In one of our previous Discipleship Group settings, we had what I would consider a MAJOR breakthrough, a liberation of sorts. Here’s what happened. We were going through the Ephesians 4 giftings, and collectively considering what might be the predominant characteristics of an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, and Pastor-Teacher. The evening unfolded many “eye-opening” concepts for the group, but one in particular shocked me.
In the midst of our exploration of the scriptures, one raised the issue that we were “to obey our Pastors in all things.” My first thought was “where’s that in the bible?” I challenged the person to show me where the scriptures said that. He came back to me with Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
You see, in Spanish, in all of the versions except for one, it says, “Obey your Pastors and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” After asking a few questions, I found out that this verse was being used to enslave the congregation. It was used to exercise unwarranted control over the local body. It was, in fact, completely effective, because they believed that this was “biblical,” and they ‘had to’ do whatever their pastor told them. They believed it so strongly that at first they thought I might be incorrect and contradicting God’s word. As we pushed further on this, eyes began to open, hearts were set free, and sound doctrine washed away false guilt. It was as if a tremendous weight was lifted from them.
I am still investigating why many of the translation committees for the Spanish versions of the Bible inserted the word “pastor” here. To me, this example demonstrates clearly how a a misconception of church and a mistranslation, can snare the people of God. I believe that “truth always sets free and error always binds,” but in this particular case, I saw the chains fall off.
I thank the Lord for opening our eyes together, for this gift of freedom, and for ‘setting captives free.’
Have you had similar experience with bad translations? I would much appreciate a short comment if you have.
This is a repost from 2012, but be sure to check out the comments below.