The controversy was brought about at the Christmas Eve service last night. The translation on the screen had a modern text of Luke 2:14. It came up again as we read through the Christmas story at home. Most people are familiar with the King James.
(Luke 2:14 KJV) Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.Modern translations say it in a different way.
(Luke 2:14 NAS77) "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."To the casual reader this is no big deal. Actually it shows a difference of theological understanding about salvation and how God interacts with each of us.
The difference goes back to the Greek. The KJV uses what is called the Textus Receptus or Majority Text. This Greek text has the largest number of manuscripts, thus “majority.” Most modern translations use the group of texts that are thought to be older but not as common. The words are the same in Greek but the tenses are different. The Majority Text has the nominative case and the other the genitive case.
What difference does it make? Does the peace of God extend toward all mankind or does He reserve it for those that please Him? If you are one who lives in obedience it applies both ways. If you are one who likes to thumb your nose at God or wants to put off getting your act together it is important to believe that God extends His peace to everyone regardless of our behavior.
This came up in one of Alistair Begg’s sermons. He was talking about Jesus calling Matthew, “Follow me.” Begg was making the point that Matthew was a tax collector and thus outside the fold. He was one of a hated class that was known for their selfishness and greed. Begg, a Calvinist, was making the point that God can chose whoever He wants, which of course is true even to non-Calvinists.
But what were the conditions that made him pick Matthew. Tax collectors were notorious, true. Was Matthew just another greedy Roman foil or did Jesus sense an openness in Matthew that wasn’t in the others? I doubt if He picked him because he was a stinker. Personally I think that Matthew may have been one of those rare honest tax collectors.
Are there people that Jesus called that said “No.” We don’t have a list of them but there were people who seemed to be ready to follow but pulled back. Think of the ones who wanted to go bury their parents and such.
If God has preordained each of us in our response then it doesn’t make much difference which translation you use. If you are expected to respond then it follows that the peace of God is extended to those who please Him.
homo unius libri