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Darkness to Light - Vol. V, No.10
Darkness to Light
Volume V, Number 10
Presented by Darkness to
Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla
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Salvation through Christ Alone
By Gary F. ZeollaIt is a common belief today that all religions are different roads to the same God. In fact, to suggest otherwise can get someone labeled as "close-minded." It is even considered to be "bigoted" to claim one's own religion is somehow superior to another's religion.
A consequence of this viewpoint is the common assumption that most everyone will be going to heaven, or whatever "salvation" means in one's own religion. And again, to claim that your religion is the only one that can save someone is considered intolerant. It can even be considered "insensitive" to tell someone they need to be saved. We are told we should be "affirming" people, not telling them they are sinners who need a Savior. And it especially said to be insensitive to tell people that they cannot save themselves.
However, the Bible is clear: we are all sinners, and the one and only means of salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. Moreover, Jesus is the only means of salvation for all peoples. There is not a separate means of salvation for those of differing races or regions.
It is this belief that Jesus is the one and only way that Christians have been proclaiming throughout the world ever since Jesus rose from the dead. It was this proclamation that led to the early Christians being persecuted, and it is this proclamation that is leading many to disparage Christians today.
But despite the difficulties, Christians proclaim this "narrow" view of sin and salvation because it is clearly what the Scriptures teach. This point became clear to me as I was working on Third Edition of the Analytical-Literal Translation (ALT3), from which the following verses are taken.
Matthew 1:21:21And she will give birth to a Son, and you will call His name Jesus ["Yahweh saves"], for He will save His people from their sins."
Matthew 7:13-14:13"Enter in through the narrow gate, because wide [is] the gate and spacious [is] the way which leads to the destruction, and many are the ones entering in through it. 14How narrow [is] the gate and having been constricted [is] the way which leads to the life, and few are the ones finding it!
Matthew 18:11:11For the Son of Humanity came to save the ones having been lost.
Matthew 11:27-30:27All [things] were handed over to Me by My Father, and no one fully knows the Son, except the Father, nor does anyone fully know the Father, except the Son, and [the person] to whom the Son shall be desiring to reveal [Him]. 28Come to Me, all the ones laboring and having been burdened, and I will give you* rest. 29Take My yoke upon you* and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, ‘and you* will find rest for your* souls.' [Jer 6:16, Heb.] 30For My yoke [is] easy, and My burden is light."
Matthew 20:28:28Just as the Son of Humanity did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life [as] a ransom [or, price of release] for [or, in the place of] many."
Matthew 26:26-28:26Now while they were eating, Jesus having taken the bread and having bestowed a blessing upon [it], broke [it] and began giving [it] to the disciples. And He said, "Take, eat; this is My body." 27And having taken the cup and having given thanks, He gave [it] to them, saying, "Drink from it, all [of you], 28for this is My blood, the [blood] of the New Covenant, the [blood] poured out on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.
23Now someone said to Him, "Lord, are the ones being saved few?" And He said to them, 24Be striving to go in through the narrow gate, because many, I say to you*, will seek to enter and will not be able.
19And having taken bread, having given thanks, He broke [it] and gave [it] to them, saying, "This is My body, the [one] being given on your* behalf; be doing this in remembrance of Me." 20And in the same manner [He took] the cup after [they] ate, saying, "This cup [is] the New Covenant in My blood, the [blood] being poured out on your* behalf.
46And He said to them, "Thus it has been written, and thus it was necessary [for] the Christ to suffer and to rise from [the] dead the third day, 47and [for] repentance and forgiveness of sins to be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
John 1:29:29The next day he sees Jesus coming towards him and says, "Look! The Lamb of God, the One taking away the sin of the world!
John 3:13-18,35-36:13"And no one has ascended into heaven, except the One having descended from heaven—the Son of Humanity, the One being in heaven. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [see Numb 21:6-9], so it is necessary [for] the Son of Humanity to be lifted up, 15so that every[one] believing [or, trusting] in Him shall not perish, but shall be having eternal life." 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten [or, unique] Son, so that every[one] believing [or, trusting] in Him shall not perish, but shall be having eternal life! [cp. 1John 4:14] 17For God did not send His Son into the world so that He should judge the world, but so that the world shall be saved through Him. 18The one believing [or, trusting] in Him is not judged, but the one not believing already has been judged, because he has not believed in the Name of the only-begotten [or, unique] Son of God…. 35The Father loves the Son and has given all [things] into His hand. 36The one believing [or, trusting] in the Son has eternal life, but the one refusing to believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. [cp. 1John 5:12]
John 6:28-29:28Therefore, they said to Him, "What shall we be doing so that we shall be working the works of God?" 29Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you* be believing [or, trusting] in Him whom that One sent."
John 11:25-27:25Jesus said to her, "I am the Resurrection and the Life! The one believing in Me, even if he dies, he will live! 26And every[one] living and believing [or, trusting] in Me shall by no means die into the age! [fig., forever!] Do you believe this?" [or, Are you convinced of this?"] 27She says to Him, "Yes, Lord, I have believed [or, am convinced] that You are the Christ, the Son of God, the One coming into the world."
John 14:6:6Jesus says to him, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through [or, by means of] Me!
John 17:3:3Now this is eternal life: that they shall be knowing You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent.
John 20:30-31:30Now indeed many other signs Jesus also did in the presence of His disciples which have not been written in this scroll. 31But these have been written so that you* shall believe [or, be convinced] that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that believing you* shall be having life in His name.
12"And [there] is no salvation in any other, for neither [is there] a different name, the One having [or, which has] been given among people by which it is necessary [for] us to be saved!"
39"And we are witnesses of all [things] which He did, both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they also executed, having hanged [Him] on a tree [or, a cross]. 40This One God raised up on the third day and gave Him to become visible, 41not to all the people, but to witnesses, the ones having been chosen beforehand by God, to us who ate together and drank together with Him after He rose from [the] dead. 42And He gave strict orders to us to preach to the people and to solemnly testify that He is the One having been designated by God [to be] Judge of living [people] and of dead [people]. 43To this One all the prophets bear witness [that] through His name every[one] that is believing [or, trusting] in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
7Now much debate having taken place, having risen up, Peter said to them, "Men, brothers, you* know that from former days God chose among us [for] the Gentiles to hear the word of the Gospel through my mouth and to believe. 8And the heart-knowing God testified to them by having given the Holy Spirit to them, just as also to us, [see Acts 10:44] 9and also distinguished nothing between us and them, having purified [or, purged] their hearts by faith. 10Now therefore, why are you* testing God [by trying] to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe [we are] saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, according to which manner they also [are]."
30And having brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what is it necessary [for] me to be doing so that I shall be saved?" 31So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your house!
29"Therefore, being offspring of God, we ought not to be thinking the Divine Nature to be similar to gold or silver or stone, an image [shaped by] humanity's skill and imagination [or, [the] craftsmanship and consideration of a person]. 30Therefore indeed, the times of such ignorance having overlooked, God is now giving strict orders to all people everywhere to be repenting, 31because He set a day in which He is about to be judging the inhabited earth in righteousness by a Man whom He designated, having given assurance to all by having raised Him from [the] dead!"
Romans 3:29:29[Is He] the God of Jews only, but not also of Gentiles? Yes, also of Gentiles, 30since [there is] one God who will justify [or, will declare righteous] [the] circumcision by faith and [the] uncircumcision through faith.
Romans 10:8-13:8But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" [Deut 30:14]—that is, the word of the faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth [the] Lord Jesus [or, [that] Jesus [is] Lord], and believe in your heart that God raised Him from [the] dead, you will be saved! [cp. 1Cor 12:3] 10For with the heart it is believed to righteousness, and with the mouth it is confessed to salvation. 11For the Scripture says, "Every one believing on [or, trusting in] Him will not put to shame." [Isaiah 28:16, LXX] 12For there is no difference [or, distinction] [between] both Jew and Greek, for the same [Lord is] Lord of all, being rich [fig., giving generously] to all the ones calling on Him. 13For every[one], "who himself shall call on the name of [the] Lord will be saved!" [Joel 2:32]
1My little children [or, My dear children], I am writing these things to you* so that you* do not sin. And if anyone should sin, we have a Counselor [or, an Advocate; cp. John 14:16] with the Father, Jesus Christ, [the] righteous. 2And He is [the] propitiation [or, appeasing sacrifice] concerning our sins, but not concerning ours only, but also concerning [those] of the whole world!
1John 4:14-15:14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son [as] Savior of the world! [cp. John 3:16] 15Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
1John 5:1,9-13:1Every one believing [or, who is convinced] that Jesus is the Christ [or, the Messiah] has been begotten from God, and every one loving the One having begotten loves also the one having been begotten from [or, by] Him…. 9If we receive the testimony of people, the testimony of God is greater; because this is the testimony of God which He has testified concerning His Son. 10The one believing [or, trusting] in the Son of God has that testimony in him; the one not believing God, has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony which God has testified concerning His Son. 11And this is the testimony, that God gave eternal life to us, and this life is in His Son. 12The one having the Son has the life; the one not having the Son of God does not have the life. [cp. John 3:36] 13These things I wrote to you*, the ones believing [or, trusting] in the name of the Son of God, so that you* shall know that you* have eternal life, and so that you* shall be believing [or, shall continue believing] in the name of the Son of God.
9And they sing a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and You redeemed us to God by Your blood, out of every tribe and tongue [fig., language group, and throughout book] and people and nation, 10and made them kings and priests to our God, and they will reign as kings on the earth!"
9After these [things] I saw, and look!, a large crowd, which no one was being able to number, out of every nation and from tribes and people and tongues, having stood before the throne and before the Lamb having been clothed in long, white robes and palm branches in their hands. 10And they cry out with a loud voice, saying, "The salvation [belongs] to our God, the One sitting on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
14And death and the realm of the dead were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone was not found having been written in the Scroll of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth went away [fig., had disappeared]. [cp. Isaiah 65:17; 2Peter 3:13] And the sea is not [any]more [fig., the sea no longer exists]. 2And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having been prepared like a bride having been adorned [for] her husband.
3And I heard a loud voice out of heaven, saying, "Look! The tabernacle of God [is] with the people, and He will tabernacle [or, dwell] with them! And they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them. 4And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not be [any]more [fig., death will no longer exist], nor sorrow, nor crying, nor will pain be [any]more [fig., pain will no longer exist], because the first [things] passed away." …
27And by no means shall any defiling [thing] and [anyone] doing an abomination and a lie enter into it, but only the ones having been written in the Scroll of Life of the Lamb…
The Gospel message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is for all peoples, and this includes you, the reader. If you have not trusted in Christ for your forgiveness and salvation, now is the time to do so.
Listen! Now [is the] acceptable time. Listen! Now [is the] day of salvation (2Corinthians 6:2).
Scripture taken from the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament: Third Edition. Copyright © 2007 by Gary F. Zeolla of Darkness to Light ministry (www.zeolla.org/christian). Previously copyrighted © 1999, 2001, 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla.
New World Translation: A Reliable Bible Version?
The booklet New World Translation: A Reliable Bible Version? has been updated to a Second Edition. It is now also available in paperback and three eBook formats. Below is the Preface and an excerpt. Follow the link for ordering details.
The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT) is published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (WT). This is the organization that Jehovah’s Witnesses belong to. But how reliable is this Bible version?
Much has been written about the NWT in regards to passages dealing with the deity of Christ. So rather than going over that much worn ground, this review will instead evaluate the NWT by looking at select passages from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians.
The verses will be quoted first from the NWT, then from the word-for-word translation in the Watchtower’s own Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures (KIT). Since the NWT claims to be a literal version (see below), it will be seen how close it follows its own interlinear reading. And then the passage will be quoted from the New King James Version (NKJV) and from this reviewer’s own Analytical-Literal Translation: Third Edition (ALT3).
The standards I will use here are the same standards that I use in evaluating over thirty versions of the Bible in my book Differences Between Bible Versions. Simply put, does the translation faithfully and accurately render the Greek text into English?
More specifically, are words translated correctly? Are words left untranslated? Are words added without any indication that they have been added? Are the grammatical forms of words altered? Are phrases paraphrased rather than translated? How readable is the text? And how reliable is the Greek text being translated?
NWT: 8By this undeserved kindness, indeed, YOU have been saved through faith; and this not owing to YOU, it is God's gift. 9No, it is not owing to works, in order that no man should have ground for boasting.
KIT: 8To the for undeserved kindness YOU are having been saved through faith; and this not out of YOU, of God the gift; 9not out of works, in order that not someone should boast.
NKJV: 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.
ALT3: 8For by grace you* have been saved, through faith, and this [is] not from you*; [it is] the gift of God, 9not by works, so that no one shall boast.
The NKJV and ALT3 begin with the word "For" while the KIT has "for" as the third word. The Greek word here is gar. It is "a postpositive conjunction" (Dana, p. 242). This means that it usually is the second word in a sentence in Greek but is generally rendered as the first word in an English translation. The KIT's "To the" is a rendering of the first word (the Greek definitive article in the dative case). So the KIT has followed the exact word order while the NKJV and ALT3 follow the basic Greek rule of rendering the postpositive first.
But what about the NWT? It does not appear to have translated this word as there is no translation of this word in either of these positions. However, the NWT does have "indeed" as the fifth word in the sentence. This apparently is its translation of gar. It is true that "indeed" is a possible translation of the Greek word (Friberg). However, it is a very uncommon rendering to say the least. I never rendered it as such in the ALT, and I don't remember seeing it rendered as such in the main versions I compared as I worked on the ALT. Moreover, there is a different Greek word that specifically means "indeed" (men, e.g. Phil 1:15). Meanwhile, "for" is the most common rendering of gar. This translation is used more often all other possible renderings combined.
So the NWT has used an unusual translation of gar and placed it in an unusual place. This not technically wrong, but it does have the effect of losing the connection between this verse and the previous verses. By using "For" and placing it first, which is the more basic rendering and placement, the NKJV and ALT3 preserves this connection.
Otherwise, the first clause is basically the same in each version, but the clause after this has significant differences between the versions. The KIT has the very literal "this not out of YOU." However, the word "out of" (ek) can also be rendered as "of" or "from" (Friberg). And these translations are the most common type of renderings for ek. The NWT has "owing to." Its justification for doing so is probably that ek can indicate the "reason" for something. But this is a rare rendering for this word. In fact, some lexicons do not give it at all, while the ones that do usually use "because of" or "since." None I checked have "owing to." Hence, I did not use "owing to" in my list of possible meanings for ek in my Companion Volume, while indicating that "because of" is a "rare" usage (p. 88). So again, the NWT is using an unusual rendering of a word.
Next the NWT has "God's gift" rather than "the gift of God." Now it has been mentioned previously that it is legitimate to use a possessive to or render a Greek genitive. But by doing so, the article is omitted. And in this case, there is a point to the article. It is not just any gift that is being referred to but a very specific gift. And the article indicates this specificity.
Now, the translators of the NWT might justify their rendering by saying that putting God first emphasizes that God is the Giver. But in English, which word comes first is not necessarily the word that is emphasized. Moreover, both points are important—that God is the Giver and that it is a specific gift. The best way to emphasize both points would be to follow the Greek word order as seen in the KIT and have "of God the gift." But this is very awkward. However, "the gift of God" retains the specificity of the gift while still giving emphasis to the Giver.
Verse nine is a phrase, but the NWT has turned it into a complete sentence. To do so required the NWT to add the words "it is," which again, are not bracketed. Also not bracketed is the added interjection "No." And once again, the NWT has the unusual "owing to" rendering.
Now, the translators of the NWT can argue that "No it is" are required to express the meaning of the original. However, most other versions do not feel this is necessary. But more fundamentally, the NWT claims to be a literal translation, and the purpose of a literal translation is to render the WORDS of the original not the MEANING of the original. The latter is the practice of dynamic equivalence and paraphrase type versions.
The NWT ends this passage with "should have ground for boasting" instead of the simple "should boast" of the other three versions. The word here is a verb in the aorist tense and subjunctive mood. All four versions use "should" to show the "conditional" sense of the subjunctive. However, the NWT has "have" in its translation, along with the participle "boasting." This would be fine if the verb were in the perfect tense. Using "have" with the participle indicates the ongoing nature of the action, which is what the perfect indicates. However, the verb here is in the aoristic tense, which indicates the singular nature of the action.
The difference here is, the NWT makes it sound like the text is saying we should only not be boasting in regards to our salvation as an ongoing practice, while the more accurate translations show that we should not boast even once in this regard. So by mistranslating the tense, the NWT has altered the sense of the statement. We can never ever, not even once, boast about being saved. It is the gift of God.
New World Translation: A Reliable Bible Version?
Available in paperback and three eBook formats
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