Imagine that I do not speak English and I always have a translator
accompanying me. I am a farmer but for whatever reason every time I say
"farmer" my translator says "salesman." Let us presume that my
translator gets everything else I say right. If you talk with me there
are only a few ways to find out that I am a farmer and not as salesman.
One is to pick up on clues in the context when I speak about my job. I
may mention livestock and farm equipment but even then you could assume
that I sell those things.
Another way, if you ever even get to the
point of questioning my translator's accuracy, is to look up the word salesman in
the language I speak. You can find that the word I am saying is not
salesman. You then need to find a way to discover the meaning of the
word I am actually using.
The power of the word salesman being
used by my otherwise trustworthy translator makes you believe something
that is not true. It shapes how you view the context of my conversation.
It perhaps makes you think that I sell farm equipment rather than farm
the land myself.
Imagine that your job
position originated in a country that spoke a different language than
you and they are just now expanding into your country. The person they
have to translate their operating manuals grew up in a part of their
country that has a slightly different dialect, where words mean slightly
or drastically different things than they do where the manuals were
originally written. The language barriers prevent you and others from
doing the best job that you can and the business as a whole suffers.
Everyone thought that they were doing the right thing and going exactly
by the book but they never questioned the translation when one part of
the book contradicted the other.
These situations pale in comparison to the problems with our English
translations of the Bible. Some words were intentionally mistranslated
in the first place and tradition has kept them there (church, pastor,
minister, deacon). Other words are unclear in meaning because they have
little to no secular use (grace, faith, repent). These religious
words are defined in many different ways but were not religious words
in the original language. They were common words easily understood by
anyone who spoke the language (grace=favor, faith=trust, repent=change
Some words are influenced by the beliefs of those who translated them
(usually the institutional church). These translators and subsequently
those who read their translation believe that the way things are today
is the way things have always been and read the present situation into
past events. When they see the word "church" in the bible they think of an organization or
building, seeing "pastor" they think of the man in charge who preaches at
the church, seeing the word "minister" they think of a leader, etc.
People are thinking that the farmer is the salesman. Soon they hire
salesmen to farm and all sense of meaning is lost to the masses.
From Guardians to Gurus
damage is done by these mistranslations. One English word poorly
translated in one verse (pastor in Ephesians 4:11) is part of the basis
for thousands upon thousands of men to unwittingly usurp the
headship of Christ. Too often I have heard people happily repeat things
from sermons they've heard recently which are actually destructive
lies. They instantly believe what they are told no matter how
shame-filled, self-centered, unloving, or absurd it is simply because
the pastor said so. Pastors need only to point to the word "pastors" in
Ephesians 4:11 to
justify their office to most despite the fact that the word "pastors"
only appears once in all of scripture, the word is plural, the
context says little about what the pastor actually is, and the word is
mistranslation (it is supposed to be translated as "shepherds").
I specifically talked with two pastors who knew I was out of the church
system and Ephesians 4:11 was the only scripture they used to support
their existence. When asked if all Christian groups need pastors I said
"Jesus is the Good Shepherd and speaking of Him in Ezekiel 34:15 God
says, 'I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the
The mistranslation perpetuates the false office and false authority.
While not all motives are pure most pastors are simply following the
traditions of the church thinking that it is what God intends. Sadly
those traditions and falsehoods existed 400 years ago and certain words
were placed into scripture to support them. While I wish pastors would
research their supposed position solely using the scriptures, they
aren't to blame. Hundreds of years of man made traditions, falsehoods,
and mistranslations stand against the people of God.
Here two questions
to ask yourself, "Am I believing false things because of traditions or
mistranslations?" & "Do I trust what I hear over trusting the
Older People as Guides not Officials as Governors: Explains what a shepherd (mistranslated pastor) actually is.
All Posts on Mistranslations