Be Aware of the Interpreters

“Then the king’s scribes were summoned on the thirteenth day of the first month, and an edict, according to all that Haman commanded, was written to the king’s satraps and to the governors over all the provinces and to the officials of all the peoples, to every province in its own script and every people in its own language.”  Esther 3:12

The scribes were the educated men of the time who were able to translate between various languages.  They were the ‘copy press’ during the time and took pride in their ability to not only know the languages very well and how to interpret between them, but they also took pride in their incredible accuracy with even the count of the letters in order to ensure that they had exactly what they wanted written down.  The scribes were in high regard in society, and obviously because of this, many would fall into the sin of pride and conceit.  (We need to note also that there are many good scribes who followed the Word meticulously and did not fall in pride.  We are not going to talk about them today, but keep in mind that there are some very good interpreters and translators who hold firm to God’s Word, but we need to be very careful to research which of them we follow.)

We seem to remember very well that Jesus gives plenty of warnings against the Pharisees to stay away from them for obvious reasons in that they taught false doctrine, but we often forget to focus on the second group that Jesus warns us about… the scribes, or in today’s terms, the translators and interpreters.

  • 38 And in his teaching he said, “Beware of the scribes,…”  Mark 12:38
  • 45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes,…”  Luke 20:45-46

We see that even from the book of Jeremiah that the scribes had been changing the law of the Lord in their translations and interpretations.  Quite possibly, these scribes had their own biases and were trying to get across what they believed the law should say, and so God’s original words were even changed all the way back then.  Jeremiah was told by the Lord that these scribes had willingly rejected the very Word of the Lord to try to inflate their own wisdom above God’s.  Do we think this would be different today?  Obviously, not.  Same yesterday.  Same today.  Same tomorrow.  Man doesn’t change.

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord,  so what wisdom is in them?”  Jeremiah 8:8-9

And, with the twisting of God’s Word by the scribes, they flaunt their unrighteousness before the Lord as He knows all that they do, but they will never enter heaven because of their disregard for the the wisdom of God.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:20

But, in their twisting of God’s Word and the inflation of their own wisdom, their authority actually diminishes the farther away they get from the truth of God’s Word.  Though the crowds of people will follow their false translations and interpretations, for those truly seeking God’s Word, when they actually hear the teaching of God’s Word for what it is, these people realize the authority of God’s actual Word and believe it instead of the lies written by the scribes.

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”  Matthew 7:28-29

We see that not only do the Pharisees, the false teachers of the day, try to kill Jesus and His message, but we see that the scribes also have a part because in the false interpretations and translations of God’s, they are also trying to kill Jesus and His message.

“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”  Matthew 16:21

We see more warnings from Jesus about the scribes whereby sometimes they do teach the correct things, but then in their own lives, they don’t follow the writings that they write with their own pens.  And, when they go outside of the actual Word of God in their writings, they write such things that no one can follow, not even themselves, and thus they look down on people who cannot write as they do, and even condemn them.  They desire to even be worshiped by self-given titles, but Jesus warns us to not use these self-titles as this inflates their sinful pride even more.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”  Matthew 23:1-12

We can further see that scribes, along with the Pharisees, are labeled as hypocrites who lead others away from the Truth and because of this, Jesus sternly warns them with “Woes” which are the strongest of reprimands to try to get them to repent of their sins, from Matthew 23.  And interestingly, there are seven woes, which symbolizes the perfection and completeness of ‘woes’, so God’s perfect warnings, or judgements, to them…

  • 13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d]
  • 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell[e] as yourselves.
  • 16 Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ 17 You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? 18 And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ 19 You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. 22 And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it.
  • 23 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
  • 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
  • 27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
  • 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah,[f] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.”  Matthew 23

We understand that everything written in the Bible is profitable for us today.  So, we can understand that scribes also apply today. These scribes are those who translate the Bible as well as those who write the commentaries in your Bible, devotions, and books related to God’s Word.  It is super important, then, for us to always investigate any author of any “Christian” book before we put our trust in the words of their books.  Many authors are those scribes that Jesus says “woes” to as they take Scripture out of context and twist its meaning.  Don’t trust everyone who claims to be a Christian, and especially those who make millions off of book sales and their church attendance is astronomical. Jesus told His disciples that few would truly follow Him and most would hate those who truly follow Christ.  The door is very narrow and few will find it.  And, many will say to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” but in the end, Jesus will tell them to depart because they really weren’t known by Him.  So, be very cautious to not get mislead by the Pharisees and scribes of today.  Personally, I rarely read other author’s books and just stick to the Bible; however, I do sometimes research commentaries to see possible interpretations when I’m questioning something specific, but I always verify it with Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, it is very important for us to understand from where the translation comes from with the Bible we read.  Not all Bibles are interpreted correctly.  For example, the New World Translation of the Bible is the Jehovah Witness translation.  Its scribes have not only changed words, changing the entire meaning of verses, but they have eliminated verses as well.  They have eliminated the diety of Jesus Christ, instead making Him a “spirit person” created by God as a man who was sinless.  Another blatant misinterpretation of Scripture is “The Message Bible” written by Eugene Peterson which is not actually a Bible, but rather one man’s attempt to write sermons that are “cool” and “modern” to keep his own congregation awake. Obviously, he wasn’t truly preaching with the authority of God’s Word if he needed to find a way to keep his congregation from nodding off in church every week.  This guy’s translation misinterprets so many verses one couldn’t list them all, but research this on your own time and see what you find.  I will never look at this interpretation again as Eugene is a false scribe.

And, let’s look at something very interesting about Acts 8:37.  Did you know that many of our modern, English versions omit this verse from Scripture.  What is their reason?  I have no idea, but it’s scary to think that the scribes took it upon themselves to eliminate this entire verse. Let’s see where it is not listed and then see where it has been added…

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”[e] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.”  Acts 8: 34-36, 38 English Standard Translation – They have cut out verse 37 intentionally. Where did it go?

But, here we find it….

34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 [[m]And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”] 38 And he ordered the [n]chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”  Acts 8:34-38 – NASB version – It has still been included here.

34-35 The eunuch said, “Tell me, who is the prophet talking about: himself or some other?” Philip grabbed his chance. Using this passage as his text, he preached Jesus to him. 36-39 As they continued down the road, they came to a stream of water. The eunuch said, “Here’s water. Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the chariot to stop. They both went down to the water, and Philip baptized him on the spot. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of God suddenly took Philip off, and that was the last the eunuch saw of him. But he didn’t mind. He had what he’d come for and went on down the road as happy as he could be.”  Acts 8:34-39 The Message false translation – Again, we see that there is no verse 37 which states that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  Why would Eugene Peterson take out that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?

When you study Scripture deeply and especially when you see something that doesn’t seem to make sense, or are wondering about a word or phrase, your absolute best bet is to not trust the interpretation of the scribe, but rather to search the original Hebrew and Greek yourself.  I’ve found this extremely beneficial in my studies this past year as this is the first year I’ve ever done this for myself and I’ve learned so many things that have been either twisted or lost in translations by the scribes.  It will truly open your eyes!

Here’s a link of the site I use to research the actual writings of the Bible from the BibleHub: http://biblehub.com/interlinear/revelation/12-7.htm  (This is an example text of Revelation 12-7).

Father God, We know how upset you get that many have twisted your word into something that you have not stated.  We don’t want to follow anything that is not from you and we don’t want to share anything that is not from you, claiming that it is.  Keep us on the write tract in learning from the authority of your actual word.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit to help us in our pursuit of the truth of your word. In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.