Lance Goodall 18 Jan 2020
Really another Bible?
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.
Brian Simmons is the founder of Stairway Ministries in Wichita, Kansas. He’s also an “apostle,” working under the apostle Ché Ahn, with Harvest International Ministry, an apostolic network of 25,000 churches and organizations in 65 nations. He spent eight years working with New Tribes Mission in the rain forest of Panama as a church planter, Bible translator and consultant. He’s now the lead translator for the Passion Translation.
To date, he’s translated and released his translation of the entire New Testament, plus Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs. He earned his doctorate with the Wagner Leadership Institute (now called Wagner University) with a specialization on prayer. [Take note that the Wagner Leadership Institute is not a standard, accredited seminary or Bible College that offers academic courses on the Bible and theology.
Rather it was founded to serve the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Non-traditional courses teach people about NAR and how to be apostles and prophets and work miracles.]
Brian Simmons claims that God gave him a direct divine revelation to create this embellished and highly interpreted creation that he refers to as The Passion Translation.
What is the Passion Translation and why the need for it?
The Passion Translation is billed as “a new, heart-level translation that expresses God’s fiery heart of love to this generation using Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic manuscripts, merging the emotion and life-changing truth of God’s Word.”
According to the website, “God refuses to meet us only in an intellectual way. God also wants to meet us heart level, so we must let the words go heart deep—which is what we’re trying to do with this project. There is a language of the heart that must express the passion of this love-theology.” Simmons named it the Passion Translation because he saw a need for a translation that restores the Bible’s potency, “unfiltered and unveiled.”
Source: Letters From Heaven by the Apostle Paul, The Passion Translation (Cicero, NY: 5 Fold Media, 2013), 9 Kindle edition.
Who’s the publisher? And who, other than Simmons, has contributed to this translation?
The original publisher is named 5 Fold Media. [Take note that the original publisher’s name is a reference to a NAR teaching about apostles and prophets known as “fivefold ministry.”]
The present publisher is BroadStreet Publishing. Simmons serves as the lead translator.
The present publisher is BroadStreet Publishing.
Editor: ‘Narrow is the way that leads to life’….there is a clue here, even in the publishers name…
“Enter in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which lead to life, and few there be that find it. ” — Matt 7:13,14
[Also take note that he’s the sole translator.] He claims that every book and footnote is evaluated by respected scholars and editors. But — curiously — he has not publicly revealed the names of any of those scholars and editors.
How popular is the Passion Translation?
The Passion Translation has become very popular among people who attend charismatic churches and churches that are part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). People have reported that it helped them discover intimacy with Christ and has rapidly become their favorite translation of choice for Bible study. Its popularity can be seen from its sales on Amazon, which consistently show it ranking among the better-selling Christian books.
The popularity of this translation is due, in no small part, to the many NAR leaders who have endorsed this translation, including Ché Ahn, James Goll, Bill Johnson, John Bevere, and Banning Liebscher. Pastor and best-selling author Bill Johnson called the Passion Translation “one of the greatest things to happen with Bible translation in my lifetime.” This translation is now available on BibleGateway, Logos Bible Software, and the YouVersion App—all popular tools used by mainstream evangelicals and churches. So the Passion Translation is exerting influence in ever-widening circles.
How is the Passion Translation being used?
The Passion Translation is being used as a primary Bible for many people in the New Apostolic Reformation. NAR leaders also promote and preach from this translation in the pulpit, including Bill Johnson. Source (1:51:00)
Simmons encourages people to use it as a primary text for serious study of God’s Word. This can be seen on the Passion Translation website, which states: “The Passion Translation is an excellent translation you can use as your primary text to seriously study God’s Word because it combines the best aspects of what is called formal and functional equivalence Bibles. It is a balanced translation that tries to hold both the Word’s literal meaning and original message in proper tension, resulting in an entirely new, fresh, fiery translation of God’s Word. Furthermore, this is the first modern English translation to use Aramaic, the language of Jesus and the disciples, as a lens through which to view God’s original Word to us, a word of truth and love.”
What does Simmons say about his “translation”?
On a 2015 television program, Simmons claimed that, in 2009, Jesus Christ literally visited him in his room, breathed on him, and commissioned him to write a new translation of the Bible. Simmons says, “It felt like Heaven’s wind. The rock, the breath, the wind of God came upon me. And he spoke to me and said, ‘I’m commissioning you to translate the Bible into the translation project that I’m giving you to do.’ And he promised that he would help me, and he promised me that he would give me secrets of the Hebrew language.”
Simmons claims that, by blowing on him, Jesus gave him “the spirit of revelation.” In no way, he says, would he compare this “breathing” on him to that experienced by the original writers of Scripture. [Take note that he doesn’t say how it was any different.] He says: “he breathed on me so that I would do the project, and I felt downloads coming, instantly. I received downloads. It was like, I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better, to understand the scriptures better and hopefully to translate.”
He says: “he breathed on me so that I would do the project, and I felt downloads coming, instantly. I received downloads. It was like, I got a chip put inside of me. I got a connection inside of me to hear him better, to understand the scriptures better and hopefully to translate.”
Editor: What?? Downloads — This going on TV shows and having an interviewer laud and assist in this type of a promotion of a paraphase is more ‘flaky’ than puff pastry and should be denounced for what it is – a sham@!!
During this same TV program, Simmons claimed Jesus revealed to him a new chapter of the Bible. This happened when he was translated to the library of heaven where he saw more books than you can imagine. One stood out called John 22. It told about the greatest revival the world is yet to see. God promised Simmons that one day He’ll bring Simmons back to heaven and give him this book. Source (21:00)
Some have described The Passion Bible as a paraphrase, similar to the Message Bible. But Simmons is adamant that it’s not merely a paraphrase, but rather a bona fide translation. Source (17:00)
What are the chief problems with the Passion Translation?
The Passion Translation has many serious problems. These include:
- A lack of qualifications of the lead [sole] translator. This is a direct quote from Simmons about his qualifications to undertake this project: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah, it was something that, honestly, something the Lord has really helped me with.” Source (14:52)
- A lack of transparency in his process (i.e., Simmons doesn’t reveal the names of the “reputable” editors and scholars who have supposedly reviewed his work)
- Simmons’ reliance on Aramaic manuscripts to produce this translation. This is problematic because the earliest Aramaic manuscripts are from the fifth century. In contrast to Simmons’ translation of the New Testament, the standard English translations are based on much earlier and more reliable Greek manuscripts.
- Simmons’ claims to have received a personal appearance from Jesus and a commissioning from him to produce this translation
- Simmons’ claims that he received revelation “downloads” from God that would enable him to translate
- Simmons’ claims that God would give him secrets of the Hebrew language that would enable him to translate
- Simmons’ claims that Jesus showed him a new chapter of the Bible, John 22
- His misleading promotion of his work as a “dynamic-equivalent translation” and as a reliable text for serious study of the Bible
- Evidence of bias and abuse of the text of Scripture (see below)
Taken from the website:
Bible translations give us the words God spoke through his servants, but words can become very poor containers for revelation.
Editor: Poor containers words might be, but God chose words and language in conveying who He is.
Over time, the words change from one generation to the next. Meaning is influenced by culture, background, and many other details. You can imagine how differently the Hebrew authors of the Old Testament saw the world three thousand years ago!
Many excellent translations of God’s Word grace our shelves. Some versions translate the original form of words in the biblical languages to their new form in English (formal equivalence), believing the word-for-word rendering of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek should have priority.
Other versions translate the function of the original biblical words in English (functional equivalence), believing the thought-for-thought message should have priority.
There is no such thing as a truly literal translation of the Bible, for there is not an equivalent language that perfectly conveys the meaning of the biblical text except as it is understood in its original cultural and linguistic setting.
Yet, to transfer the meaning of the biblical narrative from one language to another requires interpretation. As Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss explain, “If the goal of translations is to reproduce the meaning of the text, then it follows that all translations involve interpretation.” Since every translation interposes a fallible human interpretation between the reader and an infallible text, a translation can be a problem. However, the problem is solved when we seek to transfer meaning and not merely words from the original text to the receptor language.
That’s the governing philosophy behind The Passion Translation: to transfer the essential meaning of God’s original message found in the biblical languages to modern English.
To transfer the essential meaning??
It reminds me of a many a fast food chain that will advertise a new burger, and what you find in your wrapper is nothing like the Billboard. Yet the company would insist it contains the essential elements of a bun, a pattie, lettuce, sauce, cheese and mayo.
We believe that the essential meaning of a passage should take priority over the literal form of the original words, while still ensuring the essence of those words is conveyed, so that every English speaker can clearly and naturally encounter the heart of God through his message of truth and love.
The essential meaning of a passage should take priority over the literal form of the original words.??
Editors: No Brian, because as we shall see, by changing words, we start adding new thoughts and ideas to the text!!
The Passion Translation is an essential equivalence translation. TPT maintains the essential form and essential function of the original words. It is a meaning-for-meaning translation, translating the essence of God’s original message and heart into modern English. We agree with Fee and Strauss: “Accuracy in a translation relates to equivalent meaning.”
Essential Equivalence? Now we have a new category created by Brian Simmons.
Dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence, terms coined by Eugene Nida, are two dissimilar translation approaches, achieving differing level of literalness between the source text and the target text, as employed in biblical translation.
The two have been understood basically, with dynamic equivalence as sense-for-sense translation (translating the meanings of phrases or whole sentences) with readability in mind, and with formal equivalence as word-for-word translation (translating the meanings of words and phrases in a more literal way) keeping literal fidelity.
This was the basic philosophy Martin Luther used when he translated God’s Word into German for his people: “I must let the literal words go and try to learn how the German says that which the Hebrew expresses. . . . Whoever would speak German must not use Hebrew style. Rather he must see to it—once he understands the Hebrew author—that he concentrates on the sense of the text, asking himself ‘Pray tell, what do the Germans say in such a situation?’ . . . Let him drop the Hebrew words and express the meaning freely in the best German he knows.”
We have prayerfully followed the same model, seeking to understand the essence of the text and express and reproduce its meaning in the best English we know. We have worked to remain faithful to the original biblical languages by preserving the essence of their meaning, going further at times than “literal” translations to capture ancient idioms and definitions. Yet we remain flexible to convey the essence of God’s original message in a way that expands its understanding for English readers. TPT is a balanced translation that tries to hold both the essence of Scripture’s literal meaning and original message in proper tension, resulting in an expansive, fresh, fiery translation of God’s Word.
‘There is no such thing as a truly literal translation of the Bible’
But word for word translation is the near equivalent.
As a general principle we can benefit from solo versions – think The Message, or the J. B. Philips translation – let the unique personality of their creator shine through in refreshing ways. And while they can be idiosyncratic and flawed, such as Mitchell Dahood’s Psalms, or J. B. Phillips for that matter, they can also be faithful, as William Tyndale’s was.
And even the most formal of versions, such as the KJV or the ESV, embrace meaning-based translation. The word of God is conveyed not by the words in and of themselves, but by the meaning those words generate when combined into clauses, sentences and paragraphs. And this means that all translation involves interpretation.
So how can a translation avoid the dangers of subjectivism, of reading meanings into the text that were not there to start with? There are three main ways, all closely related to one another.
(1) Through prayerful reliance on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit points us to Christ as the goal and meaning of all Scripture, and this understanding of the whole helps us better to appreciate and respect the original meaning of the parts.
(2) Through Christian fellowship. Translators since Martin Luther have worked together in groups, not only to pool their expertise, but to restrain the idiosyncrasies, impulsive decisions and lack of wisdom from which the best of us suffer.
(3) Through the canonical rule of the original words. When a Hebrew sentence has been translated into an English sentence of equivalent meaning, the original words are of course lost. But they can never be left behind: each element of meaning in the English has to justify its existence by reference to the words of the original, and each element of the original ought to be represented in some way in translation.
This is because Holy Scripture is inspired at the level of its words. For the word of God to count as Scripture, that is, the Bible, it must be a faithful equivalent of the specific words used by the inspired authors. The translation must not add to or subtract from the original words, or change their meaning.
If we tread carefully we can add, subtract or change words (so long as the message is not distorted), but the result will be an adaptation or commentary, which by nature lacks the authority and normative status of Scripture.
Finally, translators, even with God’s help, are only human, and they do not get every phrase or even sentence exactly right. But context helps to correct these inaccuracies, and when more and more sentences are read together as a whole, their combined meaning becomes more and more accurate. The only exception to this is when a generally accurate translation strays from faithfulness in order to introduce a bias, or tendency. A good example is the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. While most of its sentences are faithful, they add up to a portrait of a different God.
The Word of God is our collective and yet deeply personal love letter from above. It positions you and me within proven, godly wisdom and gives precious insight into the heart, nature, and goodness of God.
I have loved the individual books published thus far from The Passion Translation, and look forward with great anticipation to adding the entire New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Songs to my own private (and public) reading.
With my husband, Brian, and our Hillsong church family, we know these pages will bring to life the One whose name is Jesus—whose passion is humanity and whose heart is for you.”
Bobbie Houston — Co-Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church
Bethel’s Bill Johnson Endorsement of the Passion
I have also discovered that Brian Simmon claims to have been taken up to heaven (while sleeping) and viewed a library room in heaven where God told him to take any two books he wants. He saw a book titled “John 22” but God wouldn’t let him take that book back to earth because “it would trigger awakening in all the nations of the earth. It would bring, it would make the name of Jesus famous in the world.” Brian Simmon’s claims, Jesus is going to bring him back one day to receive the content of that book fully and he will reveal it at a later date to the rest of us. This is an extremely alarming claim. The Word of God is complete and we are not to add anything to it.
“Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove and you will be proved a liar.” Proverbs 30:5-6 NASB.
What’s Wrong With the TPT?
In an article by Andrew Wilson he covers some reasons why this is not a good bible…
1. It is not really a translation.
Translations attempt to convey as accurately as possible the thought of the original, whether they lean towards the word-for-word (KJV) or thought-for-thought (NIV) end of the spectrum. The Passion “translation” inserts all kinds of concepts, words and ideas of which the original gives no hint whatsoever (despite the occasional footnotes which say “implied by the context”). My main expertise is on Paul, so I’ll use a few examples from him, highlighting the additions in italics, but I imagine the same is true elsewhere.
a. This example comes from the promotional website. In Gal 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. It’s not a translation. It’s an interpolation, or a gloss, or (more bluntly) an addition. I don’t want to play the Revelation 22 card, but Christians really shouldn’t do this.
b. You would think that greetings were fairly straightforward to translate, which is why virtually all the major translations render Phil 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.” It doesn’t stop there: in the next verse, when Paul simply says “Grace and peace to you,” the “translation” reads, “We decree over your lives the blessings of divine grace and supernatural peace.” Those comments may even be helpful (although in this case, I don’t think they are), but the point is that whatever else they are, they are not translations of the original. At all.
c. In Gal 1:6, when Paul expresses his amazement that the Galatians are turning aside “to a different gospel” (eis heteron euangelion), we have this: “a distorted gospel of salvation by works.” Even if this reading of Galatians had not been greatly problematised, if not completely discredited, by the last forty years of Pauline scholarship, it would remain a sheer insertion into the text, rather than a faithful rendering of it.
d. The word ethnikōs in Gal 2:14 is translated “like an Aramean” (!) rather than “as a Gentile”, based on some much later Aramaic translations (see below). This is doubly strange, because not only is it thoroughly inaccurate with respect to the Greek original, it is also more confusing for contemporary readers.
e. Gal 6:1 takes en tini paraptōmati, or “in any transgression”, and turns it into “overtaken with a fault and has fallen from the place of victory.” This does not correspond to anything in the original, and seems to have been inserted as a Pentecostal catchphrase.
f. Various texts are “translated” as if “Messiah” and “Christ” are two different words, which is both puzzling and redundant (e.g. Rom 1:4, “And now he is our Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ”), and risks creating confusion about both those terms and Paul’s meaning.
g. Sometimes, entire clauses are inserted for no obvious reason. So, in Rom 1:8, we have: “I give thanks to God for all of you, because it’s through your conversion to Jesus Christ, that you are becoming well known. For the testimony of your strong, persistent faith is spreading throughout the world.” Where on earth does this lengthy insertion come from? How could it possibly render hoti hē pistis humōn katangelletai en holō tō kosmō? Is it trying to indicate that Christians will be famous, and not just our faith? Who knows?
2. Despite all these (and many, many other) examples of why it isn’t a translation, it presents itself as if it is.
This, frankly, is the big problem. I don’t see anything wrong with dynamic readings or performances of biblical texts, in order to make them fresh to readers or hearers; I’ve done it myself. But when we do this, we are not translating the text: we are inserting all kinds of glosses, interpretive opinions and explanatory notes, and producing something more like a targum than a translation.
Now: if TPT called itself a targum, or a paraphrase, or a fresh interpretation of Scripture, or something like that, I would probably have no problem with it. But it calls itself a translation, and presents itself as appropriate for serious study and for preaching (“The Passion Translation is an excellent translation you can use as your primary text to seriously study God’s Word … the text has been interpreted from the original language, carrying its original meaning and giving you an accurate, reliable expression of God’s original message”), even though it is repeatedly inserting words and thoughts that do not appear in the original. I find it hard to believe that anyone trained in biblical studies at a mainstream university or seminary would agree with statements like these.
3. It is “translated” by one man.
The major translations are all worked on by committees of experts, partly to avoid the risks of idiosyncratic decisions, personal hobby-horses or controversial convictions (see below) being smuggled into the text. They debate specific words and clauses in detail, sometimes for hours, in order to make sure that they have captured the sense of the original fairly. When there is only one translator, all of those checks and balances are removed, and this problem is likely to be exacerbated when the translator in question has never been to a mainstream seminary or university; consequently, there are grammatical errors in the English itself, let alone the Greek (“would that infer” rather than “would that imply”, etc). Purely at the level of method, this sort of solo attempt is unwise.
4. The much-vaunted Aramaic approach to “translation” is built on very shaky foundations.
The publishers make the bizarre claim that “one of the unique benefits of The Passion Translation is that it has recovered this often-neglected language by consulting these ancient biblical manuscripts,” (as if other translations didn’t use Aramaic manuscripts when appropriate), and then defend the fact that sometimes, there is “a preference for the Aramaic over the original Greek” (as if we could look at a fifth century Aramaic text, and use it to adjust the second century Greek text on which it was based). They also claim that “the books of Ezra and Daniel were originally written in this language”, when this is actually only true of parts of them (Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26; Daniel 2:4b-7:28). Frankly, there is a slightly esoteric, even Gnostic, flavour to some of the pronouncements about the use of Aramaic in TPT (e.g. “We believe it’s time to recover this important original language of the Bible,” or “Greek speaks to the mind while Aramaic-Hebrew speaks powerfully to the heart,” or “this groundbreaking attempt to re-introduce the passion and fire of the Bible to English readers.”) When it gets to the point of saying things like, “By referencing the text written in the very language in which Jesus taught, and then overlaying that with the Greek, we are able to translate the root meanings of the Scriptures in a new, fresh way” – in other words, we start with the much later Aramaic manuscripts and then “overlay” it with the early Greek ones – then major warning flags need to be waved.
5. The statements about contemporary scholarship are also highly misleading.
“Recent biblical scholarship has begun tracing many of Jesus’ teachings back to an original Aramaic source. Some even argue the original Greek manuscripts were translations of even more original Aramaic sources.” Only two biblical scholars are cited in support of these bizarre claims, Craig Keener and Mike Bird, and neither of them say anything like what the website implies they say about original Aramaic texts (although everyone agrees, of course, that Jesus spoke in Aramaic). I actually followed this up with Mike Bird, and his response was short and to the point; I won’t quote it, but it was effectively Australian for “I don’t think this person is correct.” I don’t know of any biblical scholars who think we can reconstruct an original Aramaic text with any level of accuracy, or who think the Peshitta is anything other than a translation of Greek originals.
6. Statements like this, from the promotional website, provide their own rebuttal:
“In past translations wonderfully gifted scholars were trained to focus on other factors besides the emotion of the text. As Brian has studied the original biblical manuscripts, he has uncovered what he believes is the love language of God that has been missing from other translations.” For all the merits of communicating Scripture with passion – and this is something I work hard at doing myself – we have to be clear that this sort of fluffy self-endorsement does not add up to a translation methodology.
7. The proliferation of new translations is itself a problem, reflecting both the fragmentation of the church, and the contemporary preference to have a version that perfectly suits us and our preferences.
Eddie Arthur is good on this, and there are also websites that track the ways the (very obvious) theological agenda of the translator has skewed the text (for all that, as a charismatic, I disagree with many of the reviewer’s convictions on this one). Many of these criticisms, of course, could also be levelled at The Massage – and, in my opinion, fairly. But whereas Eugene Peterson was clearly paraphrasing the original, and few people read it as a translation, TPT explicitly claims to be a “translation”, to the point of suggesting it be used for serious biblical study (a claim I very much doubt Peterson would make for The Message). In contributing yet another new “translation” to an overcrowded market, particularly one characterised by the flaws above, I fear Brian Simmons has simply added to the confusion.
I wouldn’t recommend people use TPT, and if they do, I would recommend they recognise that a) it is not actually a translation, and b) they use other versions as their primary texts for study.
I’d also suggest that pastors who have TPT-users in their congregations should clarify the difference between it and the standard translations, just to bring some definition (and that this clarification need not be accompanied by arm-waving or mouth-foaming!) God’s love language is not hidden, or missing; it is in plain sight in the many excellent translations we have available. The Word of God, in any language, is a book of love and literature, heart and head, passion and perceptiveness, foundations and fire. It doesn’t need adding to.
What are some noteworthy examples of NAR-friendly bias and abuse of the text of Scripture?
Following are a few examples of bias and abuse of the text. At the end of this fact sheet are links to critics’ sources that contain more examples. Take note that critics have pointed out other examples that Simmons changed after they drew attention to them. So his translation is a moving target. When Simmons has been challenged about faulty renderings of verses, he sometimes has simply revised them – in substantial ways – without offering any explanation for his revisions.
Example 1: Take note of the addition of teaching about the Holy Spirit and the deletion of admonitions to correct and rebuke.
2 Timothy 4:2
Standard English Translations
- “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (English Standard Version)
- “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (New International Version)
- “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (New King James Version)
The Passion Translation
- “proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit[a]—with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people.” (TPT)
Simmons’ footnote a: 2 Timothy 4:2 As translated from the Aramaic.
Example 2: Take note of the NAR bias for an over-realized eschatology — i.e., teachings that the blessings God has promised for the future are readily available in the present age.
Standard English Translations
- “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (ESV)
- “‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’” (NIV)
- “and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (NKJV)
The Passion Translation
- “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!”[a] (TPT)
Simmons’ footnote a: Mark 1:15 The Greek is “believe the good news” (“the gospel”), and the Aramaic is “put your trust in the joyful message of hope.” This translation merges both concepts, making it “the hope-filled gospel.”
Example 3: Take note how he has added the word “first” before the word “twelve.” Could this be because NAR leaders, including Simmons, teach that the office of apostle is ongoing for today?
Standard English Translations
- “The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;” (ESV)
- “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John;” (NIV)
- “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;” (NKJV)
The Passion Translation
- Now, these are the names of the first twelve apostles: first, Simon, who is nicknamed Peter, and Andrew, his brother. And then Jacob and John, sons of Zebedee. (TPT)
How is the Passion Translation tied to the New Apostolic Reformation?
Brian Simmons, like some other leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation, denies being a part of this movement. Yet the core teaching of the New Apostolic Reformation is the necessity of the present-day governing offices of apostle and prophet along with their new, authoritative revelations. Simmons holds the governing office of apostle with Harvest International Ministry, and works closely with many New Apostolic Reformation leaders. His translation is endorsed almost only (if not exclusively) by NAR leaders. His translation shows significant evidence of NAR doctrinal bias. For these reasons, critics of this translation have dubbed it the “NAR Bible.”
What are some sources that have critiqued the Passion Translation?
- Article in the journal themelios (Volume 43, Issue 1): “Burning Scripture with Passion: A Review of the Psalms (The Passion Translation)” by Andrew G. Shead
- Article on the blog THINK (6 January 2016): “What’s Wrong with the Passion ‘Translation’?” by Andrew Wilson
- Four-part series of articles on the blog Spirit of Error by Holly Pivec, starting with “A New NAR Bible (Part 1) — ‘The Passion Translation’”
Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.