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Christian Living

What Does the Bible Mean When It Says, “All Scripture?”

All scripture can teach us about God and instruct us in his ways

One verse I heard often at a particular church I attended was 2 Timothy 3:16. It says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” (KJV).

This verse was cited to remind us of the holiness and practical applicability of the Bible to inform our daily lives. According to this preacher, “all scripture” referred to the KJV, the only version he accepted.

However, let’s consider the phrase all scripture. When Paul wrote these words to Timothy, the New Testament didn’t exist. So Paul couldn’t have been referring to that text.

Yes, there were various portions of what later became the New Testament being circulated among the followers of Jesus, but they also shared other texts that didn’t make it into today’s Bible. Therefore, Paul couldn’t have meant for all scripture to encompass the New Testament.

From his perspective, when he said, “all scripture,” he envisioned the texts that were available to the Jewish people. That would certainly include the Old Testament) and may have included other supporting religious documents).

The version of the Bible in use in Paul’s time was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint included the thirty-nine books we have in our Old Testament, but it also included more.

The Septuagint used during the lifetime of Jesus and Paul, also included the books we now call the Apocrypha. So these books of the Apocrypha would fall under Paul’s umbrella term of all scripture.

(And for my preacher friend who insisted on reading the Bible in the KJV, I must point out that the original version of the KJV included the Apocrypha.)

That’s something to think about.

If the Apocrypha is part of what Paul meant when he said, “all scripture,” then the Apocrypha is also “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

When Paul writes that all scripture is profitable, I take him seriously. Click To Tweet

The Books of the Apocrypha Included in the Septuagint Are:

See why Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible.

When Paul writes that all scripture is profitable, I take him seriously. And I encourage you to as well.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Read the Bible in Your Favorite Translation

It doesn’t matter which version of the Bible you read, as long as you read it

People often ask me, “Which version of the Bible should I use?” My answer is quick. They should select a version of the Bible that they will actually read. An unopened Bible means nothing.

In my decades of reading and studying the Bible, I’ve enjoyed seasons where I focused on a particular version. While this gives me a pleasing variety, it makes memorization hard.

Though I can paraphrase many verses, which is a compilation of the different translations I’ve read, I can quote few with complete accuracy.

Here are some of the versions of the Bible I have read at some point in my life. For many of these, I have read the entire Bible in that particular translation.

King James Version (KJV)

As a child the only Bible available to me was the King James Version. I struggled to comprehend its words then. I still do now.

However, many of the verses that I can quote are from the KJV, no doubt due to learning them in Sunday school is a small child. Yet as soon as other versions became available, I set the KJV aside.

The KJV remains popular for three reasons. First, it’s still used today in some fundamental churches, many of which insist it’s the only version to use. Second, it’s in the public domain, which means it can be freely copied and reproduced without any fear of copyright violation.

Virtually all other versions of the Bible are under copyright which restricts how they can be used. Third, is that the KJV is what is commonly quoted when a Bible verse comes up in a movie or TV show. This helps fix the KJV in our mind.

Good News for Modern Man

The first alternative I had to the KJV was Good News for Modern Man. This made the Bible accessible to me in my early teens.

The Living Bible

This was soon followed by The Living Bible, which was the first version I read from cover to cover. Multiple times. I wore out my copy, with it literally falling apart. It was my go to version for several years.

New King James Version (NKJV)

For a time I attended a conservative church that entertained the NKJV as an acceptable alternative to the revered KJV. While this removed the old English words from the Bible, it only made it a bit more accessible. I never really connected with this translation.

New International Version (NIV)

After a time, I settled on the New International Version of the Bible. It is both accessible and understandable. I have read the entire Bible several times in this version. It’s also the one I usually study from. Many claim the NIV is the most popular version of the Bible (though others insist it’s the KJV).

(Another options is the NIrV. Based on the NIV, the NIrV uses shorter sentences and replaces longer words with shorter words. It’s created for a third-grade reading level.)

The Message (MSG)

This version of the Bible is perhaps most accessible to me, making the words come alive in a way that’s easy to apply and to convict.

Amplified Bible (AMP)

My first exposure to the Amplified Bible left me a bit frustrated, for it used many words to convey its thoughts. But that’s why they call it amplified. I then lacked the patience to consider its verbosity. However, later in life I begin to appreciate its amplified portions for the deeper insight they provided.

Explore the Bible in all its fullness. Click To Tweet

New Living Translation (NLT)

This is the most understandable of all the versions listed here. But as the easiest to comprehend, it must sometimes sacrifice nuance for simplicity. For someone new to the Bible, I recommend they start with the NLT.

The New Jerusalem Bible and New American Bible (NAB)

I’ve explored both these versions of the Bible for access to the books of the Apocrypha, which was removed from the Protestant Bible, including the King James Version, a couple centuries ago.

Though these translations allowed me to explore the books of the Apocrypha, I missed the clarity I enjoyed in the NIV, NLT, MSG, or AMP.

Common English Bible (CEB)

I’m currently reading God’s Word in the Common English Bible. I selected this version simply because it contains the Apocrypha. I studied all the books of the Apocrypha in this translation and am currently reading through the New Testament.

In many cases its slightly rephrased sentences capture my attention and provides insight that I missed up until now. However, other verses provide a different sense of their meaning. But this gives me an opportunity to contemplate those words more carefully.

I have read and studied the Bible in these versions, plus a few more. Additionally, I have read the entire Bible in the Living Bible, NIV, MSG, AMP, and NLT. And I’m presently working my way through the CEB.

I share my summary of these books and my experience reading them to encourage you to explore the Bible in all its fullness. The version you select doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find a translation you can immerse yourself into.

Explore the Bible, and let God reveal himself to you.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Christians Should Consider the Entire Bible

Many streams of Christianity include the books of the Apocrypha as part of their canon of scripture

The book of Revelation ends with a severe threat to anyone who would add to it, that God will afflict that person with the plagues mentioned therein.

Though the warning clearly applies to the book of Revelation—“the words of the prophecy of this scroll”—some people, even preachers who should know better, wrongly apply this omen to the words of the entire Bible instead of just Revelation.

Adding to their error, they proceed to criticize the Roman Catholic Church (as well as other streams of Christianity) for “adding to the Bible.” Shame on these preachers; they don’t know their history.

It was Protestants who removed content from the Bible, but this didn’t happen five hundred years ago during the beginning of the Protestant Reformation but more recently: about two centuries ago. Until then the books of the Apocrypha were part of the King James Version, the venerable KJV.

Yes, you may be shocked to know the original King James Version of the Bible (1611) included the Apocrypha. About two hundred years later the books of the Apocrypha were removed from the KJV. (This officially started in 1796 but took until the mid-1800s to effectively occur).

This news stunned me and angered me that people had removed part of the Bible, lessening my ability to more fully comprehend God in the process.

Fundamentalists call the four hundred year gap in their Bible, between the Old and New Testaments, “the silent years” because they believe God had nothing to say or do.

In reality, the Apocrypha clearly shows God at work during this time, but these fundamentalists don’t know this truth because they’re unwilling to consider what God had to say.

I’ve read and appreciate the seven books, along with additional text for two others, that Catholics have in their Bible and Protestants don’t. I wish I had encountered these amazing words much sooner.

The books of the Apocrypha were part of the original KJV Bible. Click To Tweet

I recently received a copy of the text removed from the KJV Bible (Apocrypha, Authorized King James Version). I expected it to include seven books. Instead there were fourteen. Now I’m twice as mad about what was taken away from today’s Protestant Bible and its sixty-six books.

But that’s not all. The canon of the Ethiopia Bible (The Apocrypha: Including Books from the Ethiopic Bible) contains even more. This Bible has eighty-one books in all, fifteen more than the Protestant’s sixty-six. I’m currently reading these books of the greater Bible.

This will help me better understand God, just as other parts of the greater church of Jesus are able to do.

There are also other historical writings, contemporary to the contents of the Bible, but since no stream of Christianity has included them in their canon of scripture, I’m content to follow their lead.

Though I’m a bit curious about what these nonbiblical texts have to say, I’ll ignore them and hide only God’s word in my heart, Psalm 119:11.

The Bible provides the foundation of my faith. As a Christian, part of the universal church of Jesus, I contend we should consider all of the words any part of Christianity includes in their canon of scripture.

As I do this, I don’t expect my core theology to change, but I do expect it to expand into a more holistic comprehension of God.

Don’t dismiss the words of the Apocrypha. If you’re a serious student of the Bible, then you need to consider the whole Bible.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Celebrating the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha is a group of Old Testament books that are not in all versions of the Bible, such as the modern Protestant and Hebrew Bibles. They are, however, part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox versions of the Bible.

Since much of Christianity deems these writings as holy and inspired, I think it’s worthy to consider them. These books are:

I understand the Apocrypha books were part of the original King James translation of the Bible, but they were later deleted. Furthermore, the Apocrypha was part of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which was in use during Jesus’ time.

So, why were these books expunged from the Bible? The justification is that since they aren’t in the Hebrew Bible and there are no versions of them written in Hebrew, they were removed.

I think that was a bad call. These books contain some epic stories and can add flavor and depth to our understanding of God. We should embrace them rather than reject them.

(Read the Apocrypha books in The New Jerusalem Bible or New American Bible.)

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What About Daniel and Esther?

The discussion of the text that is not found in all Bibles concludes by addressing the books of Daniel and Esther.

In some versions of the Bible, the book of Daniel contains 12 chapters, while in others there are 14. These two chapters are both interesting and insightful.

Daniel 13 is the story of upright Suzanna, who is falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. God intervenes by revealing to a young Daniel the duplicity of her accusers; Daniel is able to expose their false testimony and save Suzanna.

Daniel 14 contains two stories of Daniel later in his life. First, he shows that the Babylonian god Bel is not living; he then kills Bel’s prophets and destroys the temple. Second, he proceeds to kill a dragon that the people worship.

His detractors throw him in a pit of lions for a week; God again intervenes to save Daniel.

As far as Esther, the two accounts seem like a condensed version and an unabridged version. The longer version contains a prelude and a postscript, along with helpful insertions throughout, including the edicts that where issued and the prayers of Mordecai and Esther. 

The result is a fuller and more detailed understanding of what took place.

These additional passages are found in The Jerusalem Bible, as well as other versions.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

There’s More to Discover in the Bible

Check out these books of the Bible, which are not found in all versions, but are in others, such as The Jerusalem Bible:

Tobit

Tobit is a story of Tobiah who journeys with Raphael to retrieve some money for his father (Tobit). Along the way he is attacked by a fish and gets married; when he returns home, he restores his father’s eyesight.

Judith

Judith is an account of beautiful and pious women, who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemy, using her beauty and charm, while remaining pure and chaste.

1 Maccabees

1 Maccabees is both a historical and literary work about stoic faith; it addresses the politics and military situation around Israel circa the second century BCE.

2 Maccabees

2 Maccabees covers approximately the same time as First Maccabees, but from a different perspective and includes signs, wonders, and miracles.

Wisdom

Wisdom (aka The Wisdom of Solomon) is like other wisdom literature in the Bible.

Sirach

Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus, not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), is a compilation of sayings similar to Proverbs, concluding with a tribute to notable Jewish figures.

Baruch

Baruch, written by Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), is effectively a sequel to the book of Jeremiah, written after the people are exiled.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

In or Out? What Should Be Included and Excluded From the Bible

While the New Testament of the Bible has small phrases or scattered verses that are not found in all of the ancient manuscripts, the Old Testament has a slightly different issue of inclusion or exclusion, which mostly relates to entire books.

Here’s the short version of what happened. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. It was translated to Greek a couple of centuries before Jesus. The Greek translation is used when the New Testament quotes from the Old.

For some of the books in the Greek Old Testament, either the original Hebrew version was lost or it was first written in Greek. It is these books that are in question.

For most of history, Christians have accepted and embraced these writings, but during the modern era, some have opted to remove them from the Bible, in part because there are no original Hebrew manuscripts, viewing them as superfluous or even heretical. (Jews likewise dismiss these books.)

It has been only recently that I have discovered these books, feeling sad for what I have missed over the years.

The question becomes is it wrong to include them or wrong to exclude them? Again, as with the New Testament consideration, I opt to include them.

I do this primarily because most Christians, for most of the past 2,000 years have deemed them as part of the Bible, so I feel safe to do so as well. As a result, my appreciation for God’s word and understanding of him is heightened in the process.

Perhaps these have likewise been missing in your Bible. Future posts will provide an introduction to these fascinating books.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Let’s Not Dismiss the Apocrypha

Let’s Not Dismiss the Apocrypha

New information is added to A Bible A Day, seemingly on a weekly basis. These new entries are not normally noted here, though they are listed on the home page of the site. Only the more notable additions merit special mention.

After Moses led the people out of Egypt, God gave him some specific instructions for constructing a place of worship. Moses was not supposed to do the actual work, but was charged with making sure it was done correctly. He had to delegate:

The first group of Apocrypha books have been included in A Bible A Day. These are Old Testament writings that are not included in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles, but are part of the Roman Catholic Bible and others.

They are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.