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Problematic Bibles

HomeFalse TeachingsProblematic Bibles

I’m regularly asked about whether a specific Bible is good or bad. Most of the Bibles in the world are just fine. They adequately communicate God’s message to humanity without significantly substituting human ideas or traditions for divine revelation.

That’s not the whole story, of course. There are a number of Bibles that should be avoided entirely. This list is incomplete, and I have not written about each individually to this point, but I will as time permits.

Bible VersionProblems
Cepher BibleA non-scholarly work that claims to restore what’s missing from modern English Bibles, from single words to entire books. The implication is that modern Bibles are either wrong or incomplete, or both. Their process is not primarily translation, but transliteration.
JST
Joseph Smith Translation
An altered version of the King James Bible designed to fit the theology of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), a pseudo-Christian cult.
NWT
New World Translation
Produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a pseudo-Christian cult, to fit their own theology.
TPT
The Passion Bible
Not translated by a qualified team, but paraphrased by one person, Brian Simmons. Designed to promote unbiblical New Apostolic Reformation principles, not to reflect what eyewitnesses to Jesus’ ministry originally wrote.
The Pure Word BibleThe New Testament, translated by one person, Brent Miller. In addition to dubious claims about his work and the Greek language, Miller is known for sensationalist claims about the end of the earth, citing Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and Mayan and Incan prophets.

What about The Message Bible?

I’ve received a fair number of emails and comments about The Message, by Eugene Peterson. Some condemn it outright, others recommend it. It seems wise to mention it here.

The Message is not a Bible in the traditional sense. It is – at best – a paraphrase. It’s what Eugene Peterson would say to help people better understand what the Bible says. It is better categorized, in my opinion, as a personal commentary on the Bible, and not a Bible itself.

On a positive note, Peterson seems to enjoy a good reputation among conservative Bible scholars, including some who have spent decades on translation committees. Not being a Bible translator myself, I rely on a number of these folks to give me some guidance… and I’ve yet to hear anyone in that group condemn The Message outright.

On a negative note, the real problem is not what Peterson has written. The problem is the perception about what Peterson has written. The Message has been marketed as a Bible in the traditional sense of Bibles, putting it in the same category as other Bibles. Those other translations were produced by large numbers of scholars, carefully considering every word with an eye toward the original manuscripts, linguistics, church traditions, modern language, and bias. The Message was produced by one person, and should not be put in the same category. Bible commentaries can be very helpful, and The Message can be useful when used as a commentary. Peterson was a scholar, including studies in ancient languages… so I wouldn’t rule out his point of view as unbiblical. I would, however, caution every reader in this way:

Do not use The Message as your primary Bible. Not for reading, not for devotions, not for study. Use it to learn what Eugene Peterson thought, remembering that he was just one man. Where his thoughts match closely what God has revealed, we should be thankful. Where we have questions, we should be like the Bereans: we should receive the message with great eagerness, then go to the Scriptures to see if what Peterson has said is true.


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20 responses to “Problematic Bibles”

  1. Shari says:

    Hello Sir, didn’t see your name at the end of your article, here, named “Problematic Bibles” I agree with you on these.
    Thank You!

    • Tony says:

      Shari:

      Thanks for your kind words! You can always learn more about me here, or by checking out my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts… the links are at the top of each page. Have a great day!

  2. M. ZWAAGSTRA says:

    I bought a copy of the Pure Word. It’s hard to read at best. I was not aware of the translation as being of one man. I don’t read it much and I am content with the NKJV, the NASV and the NIV. I found this interesting to say the least. My son-in-law is trapped in this movement. You described his beliefs perfectly. It is heart breaking to say the least.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Hello. I’m 18 and I want to leave Pastor Chris’s Christ Embassy but my uncle initiated me in it in 2020. The rest of my family members are pretty hooked by what he preaches whereas I find some of the things he preaches and encourages disturbing. I don’t know what to say to my uncle to make him understand that I don’t want to ba a part of the church anymore. And also may you kindly research about Theo Walmmarans? Thank you:)

    • Tony says:

      Vanessa:

      First, I didn’t know about Theo Wolmarans. He’s apparently very important in the New Apostolic Reformation, and I’ve added him to my list of False Teachers. He is most certainly NOT an apostle, and I would not consider him a reliable teacher of Scripture.

      Thank you for writing to me. I’m sorry that you’re in this situation. I don’t know how things work in Uganda, so I’m not sure how I can be most helpful to you. You mention that your age is 18. In America, that means you’re considered a legal adult, with adult privileges and responsibilities. I don’t know if it’s the same in Uganda… but that may not matter at all. It may be that your family relationships are more important than your age.

      It’s sometimes hard to separate yourself from your loved ones in this way. We see this in the gospels, where Jesus called people to leave family and follow Him. Those He called were Jews, and they left Jewish families to follow a man who taught contrary to the religious authorities. You’re in a similar situation: your family follows Chris Oyakhilome, but you don’t want to.

      This is probably the most important question: do you only want to leave Chris Oyakhilome’s church, or do you want to leave there to follow Jesus? I think it would be best to leave either way, but there’s a big difference between leaving to leave and leaving to follow. Are you born again? Have you surrendered your life to God and committed to following Jesus? You see, leaving to leave is likely to tell your family that you’re not interested in living for God. Leaving to follow Jesus is more likely to tell them that you are MORE interested in living for God, and that you see that staying would be bad for you.

      Do you see the difference? They will want to know whether you are abandoning your faith or not. If they think you are abandoning your faith, they will probably argue harder for you to stay. If you are able to show them that you believe that Chris Oyakhilome is a false teacher, that you want to know the true gospel, and that you are concerned for them as well, they may be less likely to fight you.

      Do you understand? They will want to know whether you’re running FROM God, or TO God. If you haven’t been born again, then you haven’t decided to follow Jesus yet. That’s the most important thing. Ask God to guide you, Vanessa. Trust that He knows what you should do, and ask Him for help. If I can be helpful, please just ask. That’s why I’m here.

  4. Sally O'Connor says:

    Hi Tony,

    What do you think of Celebrate Recovery Bible? Is it used by Recovery ministries? Recovery from demons of alcoholism or depression for example.

    • Tony says:

      Sally:

      I’m somewhat familiar with CR, but I’m not familiar with the Celebrate Recovery Bible. What can you tell me about it?

  5. Donald Fischer says:

    Not trying to but in, but I am a little familiar with it, so maybe I can help. The Celebrate Recovery Bible’s that I have seen use the NLT version of the Bible. I think I have also seen some using the NIV as well. Both the NLT and the NIV are reliable versions. There are many different study bibles with various themes to them in regard to the notes/commentary, and any articles within. But as far as the text of is concerned it may be the same version that other study Bibles with different themes to them use. In some cases certain study Bibles may be published in several different translations, such as the Life Application Bible which is published in two of three different translations The translation is the main thing to look at. NIV, NLT, NASB, ESV, CSB (formerly known as HCSB), NKJV, KJV, are all good and reliable translations. The Celebrate Recovery Bible has notes and articles in it based upon the popular Celebrate Recovery course that was first developed by Saddleback Church in California a while back. It is now used as a ministry in many churches across the USA, of various different denominations. As far as the text of the Bible itself, it uses the same text that you’d find in any other NLT Bible.

  6. Lynette says:

    Hello, I was just curious why you think Ellen White is a false prophet ? Just curious because I know a lot of people that are Seventh-Day Adventist and they really feel they are the chosen church.

    • Tony says:

      Lynette:

      Thanks for visiting GodWords! How did you find me? I’m always curious. You’ve asked a good question!

      I want to be clear in this: there are a lot of Seventh-Day Adventists who consider Ellen G. White a prophet… and there are many who do not. They consider her questionable activities to be somewhat separate from her spiritual insights. I’ve talked with both kinds of Adventists: those who almost worship her, and those who would rather remove her influence entirely. When talking about White and whether she was a false prophet, I don’t want anyone to think that I consider all Adventists to be unsaved.

      The biblical test of a false prophet is simple: they can never be wrong. Here’s what we find in Deuteronomy 18:21-22:

      You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.

      Here’s Jeremiah 23:16:

      Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you;
      they fill you with false hopes.
      They speak visions from their own minds,
      not from the mouth of the Lord.

      When someone claims to speak for God, and the thing they prophesied about doesn’t happen, then they weren’t really speaking for God. That makes sense. So, if they weren’t speaking for God, we shouldn’t listen to them. False prophets and false teachers may say lots of true things… but that doesn’t matter. We’re to not listen to them. If Ellen G. White was a false prophet, she disqualified herself and we should not listen to her.

      • White prophesied the world would end in 1843, 1844, 1845 and 1851. She said “we heard the voice of God like many waters which gave us the day and hour of Jesus coming.” This, of course was false.
      • She claimed that angels told her the time of salvation for all sinners ended in 1844. Adventists obviously don’t believe her, as they preach about salvation even now.
      • When her prophecies about the end of the world didn’t come true, she blamed it on disobedient Adventists: Thus the work was hindered, and the world was left in darkness. Had the whole Adventist body united upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, how widely different would have been our history.
      • She predicted that Lincoln would lose the civil war: January 4, 1862, I was shown some things in regard to our nation. It is all a bitter denunciation of Lincoln’s administration and his management of the war. Every move had been wrong, and only defeat was prophesied. Of course, this was false.

      I could go on. She wrote many books containing failed prophecies, claimed to be able to go to Heaven any time she wanted to, contradicted the Bible many times, and more. Here are a few of her contradictions:

      • Our sins are not “blotted out” until after judgment day.
      • Jesus began to atone for sins in 1844.
      • Jesus waited until 1844 to enter “the most holy place.” That is, into the presence of God in Heaven.

      There are many, many more examples of White contradicting the Bible, taking Scriptures out of context, leaving out part of a verse to make her own point, and so on.

      To be clear: pretty much the only people who consider Ellen G. White to have been a true prophet of God are some of the Seventh-Day Adventists… not all, but some. Like virtually every other modern-day “prophet,” White has been discredited by her own words. While I believe that Christians might prophesy today, we must be careful to test what they say against what God has said in His Word. Ellen G. White fails that test.

      Does that answer your question? Let me know what you think.
      Have a great day!

  7. Al V says:

    thank you for your work here and in the rest of your page (false teachers)

    in the last 10-15 years, there has been an explosion of English translations/revised editions to existing translations.

    I’ve been a studier (?) of the NASB (1977, original edition) with the KJV, in a Ryrie Study Bible … I was shocked to see what Lockman Foundation had done to the NASB in 2020. I discovered it through BibleGateway’s “verse of the Day.” I’d subscribed to their mailing, in NASB. When Romans 12:1-2 arrived one day in Sept ’20 … “that’s not right!” Checked my subscription … “yup, NASB” … but I learned then, there was a ’95 edition as this was distinguished in the title.

    next day … Is 53:5-6 was sent in the “VoD” … “that’s not right!”

    two examples in this review of NASB’20 … I’d avoid it like the plague. In fact, I’d avoid most all the recent editions/translations. Our language has not changed as it did in the 400 years after the KJV. Only our perception.

    We need more languages translated, not more english translations.

    • Tony says:

      Al:

      I appreciate your kind words, and your attention to detail. I agree that we need more languages, not more English versions. I assume that the sales of new English versions is what enables most of the translation work, but I could be wrong.

      Would you be able to explain the “not right” part of these two examples? I’m not disputing with you… I’m asking for more info. What is “not right” about them? I’ve pasted Romans 12:1 below, for readers. These don’t seem different to me.

      New King James Version
      I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

      New American Standard Bible
      Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

      NASB 1995
      Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

      Thanks for your help!

  8. MH says:

    https://godwords.org/problematic-bibles/#comment-44988
    Regarding AIVs comment about the NASB in Romans and Isaiah. I was curious what the problems were with the version and the verses quoted. I struggle with understanding of all scriptures so l don’t see what it is thats problematic. Help😟

    • Tony says:

      MH:

      With all due respect to Al V, there’s no problem with the text. I wanted to give him the opportunity to make his case. The NASB is a fine translation, and it’s far more accurate than the King James. Why? Because translators used far, far more ancient manuscripts then the King James translators had access to. My guess, since Al hasn’t come back to answer, is that he considers the King James to be the standard… that he judges other Bibles by comparing them to the KJV. This is, of course, a silly thing to do. I mean no disrespect, but it IS silly.

      The King James is both a translation and a compilation of previous translations. The source material for the KJV included older Bibles and a handful of ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Most who argue that the KJV is the best Bible out there don’t realize that it was produced by 47 of the best Anglical scholars, at the request of King James, and directly reflected Anglical theology at that time. This is incredibly ironic, as these folks would generally never agree with Anglican theology.

      Instead of comparing modern Bibles with the King James, which definitely has some issues, we should compare ALL Bibles to the available Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. This is the only reasonable way to think about Bible translations… or translations of anything, for that matter.

      I hope that helps, MH. Let me know.

  9. MH says:

    Thank you. Do you have recommended version that is accurate to a high standard and easily understood. I understand very little.

    • Tony says:

      MH:

      Virtually any modern Bible will do, really. The difference between most Bibles is in the phrasing. A more word-for-word translation like the NASB can be harder to read, but it’s a little more precise. A more phrase-by-phrase translation like the NIV can be easier to read as they don’t strictly translate each word, but translate the ideas for easier understanding. Here’s an example:

      In Spanish, casa blanca translates – word for word – into “house white.”
      In English, we put the color first: “white house.” That’s an idiomatic – phrase by phrase – translation.

      The NASB would read more like “house white,” while the NIV would be more like “white house.” They’re both correct, but one is a little more readable for regular English speakers. So, here’s a short list of some very readable Bibles that I can recommend. The links all go to Bible Gateway, where you can read for free:

      The New Living Translation (NLT)
      Good News Translation (GNT)
      New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
      Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

      These are all very readable. Whether someone has trouble with English or is simply unfamiliar with the kind of language used in the Bible, these versions are helpful… and they’re all very accurate. Let me know if there’s more I can do to help!

  10. Deb Powell says:

    Is the Geneva bible the first one translated from Hebrew?
    Is it the closest to the original?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Tony says:

      Deb:

      Nope, and nope… but the full answer isn’t just one edition of the Bible. There are actually two kinds of answers: the first translated, and the closest to the originals.

      Translated

      The books of the Old Testament were written in Hebrew, but translated into Greek a few hundred years before Christ. This is almost certainly the Bible in use while Jesus was alive.
      For translations from Hebrew into English, we must first acknowledge that shorter passages and individual books were translated into Old English and Middle English – neither of which are very much like modern English – perhaps as early as the first century.
      The Venerable Bede was an English monk, born in 673 (or so). He began work on a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Old English.
      Sometime between 639 and 709 AD, Aldhelm translated Psalms and portions of other books into Old English.
      Around 990, the Wessex Gospels were a full translation of the four gospels into a dialect of Old English. It didn’t use the Latin versions as its base, and was the first translation of all four gospels into stand-alone English text.
      Around 1000, the Old English Hexateuch became the earliest English translation of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua.
      It wasn’t until 1525 that we got the first full English Bible translated from Hebrew and Greek. It wasn’t the Geneva Bible, but the Tyndale Bible. For his efforts, he was strangled to death, after which his body was burned.

      Closest
      The “closest” Bible could be considered the closest in TIME, or the closest in MEANING. The above list covers the time angle. As for which Bible(s) most closely represent the Hebrew text through responsible translation, there’s no question that most modern Bibles far more closely reflect the originals of each book. There are a number of reasons for this:

      We have discovered far, far more copies of each book since the days of Tyndale… many of them much older than what he had access to.
      We know a lot more about ancient Hebrew today than Tyndale did 500 years ago.
      We have an entire field of study today that didn’t exist in previous generations: textual criticism. That isn’t a field where people say negative things about the text… it’s the process of comparing ancient texts to try to reproduce, as closely as possible, what the originals must have said.

      There’s even more to it than that, but I’m not well-versed in this area. I hope that answers your question!

  11. Denis Thibeault says:

    I agree with you on these.
    Thank You!

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