Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The above image by Smiling Pixell from Pixabay

 

Ties To The New Apostolic Reformation

The Passion Translation has ties to the New Apostolic Reformation, which several biblical scholars have pointed out. Andrew Wilson, a teaching pastor with degrees in history and theology from Cambridge, explains greetings in Scripture are straightforward to translate. He says, “…virtually all the major translations render Philippians 1:1 pretty much the same way: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.” But TPT throws in at least two ideas that fit the agenda of the version, but appear nowhere in the text: “My name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One.”1 So let’s continue looking at the translations I have used in this series of posts comparing The Passion Translation to the NIV, NASB, and the KJV.

Philippians 1:1

The NIV saysPaul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

The NASB saysPaul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:

The KJV saysPaul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

TPT saysMy name is Paul and I’m joined by my spiritual son Timothy, both of us passionate servants of Jesus, the Anointed One.

Furthermore, Wilson explains in the very next verse where Paul says, “Grace and peace to you,” The Passion Translation reads, “We decree over your lives the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace.”1 The artistic license Simmons takes with his Passion Translation would make Bob Ross proud. Andrew Wilson identifies multiple mistranslations, insertions, and additions that don’t even come close to the original text. 

Dr. Shead alluded to how Simmons slips in the prophetic to appeal to those within the NAR circles. Shead explains the translations of Syriac and Greek in the footnotes are incorrect. Shead writes, “Simmons renders ‘word’ in Psalm 119:11 as ‘prophecies’, claiming that this is translated from the Septuagint. The Greek word in question (λόγιον) means ‘word’, ‘teaching’ or ‘saying’; thrice in the Bible it means ‘oracle’. But in Psalm 119 it is a key term meaning ‘word’ or ‘promise’ – and this is how Simmons translates all 18 other cases in this psalm where the Septuagint has λόγιον. It appears that he was just looking for an excuse to slip prophecy in, despite the fact that the Psalm celebrates God’s written word, not the spoken oracles he gave his prophets.”2

God’s language of love in Scripture is not hiding. What He has done for us is spelled out plainly, and Simmons, with his visions and visitations, is not needed to expose ‘the secrets’ that supposedly hide within Scripture; because there are none. Scripture is compiled of figurative language, narrative, history, poetry, letters, prophecy, and oratory language, all of which are ways God has used to express his neverending grace, mercy, and love for us. 

Dr. Michael Rydelnik points out, “Brian Simmons holds to an egalitarian view of men and women in ministry and marriage, and his paraphrase reinterprets the meaning of the words to reflect his own view. He also repeatedly uses words and phrases that are significant in the hyper-charismatic world, even when they’re not in the text of Scripture.”3

Endorsements

One notable blogger, Dr. Paul Ellis, who endorses The Passion Translation, says, “There are plenty of critical reviews pointing out what TPT gets wrong, so let me point out some things it gets right.”4 Concerning John 15:2, Dr. Ellis explains that Jesus does not remove unfruitful branches, but He lifts them up. Sure, there are many passages Simmons gets correct, but I have to ask, why would I want to read a bible with errors, or even numerous errors? 

Dr. Ellis continues concerning John 15:2, “If you are an unfruitful Christian, would you rather hear [emphesis mine] that Jesus plans to cut you off and take you away (something he never said) or that he will lift you up? Bad translations hurt people; good ones encourage them to trust Jesus.”5

Frankly, who cares about what you would ‘rather hear’? Reading Scripture is not an exercise in subjectivism. What is important is what the author is trying to communicate. Don’t read the word to chase the next emotional high or find the next spiritual encounter; those will come naturally. I don’t read the word to feel good; I read the word to understand God. 

If you read the word, flipping through the pages to find something that will confirm a desire you have been praying about or to find a passage that jumps out at you, and you take it as a sign from God, you are going about it all wrong. This method is a favorite pass time of many Christians, but it is seriously flawed. 

It could be Dr. Ellis is pointing out you attract more flies with honey rather than a fly swatter. I get that; nevertheless, The Passion Translation is not something I will read or recommend to new or even experienced Christians. 

Another blogger Margaret Mowczko believes this newer interpretation of John 15:2 is more appealing to this generation but questions if that is true.

She explains, “The main reason is a reluctance, even a ‘terror’ as someone told me, of accepting the idea that a branch may be removed from the Vine―cut off from Jesus―due to a lack of productivity. And this removal appears to go against the theology of eternal security, or ‘once saved, always saved.’6

She continues, “… Jesus’s statements about the unproductive branches, and similar statements in the Gospels, were deliberately designed to be startling and sobering so that hearers would pay attention and assess their hearts and their actions.”6 She rightfully points out that Jesus often used hyperbole to shock and get the attention of his listeners. She feels He intended to provoke an action, not to be a statement on the doctrine of salvation, once saved, always saved. 

He Is More Than Love

I think of the popular Christian artist and musician Zach Williams, whose music I thoroughly enjoy, but he has a line in his popular song, Heart of God, that is misleading. “There’s only love in the heart of God.” So many Christians can’t fathom a God or don’t want to consider a God that has other characteristics. Characteristics that make some Christians uncomfortable. 

They certainly don’t want to think of a God with righteous anger, jealousy, wrath, or vengeance. Or a God that demands us to hate. Psalm 97:10 So many Christians have this ‘Precious Moments Figurine‘ picture of God, sugar and spice and everything nice. Yet, Scripture makes it quite clear it is terrifying to fall into the hands of our living God. Hebrews 10:31

Yes, He is loving, 1 John 3:1, but he has other attributes. 

  • He is giving John 3:16 
  • He is caring Matthew 6:26 
  • He is merciful Ephesians 2:4-5 
  • He is righteous Psalm 145:17 
  • He is just Psalm 89:14

Thankfully, the righteousness and justice He has, and demands we have, He provides through His Son Jesus. Because, without Jesus, this does not end well. Matthew 25:41. Ya, you never hear love songs about the goats and the roasting they receive. 

Brian Simmons describes his Passion Translation as a ‘heart-level’ translation (whatever that means) using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts,’ which ‘expresses God’s fiery heart of love, merging emotion and life-changing truth, and unfolds the deep mysteries of the Scriptures in the love language of God.’7

This supposed translation is backed by several Christian leaders, including Bill Johnson of Bethel Church and Hillsong’s Bobbie Houston. Some compare it to the Message Bible, but the numerous additions, subtractions, and alterations without explanations should steer thoughtful Christians away from this reading.8

Should you read The Passion Translation? I’m not. If you do, never use it as a main course. Instead, it would be best to question what you read by comparing it to other solid and reliable translations. 

Brian Simmon’s intentions may have been honorable initially, but he has taken an artistic license with Scripture that all Christians should be critical of. His supposed ‘heart-level’ translation often appeals to those driven by feelings and emotions. Some think if the feelings are absent, then something is wrong, yet that can be part of a Christian’s walk. Psalm 13:1 Psalm 83:1 Job 30:20

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. – George Bernard Shaw

The plea of good intentions is not one that can be allowed to have much weight in passing of historical judgment upon a man whose wrong-headedness and distorted way of looking at things produce, or helped to produce, such incalculable evil – Theodore Roosevelt

To summarize my main points in all three posts:

  • Brian Simmons does not have a ‘real’ doctorate from an accredited university. 
  • The early translations of his Passion Translations were by Simmons alone. It was only after many theologians were publicly critical of his work that he added some other translators. 
  • Most modern, actual translations, have over 100 PhDs as contributors, editors, and authors. For example, my ESV has over 120 Ph.Ds. contributors listed, all from accredited universities. 
  • Simmons relied primarily on Aramaic, not Greek.3
  • It is abundantly clear Simmons adds words and phrases that are not in the original text. 
  • Simmons had visits 1 & 2 from Jesus himself, then visions where he visited heaven’s library where Jesus promised him a book of the Bible (John 22) that he alone would receive and have knowledge of to share with others. 
  • Simmons has never offered any explanation for the changes in his new editions. Nor will he sit in the ‘hot seat’ and be interviewed by serious and legitimate theologians that are critical of his work. 
  • Bible Gateway is no longer using The Passion Translation. 
  • Littered with words and phrases, The Passion Translation amplifies emotions and feelings to appeal to those in the NAR circles and those chasing the next experience.

What do you aim for when reading Scripture? Do you have a purpose or objective? What is your intent? Is it to know and understand God in a more accurate and truthful way? I would hope so. If that is the case, I would ask, would you purchase an inaccurate gun if you wanted to do some target shooting? Of course not; you would want a weapon that was as accurate as possible. So why would you then purchase and read a supposed translation that was highly inaccurate and often gives you a false picture of God, his disciples, and their world 2000 years ago? Put away your Passion Translation and aim true. 

I suggest you read these reviews of The Passion Translation: 
The Gospel Coalition  
Dr. Lionel Windsor’s 
Alisa Childers 
Dr. Michael Rydelnik
Holly Pivec’s

Full Interview with Sid Roth

Recommended Books:
A New Apostolic Reformation
God’s Super-Apostles 

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Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://christianapologetics.blog/stop-consider-what-is-wrong-with-the-passion-translation-part-iii/.

  1. Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation [] []
  2. Shead, Andrew, G. “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation).” The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org, April 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/burning-scripture-with-passion-a-review-of-the-psalms-passion-translation/ []
  3. Rydelnik, Michael. “The Problems with the Passion Translation.” Dr. Michael Rydelnik, michaelrydelnik.org, 14 January 2023, 18 March 2023. https://www.michaelrydelnik.org/the-problems-with-the-passion-translation/ [] []
  4. Ellis, Paul. “Paul’s Review of The Passion Translation.” Escape to Reality, 9 Feb. 2022, escapetoreality.org/. Accessed March 1. 2023. https://escapetoreality.org/2022/02/09/review-of-the-passion-translation/ []
  5. Ellis, Paul. “Paul’s Review of The Passion Translation.” Escape to Reality, 9 Feb. 2022, escapetoreality.org/. Accessed March 1 2023. https://escapetoreality.org/2022/02/09/review-of-the-passion-translation/ []
  6. Mowczko, Margaret. “Are the branches lifted up or taken away in John 15:2a?” Marg Mowczko Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism, margmowczko.com, September 1, 2022. https://margmowczko.com/takes-away-or-lifts-up-branches-john-15/ [] []
  7. “Bible Gateway Removes the Passion Bible Translation from Its Site – Premier Christian News: Headlines, Breaking News, Comment & Analysis.” Premier Christian News, Premier Christian News, February 10 2022, https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/bible-gateway-removes-the-passion-bible-translation-from-its-site. []
  8. “Bible Gateway Removes the Passion Bible Translation from Its Site – Premier Christian News: Headlines, Breaking News, Comment & Analysis.” Premier Christian News, Premier Christian News, February 10, 2022, https://premierchristian.news/en/news/article/bible-gateway-removes-the-passion-bible-translation-from-its-site. []
Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part III

Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation – Part II

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The above image by Smiling Pixell from Pixabay

In Part I, I touched on the background of Brian Simmons and what goes into reliable translations. Below I will give you specific examples of The Passion Translation (TPT) compared to the New International Version (NIV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), or the King James Version (KJV), so you can decide for yourself. 

Comparing Translations

Ephesians 6:10.

The NIV saysFinally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

The NASB saysFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

The KJV saysFinally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

TPT says: Now my beloved ones, I have saved these most important truths for last: Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life-union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you. ((Simmons, Brian. “Psalm 57.” The Passion Translation 2020 Edition, BroadStreet Publishing, 2020, p.525))

Andrew Shead, head of the Old Testament department at Moore Theological College, holds a Ph.D. at Cambridge and has earned a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Theology, and Masters of Theology, says, “Brian Simmons has made a new translation of the Psalms (and now the whole New Testament) which aims to ‘re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to the English reader.’ He achieves this by abandoning all interest in textual accuracy, playing fast and loose with the original languages, and inserting so much new material into the text that it is at least 50% longer than the original. The result is a strongly sectarian translation that no longer counts as Scripture; by masquerading as a Bible it threatens to bind entire churches in thrall to a false god.”1

Psalm 57:1

The NIV saysHave mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

The NASB saysBe gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by.

The KJV saysBe merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.

TPT saysPlease, God, show me mercy! Open your grace-fountain for me, for you are my soul’s true shelter. I will hide beneath the shadow of your embrace, under the wings of your cherubim, until this terrible trouble is past. 

You use a hyphen to form a compound adjective before a noun. After researching, 

mechon-mamre.org and www.chabad.org

I don’t see anything relating to a grace-fountain. Nor do I see cherubim in the text. 

Brian Simmons may have good intentions (frankly, I find that dubious), but his methods are questionable, to put it mildly. The Passion Translation is not a translation you can trust, consider reliable, or be faithful to the author’s intent to share the word of God. 

Galatians 2:19

The NIV says: For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.

The NASB says: For through the Law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

The KJV says: For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

TPT says: For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God [in heaven’s freedom] 2 Note the updated version has changed by dropping, “in heaven’s freedom.” No explanation in the footnotes as to why this newer version has changed. 

Dr. Andrew Wilson, who has ‘real‘ degrees in theology and history from Cambridge, wrote concerning the early editions of The Passion Translation, “…in Galatians 2:19, hina theō zēsō, which simply means ‘that I might live for God’, has been ‘translated’ as ‘so that I can live for God in heaven’s freedom’. To be clear: there is no indication whatsoever in the Greek of that sentence, or the rest of the chapter, that either heaven or its freedom are in view in this text.”3

Wilson continued to explain TPT is not a translation. He said Simmons is adding to Scripture and pointed out what Revelation 22:18-19 has to say about Christians who do this. 

Mark 1:15

The NIV says: “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

The NASB says: and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The KJV says: And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

TPT says“At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”

It is clear that Simmons is adding to the original words of Scripture. 

According to Got Questions, “The additions in The Passion Translation are justified with the claim that this translation ‘enhances [the Bible’s] meaning by going beyond a literal translation to magnifying God’s original message.'”4

No Explanations

Psalm 18:1

The NIV saysI love you, Lord, my strength.

The NASB saysI love you, O Lord, my strength.

The KJV saysI will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

TPT saysLord, I passionately love you. I want to embrace you, for now you’ve become my power!

Simmons has made many changes to his first and subsequent editions but has yet to offer any explanations. Consequently, you will find nothing in his footnotes or any online explanations of these changes. 

Dr. Shead also writes, “Simmons seems as uninterested in linguistic accuracy as he is in textual accuracy. He searches the dictionary, and sometimes apparently his imagination, for ways to insert new ideas that happen to align with his goals, regardless of their truthfulness.”1

Athanasius, born around 300 AD and an early defender/apologist of orthodox Christianity, wrote a warning about what Simmons does in his Passion Translation, “There is, however, one word of warning needed. No one must allow himself to be persuaded, by any arguments whatever, to decorate the Psalms with extraneous matter or make alterations in their order or change the words themselves.”5

In their book, God’s Super-Apostles, Douglas Geivet, a legitimate professor at Biola University, and Holly Pivic point out The Passion Translation completely rewords verses making them appear to support the New Apolostic Reformation (NAR). For example, in the Passion Translation, Galatians 6:6 says there is a transference of anointing between teachers, prophets, and their followers. It says, “And those who are taught the Word will receive an impartation from their teacher; a transference of anointing takes place between them.”6 This is just one example of a translation Simmons used to correlate with the NAR doctrine where this ‘transference of anointing’ is taught and endorsed. 

“Unfortunately, The Passion Translation (TPT) shows little understanding, either of the process of textual criticism, or of the textual sources themselves.”1

Christians are often sucked in by the experience and led down a path that leads away from the truth. Words like supernatural, explosive, power, flowing, infused, union, victorious, force, grace-fountain, embrace, soul-shelter, experience, and fullness, are littered like breadcrumbs for the wayward traveler to follow. The Passion Translation often resonates with the Christian seeking the ‘next experience,’ but they are being misled. Thinking they have found a way home and a path that sings to their soul, but instead, the course is twisted, and the song is deceptive.

1 John 4:1

2 Peter 1:20-21

Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right. – Charles Spurgeon

This is a time when all of God’s people need to keep their eyes and their Bibles wide open. We must ask God for discernment as never before. – David Jeremiah

 

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Stop! Consider What Is Wrong With The Passion Translation Part II by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Shead, Andrew, G. “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of The Psalms (The Passion Translation).” The Gospel Coalition, thegospelcoalition.org, April 2018, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/burning-scripture-with-passion-a-review-of-the-psalms-passion-translation/ [] [] []
  2. Simmons, Brian. “Psalm 57.” The Passion Translation 2020 Edition, BroadStreet Publishing, 2020, p.503 []
  3. Wilson, Andrew. “What’s Wrong With The Passion ‘Translation’?” Think Theology, thinktheology.co.uk, 6 Wednesday, 2016, https://thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/whats_wrong_with_the_passion_translation []
  4. “What is the Passion Translation of the Bible?” GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/Passion-Translation.html []
  5. ‘The Letter of St. Athanasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms,’ in St. Athanasius on the Incarnation: The Treatise de incarnatione verbi Dei, ed. and trans. A Religious of CSMV, 2nd ed. (London: Mowbray, 1953), 116. []
  6. Geivett, Douglas. Pivec, Holly. “NAR Prophets vs. Prophets in the Bible.” God’s Super-Apostles, Weaver Book, 2014. []

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