The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek. Scholars have tried for centuries to take those foreign languages and translate the Bible into English. Some versions have focused on literal translating, some on concept translating, some on ease of reading and others on poetic language. Each one has its place, but it makes the world of Bible reading very confusing. My first Bible was a King James Version translation of the Bible. When I was 9, shortly after my baptism I was given a New American Standard translation of the Bible. When I got to Bible College most of my professors used the New International Version of the Bible and one old professor would not accept anything other than the Revised Standard Version. When I became a minister I started collecting different Bible versions and now my shelves are full of dozens of other translations. As a result I cannot quote most Bible verses from one translation. I slip from KJV to NAS and finally into NIV or some other translation within a sentence or two. Most of the time it does not matter because the concept is in tact but a few times the translation makes a different.
One example is one of my favorite Bible verses – Romans 8:28. I originally read it in my King James Version Bible where it says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The emphasis is two-fold. People who love God, like me, will have things work together for good. There is my love for God and the good results of that love.
Later in life I read it in the New International Version and it said something a little different, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Here the emphasis is a placed not on me but one God. In all things God works … The object is still the people who love God, like me, but the action is done differently.
The difference is subtle but important. The old verse implies that things are working for good and in the new translation the emphasis is on God’s work IN all things. Things are not working for our good – God is! All kinds of bad things can happen to people even those who love God. It is one of the difficult realities of life especially a life of faith. The good news is that God has not left us at those times. Instead, God will take those bad things and turn them into something good. In tough times – faith will grow, love will be shared, people will learn of grace, and God’s kingdom will grow numerically and spiritually. Some good will come from bad times.
So today as I hit my knees in prayer I claim this verse again. People I know and love are struggling and going through difficult times and I am asking God to be in those moments. I ask him to somehow take the negative circumstances in life and turn them into something good. His word says He will. Today I am glad for that promise.