Bible Basics

Most people understand that the Bible has translational issues. That translators are human, and humans rightly or wrongly have bias and make mistakes.  This article looks at what the author considers the most dangerous translational error in the Bible.


     The scripture in question is 1st Corinthians 5:5  1 It is  commonly reported that there is sexual immorality among you. Immorality that is not so much as named among the nations, that one should have his father's wife (stepmother.) 2 And you are filled with pride, and have not rather mourned, that he that has done this thing might be taken away from among you. 3 For I truly, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

     Many modern translations add the word "his" in front of the word spirit in verse five. Which would look like this: 5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that "his" spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. This word is not in any of the Greek texts used to translate these verses. Neither the Textus Receptus, the Majority\Byzantine Text nor Wescott-Hort\Nestle-Aland. None of the modified versions of these texts have the word "his" in verse five. Nor does the Greek of the New Testament ever infer, imply or assume possessive pronouns such as "his." If there is one it will be in the sentence structure of the Greek just like verse four: The possessive pronoun "my" is in front of the word spirit to indicate the Apostle Paul's spirit that the sentence is referring to.  4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. This hyperlink goes to all of these Greek texts so the reader can see this for themselves. You need no knowledge of Greek to be able to do this. The page will guide you through these Greek\English lexicons that are made so that everyone can understand them. After looking at the Greek test's hyperlink you may want to view how different Bible versions translate verses interpret this verse.

      The reason the author is sighting this as the most dangerous translational error in the Bible is because it makes this the only verse in the New Testament that directly states that a believer can walk in blatant sexual immorality but still go to heaven. There are many verses that people use to infer believers can walk in blatant sin without any eternal consequences. This is the only one that would directly say this, if in fact the possessive pronoun was actually in the Greek text. What this means is that this translational error is the verse that actually hatched the idea or directly validates the idea that there is nothing a person who at one time truly accepted Christ can do, that could keep them out of heaven. Well at least as far a sexual immortality is concerned that is.

     One might argue, "that it really doesn't matter since a true believer would not do these things anyway." Or perhaps,  "if they fall into a sin such as this God would bring them out of it into repentance." This is recklessness, and not because it there's no truth to it.  It's recklessness because it is those who are perishing who are in danger, not those who are sanctified.  Who can possibly argue that there are not millions upon tens of millions of people who sit in churches all over the world thinking themselves safe but are in fact on the wide road that is leading to their destruction?  The reality of this is without dispute and is validated by Christ's words: Matthew 7: 13  Enter in through the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and there are many which go that way: 14 But strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and there are few that find it. Do you think these millions could sit comfortably in church without any fear whatsoever for their own souls if they were not deceived as to the true state of their own hearts? This specious translation is used by untold numbers of pastors\teachers to remove any fear or doubt of ones own salvation and eternal destiny. Not to speak of the multitudes who in their own private devotions mistakenly put their trust in an invalid attempt by translators to convey what they believe rather than letting the Word of God speak for itself.  The sinner is born into total selfishness, their own desires, feelings and needs are paramount to them.  To remove all fear which is one of the most useful tools in Gods repertoire of means to bring the sinner to reality is insanity.  Yet we have here a total lie in the guise of a translation that does just that.
     Is there any real difference than teaching one only needs to be baptized, or partake of the bread and the wine, belong to a certain church or any other ritualistic formula for that matter to go to heaven?  Verses this: One only needs a supernatural experience with Christ that we call a "born again" experience and after that no matter how you live you are "eternally secure." Is there a difference, really? Untold numbers of those who are born Christians, (cultural Christians) believe that Christ is God. They believe that he rose from the dead and confess their belief. That is not faith? "No," some readers might answer,  "you have to be born again!" Dear brothers and sisters: In North America 3/4's of the total population have had true and valid supernatural experiences with Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of all the earth. These experiences constitute varying degree's of divine enlightenment and most of these people consider them "born again" experiences. How do you deal with this? Are you forced deny these as real to validate your own salvation and security by declaring you have something greater than them that constitutes "salvation"?
Could the old adage be spoken one more time? Experiences, (true or not) are subjective.  Now, subjective experience is needful and part of salvation. However, subjective by its very nature means it is subject to ones own personal interpretation. This is the very reason God gave us his Word that continues and abides forever. That we may know, and test all things according to it. That we may interpret correctly our subjective experiences. Truth is objective. It is outside of us, not subject to us whatsoever. The word of God is that truth. (Of course objective truth must become subjective for us to intelligently walk according to it, but back to the subject:)  If you believe the Bible is the Word of God. Making it objective truth, outside the control of any being. Then in this specific case: There is no possessive pronoun "his" in verse five. A possessive pronoun such as his or her has to be in the Greek text of the verse for it to say it is this persons spirit that will be saved in the day of the Lord. It is not there. That is reality. That is objective truth. That is outside of yours or any translators personnel beliefs.  And.... it is not there for a reason, because it is not true.

      Now an immediate objection to the last statement made by the author would go something like this: "Are you saying there is no hope for this person, no way of repentance and getting right with God?" "Are you saying he is condemned to hell by way of the declaration of the the Apostle and his church?" The answer to these questions is no. There is nothing standing in the way of this person getting right with God. That would be the will of God, and the hope of the apostle and this church. Obviously he would have to quit sleeping with his stepmother, move away from her, and probably undergo some probationary period of restoration to fellowship.  That would be everyone's desire. Many of the pastors\teachers who use the spurious translation to indoctrinate the hearers even declare that is exactly what happened in 2nd Corinthians 2: 5 But if any have caused grief, he has not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that in reverse you ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Therefore I beg you that you would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether you will be obedient in all things. 10 To whom if you forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, it was for your sakes I forgave,  it in the person of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. Now it is entirely possible that this is referencing the case of which the article speaks. However it is just as liable to be speaking about others who were sinning and who were publically spoken of in Paul's fist letter to them. Paul wrote other letters to them also that we do not possess, (verse 9 of 1st Corinthians 5.) None of it is relevant to the argument though. To say with certainty either way is folly. To say it couldn't be is a lie and to say has to be is also a lie. This person is on the wide path that will lead to his destruction. What the Apostle did is real. It is within the scope of scriptural mandates. If this person did not repent and the judgment announced came upon him the text does not say "his" spirit will be saved.  In fact, in the rest of the article it will be seen is that Paul did exactly as Jesus taught his disciples to do in cases like these. Paul precisely articulates to the Corinthians what Jesus taught; and Jesus empathically used the term "hell" in his teaching. This will be pointed out in a following sections.

Be therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. But sexual immorality, and all impurity, or avarice, let it not be once named among you, as is fitting for saints;  Neither obscenity, nor buffoonery, nor vulgar jesting, which are not fitting: but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no sexual immoral, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:1-6


     The verses in the heading for this section are being used to convey the idea that words used to teach that a believer can walk in total disregard of moral law, in blatant sin and yet still go to heaven are useless, fraudulent words. Yet this is being foisted on Gods people through this false rendering of 1st Corinthians 5:5 in many modern translations and by pastors and teachers who do not know any better.  The real question about all of this is what is meant by the verses in question if according to the Greek texts it cannot mean this person's spirit, who is a believer, would end up in heaven if this divine judgment is fully carried out. To start that journey one must look at the rest of the chapter.

      1st Corinthians 5:3 For I truly, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that has so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in an letter not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortionists, or with idolaters; for then must you needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionist; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not you judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judges. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.  American King James Version

     In the rest of this chapter it can be seen that the Apostle's main concern is not bringing judgment upon the believer who has backslidden into terrible sin. Rather his concern is for the rest of the believers. That sin does not become accepted and common place among them. This in fact is the entirety of reason for the judgment against the person in question. To prevent the church as a whole from falling into sin. The language used to describe this are common biblical illustrations. That a little bit of yeast in a loaf a bread will ferment the whole loaf. The yeast will not be contained to just part of the loaf of bread but will ferment the whole thing. Yeast is a common illustration for sin in the Bible. The loaf of bread is the whole church. "Why such terrible judgment" one might ask? "Why not just shun the man?" Well apparently the Apostle thought that this particular case necessitated it. Peter led by the Holy Spirit faced a similar situation with Ananias and his wife Sapphira in Acts 5 . Their immediate supernatural deaths brought great fear to all that heard it. They were up to something that was the basis for the lie they told. (This hyperlink goes into that a little bit.) God thought it necessary to stop what Satan was scheming to accomplish through them and probably others. He did this by bringing great fear upon everyone who heard about it. In other words he did not destroy them simply because they were sinning. He did it to stop that sin they were overtaken in from strangling his church in Jerusalem that was still in its infancy.

      That is the main point, the preservation of the church as a holy people. A people dedicated to God and the Gospel. This is precisely what is meant by the words in 1st Corinthians 5:5...... that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. The word "saved" in the Bible is what could be called a "generic" word.  Just like in English it means "saved" from whatever one needs saving from. such as disease, death, famine, war, accidents or hell. The literal Greek dictionary meaning is  "to save, i.e. deliver or protect."  In the case of this sentence it would have probably been better to translate this "protect" or "preserve." The reason for this is because many people throw out all the rules for the reading and understanding of literature when it comes to the Bible. They will look at the word "save" and immediately think only in terms of "eternal salvation" or being saved from hell and going to heaven. It is unfortunate and shows the necessity of "study to show ones self approved."  The other part of this sentence, "the day of the Lord,"  presents a similar problem. There are a dozen plus different "days or comings of the Lord" recorded in scripture. Many of these have dates on them. The day of the Lord Jesus is not a reference to a one (or two) time future event. It is a reference to various days of judgment that nations and people of the past have already faced, and nations and peoples of the future will face. This is why the article The Coming (or Day) of the Lord is placed in the Bible Basics section of Wordservice.org rather than the Bible Prophecy section. The article highlights these various days and their fulfillments. Many of which are fulfilled in the scripture, some were fulfilled after the scripture was written. The day or the coming of the Lord is the illustrative language the Bible uses to describe a day of judgment. To see that day of judgment happen is to see the day of the Lord or the coming of the Lord. It is strongly suggested that you read the article by following the link. Another sister article concerning this is in the same Bible Basics section and called "Resurrection."  It shows very clearly by using all of the scriptures on the subject rather than just a few of them what the Biblical doctrine of general resurrection is. Basically it is a doctrine of immediate life after death that includes a physical body. Not a physical body as we know it, that is a flesh body, but nevertheless a physical body that will then go to heaven or hell. The majority of the people who read those two articles will come away with an entirely different view than they currently have.  Why is this important concerning this scripture? Very simply: No matter how clear it is that this scripture is referencing the preservation of  this church. The protection of the work of the Holy Spirit and his presence in this church.  The knee jerk reaction to it will still be: "This has to be talking about this persons spirit because it is in the context of the "second" coming and the resurrection of all men that occurs at that time. " To further dispel that reaction lets look at some scriptures in the next section that use, teach and prophesy with the language that is similar to 1st Corinthians 5:5...... that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. From there the article will go over Jesus' teachings concerning this situation.

The Bible and its usage of illustrative language.

     The Bible is filled with illustrative language. Using anything from common illustrations to outright secret code and all points in between. The Apostle Paul tended to stick to illustrations that were common and designed to teach. The verses in 1st Corinthians chap. 5 were a perfect example of this. He started with straight forward language concerning the sin. He throws in a few sentences using illustrative instruction and then veers back into the straight forward language.  Here is some more  symbolic language that can be somewhat used as an example of these things.

     Revelation 1:12......  And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like the Son of man.......16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his face was as bright as the sun.......20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches...... Revelation 4: 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne......... 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightning's and thunder and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.........Revelation 5: Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, look, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
     Then skipping back to chapter two:
  1 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things says he that holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know your works, and your labor, and your patience, and how you canst not bear them which are evil: and you hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 You have endured, and had patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and have not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you hast left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent. These verses in Revelation were not added to represent an exact reference of the symbolic language Paul is using. Just similar language with a similar scenario.  That whatever it is that makes a church a real church, there is the very real possibility of having that thing removed because of sin. That does not mean people cannot continue to meet and call themselves a church. It just means, for instance, the Holy Spirit left (or was no longer welcome.)  The next verses however are the instructions of Christ himself that Paul was following in this whole situation. Unlike these verses in Revelation that are just similar, these are exact. First, it needs to be set up with the establishment of the meaning of some other common Biblical illustrations.

      1st Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be slaves or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now has God set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. This scripture illustratively uses the human body to describe a church. Jesus uses the body illustratively in the same way to teach about the exact situation that this church in Corinth was confronted with.

      Matthew 18:7 Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! It is necessary that stumbling blocks come, but woe to the person through whom they come. 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into fiery hell. There is also another verse that says the same thing in Matthew: 5: 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell. NET Bible

     These are the instructions the apostle was following. The two scriptures in Matthew have been very confusing to generations of people. They do not make sense outside of the context this article is putting them in. The reason they have not made sense is obvious. Parts of a persons physical body do not go to hell and other parts to heaven. Nor do some parts of a persons physical body cause anyone to sin that removing them will alleviate the problem. Trying to find some way to use these illustrations to deal with personal sin is awkward as there no scriptural precedence in using this type of language illustratively for teaching about personal sin. Notice though how it fits so perfectly into Paul's allusion about a little bit of yeast will ferment the whole loaf of Bread. That it will be better if this one person perish than many others in the church perishing due to grave sin becoming common place in the church. Also notice that neither the Apostle or our Lord are saying the first response to a believer committing some atrocious sin is to hand them a death sentence and a quick trip to eternal destruction. After all its written: John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that who so ever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. No! what they are saying is if it need be, if it is necessary. It is better that one perish than many. They are also not saying it is good for the one to perish and be throne into hell either; after all: Matthew 18:11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety- nine, and go into the mountains, and seeks that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he fins it, truly I say to you, he rejoice more about that (one) sheep, than about the ninety-nine which did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. That is the heart of God. He does not want the one sinner to perish. Especially if they have believed in him. However even more so. He does not want many others to perish because the one opened the door to Satan in a church to bring in rampant sin and eventually apostasy. Can anyone actually argue that some church's and denominations have not apostatized? Church's that were born through the flames of revival and the labor of wonderful men and woman of God? Churches that now are hardly recognizable as Christian, that oppose the work of the gospel and side with the political enemies of all righteousness? Can anyone even debate that this happened in any other way than sin becoming common place in those churches? Is it even possible to not have multigenerational slide into sin? Of course it is, but not if through ignorance and lack of faith scripture such as this is misunderstood and therefore inapplicable. To prove a point. Outside those who are outright rejecting the claims of this article due to bias. It would be a good bet that 98 out of 100 people who read this article for the first time are saying to themselves: "I don't know why I never noticed Matthew 18:7-9 and 5:27-30 meant that." "Its so common sense and obvious, what else could it even be possibly referring too?"  That is what a good understanding of scripture is like. It just makes such basic common sense. We wonder why we were so blind to what was so obvious.

      Another thing that might be pointed out. If a church were to face a similar circumstance and act on these scriptures being led by the Holy Spirit. This will cost something. This is what "entering into life  handicapped" is referring to. Better to not face this in the first place. This is going to hurt and you are going to lose a part of your body that is needful in the grand scheme of things. Sin is a fearful thing. It ruins everything.  The grace that leads one to real repentance is exceedingly better. However we as human beings cannot see everything that is happening. We have to accept that as reality. We have to accept that this may be necessary if we are to expect God to keep prevailing  in the hearts of the people in a church. We have to learn look toward the future and to sow the things that will produce life and godliness. Gardens or farming (another common Biblical illustration of a church) are not haphazard undertakings. Failure can happen, sin can prevail. God can be ignored and spurned. It takes collective knowledge and experience to farm. So to with a church.

     This is the end of the main body of this article. At a future date there may be some added sections under this to answer some common objections.

Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” ESV
Psalm 68:11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.




© Daniel Martinovich 2012-2013