition and revising around 5 percent of its content. They continue to meet yearly to assess the translation and make necessary changes and adjustments. Similarly, in 2017 the Holman Christian Standard Bible was revised to the Christian Standard Bible, updating translation and word choices.
Such translating committees constantly monitor developments in biblical scholarship and changes in how English is used. Brian Simmons and translation partners pledge to regularly review The Passion Translation and its notes for its faithfulness and accuracy in light of the latest biblical scholarship, and its readability and clarity in light of modern English usage.
The Passion Translation is an attempt to bring God’s fiery heart of love and truth to this generation, merging the emotion and truth of God’s Word. The result is a clear, accurate, readable translation for modern English readers, permeated by the heart of God and the emotion of his Word.
It is a valid question to ask: “Can someone who does not share the fiery spirituality of the Bible writers, such as Moses and John, translate it faithfully?” Jesus talks about approaching God in “Spirit and in truth” (John 4:16–17). It is possible for academia to major in the latter and neglect the former. But it is not anti-intellectual to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance when interpreting the Bible. All truth is God’s truth. “Sprit and truth”—we need both. Who would want to read a Bible translation lacking the dynamic and robust spirituality of the ancient writers, who were inspired by the Spirit?
The truth is that Semitic languages (Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic) differ foundationally from our Indo-European languages (Greek, Latin, English). Not just having a different grammar and vocabulary, Semitic languages have an entirely different operating system. Their speakers employ spatial tools, rather than temporal (timeline-based) tools, to describe their world. Classical Semitic languages don’t even have past, present, and future tenses as we know them! Semitic thinkers expressed themselves with full-bodied physicality and passion that can be uncomfortable for English readers. What we think of when we hear the word kingdom and what a Hebrew speaker pictures with the word malkuth can be orders of magnitude apart. Jesus was not just a theology teacher; he was teaching a potent Semitic spirituality and worldview centered on God’s power, available to us who are made in his image. He did not come just to forgive sins but also to teach us how to walk and live our lives in step with the dynamic source of all things: his Father and ours. Why not carry as much of this passion and vitality as we can into our translations of the Bible? The translators’ care in conveying the heart language of the Bible is not a selective elevation of one aspect of the Bible above others; rather, it represents our effort to holistically translate the message, tone, and focus of the Word as faithfully and accurately as possible.
The heart and mind are not opponents in God’s Word but allies and supporters of each other. If we want to grasp the fullness of God’s character and his passion for our lives, we must recapture this lost language. The genuine message and fullness of God’s good news in Christ is laid bare in and through the Bible’s emotion-language.
God refuses to meet us in a merely intellectual way. God wants to meet us at heart level, so we must let the words go heart deep—which is what we’re trying to do with this translation project: To bring words that go through the human soul and into our spirits. There is a language of the heart that must express the passion of this love-theology. That is why The Passion Translation focuses on drawing out Scripture’s heart and emotion language—to benefit peoples’ devotional and spiritual lives with Christ.
Throughout the process of writing The Passion Translation, we took great pains to express God’s message faithfully from the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts into modern English. One area that challenged us was translating the original male-oriented pronouns and terms from the ancient biblical text in a way that was clear and readable in our twenty-first century context. Our translation philosophy is to transfer meaning, not merely words, from the biblical text to English. We believe that the meaning of a passage takes priority over the form of the original words. Therefore, where appropriate, we translated male-oriented pronouns and terms in a gender-neutral way when it was clear God’s message applied not merely to men but to men and women collectively. For example, in Galatians 4:12, Paul pleads with the church of Galatia to become like him. It is clear in the context that his message is to both brothers and sisters in the faith, to the “beloved ones,” as The Passion Translation says. Therefore, the passage is translated like this: “Beloved ones, I plead with you, follow my example and become free from the bondage of religion. . . .” This example represents several instances where it was clear God’s original message wasn’t merely for men but for every person—every “beloved one.”
In fact, this gender-neutral approach is a more faithful representation of the biblical languages as they would have been understood by native readers. Generic male-oriented terms in the ancient Greek aren’t as female-excluding as similar language is in English. English shares a problem with French. Both of the words man and homme are distinctly masculine but have also been used to refer to any person or humankind in general. German (Mensch) and biblical Greek (anthropos) do not share this handicap. Any German woman can call herself a Mensch. Any Greek woman could call herself an anthropos. These languages have other words for males (Mann and aner/andros). But no English-speaking woman can say, “I am a man.” English Bibles often translate the generic anthropos as man, which excludes women more than the biblical text did.
Also, when Paul opens his letters, he often uses the word adelphoi. English translators stubbornly insist that the Greek means “brothers.” But this ignores the root meaning of the word adelphoi. The root delph- means “womb.” Thus, a dolphin (from the root delph-) means “fish with a womb.” Adelphoi, then, literally means “those who have shared a womb.” Literally, “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.” It never should have been translated “brothers.”
Thus, the ancient biblical text is often less sexist than English.
Where we didn’t convert male-oriented pronouns and terms, however, is when they referred to God. So when Jesus said, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my father too. And from now on you will realize that you have seen him and experienced him,” we clearly maintained the proper terms to refer to God in the masculine—just as God’s original message communicates.
The Word of God was never meant to be studied only in personal isolation but proclaimed and preached in community. From the Israelites to Christians throughout church history, God’s people have read aloud the Holy Scriptures, a tradition that Jesus modelled in the temple (see Luke 4:16–20). Given that it was meant to be read aloud, it is vital that the Bible is clearly spoken when read and easily understood when listened to.
The Passion Translation has been crafted with modern English readers and listeners in mind, which is why it is ideal for modern English churches. The cadence and word choices, sentence structure and emotive language all lend a hand in helping readers easily proclaim passages, pastors clearly communicate God’s Word, and listeners understand the specific message God wants them to hear. Whatever your role in the church today, The Passion Translation will help your messages come alive with the fiery passion of God and help your listeners encounter the heart of God.
Both the English Standard Version and The Passion Translation have the goal of accurately and clearly conveying God’s Word in contemporary language. The two also seek to balance the original meaning of words and God’s original message, yet the translators of The Passion Translation believe the meaning of God’s message to the world has priority over the grammar rules of the biblical languages. Where the ESV often favors mimicking the syntax (order) of the original wording in a word-for-word style, The Passion Translation consistently favors creating a corresponding connection between the function of the original biblical words in English in a thought-for-thought expression of God’s Word. Consider this example from Galatians 2:15–21, in which you’ll notice the difference between the two:
From the ESV:
We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
Although we’re Jews by birth and not gentile “sinners,” we know that no one receives God’s perfect righteousness as a reward for keeping the law, but only by the faith of Jesus, the Messiah! His faithfulness has saved us, and we have received God’s perfect righteousness. Now we know that God accepts no one by the keeping of religious laws!
If we are those who desire to be righteous through our union with the Anointed One, does that mean our Messiah condones sin even though we acknowledge that we are sinners? How absurd! For if I start over and reconstruct the old religious system that I had torn down with the message of grace, I would appear to be a lawbreaker.
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
My old identity has been co-crucified with Christ and no longer lives. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, dispensing his life into mine!
So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, then Christ would have died for nothing.
You can see how The Passion Translation takes this complicated passage and enhances its meaning by going beyond Greek and Hebrew language patterns, which don’t translate well into English, in order to bring out and magnify God’s original message. The section of Galatians from the TPT Bible brings greater clarity and understanding by translating the original Greek in a way that’s faithful and fresh, reliable and readable. That’s why this section from Paul’s letter in the TPT Bible reads as if he wrote it to contemporary English readers! To see more differences between The Passion Translation and ESV as well as other versions of the Bible, click here!
The King James Version of the Bible has been the most well-known, well-loved Bible translation in the English-speaking world for centuries. In fact, for 55 percent of Americans—and perhaps for you—it’s their translation of choice. While the legacy and impact of the KJV is rich and deep, many do not see it as an ideal translation for your personal devotional life for two important reasons, both having to do with language.
First, the forty-seven scribes who translated the King James Bible didn’t know all we know today about the Bible’s original languages. While the Hebrew text was adequate, their understanding of it wasn’t. They also relied upon texts like the Greek one of the New Testament known as Textus Receptus. Originally collated by Erasmus of Rotterdam and updated by French scholar Stephanus, this text was an improvement over previous New Testament Greek sources but marked by several problems. It was based upon few Greek manuscripts largely representing the Byzantine type of text dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which most scholars believe was a revision, even expansion, of the originals. And in places where no Greek text was available, the Latin Vulgate was translated back into Greek. Since then, we’ve discovered many earlier Greek manuscripts dating far closer to the original manuscripts of the New Testament than those composing Textus Receptus. The most significant and accurate of these include Codex Alexandrinus (dated AD 400), Codex Sinaiticus (AD 350), and Codex Vaticanus (AD 325)—all found after the composition and publication of the KJV. Now most modern translations use Novum Testamentum Graece edited by Nestle and Aland (currently the twenty-eighth edition) as a translation source, which incorporates these and other important manuscripts and which The Passion Translation references.
Second, the KJV does not reflect our modern language. Phrasings such as “thou art,” “ye shall,” “thus saith,” or “thou knowest not” are not commonly used today. If we don’t speak like English speakers from the days of Shakespeare, why read or preach from God’s Word in a language from the seventeenth century? While there are undoubted literary qualities of the KJV that marvelously express the English language, it is no longer a living language. It’s a language that spoke God’s message of love to people then in the language of their day; we need that same message right now in today’s language.
The Passion Translation is designed to help you encounter the heart of God in your day, just like the KJV did in its day. We respect the legacy of the KJV and are indebted to its impact and influence. We also appreciate that it has been a trusted, cherished source of spiritual encouragement for many, nourishing their faith for years. Yet, because of the language issues of the KJV, we encourage people to find a translation based on the latest manuscript scholarship and one that communicates God’s original message in contemporary English. To see more differences between The Passion Translation and KJV, as well as other versions of the Bible, click here!
The New Apostolic Reformation, commonly known as NAR, is a name used by some Internet apologists and critics to identify leaders mostly in the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions who affirm (or seem to affirm in part or full) a group of beliefs the critics oppose. Brian Simmons has been unfairly identified with this non-movement because of his association with some of these leaders and affinity with Pentecostalism. Further, such critics have falsely accused Simmons of writing The Passion Translation as a stealth maneuver in support of the non-movement’s agenda and to bolster it theologically through translation renderings. Neither of these accusations are fair or accurate. Although his audience certainly includes the Pentecostal or Charismatic believer, he affirms historical Christian orthodoxy and is very much at home within the broader evangelical tradition.
Simmons undertook this translation project because he felt a calling from God and because he has always wanted to bring people into a greater understanding of the wealth and treasure contained in the Bible. For more information, see our TPT statement of faith below.
There can often be confusion in the Christian community when it comes to various versions of the Bible, particularly the differences between “translation” and “paraphrase.”
A paraphrase involves rewriting content into the paraphraser’s own words. Such a version of the Bible utilizes an existing English-language translation as its base text. It paraphrases one version into more contemporary language. For instance, in 1971 the creator of The Living Bible paraphrased the existing American Standard Version of 1901 to create a new English-language Bible version.
A translation, however, uses the biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts as the base text for a new version of the Bible. It translates these original languages into a modern language. For example, the translators of the New International Version in 1978 worked off the ancient-language manuscripts to produce a new English Bible by translating those ancient languages into the modern language.
Similar to such functional or dynamic equivalent translations as the New International Version and the New Living Translation Bible versions, The Passion Translation is a new version of God’s Word that is considered a thought-for-thought translation because it uses the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts to translate the essential message of Scripture into contemporary English. Whenever implied words or phrases are made explicit for the understanding of the reader, this additional language is made clear by employing italics in the tradition of translations such as the King James Version or the New American Standard Bible.
The Passion Translation is an excellent translation you can use as your primary text to study God’s Word seriously because it combines the best aspects of what are called formal and functional equivalence Bibles. It is a balanced translation that results in an entirely new, fresh, fiery translation of God’s Word. Furthermore, this is perhaps the first modern English translation to incorporate Aramaic, the mother tongue of Jesus and the disciples, to shed extensive light on our understanding of the New Testament.
This translation philosophy will benefit your serious study of Scripture in several ways.
- The text was interpreted from the biblical languages, carrying their original meaning and giving you an accurate, reliable expression of God’s original message.
- The meaning of a passage takes priority over the form of the original words so that every English speaker can encounter the heart of God through his Word in a way that’s natural and readable.
- This thought-for-thought translation keeps the Bible in step with changes in modern English, helping you clearly understand God’s original message and how it applies to your life in the twenty-first century.
- This translation reclaims Aramaic texts, bringing the full texture of God’s Word to the surface and helping you recapture the original essence of the teachings of Jesus and his disciples.
- This version taps into the love language of God, letting the words of Scripture go through the human soul, past the defenses of our mind, and into our spirit. Countless people have told us how The Passion Translation has helped them freshly discover intimacy with Christ in their journey through Scripture and that it has rapidly become their favorite translation of choice for Bible study. We are thrilled to offer this accurate, faithful, clear, and readable translation for your serious study of God’s Word and look forward to hearing how it helps you encounter the heart of God anew.
One of the benefits of The Passion Translation is the generous notes, which further highlight and explain key verses and passages. To aid you in your study of God’s Word, Brian Simmons made several kinds of footnote comments:
- cultural and historical aspects lost to modern readers
- important readings of Old Testament verses in light of Jesus Christ
- insights regarding deeper meaning behind the text
- variations in ancient manuscripts
- alternative translations
- cross references to other Scripture in the Bible
- renderings that depart from traditional expressions
- contextual implications
- verses that use the lens of Aramaic for greater insight
The copyright policy can be found on the copyright page inside each TPT Bible. You may also view www.thepassiontranslation.com/permissions to find out more information about how you can use The Passion Translation for your projects.
We understand that for many Christians, deity pronoun capitalization is an important issue. For some, the decision not to capitalize words such as him, he, his, you, your, my, and mine when referring to God shows dishonor for the Almighty and is another sign Christians are allowing a godless society to affect our respect for God.
Yet after much prayer, thought, and conversation, we made the decision not to capitalize deity pronouns. Because this is such an important issue for some of our readers, we have listed the reasons why we have made this decision:
- Original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek manuscripts do not capitalize deity pronouns. (Hebrew doesn’t have a different form for capital letters, and the Greek New Testament manuscripts were often in all caps.) To capitalize these pronouns would be adding something to the original text that does not otherwise exist.
- Because of that, in some cases, the capitalization is a call on the part of the translator, who must interpret whether the pronoun is referring to God or another person in the text. Thus, in those cases, capitalization of deity pronouns can actually cause a misreading of the text and limit the meaning the Holy Spirit may want to convey to the reader.
- The practice of capitalizing deity pronouns did not begin until the time of King James, when they capitalized all words relating to royalty. This carried over into the King James Version translation of the Bible and into a few other translations such as the NKJV and NASB, but capitalization is not a standard practice in most translations available today.
- There is a very difficult consistency challenge when you begin to capitalize these pronouns and other words. For example, if you capitalize He, Him, His, My, and Mine, why not capitalize you and who, or other indefinite and relative pronouns, which is not done in other translations?
- We (as do most other publishers) follow the Chicago Manual of Style and The Christian Writers Manual of Style. Neither recommends this practice.
- Other highly respected Christian authors have made a similar decision, so we are not alone. (Max Lucado made a statement online of this decision.)
- Since The Passion Translation is being distributed internationally, we sought to consider other audiences in this decision. Capitalization of deity pronouns is much less of an issue outside the US and in many cases is not desired.
- Once you start, it’s very easy to get lost in all the words that should be capitalized due to a direct or indirect reference to God or any spiritually significant person, place, or thing.
This explanation may not be satisfactory to some, but we want readers to know this decision was made after much thought and prayer. We trust you can see it is not a simple issue. We also trust that this heart-level translation of the Bible will deepen your passion for God as you experience God’s passionate heart for you.
The writers of the Old Testament had many labels for God, but when using his proper name, they wrote YHWH (Hebrew writing often leaves out vowels). Over time, people started speaking Adonai (Hebrew for “lord” or “master”) whenever they came across YHWH in the text so that they wouldn’t accidentally take his name in vain. Known as the tetragrammaton, YHWH has been translated in most English versions as “LORD” (all caps). Whenever you see LORD in all caps, you know that the Hebrew word YHWH is part of the text. YHWH has often been mistranslated into English as “Jehovah” (a mistaken blending of the consonants for YHWH with the vowels for Adonai). We translate YHWH into English as “Yahweh” to recapture the passion with which King David wrote many of the Psalms, calling on God by his intimate personal name. Martin Luther (in the sixteenth century) had a feel for this intimacy also, choosing to refer to God (in his German translation of the Bible) with the informal/intimate personal pronoun du, which is normally reserved for family and closest friends. The original writers of the Old Testament wrote with passion about a personal God who shared his name with them. That sense was lost over time. We aim to recapture it.
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The Bible: We believe the Bible is the only inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God, inerrant in its original manuscripts, communicating exactly what God desired to communicate to us about himself and his redemptive plan for humankind. The Bible has all authority over issues of faith and life. We believe the canon of Scripture is closed and complete. (2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; Heb. 4:12; Ps. 19:7–11)
Trinitarian God: We believe that there is one God, eternally existing in three persons and in one essential unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Deut. 6:4; Mt. 28:19; Jn. 10:30)
Jesus Christ: We believe in the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, eternally begotten of the Father and of one being with the Father, who is coequal in power, glory, authority, and dominion with the Godhead; his virgin birth by the power of the Holy Spirit, taking upon himself the flesh and blood of full humanity; his sinless life, who was himself tempted in every way just as we are, yet conquered sin; his miracles, displaying his power and authority over creation while offering a foretaste of the kingdom of God; his vicarious and substitutionary-atoning death through the shedding of his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins; his bodily resurrection from the dead after three days as foretold in the Scriptures, the firstfruits of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died; his ascension to the right hand of the Father, where he sits in full glory and power, having all things placed in subjection under his feet by the Father; and his bodily return to earth in power and glory. (Jn. 1:1, 14; Lk. 2:1–21; Acts 2:22–36; Heb. 1:1–4; Heb. 2:9–15; Heb. 4:4–5:2; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:5–10; Col. 1:13–20; Col. 2:8–12; Jn. 19–20; Acts 1:9–11; Rev. 20:1–6)
Holy Spirit: We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is fully divine and proceeds from the Father and the Son, co-equal and co-eternal with the Godhead; his full participation in the activity of the Godhead, from creation to salvation-history to the consummation of all things; his present, ongoing ministry through God’s people after having been given to the church at Pentecost; his indwelling and empowering of Christians, enabling them to live a life of godliness and effective service for Christ. (Jn. 14:15–27; Jn. 16:7–15; Rom. 8:1–27; Gal. 4:16–26)
Humankind: We believe that God created humans, male and female, in his own image and likeness, creating them as free and responsible moral agents with the choice to faithfully serve, follow, and obey the Creator God. However, everyone has sinned against God and has fallen short of God’s glory and intended purpose. All people are dead in their sins and offenses. (Gen. 1–3; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 5:12–14, 17–21; Rom. 6:23; Ps. 51:3–6; Ps. 139:13–16)
Salvation: We believe the Son of God, Jesus Christ, willingly offered once and for all the one supreme sacrifice for the sins of the world—a perfect sacrifice through which he has made us perfectly holy and complete in justification, sanctification, and glorification. Salvation is found in his name alone, for there is no one else who has the power to save us; there is no other name by which people can be eternally saved from sin and death and restored to relationship with God. We believe that personal repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit are absolutely essential for the eternal salvation of sinful and lost humans. (Jn. 1:12; Jn. 3:16; Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9; Eph. 1:7–8; Eph. 2:8–9; 1 Cor. 15:20–22; 2 Cor. 5:17–21; Rom. 6:23; Heb. 10:1–18; 1 Jn. 5:11–13)
Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Given at Pentecost, we believe the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the promise of the Father, sent by Jesus after his ascension, to empower the church to preach the gospel throughout the whole earth and to live holy lives through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22–24; Rom. 12:1–2; 1 Pet. 1:13–2:3; Rom. 8:5–17; Gal. 5:13–25; Phil. 3:7–14)
Sanctification: We believe that God in his great love has called us through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be saved from the power of sin and to live lives for him in holiness and effective service for Christ. We believe that through the cross of Christ, we can be freed from sin’s control and from selfish desires. Through personal repentance and faith, we can enter into a living, vibrant relationship with Christ by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is given to fill us, is effective in working Christ’s character within us, and is revealed through us. This experience, which we call sanctification, is initiated by an act of faith and full surrender to God. Sanctification is not the result of human effort, self-initiated works, acts of willpower, or modified behavior. It continues as a process in which we mature in grace, truth, love, understanding, and power. (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22–24; Rom. 12:1–2; 1 Pet. 1:13–2:3; Rom. 8:5–17; Gal. 5:13–25; Phil. 3:7–14)
Gifts of the Holy Spirit: We believe the Holy Spirit is manifested in the lives of all believers through the continuation of a variety of spiritual grace-gifts, graciously given by God to build up, sanctify, and edify the church and to advance the gospel-mission of the kingdom of God. All believers are commanded to earnestly desire and seek the manifestation of these grace-gifts in their lives. It is the Holy Spirit who determines their distribution, activation, and operation in the body of Christ as he chooses for each believer. These grace-gifts always operate in harmony with Scripture and should never be used in violation of the biblical parameters outlined in the New Testament. (Acts 1:8, 2:1–4; 1 Cor. 12:1–6; 1 Cor. 14:1–25)
Continuation of Spiritual Grace-Gifts: Since there is no scriptural reason to believe otherwise, we believe the spiritual grace-gifts outlined in the New Testament and portrayed during the life of Jesus and the apostles continue to be operative today, just as they were in operation during the earliest days of the church from the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has graciously filled every believer with these supernatural gifts for the purpose of serving God in power and ability, building up and strengthening the entire church, and bearing witness to the gospel of Christ and kingdom of God. These continued grace-gifts include such abilities as revelation-knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, leadership, and the speaking in and interpretation of tongues. (Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor 12:4–11, 27–30; 1 Cor 14:26–39; 1 Pet. 4:11)
The Church: We believe in the spiritual unity of the communion of saints in our Lord Jesus Christ. Every person who is born of the Spirit is an integral part of the church as a member of the body of Jesus Christ, who is the head over the universal church. (Matt. 16:18–19; 1 Cor. 12:12–26; Col. 1:18)
Resurrection: We believe in the bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost. Those who are saved are raised unto the resurrection of life, ruling and reigning with Christ on the new earth. Those who are lost are raised unto the resurrection of eternal torment in the lake of fire with the devil and the fallen angels. (1 Cor. 15:1–50; 2 Cor. 5:1–8; Rev. 20:11–15; Rev. 21:1–8)