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DONE IN GOD OR BY GOD –
COMPARE BIBLE TRANSLATIONS – Ray E Horton
It is interesting to see how different Bible translations render scripture differently and shows why studying the Word is important. Different translations can substantially change the meaning of a verse and we must study to find truth.
Take John 3:21. NKJV renders this: “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done IN God,” whereas Holman’s (HCSB) reads: “ But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished BY God.” Focusing on the end of the verse, when the truth leads us to the light, are our deeds done “in God” or “by God?”
Study it out
Different translations can substantially change the meaning of a verse and we must study to find truth
I studied the verse out a little. Other translations refer to deeds done “in the sight of God (NIV),” “in obedience to God (GNT),” “so that the things they do for God may be clearly seen (GWT), “God is really the one doing what they do (CEV).” These are quite different with far reaching implications. The latter one (CEV) seems closer in meaning to Holman’s version. That may actually be somewhat closer to the real meaning, since Strong’s says “in” here in the Greek is “en,” meaning “A primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest.” That would seem to say God is instrumental in it as we rest.
I think J.B. Phillips translation may be closer yet, “done through God,” which indicates instrumentality. I believe the Amplified Version nails it, rendering this: “wrought with God [divinely prompted, done with God’s help, in dependence upon Him].” I believe this is what the verse is getting at. If we live by the truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit, we have the light within us that reveals to us that our deeds in Him are not only divinely prompted, but they are also done with dependence on His power within us.
It’s a partnership
This rendering best says that we do what we do both inspired and empowered by Him. Because we seek out and find that the light is within us, we can see that it is not our good works of the flesh, but Him who is instrumental in our ability to will and to do the works of God as we rest from our own good ideas and choose His, allowing Him to work through us by the Spirit. Do we do it on our own as some imply? No! Does God do it without our contribution as others imply? No! It’s a partnership. He leads and empowers, while we surrender and choose to allow Him to work through us.