(Listed below is one of many questions and answers from the web ministry of Pastor David Reagan at www.learnthebible.org. I found this one interesting because many Christians believe all Bibles are the same. What do you think???)
Q: In Acts 26 verse 28 Agrippa tells Paul, Thou almost persuadest me to be a Christian-this seems to be the King James version of the Bible. However in the New International Version, which seems to be very popular and regarded a more accurate version of the Bible, it states in that same verse, "you didn't think you could change my mind in such a short time."
Many years ago My mother in law gave me an old booklet with John Wesley's sermons. One of these was entitled "almost persuaded," and how many people are stranded at that level. It has been 40 years, and this sermon is still my favorite. So that is why I was surprised by this new translation of the Bible. Can you help me?
A: Thank you for writing. Though I was not able to answer you last week, your question sparked my mind in several directions and one sermon has already come from it. You mention a sermon by John Wesley called "Almost Persuaded." However, you also reminded me of an invitation song I have known and sung over the years by the same name. Not only is the doctrine of Acts 26:28-29 altered by the New International Version, its basis for sermons and songs has also been destroyed. Here is a comparison of Acts 26:28-29 in the two translations:
King James Bible - "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."
New International Version - "Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long--I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'"
One thing that struck me as I read this is what damage the new versions have done to the body of biblically-based matter that has built up over the previous centuries. I would argue that removing the concept of Agrippa being almost persuaded harmfully changes the doctrine of this passage. Now he is pompous and boldly resistant to the pleas of Paul--not almost persuaded. But something else is done as well. The biblical foundation for the sermon you mentioned, the song I know, and thousands upon thousands of similar sermons and songs throughout the years has also been destroyed. If a congregation uses the NIV, they no longer have any reason for singing "Almost Persuaded." If the NIV is right, then that song is wrong.
Now, if that were the only song effected, that would be bad enough. But, the truth is, our entire corpus of Bible literature, sermons, songs, and more is being attacked. There are other examples. Since "Calvary" does not occur as a word in the NIV, there is now no basis for songs or church names that use this beautiful and meaningful word. We sing a song called "Are you Washed in the Blood?" But the NIV removes the Bible wording that speaks of being washed in the blood. I greatly enjoy an old song called "Come and Dine" (John 21:12) taken from the post-resurrection appearance of Christ when He said this to His disciples. But in the NIV, they are told, "Come and have breakfast." It just does not work.
I am not even referring to the correctness or incorrectness of the translation. I know that technically, statements in other languages can be honestly translated in many different ways. Perhaps this is the case in these instances. I have not studied it out. However, no matter what, our 400-year-old heritage of songs, sermons, sayings, and more that have been taken from the wording of the English Bible is being destroyed. This, I am convinced, is intentional. The "new" worship cannot flourish with the "old" Bible. As the versions take more and more liberties with the text, I see those foundations being destroyed. And then, what will the righteous do? Thank you for pointing this passage out for me.
Till He comes,
Pastor David Reagan