New Satanic Deception: Scripture Twisting With A Concordance
I have heard many exellent scripture based arguments from personal Christian friends regarding the serpent seed-Kenite doctrine. They are not racist individuals. They believe that everyone can be saved through Jesus. They did not accept this doctrine for years but it was scripture that proved the point and, being good Christians, they ultimately decided they would prefer to take the authority of scripture over the "teachings of the church" (i.e. man). They say they were once like me - and it took years to "come around."
Can such noble aims and desires be thwarted by Satan? Why not? Satan attacks Christians far more than non-believers! He has more reason to - we're the enemy! (Nobody said the walk was easy). Can Satan use even scripture against us? Indeed - he did this very thing in the temptation of Christ! Now we must be like Christ and respond also with scripture. When Satan uses scripture, he always leaves out important bits of information from context. Which must mean if this doctrine is from Satan, there may be important bits of information missing from scripture used in its defense either from the verse or context.
The point I am making in this article can probably be applied to other interpretations of the Bible we may yet see in the future - so I want you to be aware of it now in case you fall into this trap. I am going to use an example. It actually has nothing to do with the Serpent Seed Doctrine but it is useful to illustrate my point. Hang in there. The following is an honest inquiry from a seeker of Biblical truth, regarding interpretation of a single verse from scripture and its original Greek.
Now, I want you to ask yourself - what would have happened if the person did not ask for further information but assumed their interpretation could be true?
I have a question regarding the English translation of the Greek word autou that is used in Rev. 13:18 in the KJV Bible.
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his (autou) number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev. 13:18)
According to Stong’s Biblical Greek Dictionary the word autou is defined as the following.
Strong’s Number 846
Greek word: autov
Word Origin: from the particle au [perhaps akin to the base of 109 through the idea of a baffling wind] (backward)
Transliterated Word: Autos
Phonetic Spelling: ow-tos'
Definition: the reflexive pronoun self, used (alone or in the comp. 1438) of the third person, and (with the proper personal pronoun.) of the other persons: - her, it,(-self), one, the other, (mine) own, said, ([self-], the) same, ([him-, my-, thy-,])self , [your-]selves, she, that, their, (-s), them ([selves]), there [-at, -by, -in, -into, -of, -on, -with,], they, (these) things, this (man), those, together, very, which. Comp. 848.
Therefore, why not translate the Greek word autov as either (their, thereby, therein, thereof, or together). Revelation 13:18 would then read, “Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and [their, thereby, therein, thereof, or together] number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
Thus, the Beast Out of the Abyss would have a gematria number of 333 and the man Antichrist would have a gematria number of 333 totaling; 333 + 333 =666.
I would sincerely appreciate your scholarly input on this question.
Go no further. Here we have a believer who is trying to go beyond the ordinary English Bible to the level of Hebrew and Greek. Commendable! After all, there are so many English versions these days!
They are using the Strong's Concordance to do this because it has a great breakdown of word roots in Hebrew and Greek at the back with all the relevant words listed. It's a wonderful resource to those learning Greek and Hebrew. This person wants to know why the Greek is translated in a particular way instead of the way they think it might be translated from the concordance. The wonderful thing is, they wrote to those who author language lessons for further information and clarification.
Where's the Scripture Twisting Problem?
Now - the way scripture can get subtley twisted is when someone assumes or treats the Strong's Concordance as the end-all and be-all of understanding and interpretation - and that there is no need to ask anyone else how to understand the language as a whole or learn it themselves (after all that takes a lot of time and they don't have the time for that, so here's the quick and easy way).
The Strong's Concordance notes gives a bunch of words one could fit into the verse in question. One can pick what word is true based on personal interpretation of the text.
In The Shepherd's Chapel and in any similar teaching-style, the standard approach is "don't take my word for it - look it up in this Greek-Hebrew concordance for yourself to see the original meanings."
Now, folks, it sounds like a wonderful scholarly approach, and it even encourages the believers to find it for themselves rather than blindly follow a leader. Very Berean sounding indeed. (The Bereans were called noble for the diligently searched the scripture to determin if Paul's Gospel message was true). Very noble! Who wouldn't listen to a teacher like that? It makes perfect sense.
So what's wrong with this approach?
First, here's the answer to the Revelation question.
The Strong's Concordance only gives the general root.
In the actual scripture, the word “autos” has the ending “ou” (autou) instead - which is known to be the possessive singular form of the word "autos" (Click here to see the Greek noun endings chart). So it must be translated “his number.”
Greek is said to be so complex and exact. It has all kinds of suffixes that affect whether a word is singular or plural, whether it is possessive, the object of the sentance, the subject of the sentence or the dative form. Accents add further complications (but I think you need a full fledged college level study for that). I have read that you could literally mix up all the words and get the same meaning from the words because of the precise assignment of endings and so on to determin what each word is supposed to be in a sentence grammatically speaking. Wow!
The Strong's Concordance does not show you this complexity in this case and probably many others - only the root.
So, as in the example above – it’s not enough. The Strong's Concordance cannot tell us the greater complexity in context – only an overview and all possible meanings (which individually come into effect according to the exact suffix/prefix used).
Any layman with no deeper knowledge of the languages now thinks they are coming up with the “real meaning” (albeit their own one!) and that the “authorities” are not teaching this new truth in mainstream churches for some dark sinister reason. This is where the "us" and "them" feeling starts to creep in. Only a few of us real sincere believers know the real truth!. Uh oh.
In reality, many mainstream “authorities” have actually gone to seminary and learned Hebrew and Greek in full – not just dipped into a Strong's Concordance here and there for bits and pieces. Not to say that all churches are in perfect agreement in their teachings, but I think you get the point.
If the new "real meaning" is a distortion by those who love God and are born again, what happens when it gets into the hands of those who are not? What happens when it is taught to very new Christians that lack discernment? Uh oh.
In many cases, there may be little harm done by this approach, especially if the studies aren't related to general mainstream beliefs, salvation issues or basic Christian morality, but the fact is, in the wrong mind, it could do harm. Satan may as well be whispering in our ears "Didn't God say... - go and look it up for yourself!..." - funnily reminiscent of that fateful day when Eve considered believing lies...
1. Stick to a good English translation OR learn the full language!
What is a good translation?
I once read a pamphlet that explained the difference between "mainstream" translations (verses cult Bibles such as the Jehovah Witnesses Watchtower Bible, Politically Correct versions, etc). Mainstream Bibles are those which are used in many different Christian denominations across the board. I've lived in many countries and been to many different churches and I've seen some of the same Bible translations pop up regardless.
This is sort of how the pamphlet explained the differences:
There are some written at a simple level - for children or those for whom English is not their first language. The point here is making the Bible as accessible as possible. Good News Bible is one of those. Look for one of those if English is difficult for you or for your kids when they are little.
There is a "dynamic translation" like the NIV - it's written to be read in contemporary language. It's as easy to read as other literature but at a higher reading level than the above kind. It's translated in a way to show you the meaning of each verse but not word for word exact. But it's something you can take on a train on your commute to work and a pretty good study Bible for new believers. It makes the Bible very accessible.
FYI, if you read the opening pages on how it was conceived you will learn that is is not an English translation of the old KJV (King James Version) but a direct translation from the originals (some people get confused about this). The thing I don't like is the fact that the NIV copyrights their Bible.
Lastly there are "formal" translations which are more word-for-word in translation, and good for deep study. They tend to be much more precise and often harder to read. They may even have side notes or footnotes telling you where a word was added to make the English flow better. The Old KJV or NASB (New American Standard Bible) are examples of "formal" translations. A quick example is the use of "ye" and "you" in the old KJV English is closer to Hebrew than contemporary English. Hebrew has two ways to express "you" - single and plural. Old English "ye" expresses the plural form and "you" is singular. In modern english, "you" is both singular and plural so you lose that small benefit. NASB in a more modern English is nice in that you won't find the same archaic references to unicorns that appear in the old English KJV (smile). Although I once read a testimony by a Jew that converted to Christianity and how he commented on how good the old KJV translation was from Hebrew. That was enough for me to keep a good old KJV lying around!
A clear difference I notice between the NIV and KJV is something I remember from a sermon. The minister felt the NIV's dynamic translation of Luke 2:14 was more accurate with the words "on whom His favor rests" versus the KJV which is more open to all mankind. I later checked it in a Greek-English Interlinear with KJV under the Greek words and it showed how the KJV is actually a more word for word translation of Luke 2:14 - so you might ask yourself how much of the NIV in this light is interpretive, even if you agree with it...
Study Bibles are basically one of the above types (simple, dynamic and formal) with somebody else's notes and commentary or perhaps little Bible studies to serve the needs of different groups of people - women, men, couples, students and so on. Some commentaries will give you the author's opinion of this or that spiritual meaning of the text and you might not want that distraction - but rather let the Holy Spirit tell you what you need to know on that score. Some side notes explain the traditions of the time or the historical background or relevant archaelogy proving this or that bit of information in the Bible is true. While not necessary, they can help give you a fuller picture and for a new Christian, underline the truthfulness of the testimony - that it is more than "cleverly devised fables" but rather rooted in history.
I don't know whether the Catholic Bible is simple, dynamic or formal. I honestly don't know where it figures in at all - I've never read one. I do know it includes the "Apocrypha" - an extra set of books that were valued by the Jews and even referred to in their writings but not thought to be inspired, and thus kept separate. The Catholics do include them as inspired books. It is in the Apocryha where we have the book of Maccabees (which you may hear about around Hannukah). The source or authorship of these books is unknown or hidden and writings suggested spurious. The word "Apocrypha" means hidden.
So all these Bibles serve different levels of education and need. God can still speak to you through each of the translations. He knows your heart and so he will meet you where you are so don't sweat the small stuff. It's a bit like choosing a brand of toothpaste - do you need toothpaste for sensitive teeth or mint flavor? The problem is not that these different types of translations exist - it's actually wonderful to have the choice. The problem is most people don't realize why these different translations exist. Worse, is when there are non-believers using it as a reason not to believe ("there are all these translations - how can you know what is true?"). That pamplet really helped me understand the answer to that why.
2. Don’t assume the Strong's Concordance will help you without further studies – you could end up in GRAVE ERROR. There's no being quick and lazy about Bible interpretation. It's not that the Strong's Concordance is evil - it's actually on our recommended book list in the languages department in the Messianic Store - but in sheer ignorance, it can end up as a scripture twisting device.
3. If someone points to the Strong's Concordance numbers for "original meanings," don't assume their version is true - even if they are well meaning and honest seekers of Biblical Truth and even if you can find the same references in your own Strong's Concordance at home. As stated above, the Strong's Concordance does not show the complexity of the languages in their context. The same word root could have a different suffix in different verses, changing the exact meaning. And if that person is that sincere, they would want to know if they're going down a wrong path - so tell them!
4. If you've been teaching this way - remember God judges teachers more harshly than others. Please review your teaching method if you really honestly don't know Hebrew and Greek beyond the Strong's Concordance, lest you fall into error and cause others to do the same.
God bless, Pia