Pastor Barry/ The Gathering: POWER 5: Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self-control To watch this video message and others go toand click on the youtube link to subscribe.
BIBLE TRANSLATIONS Galatians 5:22-23
The original scriptures of the Bible were written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. The Bible has now been translated into 475 languages and the New Testament into 1,240. There are over 450 types of translations in English alone. You are likely reading from one of the twelve most popular versions. You may wonder why there are so many translations in English— wouldn’t one suffice?— but translating from the three original languages is not so easy. Word meanings cannot be translated with just one English word. Ancient idioms, syntax, grammar etc. all go into making translating a long and difficult task. People also have different reading abilities and word comprehension so versions have been created to simplify passages. Sometimes that simplification compromises the deeper understanding of a passage. The English language and even spelling has also changed over time. For instance the King James Version of the Bible was published in 1611, but no one speaks like that anymore unless you are in a Shakespearean play! That version of the Bible was revised in 1769 and now The New King James Bible commissioned in 1975 has largely taken its place. You must also know that some versions of the Bible attempt a word for word translation while others attempt to get across the basic meaning of a passage. All versions are not created equal! I preach out of the New International Version so that the reading will be clear to everyone, but I use many different versions in my study to prepare my lessons like The King James Version, The New King James Version, The New American Standard Version, The New Revised Standard Version, and The Living Bible just to name a few.
I say this as an introduction to my study today on the variations of the words that you might find listed as “The Fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23). In the 1611 King James Version “Love” is written as “Charity”, The New International Version uses the word “Forbearance” for “Patience” while the King James Version calls it “Long-suffering”. In today’s study the three words we are looking at (Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control) are translated differently too, but I want to show you how their varying translations actually help us to better understand the characteristic of God that each word describes.
FAITH or FAITHFULNESS? James 2:14-25, John 3:16-21, Matthew 7:13-27
The word “Faith” as used in the King James Version of the Bible and the word “Faithfulness” as used in the New International Version and the New American Standard Version are quite different in meaning: Faith is the complete trust or confidence in someone or something and Faithfulness is the quality of being faithful or having fidelity—like in a solid marriage. The actual Greek word is pistis (pis’-tis): which means the persuasion and moral conviction— assurance based on belief and faith which brings the action of fidelity. You can now see the dilemma of translating one Greek word into English without losing any of its meaning?
“Faith” is complete trust and “Faithfulness” is the action that results from such a faith. The Greek word “Pistis” implies that trust and fidelity go together and that is the characteristic that the Holy Spirit puts into a believer. For a person to say “I have faith in Jesus” and then to live without fidelity to Him (keeping His commands) proves that one really has no faith at all! Faith or belief is a verb—an action word. Biblically speaking, If there is no action then there is no faith. The Apostle James actually made this crystal clear in James 2:14-25—”Faith without works is dead!” So when John said in John 3:16, “whoever ‘believes’(also translated from the word “Pistis”) in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John was really saying: “whoever has faith in Him (Jesus) accompanied by fidelity will not perish but have everlasting life and those that continue to do evil deeds will be condemned.” (John 3:17-21)
In October 2019 Pew Research reported: “The U.S. Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace.” The report showed a 12% drop in Americans who considered Christianity their religion (from 78% of Americans to 65%) and saw a 17% increase in those who called themselves atheists or agnostics. There is no doubt, however, that God sees far less Christians in America than Pew Research when you consider what “faith” means to Him. No wonder He said: “Narrow is the road that leads to life.” True believers practice faithfulness (Matthew 7:13-27) and as Galatians 5:22-25 says this Spirit is who we will keep in step with.
MEEKNESS or GENTLENESS? John 19:8-11, 2 Timothy 2:22-26
The King James Version of the Bible uses the word “Meekness” to define what other versions of the Bible label as “Gentleness” in Galatians 5:23. The actual Greek word here is prautés (pra-u-tēs): which means the expression of power with reserve and calm. Neither the word “Meekness” or “Gentleness” aptly describes this concept. In English to be “Meek” is to be quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on— submissive. Some might even see this word as to be a coward. To be “Gentle” is to be kind, tender or mild mannered. Some might interpret this word as to be effeminate. The Greek word “Prautes” describes a strong-willed person who has learned to submit his will to God. He isn’t weak; he is controlled by God as Jesus was before his accusers and Pilate (John 19:8-11). He possess a strong will, a powerful character, and a firm opinion, but knows how to bring his will under control for a greater cause. When Jesus said “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5) the scripture passage uses a form of this same Greek word (praus). What Jesus was saying then is that the earth will belong to those who submit their wills to God and allow Him to control their impulses. “Gentleness” or “Meekness” here is not weakness. Let us not be confused. This is a divinely-balanced virtue that can only operate through faith and submission to God. In fact when the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy to avoid “stupid arguments” ( 2 Timothy 2:22-26) and how to deal with opponents of the truth he uses this very same word again (praus). A true believer in Christ should exhibit this Fruit of the Spirit increasingly throughout his or her life.
In the hit series Breaking Bad- 2008-2013 (season 4/ episode 13) a weak and infirmed Hector Salamanca sits in his wheelchair. He faces his own execution at the hands of Gus Fring, the evil and powerful drug lord. Hector takes the verbal abuse of his would be executioner and then looks him in the eye with resolve and presses the bell on his wheel chair that causes an explosion of unbridled power! This scene comes to mind when an opponent of my faith says that I am weak because I need Jesus as my crutch. I will boast in the fact that He is my wheelchair and that I am pushed along by the Holy Spirit—and like Hector Salamanca to Gus Fring in Breaking Bad—they will one day see that power unleashed!
TEMPRANCE or SELF-CONTROL? John 14:18-20, 15:4-5, Romans 8:5-9
The King James Version of the Bible also uses the word “Temperance” to define what other versions describe as “Self-Control” in Galatians 5:23. The Greek word here is egkratés (eg-krat-és) which means literally to be mastered from within or to be possessed! The English word “Temperance” means to show restraint and moderation which would be powered by ones sheer will or “Self-control”—Defined, Self-control is the ability to manage one’s emotions and desires. None of us do that very well! Neither of these English words give the credit of that control to God as the Greek word does. The promise of Jesus is that we will be possessed! Jesus promised that He will be “in” us (John 14:18-20) and that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). It is not “Temperance” or “Self-control” that helps us to walk in Christ. It is literally Christ in us that gives that power, and this is the power of the Holy Spirit. A Christian, however, is “possessed” only by invitation as we “set our minds” on Christ and keep in step with Him (Romans 8:5-9). As we can clearly see the Fruit of the Spirit is literally “Greek” to us, but available to all who give their life to Jesus. May we all learn the language of the Holy Spirit as we walk in Christ.