Seventy And Seven

by A.E. Knoch

WHAT need is there for another version? Why change the Authorized? Are there any vital improvements in the new version? What is the proportion of improvements? How can we know that the new readings are better? What authority is there for them? How does the Editor of the CONCORDANT VERSION plan to keep out his own opinion? These are the principal questions which arise in the minds of those who hear of the CONCORDANT VERSION.

We have told of the principles and the plan which underlie it. We now propose to give a concrete example, showing how its method works in practice, and giving the reason for every "change from the Authorized," though, in the nature of the case, there can be no "changes," as the work is based on a concordance, not on any previous version.

In order to make this study instructive and helpful, we have chosen a passage of Scripture which contains the very foundation of the evangel--Romans, chapter three, verses 19 to 28.

In this short passage there are about seventy points in which the CONCORDANT VERSION differs from the Authorized. We shall take up each in turn and tell why it is preferable. Some may seem trivial at first sight, but only to those who underrate the preciousness of God's revelation. In a costly gem an almost imperceptible flaw greatly depreciates its value. In the most precious treasure in all the universe we should welcome the most minute improvement.

As there are about two hundred words in this passage and we propose seventy improvements, two-thirds of the Authorized Version stands, while the remainder, half as much, is replaced by better renderings. The American Revision, either in its text or margin, makes or suggests about half of these betterments.

It is presumed that the reader has a great respect and reverence for the Authorized Version. Nearly all of the corrections made by the CONCORDANT VERSION may be based on the authority of the Authorized. All that needs to be done in most cases is to apply the best one of their own renderings consistently. Thus, in the passage before us they have translated a certain word conclude. Yet in five other occurrences in the same epistle they render this word reckon. Is it criminal or commendable to "change" to the rendering they themselves have used elsewhere?

There is a law, which is the foundation of all language, which is continually violated in our versions of the Scriptures. Words are merely the sounds or signs of an idea. We gather this idea from the surroundings in which we find a word. Every time we read a passage of Scripture we unconsciously clothe each word with a meaning appropriate to its context. Every new context adds to our knowledge of its meaning. If we find it where it should not be, we unconsciously burden it with wrong ideas and color it with false notions.

In practical life we learn the meaning of a word, not from the dictionary, but from the use to which it is put in the Scriptures themselves. If this is in concord with the Greek word it represents, we unconsciously imbibe the correct thought beyond the power of any dictionary definition to impart. Conversely, should we use it in discordant contexts, the mental image becomes distorted and confused.

It is impossible to overestimate the gain in clearness and accuracy which such a course imparts. An English word, being found in the same context as the Greek word for which it stands, takes on the same force and color. If it should occur in false contexts, as in the AV, then it would assume false and misleading tendencies.

There seems to be no valid reason for changing from the clear reading of the Greek simply because we cannot grasp a distinction. It is not the translator's duty to comprehend the minute differences in the original, but to pass them on to others, who may be able to discover beauties which he has failed to observe.

19(CV) Now we are aware that, as much as the law
19(AV) Now we know, that what things soever the law  
is saying, it is speaking to those under the law,
saith, it saith to them who are under the law: 
that every mouth may be barred, and the entire world
that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world 
may become subject to the just sentence of God,
may become guilty before God.

1. are aware for know] The AV uses know for six different terms, KNOW, PERCEIVE (perfect aware), recognize, be adept, foreknow, be conscious of. One of these it translates know 196 times out of 224 occurrences. The CV simply renders these know always as there is no reason for any change. This passage, however, uses a different term, which they have rendered aware in Luke 12:46, "at an hour when he is not aware." Thus they are authority that it has this meaning.

The sublinear has HAVE-PERCEIVED, and this word is rendered perceived, except when its form is in the complete or perfect tense, denoting the condition which follows an act, rather than the act itself. Then it is more agreeable to the English idiom to render it be aware or be acquainted. This, however, is done consistently. It refers to knowledge gained experimentally, through the senses. Both terms occur in Rom.7:7, which should read "I had not been aware of coveting." He knew of it, but not in his own experience. So here, Paul is aware from personal experience that the law speaks to those who are under it. We, who have never been under it, know that this is so, but have never felt the force of it as they have.

2. as much as for what things soever] Although this word occurs over a hundred times the AV never translates it "what things soever" in any other passage. In Romans they render it as many as (2:12, twice; 8:14), so many as (6:3), as long as (7:1), in as much as (11:13). They render it as much as in John 6:11. Hence we have them for authority in our consistent rendering.

3. is saying for saith] Saith has become archaic.

4. is speaking for saith] As is shown in the sublinear, this is quite a different word from the saith immediately preceding. Why, then, render it the same? The AV itself translates it speak, as we do, 241 times. Only 15 times do they use say. There is often a decided difference between these words, as there is between our English say and talk, as when men talk much but say little. The contrast here is between the contents of the law and its application.

5. those for them] Them is archaic.

6. Omits who are] There is no necessity for adding these words.

7. bar for stop] The usual meaning of stop is to bring from motion to rest. The word here used signifies to block up, hinder, dam. It seems specially fit to use barred here, because it is used of a moral and legal hindrance.

8. the entire for all the] When the word EVERY is followed by a noun preceded by THE, in Greek, it changes the sense from EVERY world to the entire world, taken as a single unit. The word all is used with the plural in English and fails to convey the idea of unity which is enforced here.

9. subject to the just sentence for guilty before] The A V rendering "guilty before God" has been challenged by almost every translator and commentator. It is certainly not correct, for the Greek word here used does not tell us whether the sentence is "guilty" or "not guilty." The Revisers have tried to indicate this by rendering "may be brought under the judgment of God." This, however, suggests an adverse judgment, even if it does not express it. It is unfortunate also, in that the word judgment is always associated with an entirely different term, and should never be linked with the word here used.

The apostle's argument has developed the fact that the entire world, Jews as well as Gentiles, are subject to the just sentence of God. They have been tried, but the sentence waits. It has not been pronounced. Only in the case of those who believe is the Judge's decision given out, but in their case it is "not guilty," rather than "guilty." They are acquitted, or vindicated, or justified by His grace through the deliverance in Christ Jesus.

It is manifestly absurd to pronounce all "guilty" and then immediately, without any further explanation, pronounce believers "not guilty." The AV rendering is without foundation in the Greek, it is contrary to the apostle's argument, it is subversive of the grand doctrine of justification. One who is guilty cannot be justified. He may be pardoned or forgiven, but to justify a guilty person is to become a partner in his crimes. God is just, as well as a Justifier. He holds the entire world subject to His just sentence, and never, under any circumstances does aught but vindicate anyone who believes Him.

The AV rendering has given us a false impression of God's attitude toward the world. It creates a condition where justification is impossible. It has effectually robbed the saints of the truth of justification and substituted for it remission or pardon, which alone are possible for those who are guilty.

The value of this version lies in large measure in the fact that its foundation principles make it possible to translate beyond the comprehension of the translator. His understanding or misunderstanding will not necessarily bar others from the truth. The common version, "guilty before God," is terse, vigorous English, which cannot be misunderstood. Why say "subject to the just sentence" for "guilty" when the preceding phrase "every mouth may be barred" seems to show that the sentence is "guilty?" Is this not quibbling and hair splitting? In fact, the translator himself was convinced that the sentence in this case was always "guilty" and he would assuredly have rendered it so if he had not been held in check by the law which does not allow him to import into a word what it does not contain in the Greek. A study of UNDER-JUST made it evident that it was the legal term for those under sentence of a judge, but it does not, in itself, give the slightest hint whether the sentence is for or against.

It was not until after this reading had been challenged that the truth dawned on the mind of the translator. He was wrong, in supposing that in this passage, it amounted to the same as "guilty."

Thus it is the aim of the CV to give a clear transcript of the Scriptures, so that earnest students will not be hampered by the limitations of the translator, but may discover truth which he has overlooked, but which he has endeavored to leave open for those who may have a keener insight into the truth.

20. CV Because, by works of law, no flesh, shall be justified
20. AV Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified
before Him, for through law is the recognition of sin.     
in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.                              

10. because for therefore] Nowhere else does the AV render this therefore. Ten times they translate it because. They themselves are ten to one for this rendering. It does not introduce a new conclusion, but gives the reason for the previous statement. The world is subject to the just sentence of God because law fails to provide any ground for justification. The Revisers changed to because.

11. Omit the before works] It is not in the Greek and English usage corresponds to Greek in this case. See 13 below. The Revised margin omits it.

12. Works for deeds] The AV has this very phrase works of law in Rom.9:32; Gal.2:16. Why change it here? The Revisers have corrected this. Deeds is the equivalent of another term, associated with the verb DO. "Deeds of the law" suggests that the law itself is the actor, rather than that which characterizes the action.

13. Omit the before law] This is important. Throughout this passage and elsewhere the law [of Moses] is distinguished from the principle of law in general by means of the word THE. The statement here is a broad one. No one, either Jew or Gentile, under the dictates of conscience, can be justified by law, for through law (not the law of Moses only) is the recognition of sin. The AV has entirely obscured this vital point throughout this passage. The Revisers omit the in their margin.

14. Omit there] The Revisers also omit this useless addition.

15. through for by] The AV usually renders this word through. By is the efficient agent rather than the channel. The Revisers suggest through in their margin.

16. Omits the] See 13.

17. recognition for knowledge] The AV have recognized the special force of this word--ON-KNOWLEDGE--in Matt.14:35, "when the men of that place had knowledge of Him," that is, recognized Him. So also Mark 6:33,54; Luke 24:16,13, etc. The law gives us a standard by which we can recognize sin.

21 CV Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God has been manifested
21 AV But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested,
(being testified to by the law and the prophets)
being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

18. Yet for but] The AV translates another disjunctive but 572 times. The word here used is much weaker than our but. In verse 19 the AV renders it Now. The CV renders it now and yet. It would be awkward to translate it now here, for it would read "Now now."

19. apart from for without] The Revisers agree in this change. Without means outside of. In John 20:7 the handkerchief was not without the tomb, but in a place apart.

20. Omit the] With the Greek text we omit the. It is not the law of Moses merely, but the wider principle of law which is intended.

21. Omit the] "The righteousness of God" is too personal and narrow. The article is omitted in the Greek. It is a divine righteousness, for us as well as God. The Revisers made this correction.

22. has been for is manifested] The AV has rendered this very form of this word "hath appeared" (Heb.9:8), showing that they recognized that it represents a state consequent on an action rather than a continuous action. Whenever the initial sound of a Greek verb is doubled, as in this case, the verb is in what may be called the perfect or complete tense, signifying the result of an action rather than the action itself. The Revisers have hath been.

23. testified to for witnessed] Witness is no longer used with an object in this sense. Testify to has replaced it in modern English.

22 CV Yet a righteousness of God, through Jesus Christ's faith, for all,
22 AV Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all
and on all who are believing, for there is no distinction,
and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
23 CV For all sinned and are wanting of the glory of God,
23 AV For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24. yet for even] This is the same word which the AV translated but at the beginning of this paragraph, and we render yet. The word is a disjunctive not a conjunctive, as even.

25. a for the] As 21.

26. Omits which is] It is without warrant and unnecessary. The Revisers also omit these words.

27. through for by] As 15 above. The Revisers make this change.

28. for for unto] The AV translates this word into 571 times, and idiomatically for, 87 times. Thus we are amply justified in our sublinear INTO, and the version for. The unto and upon suggests a distinction which does not exist, as though it came up to or as far as all, but only upon all who believe. In both cases it is the believer who is in question. It is into or for him and is on him.

29. on for upon] The AV renders this word both on and upon, without any apparent cause.

30. who for them that] Them that is not in good form. The AV uses who for this very phrase in Eph.1:19.

31. are believing for believe] The AV renders this form believed (Acts 22:19), believe (Rom.3:22; 1 Cor.1:21), do believe (1 Peter 1:21). It is evident that they had no system. We distinguish between the indefinite form (usually called the aorist) and the present active, which is used here.

32. distinction for difference] The AV uses distinction in 1 Cor.14:7. There are many differences between men, even as to their sins. The Revisers make this change.

33. sinned for have sinned] The margin of the Revision suggests this change. Have sinned suggests a present state, the equivalent of being sinners. We who are justified sinned in the past, but, being acquitted, are no longer in the condition of those who have sinned. This distinction is important, especially when we realize the full import of justification.

34. are wanting for come short] The AV has only once again "come short" (Heb.4:1). In that characteristic occurrence (Luke 15:14) the prodigal began to be in want. See also 2 Cor. 11:9. Paul was in want. So here it is not that our efforts fail to reach the divine standard, but our condition is one of want.

24 CV Being justified gratuitously by His grace through the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus
24 AV Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;

35. gratuitously for freely] The AV freely no longer has the sense of a gift, but now means liberally, abundantly. Gratuitously is the only English word which adequately conveys the causelessness of this gracious gift.

36. deliverance for redemption] The AV consistently translates the usual word for redemption (Luke 1:68; 2:38; Heb. 9:12) and the CV does the same. The word here used, however, is a strengthened form which they on one occasion, render happily by deliverance (Heb.11:35). This is used uniformly in the CV. Its aptness can only be appreciated by seeing it in all its contexts.

25 CV (Whom God purposed for a Propitiatory, through faith in His blood, for a display of His
25 AV Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His
righteousness because of the passing over of the sins which occurred before in the forbearance of God)
righteousness for the remission of penalty of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

37. purposed for set forth] This word may mean "set forth," but the connection indicates a past act with a present point, which is better satisfied by the usual rendering purposed. Thus it is always elsewhere in the AV

38. Propitiatory for propitiation] The AV correctly and consistently renders propitiation in its two occurrences (1 John 2:2; 4:10). But this is a different form which they have translated mercy seat in its only other occurrence (Heb.9:5). It should, consequently be mercy seat here, or better, Propitiatory, to preserve its connection with propitiation. This is not the act, but the place of propitiation, the meeting place of God with man. The propitiatory was sprinkled with blood, hence God could meet with man between the cherubim. The passage is concerned with justification and a common ground where both God and man can be just. This is the blood stained Mercy Seat--the Propitiatory.

39. for for to] Very rarely indeed does the AV translate this word to, though it occurs hundreds of times.

40. a display for declare] This is a noun, not a verb. Elsewhere they translate it evident token (Phil.1:28) and proof (2 Cor.8:24). The Revisers have changed it to show. The word display fits all of its occurrences better than the variety of the AV. The evident thought is that God wishes to show openly that He is just,

41. of is added] The word righteousness is in the case which the AV usually indicates by prefixing of as in Rom.4:11; 5:17.

42. because of for for] The AV often has this because of. The Revisers have changed it to this.

43. passing over for remission] This is quite a different term from remission elsewhere in the AV. It does not involve nearly so much. Sin's penalty was not remitted before the sacrifice of Christ. It was merely covered or passed over. The use of remission here is a serious defect which was remedied by the Revisers.

44. the is added] The Revisers insert the the here to define the particular sins or penalty referred to. It is in the Greek.

45. penalty of sins for sins] The word here rendered sin by the AV has a special ending which changes it from sin to the effect of sin. This is clearly seen in 1 Cor.6:18 where the penalty of sinning, not sin itself is demanded by the context. It was the divine penalty of sins which was passed over when the sacrifices were offered in connection with the law.

46. which occurred before for that are past] The Greek, as shown by the sublinear, is BEFORE-HAVING-BECOME. The AV is a loose paraphrase, which has led us to think that the apostle is speaking of our past sins as individuals. The Revisers have changed it to done aforetime, rather old-fashioned phraseology for a modern version, and almost as loose as the AV.

47. in for through] The Revisers change this to in, as it should be.

26 CV Toward the display of His righteousness in the current era, for Him to be just
26 AV To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just,
and a Justifier  of the one who is of the faith of Jesus.
and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

48. toward for to] The AV to declare suggests that this is a repetition of the same phrase in the previous verse. It is not. The connection here is quite different. The AV translates it toward in other places.

49. display for declare] See 40. The italicized "I say" is also omitted.

50. of added] See 41.

51. in for at] The AV translates this connective in, 1853 times, at, 106 times.

52. current for this] This is the usual word for now, which we translate current when the English idiom will not bear the usual rendering. The word this is too indefinite.

53. era for time] This is not the word usually translated time in the AV. They often render it season. The Revisers have changed it to this. But it is better to speak of the Christian era than the Christian season, for the latter is used only of a short period of time, and the era here referred to has run nearly two millenniums.

54, 55, 56. for Him to be for that He might be] There is no warrant for the word might and the idea of contingency. It is the simplest form of the verb to be, as the AV itself is witness (Rom.1:22). If this were turned back into Greek an entirely different phrase would be the result. That is the same word which they made unto in verse 22 and to in verse 25, which we have consistently given as for. He is in the objective case, Him

57. a for the] It is His character as a Justifier which is pressed here. The insertion of the, which is not in the Greek, interferes rather than helps.

58. one who for him which] The Greek is simply THE in the singular, and though usually listed as masculine, is applied to both genders in common. Hence it is not well to limit this to the masculine him. No one would defend the which, though the Revisers retained it.

59. of faith for believeth] A reference to the sublinear will show that this is not a verb, believe, but a noun, belief. The AV has deliberately altered the sense of this passage, making our believing in Jesus the basis of justification instead of Jesus Christ's faith, as in verse 22. The point is that it is not His keeping the law which made Him a fit Propitiatory where we could meet God and be justified, but His faith which led Him far beyond the law's demands, in faith obedience, even to the death of the cross. From this faith springs justification. It is out of this faith for our faith (Rom.1:17). Whatever we may believe on this point we are not warranted in deliberately altering the text to suit, as the AV has done.

60. of for in] See 59. The in is absent in the Greek.

27 CV Where, then, is boasting? It is debarred! Through what law? Of works? No! but
27 AV Where is boasting then? it is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but
through the law of faith.
by the law of faith.

61. debarred for excluded] Literally this is LOCKED-OUT. Exclude is a mild term more suited to another Greek word. We no longer speak of excluding boasting. Usage and elegance are both better satisfied with debarred.

62, 63. through for by] As English will bear through as well as by, it is better to use the more precise term as in verse 20, and so distinguish this phrase from by the law in verse 21.

28 CV For we are reckoning mankind to be justified by faith apart from works of law.
28 AV Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

64. for for therefore] The AV follows a different reading here, which is given in the superlinear as THEN. The better reading, which we follow, they have translated for 992 times.

65. we are reckoning for we conclude] Only here has the AV used conclude. Elsewhere they render number, account, count, reason, think, suppose, esteem, etc., and reckon (Rom.4:4,9, 10; 6:11; 8:18). The tense is present active, not indefinite.

66. mankind for a man] This is not the word for a man as distinct from a woman, but a human being of either sex. This cannot always be expressed in English, as it has no noun corresponding to human except mankind and humanity.

67. to be for] Why change the Greek when the same construction yields good sense in English? Besides there may be a subtle distinction which our dull minds fail to grasp.

68. apart from for without] . See 19. 69, 70. Omit the twice] The works of the law confines the statement to the Jew and the law of Moses. The Greek omits both the's in order to include the principle of law wherever found.

The point we wish to press in this comparison with the Authorized Version is that, to a large degree, our work can claim the "authority" of these translators for the very variations which distinguish it from theirs. Their work was loose, with little system or order. We use much the same material but dispose it in accord with the fundamental law of language that the same word should always be used to express a given idea.

We wish also to show that, however much we may revere the version to which we are bound by ties of sentiment, there is a real need for another. Everyone must acknowledge that some of these seventy corrections are vital, and that most of them are desirable. Very few of them can be questioned, because the translators of the Authorized have themselves set their seal to most of the corrections by their renderings in other passages. There are at least seven improvements of vital value in this short passage. They affect our enjoyment of justification, our attitude toward law, our apprehension of the place of Christ Jesus as the Propitiatory, and His part in procuring justification. If the rest of the seventy seem unimportant these alone ought to convince us of the vital value of a version based on a concordance rather than on human scholarship.

[Return to main indexpage]