Bible Versions

Q. Which interpretation is most accurate? They all convey different meanings:
• NIV Has not the one God made you? You belong to Him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.
• ESV Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring.
• KJV And did not He make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed.

A. I studied only very little Hebrew, not enough to do proper translation. Using an interlinear does not help much as the word-for-word translation does not give you the word order in English sentences. Having said that, I would first take a look at the Amplified or Expanded Bible to see the range of possible meanings allowed by the text:

• Amplified Bible, Classic Ed. And did not God make [you and your wife] one [flesh]? Did not One make you and preserve your spirit alive? And why [did God make you two] one? Because He sought a godly offspring [from your union]. Therefore take heed to yourselves, and let no one deal treacherously and be faithless to the wife of his youth.
• Expanded Bible. God made [ Did not God make…?] husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for His purpose—so they would have children who are true to God [godly offspring]. So be careful [ guard yourself in your spirit], and do not break your promise [be unfaithful] to the wife you married when you were young [ of your youth].

Language is not like numbers, with only one meaning within our decimal system. In translating, which possible meaning to use is the choice of the translators, subject to the context. With that as background, I would look at the 3 translations again and offer the following comments:

• NIV. In English, “you” can be either singular or plural. Does it mean the man who has been unfaithful to his wife (singular), or the husband and wife collectively (plural)? Mal 2:14-15 read, “You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth. So the NIV context indicates singular, the man who hates and divorces his wife.

• ESV. The ESV, on the other hand, says, “But you say, “Why does He not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. The ESV chose the plural, the man and his wife.

Which is more accurate? I can offer you only my opinion – I prefer the ESV. Of course the man is the guilty party in divorcing his wife, but the nature of his sin is in breaking the marriage covenant, where God joined two together to become one. For the man to divorce his wife not only does violence to her, but is an affront to God who joined them; hence my preference.

• KJV. While some are “KJV Only” as they believe all contemporary versions are less accurate, I feel they are too narrowly focused. I hold a conservative position, but I believe textual criticism has value in getting closer to the original meaning. As a minimum, I suggest using the NKJV instead of the KJV to avoid the burden of old English. Mal 2:15 in the NKJV reads, “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” The word “them” is not in the original Hebrew, but interpolated by the translators as the best meaning. As such, it is essentially the same as the ESV.


Conflicting Translations?

Q. Why is the NIV translation of Hosea 11:12 entirely the opposite of King James or Chinese translation?
• (NIV) Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, Israel with deceit. And Judah is unruly against God, even against the faithful Holy One.
• (KJV) Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.

A. Heb 11:12 is a difficult verse to translate because of textual problems. My favorite NASB has:
(NASB) Ephraim surrounds Me with lies And the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is also unruly against God, Even against the Holy One who is faithful.
Yet the ESV which many people like has:
(ESV) Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit, but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.
Which is correct? I will try to explain this as simply as possible as most readers have not studied Hebrew grammar.

The problem hinges on one word in the Hebrew רוּד (ruwd), which precise meaning is lost according to lexicographers. They agree that the root is related to rule, but whether it is translated positively (rule with) or negatively (unruly against) is subject to debate.

Let me quote from Strong’s Definitions: ruwd – a primitive root;
• to tramp about, i.e. ramble (free or disconsolate)
• have the dominion, be lord, mourn, rule.
As you can see, Strong’s carry both opposite meanings.

There is a related issue. For translations who opt for the negative meaning, they assumed the adjective “faithful” qualifies God the Holy One. However, for those who opt for the positive meaning, they associate “faithful” with Judah to be consistent. There are reputable scholars on both sides, and I don’t think I can settle the debate, only offer my opinion.

I believe we have to look at the broad and immediate context of Judah during the time of Hosea. Hosea prophesied to Israel in her final days, about 753-722 BC. During this time 6 kings (Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea) reigned in Israel, all bad. At the same time, the kings in Judah were Uzziah, Jotham, both did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and Ahaz, who did evil. The good kings tried to steer Judah back to God, while the bad king led Judah to idolatry. So Judah during Hosea’s time was a mix of good and bad. It is therefore understandable that those translators who assumed Judah to be reforming took the positive perspective for 11:12, while those whose presupposition was that Judah was turning away from God opted for the negative interpretation.

For me, the immediate context is instructive. The text immediately following 11:12 is 12:1-2
(NASB) Ephraim feeds on wind, And pursues the east wind continually; He multiplies lies and violence. Moreover, he makes a covenant with Assyria, And oil is carried to Egypt. The LORD also has a dispute with Judah, And will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds.
• (KJV) Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.

Notice that whether you use NASB or KJV, whether you prefer the negative or positive for 11:12, the meaning for 12:2 is clear – the LORD has a dispute or controversy with Judah. My thinking is that if the LORD has a dispute with Judah in 12:2, it is unlikely that He calls Judah faithful just 2 verses earlier. So logically the negative meaning makes more sense in 11:12. I therefore take the position that the NIV and NASB are correct, not the KJV or ESV this time.

British Israel Church of God

Q. Is the British-Israel Church of God ( a cult? I don’t see them acknowledging the Trinity in their statement of faith.

A. I believe they are a cult. Their statement of beliefs is in their website:
They also have a PDF ( rejecting the claim that they are a cult.

But they do not believe in the Trinity, claiming that the Holy Spirit is not a person, only the spiritual extension of God. Neither do they believe in the immortality of the soul, as they believe in annihilation of the wicked in the Lake of Fire, not eternal punishment in hell. Furthermore, they hung onto OT laws such as keeping the Sabbath and festivals as binding on all Christians.

These put them at odds with historic orthodox Christianity, whom they assert to be non-biblical. But who is right? Orthodoxy which had been attacked over the last two thousand years and stood the test, or a deviant group who claimed to have found the “truth” by twisting the Bible? Search the Scriptures for yourself.

Worship Attitude and Choosing a Church

Q. What is the attitude to go to Sunday service? How do I pick a church to attend?

A. Regarding our attitude in worship, the following is representative:

Wholly devoted, no half-hearted
1 Kings 8:61 Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”
Joyful and thankful
Ps 100:1-2, 4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. … Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
Not in vain by neglecting the commandment of God to hold on the tradition of men
In spirit and truth
Jn 4:23-24 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Rom 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Glory in Christ only, not self
Php 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
With faith
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
With gratitude, reverence and awe
Heb 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
Be humble
Jas 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (also 1 Pet 5:5)

To choose a church to attend or join, consider the following:
1) If you already have a home church but are thinking of leaving due to some disagreement or dissatisfaction, it is better to resolve your differences than to carry your grievances elsewhere. What’s wrong may be with you, or your church, or both. God does not want us to walk away from problems, but solve them. Only when you are sure the fault is not with you but with the church, and they are not willing to correct what’s wrong, should you consider switching to another one.

2) Assuming 1) is settled and you need to change, examine what do the churches you are considering believe. Do they hold to the fundamentals of the faith? e.g. the authority of Scripture; the deity of Christ; salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone; the trinity etc. How does their statement of faith compare to the historic creeds e.g. Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed. If their beliefs are not in line with the Bible and historic Christianity, find another one.

3) Assuming their beliefs are consistent with conservative evangelical Christianity, what do they do? It’s one thing to believe the right things, but is theirs a living faith or dead orthodoxy? Do they preach the gospel? Are they zealous in evangelism and making disciples? Are they mission-minded? Do they serve the community in outreach and social action?

4) Assuming their practice is right with good programs serving different groups, do they have the right attitude? Right beliefs and behavior is good, but some churches have a toxic environment as their attitude is wrong. Do they love brothers and sisters and their neighbors? Are they accepting of newcomers? Do they encourage their people to grow, to serve, to be World Christians, or are they narrowly focused on their worship, their fellowship, and their programs?

Those are a few things to consider. Take your time to pray and ask God to lead you. He will guide you to one that’s right for you and your family.

His Kingdom and His Righteousness

Q. I have the following questions:
1. Mt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. What are His kingdom and His righteousness?
2. What is the meaning of “If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”

A. The kingdom of God means His rule on earth, His domain or realm:
Lk 17:21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (among you, inside you)
• Rom 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

In other words, it is God ruling in your heart. For the person who repents and believes in the gospel (Mk 1:15), God gives him Christ’s righteousness. He has peace with God (reconciliation) and joy in the Holy Spirit. His relationship with the triune God is restored and he becomes a subject of God’s kingdom.

His righteousness means God’s righteousness made available to us through faith in Christ:
Rom 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
• 1 Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
• Php 3:9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,

So, seeking His kingdom and righteousness should be the most important thing in anyone’s life, because without that you are lost and alienated from God.

“My way, My statutes and My commandments” appears twice in the Bible, both times God speaking to Solomon:
• The first was when Solomon became king and God appeared to him in a dream, in 1 Kings 3:14 If you walk in My ways, keeping My statutes and commandments, as your father David walked, then I will prolong your days.”
• The second was when Solomon turned from God, and God warned him in 1 Kings 11:38 Then it will be, that if you listen to all that I command you and walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight by observing My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build you an enduring house as I built for David, and I will give Israel to you.

The meaning is clear. God has His ways, statutes, and commandments (Deut 26:17, 30:16; 1 Kings 2:3, 8:58; 2 Kings 17:13). If we keep them, we will live and multiply, the LORD will bless us, and we will succeed in all that we do and wherever we turn. If we don’t, we will be chastised and disciplined.

The Key of David

Q. Is 22: 22 God talks about Eliakim as a replacement for Shebna. He said, “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
Jesus used the same words about the church in Philadelphia in Rev 3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.
What is the meaning and significance of those words? What is the key to the house of David?

A. The term “key of David” appears only in the two passages you cited in the Bible. First, let’s note Is 22:22’s preceding context:
Is 22:21 And I will clothe him with your tunic And tie your sash securely about him. I will entrust him with your authority, And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.

The tunic and sash were symbols of authority worn by priests (Ex 28:4, 39, 40; Lev 8:7, 13; Lev 16:4), so was the key on the shoulders, which represents governing power:
Is 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Eliakim was master of Hezekiah’s household, entrusted with the king’s authority, and a “father” to Judah. This is similar to Joseph:
Gen 45:8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Just as Joseph was second-in-command after Pharaoh, Eliakim had full authority after Hezekiah. In this sense he was a “type” of Christ.

Next, let’s note Rev 3:7’s subsequent context:
Rev 3:8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

John used Isaiah’s imagery to convey the idea that Jesus is the Son of David who holds final authority over his house. He is the one who will sit on David’s throne forever (Lk 1:32). The key of David can, but need not be, a literal physical key.

New Jerusalem II

Q. Rev 22 says 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Is it not true that all the sinners have gone to hell by that time? Why would they still be outside the city? If outside the city is hell, why would those who wash their robes go in and out of the city?

Also, 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. What will they be reigning? Will everyone be a king?

A. According to Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, all unbelievers would have been cast into hell by that time.

Let’s dissect v 14-15 to see what it means. First, “wash their robes” is in reference to:
Rev 7:14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Washing their robes white in the Lamb’s blood is figurative, not literal.

Second, “tree of life” appears first in Revelation in:
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
The overcomers are those who persevere and are victorious. Eating of the tree of life means being granted eternal life. I believe it is more figurative than literal.

Third, “dogs” appears 8 times in the NT, here and in:
Mt 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
• Mt 15:26-27 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (See also Mk 7:27-28)
• Lk 16:21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
• Php 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;

Except in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, all 7 references are figurative of the unholy, the Gentiles, the evil workers, the false people of God, the sinners, not literal.

Therefore I believe “outside” does not mean physically outside the city, but figuratively, barred from entering. Rev 22:14 does not say go in and out of the city, only “enter by the gates into the city” (NASB). Nor does Rev 21.

Next, reign. Besides Rev 22:5, believers reigning is taught in:
2 Tim 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
• Rev 5:10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
• Rev 20:4, 6 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 5:10 refers to the men and women purchased for God with the Lamb’s blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Rev 20:4, 6 refer to those who were martyred, those who had not worshipped the Antichrist and received his mark. They will reign with Christ during the Millennium.

There are degrees of reward. In Lk 19:13 a nobleman gave 10 of his slaves 10 minas to do business. When he returned, he called them to give an account:
Lk 19:16-19 The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

Each slave was given 1 mina, and the reward is proportional to the results. The one who earned more was put in authority over more. I do not know what the specific duties of being “in charge” involves, only that they will reign, some with higher rank. I don’t think everyone will be a king. Some will be barely saved:
1 Co 3:14-15 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.