IS THE NIrV A GOOD TRANSLATION?

LUKE 21:32-33: “What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living now will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.” (NIrV)

OBSERVATION: Is picking a good Bible translation important? With all the Bible translations available, how can you know which one is the best to use?  Is the NIrV (New International Readers Version) a good translation to use?

Each year I read a different translation of the Bible. I have read most of the old and new translations available. When January came around, I decided to read one of the newer translations that I had not yet read. It is the updated New International Reader’s Version. Originally translated in 1995, and updated in 2014, I would not recommend this Bible if you were choosing one for serious study. The copy I have on my electronic Bible software is the same version, but not the updated version. Why is the NIrV, in my opinion, not a good Bible translation to select if you are looking for a new Bible to read and study? Let me share an example using the text selected in Luke 21:32-33.
Below are the same texts taken from 1) The New King James; 2) The NIRV (1998); 3) The NIrV (2014).

  • “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”  ‭Luke‬ ‭21:32-33‬ ‭New King James Version (1982)
  • “What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living at that time will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭21:32-33‬ ‭New International Readers Version (1998)
  • LUKE 21:32-33: “What I’m about to tell you is true. The people living now will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away. But my words will never pass away.” New International Readers Version (2014)

Jesus was talking about those who would be living during the period right before His physical return to earth. In this discourse Jesus spoke about the destruction of the Temple (which took place in 70 A.D.), the cataclysmic events that would take place prior to His return, and His visible and bodily return in the clouds (where every eye will see Him).  Then Jesus talks about the signs of these times being upon us. He uses the fig tree as an example of the growing and visible signs leading up to His return. 

Jesus now makes a bold proclamation – “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.” Bible scholars have generally agreed that Jesus was not talking about those who were living at the time He spoke these words, as many things are yet to be fulfilled. Rather, Jesus was speaking of the generation of people that would be living when the “times of the Gentiles” would be fulfilled, along with the culmination of all things, when He would visibly return to the world.

Ok, so what does this have to do with determining whether the NIrV is a good Bible translation? The NIrV does not use the term generation, or the people living at that time.”. Rather, the NIrV translates this incorrectly – “the people living now…”. Many have used this improper translation to conclude that Jesus Christ has already returned. They believe that all the prophecies were fulfilled and concluded with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. The argument is, if they were not all fulfilled, then Jesus was lying, because He said “all the people living now…”

Do you see how the mistranslation of a single word or phrase can change the entire meaning of the passage?

The problem with this interpretation of Jesus’ words is, you are then forced to spiritualize Jesus’ return to an invisible return in the clouds. This is the only logical conclusion, and the conclusion held by those who believe all Biblical prophecy has been completely fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., including the return of Jesus Christ!  Yet, the Bible clearly states that every eye will see Him. Jesus return will not be in secret, and His Millennial Reign will not be followed by the continued horrific events that we have witnessed in the two millennia since Jesus spoke these words! 

 Jesus’ return will be physical, visible, and in power to set up His Millennial Kingdom of peace.  After this reign of 1000 years of peace, He will ultimately establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.  And this understanding can all change with the incorrect translation of a single word! There is still so much that has yet to be fulfilled. And as we await His rapture of the church, and His visible return to the earth, we need to carefully watch and pray – and make sure we are reading a trustworthy translation!

I hope this has helped some in exercising discernment when choosing a Bible. I have decided to discontinue reading this version for my devotionals this year. I would recommend the New King James Version, the New American Standard Version, or the New Living Translation. They are much better, and you won’t have to trip over incorrect renderings as I just did here (and have in numerous places elsewhere in my  devotional readings this year).

God Bless!
In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is pastor of The Fellowship at Weatherford, a Foursquare Church in Weatherford, Texas. He has developed an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information please send an email to klzehnder@aol.com
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