Biblical Audio Commentary – Ashamed of My Words

Biblical Audio Commentary – Ashamed of My Words




I know I can’t be the only one who cringes these days when I come across the grammar in various Bible translations.  For those of us of a certain age who were taught proper English, i.e. how pronouns were supposed to agree with the tense of the verb, you know how that concept has been defenestrated.  Say what?  Thrown out the window.

What do I mean?  The general trend in society has been to remove specific gender associations.  We see it all the time.  You’re reading an article online that refers specifically to a male or a female in whatever activity is being described.  And what do we see?  They did such and such.  Am I right?  Well, excuse me, but it was he or she that did that thing, not they.  I mean, how many people are we talking about?  One.  Yet, that singular person is referred to in the plural.  Drives me nuts.

Now, the last place we’d think to see this kind of political correctness is in the Bible.  Sadly, that’s not the case.  The classic example revolves around the NIV – the New International Version.  For anyone with the 1978 printing, you know what I’m talking about.  For the longest time, Bible Gateway used that particular year’s translation.  But then the publishers felt an update or two were necessary.  They came up with 1984 and 2011 as “improvements.”

Let’s look at the NIV 2011 version – which is the only one currently available on Bible Gateway – and quote Mark 8:34-37:

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 

Now, let’s go back in time to what the NIV 1978 version relates:

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.  36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

For further comparison, since I know many prefer the King James, here’s this same verse:

34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Softening the masculine and confusing tense as in the NIV 2011 is a bunch of garbage, isn’t it?  Now you know why I cringe reading such a mishmash.

But it gets worse – of course.  In the next verse it just so happens that Jesus makes a critical point following what He just said.  For our purposes in this little discourse, it drives home the necessity to not bow to what the gods of the day dictate is correct and proper.

Here is Mark 8:38 in the awful NIV 2011:

38 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

There it is again: If anyone is . . . ashamed of them.  Singular – plural.  Didn’t anyone learn English in school?

In contrast, here are the NIV 1978 and KJV with this same verse:

NIV 1978

38 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his father’s glory with the holy angels.”


38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

The irony we shouldn’t miss in speaking of political correctness and the dumbing down of language is what Jesus actually said.  He literally called out those who would twist His Words.  Such people will be the object of shame for having distorted the Word of God.

This all seems like a minor issue.  But, is it?  Would you want to be on the receiving end of Jesus’ condemnation – whatever it might be?

We’re so conditioned to hearing and reading stuff that in days gone by would have earned us Ds in school.  I’d bet the majority of people (except you, dear readers, who are now alerted to the problem) have no idea how bad the language has become and what even Jesus probably thinks of what’s been done to it.

But surely modern society is an improvement over the past – right?  Actually no, and the reason is likely related to a famous law of physics, namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics.  It has to do with heat transfer and how hot things inevitably cool.  But it’s also quite relevant in describing the simple truth that order inevitably moves downhill to disorder.  We see that all around in the world today.  And does it not apply in our situation with language and how it’s devolved and gotten worse over time?  I think so.

Is there a point to this article?  If there is one, it’s that purity of language is important.  More vital, however, is to keep the Words of Jesus and not to change them in order to please the culture.

10 Responses to “Biblical Audio Commentary – Ashamed of My Words”

  1. Reply RobinL

    Gary, you’re right of course, but in our world today this will go right over the heads of most readers. They will say you are nitpicky and out of touch, that language evolves (devolves) and to ‘get with it.’
    When it comes to our Lord, this is an entirely different issue. My understanding is that especially the NIV, has devolved over the decades, with many entire verses removed! It’s chilling for me to imagine explaining that to Jesus at the Bema Seat or, for the unsaved, at the White Throne Judgment.
    Every day in every way, the world gets worse and worse. I’ve reached the point where I am ashamed of my country, and I am ashamed of our influence upon the world. The scales have fallen from my eyes.
    There is no pleasure for me in anything I used to enjoy except for God’s handiwork in nature, even as it is being destroyed, sharing the gospel with the unsaved, reading my Bible, and fellowshiping with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ. All else causes me to feel the futility of this sinful world, and emptiness and grief for the lost. This world is truly, truly, truly not our home.

  2. Reply Jim Eastman

    Thanks for making me aware of this. I have a Scofield 2004 NIV that I have been using for years. I was aware they took out the words “Blood’ of Jesus in a particular passage but i didnt realize they did all this pronoun stuff. Ive never liked the King James. Any suggestions on an easy read version without going back to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    • Reply Gary Ritter

      What? You don’t like Hebrew? In recent years I’ve gravitated to the ESV, particularly because of the fact that it uses the Dead Sea Scrolls for the OT portion. There are some who don’t like the ESV because of the claim that it has a number of Calvinist believers as part of its translation team – certainly true. But since I spend more time actually in the OT than NT, this hasn’t been a stumbling block to me. What’s always good is to check out more difficult passages in different (good) translations if there is a concern about, for instance, a Calvinist slant.

  3. Reply Robin McCann

    I am not a King James only. My first Bible was a King James, and I had a great deal of trouble reading it. I got the ‘thees’ and ‘Thous’, It was other words that stumped me. So, I found that the ESV is much easier to understand. What I do is, read my KJ and if there is something that I don’t understand, I look it up in my ESV. I’m one who considers all other translations… Bible for dummies, and are very helpful. I love Geoffrey Grider of Now The End Begins, but he is a KJ only, and has implied that if you read others, you’re pretty much not welcome to his site. I merely told him that it was wrong thinking because, 1) KJ may not be available to them, and 2) it shouldn’t really matter which Bible to read as they all have the very same important messages in them that people need to hear… and that is the Gospel of Christ. Granted, all other translations have some verse omissions, but all the important stuff that God deemed that we need to know, is in them.

    There is something that people need to be aware of when shopping for a Bible. The word of God has a total of 66 books, but there is a new Bible out there that has a 67th book written by Tim Fleming, a self proclaimed prophet for the gay community, and he has chosen the KJ to install his blasphemous book.

    • Reply Gary Ritter

      These single person translations like the Passion and Message are problematic; obviously this one you mention is a real abomination. Adding to God’s Word – oh boy, watch out! When I first encountered KJV only, one of my first questions/issues was: What about people who don’t read English? You mean they have to learn our language to read the Bible? Seriously??? Never got a good answer to that one. Another recent thought on this issue is that KJV only adherents kind of make it an idol that they worship. Besides, the KJV is not perfect by any means. This video does a good job of discussing this:

  4. Reply Rick H

    Wow was unaware they had “modified” the NIV…I have bibles in my home and downloaded the ESV version on my phone…I don’t who else mentioned it but there are other versions out there that when I started reading them it made God sound “hip”…geezz Satan doesn’t miss a trick does he…he spins so many webs I can’t keep track of them all.

    • Reply Gary Ritter

      I don’t have any problem with the earlier NIV, but when they start messing with this gender neutral stuff, that’s where I draw the line. The ESV still uses “brothers” in all the appropriate verses, but even it ALWAYS has a footnote saying: “this means brothers and sisters.” Okay, a couple times to tell me that is fine, but in every instance where the word appears? Seriously?

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