Wednesday, 28 September 2022
Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ Acts 10:32
In the previous verse, Cornelius noted the words of the messenger sent from God, saying, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.” The words of verse 10:32 now continue his thought. They follow closely after the words of verses 10:5, 6 –
(10:5, 6) “Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.”
(10:32) “Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.”
Cornelius is carefully explaining exactly what occurred so that Peter is fully aware of what transpired and of what is expected of him. To get a full sense of the meaning of the words, please refer to the commentaries on Acts 10:5, 6.
Life application: There is a great division among people about how the Bible is to be translated. Cornelius does not explain to Peter word for word what the messenger said to him. However, he carefully gives the substance of what the angel has said.
In Bible translations, some demand an exact and literal rendering of what is said in the originals (literal translation). Doing this can make the translation unintelligible to the reader because various words and idioms do not convey the same meaning as to the original audience.
Some think that a dynamic equivalence is the best way to go. That is having the “quality of a translation in which the message of the original text has been so transported into the receptor language that the response of the receptor is essentially like that of the original receptors” (Eugene Nida). The meaning is “sense for sense.”
The original audience received the words of the writer, and their minds had a sense of what the meaning was. Likewise, when translated into another language, the desired goal is for the translation to carry the same sense.
For example, “He was killed with the mouth of the sword” (Hebrew thought) becomes “He was killed with the edge of the sword (English thought).” Another example might be that of 1 Kings 18:21, “Until when are you leaping on the two branches?” That becomes “How long will you falter between two opinions?” The first is an idiomatic expression that means nothing to an English reader. Hence, a literal translation really says nothing to the mind. In this, the original words are not conveyed, only a sense of what they mean is.
There are many (almost innumerable) other types of Bible translations, each claiming it is the “best and most reliable.” But the fact is that any translation can only go so far in its ability to convey the true meaning of what is said. Before Bibles were common, plays about the gospel message helped explain the Bible to people. That would be a sort of verbal paraphrase to convey meaning. Is that wrong? Obviously not. We watch movies about Jesus all the time.
In church on Sunday, a reliable pastor will read a passage of Scripture and then take the time to describe it in one of various ways, such as from a moral, a historical, a prophetic, or a typological explanation. Is one “more right” than another? Not if the word is properly explained. We should not get so caught up in a single translation or a single way of instructing from the Bible that we dismiss other ways of transmitting the message.
This will lead to arrogance, judgmentalism, finger-pointing, and congregations that are actually unbalanced and unhealthy. If you don’t know that, go sit in a King James Only congregation for a couple of Sundays. The Bible will give you exactly what you are willing to take from it. If you don’t read it, it will give you nothing. If you read it in one fallible translation, you will think of its contents only from that perspective.
If you read many translations, you will get a broader view of what is being said. You will be able to more accurately evaluate what is going on and what the meaning of various literary styles will convey. If you study the original languages, you will become even more proficient in the nuances of what is being conveyed. If you study the land from which the narratives are penned, you will gain even greater insights into the original intent of the authors. And so on.
Be careful to always handle the Bible with the utmost care and respect but understand that because it comes from the mind of God, what is being conveyed can be explored and explained in a multitude of ways, none of which are incorrect. But they may be insufficient in fully explaining all of what the original intent may mean. Above all, pray to the Lord for guidance, insight, and wisdom in His word when you read it. And you cannot get those things unless... you actually read it.
Heavenly Father, what a joy and a blessing it is to receive Your word each day, to drink from it as the coolest of water, to revel in it as the greatest treat, and to share it as the most precious gift. What a treasure it is that we possess when we have Your word. Thank You for Your precious word. Amen.