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NLT -- problem in translation?

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by kman, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. kman

    kman New Member

    May 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Need some advice. I recently acquired a New Living
    Translation Bible.

    I found a passage that I don't think is translated well..even to the point of being a serious theological error.

    According to my studies the Greek word normally translated "justify" means to declare or pronounce righteous.

    In James 2:24 (and other places in James) the NLT
    translates it "made right with God".

    So you end up with this:

    James 2:24 (NLT) "So you see, we are make right
    with God by what we do, not by faith alone".

    Other translations:

    Jam 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (NASB)

    Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (KJV)

    My understanding of what James is talking about (from Owen/MacArthur etc) is being justified before men (ie. our works show that we are really Christians and our faith is
    genuine)...He is NOT talking about how our sins are forgiven and Christ's righteousness is credited/imputed to us.

    So ... it seems to me that the NLT is saying we are saved/forgiven (ie. made right with God) by

    Is that an unfair assessment? I'm pretty sure the translation was done by evagelicals..What am I missing?

    many thanks,
  2. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator

    Jun 30, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Good pick up. Justify does NOT always imply "right with GOD". That is very poor and does imply error.

    Would say more but just got my bank statement and have to go make my checkbook right with God. :rolleyes:
  3. aefting

    aefting New Member

    Sep 17, 2002
    Likes Received:
    This is the type of thing that happens when DE translations get sloppy with theological terminology.

    A better way of understanding "to justify" is "to declare righteous." Of course, to be righteous means to conform to a standard -- the standard in James 2 is what is expected of someone with saving faith. Abraham and Rahab perfomred actions consistent with saving faith and thus were found in conformity to that standard. The context determines the standard.

    The standard in Romans and elsewhere when speaking of justification, normally, is the perfect holiness of Christ.

  4. RoleTroll

    RoleTroll Guest

    I agree that the text in question does not specify who a person becomes justified with, man or God. However, I believe the context makes it extraordinarily clear that it means with God, not with man. Doctrinally, however, I can see why you'd want it to mean justified to man, rather than justified to God. (Wasn't James nearly excluded from the canon because of its alleged doctrine of salvation through works?)
  5. robycop3

    robycop3 Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Jul 31, 2000
    Likes Received:
    A retired Baptist pastor I knew said it best several years ago: "Faith without works is dead and works without faith is dead."
  6. Forever settled in heaven

    Jul 29, 2000
    Likes Received:
    it's a fair assessment--theologically, technically so, the NLT made a bad choice here, no doubt abt that!

    however, i have 2 further observations:

    1. to the lay reader, "made righteous" n "declared righteous" may not have any discernable difference in impact. either wld prob just go over the head.

    2. if the traditional term "justification" were left there, a worse impression might've resulted, either that God uses long n meaningless terminology or that somehow people cld be right, left, centre, or full justified (like how my MS Word does it). ;) :D