Q In the (June 2022) BABQ you changed the word “saints” to “angels”? Isn’t this like trying to improve the Bible?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 3 Minutes
ANSWER: Thank you for your question. It is an important one. To clarify, I did not “change” the word; instead, I challenged the meaning the church has assigned to the word by making it more specific than the word God inspired. This is why I explained that the usage of the word isn’t limited to redeemed citizens. The word is literally “holy (ones).” I tried to be careful in the article to state that “I believe” where appropriate so that it leaves room for study.
Christendom has a habit of assigning exact meaning to words that are beyond what God intended. One example is the word “church.” Many in Christendom teach that “church” always refers to the same group of people. Yet, it does not always refer to the same people. The translators, wisely, did not always translate the Greek word ekklesia as “church,” allowing the context to define the “called-out group” being referred to in the passage.
For instance, the word ekklesia appears in Acts 7:38 “congregation,” 8:3 and 18:22 “church,” and 19:32 and 39 “assembly.” The group in each of the aforementioned verses is different, describing: the Israelites in the wilderness (7:38), the collective Kingdom church (8:3), the local church in Caesarea (18:22), a riotous mob (19:32), and government authorities (19:39). If we followed the prevalent view in Christendom, we would have to believe all of these groups are the same; and they obviously are not.
Another example is the word “baptism.” Many subconsciously put “water” before the word thinking every baptism has to do with water, which is just not true. Yet another example is “kingdom.” It is not referring to castles, but to a reign. The focus of that reign is determined by the context. It is not always referring to a tangible place (i.e., Jerusalem) but sometimes, as in Paul’s epistles, to the overall rule of God.
Our desire should be to understand what God is communicating through His Word—not what the church has taught it to say or what a group of translators has led us to believe. We need to be able to explain to those who are expecting a “mansion” in Heaven due to John 14:2 that the original word is not referring to our current understanding of a huge, expensive house. The word translated “mansions” in the KJV means places to dwell. In other words, Jesus was telling them there were many places to dwell in His Father’s house, much like the Temple had rooms for the priests to dwell during their assigned weeks of Temple duty.
One more example is found in II Thessalonians 2:7, which states, “he who now letteth will let.” If I let you out of the house, I am allowing you to leave. The original Greek word actually means the opposite: hinder, hold back, suspend. I do not think I am doing a good job if I continue to let (allow) people think that II Thessalonians 2:7 is allowing people to do something when he is actually holding something back or keeping it from spreading.
Understanding the Inspired Scriptures
Our understanding of words has changed over the years and I can find synonyms and substitutions that are STILL the word God inspired to help people understand what God is communicating.
Thank you once again for your question. None of us could ever “improve” the inspired Word of God, nor should we try. Our goal is to help people understand the inspired Scriptures. Sometimes this means addressing traditional understandings or correcting conclusions or substituting a similar word to help people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to grow in reliance upon His wonderful words of life.
Read another article from this edition of the BABQ:
Question 4: I heard this pastor say that, in Luke 16:19-31, Abraham’s bosom was in Heaven because the angels took the beggar to Heaven while the rich man went to Hell and torment. I have been teaching that this is NOT a parable but truth because Jesus uses names which He doesn’t do in His parables. If this is true, then the rich man can see into Heaven and talk with Abraham who is in Heaven. That can’t be true.