Translation Tuesday

Translation Tuesday – Luke 1:19

Luke 1 19

Unknown to almost all Christians, the word evangelize is used 55 times in the New Testament.  This truth is hidden from most Christians not due to lack of reading Scripture, as some might guess, but due to a burying of the word through the translation process.  In fact, until recently there was not a single modern translation that included this word.  The Holman Christian Standard Bible has begun the task of bringing this word back into our translations, though the use of this word 6 times, but that still leaves 49 buried instances of the word.

Each Tuesday we are looking at verses that include the Greek word evangelize.  Today we look at Luke 1:19.

Once again, I cannot say thank you enough to Dr. Thomas Johnston for opening my eyes to this truth.  Although I plan to scratch the surface each week in regards to this translation issue, his depth of research and knowledge in this area is staggering.  Without his pointing out this to me, I would be blind to this truth.  His books of notes on evangelism is a must for any pastoral library.

Luke 1:19

And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. (NKJV)

Of the many passages we will look at, this is one that I feel the removal of the word evangelize does not hinder the understanding.  Evangelism is the speaking of glad tidings (good news).  In many translations that is exactly what is being described.  The meaning has not been changed.

This is also a message delivered directly from the mouth of an angelic being, which is something that none of us are, or can relate to.  No matter what word is used it would be clear that the message was coming from a being, and in a method that we cannot replicate.

The question would have to be asked, though, is anything gained by translating this another way than evangelize?

The book of Luke alone uses the Word evangelize 10 different times.  Of these encounters two are by angels, one is John the Baptist, six are from Jesus, and one speaks of the disciples.  A consistent translation of the word evangelize would show the readers the continuity between the messengers of God, the work of Christ and us as disciples.  We would see that we are to be obedient just as Gabriel was.  We are to speak in the same bold manner as the one who “stands in the presence of God”.

Although the meaning is not lost in the removal of the word evangelize in Luke 1:19, our understanding is richer with it there.

Yours in Christ,

J. W. Willard


Translation Tuesday – Matthew 11:5

In 2009 I began my seminary studies, and have been richly blessed by them.  I have studied deeper than I had ever before, and have looked into subjects that I may never have looked to under my own direction.  This period of my life has been priceless.

One truth has stood out amongst the rest during this time that completely shocked me, and has impacted how I look at Scripture.  While sitting under the teaching of Dr. Thomas Johnston I learned that the word evangelize was used in the original Greek of the New Testament 55 times.  As I opened by New King James (or most other translations) I found that it was not used a single time.  The word has been buried by translators for one reason or another.

With this knowledge many of these texts take on new meaning and I believe if widely known they would significantly impact the way the church operates.

Beginning today I am going to post a verse each Tuesday for the next 55 weeks showing the word evangelize where it has been used in Scripture.

Today our text is Matthew 11:5

“The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel evangelized to them.”

At first glance this may seem to be a minor change, but its implications are quite massive in the modern church.  In the NKJV and most other modern translations the word used here is “preached”, in the HCSV the poor are “told the good news”.  One need only ask the question “Who preaches in the church today?” to see that the modern reader will not see this verse as an evangelistic verse, but instead as a pastoral verse.

When a congregation sees the pastor preaching and the community hearing the gospel they believe that the church is currently doing what Matthew 11:5 points to.  With the original word evangelize being used it becomes clear the task is much greater than the preacher.  The Gospel must be sent out.  People must evangelize.

This week, work to apply Matthew 11:5 to your life.  Look to have people have the Gospel evangelized to them, and allow yourself to be the tool.

J. W. Willard