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What You See is Not What You Have

By: Bodť Adeboyejo

While studying, meditating on and writing the article, Unseen Hope, I came across a disturbing fact that I thought was worth addressing separately. Iíd attempted to include it or make it a part of the Unseen Hope article, but it was difficult to do without changing the original intent of the article, which was to write about biblical hope, and why itís not a material, perishable or tangible thing.

That is, just as the Romans 8:24-25 passage says, "Öhope that is seen is not hope." In essence, biblical hope is spiritual and unseen. Not something we perceive with our natural senses.

So, this is why I decided to write this article -- separately.

Just in case you didnít read Unseen Hope yet, or wondering what Romans 8:24-25 is about, the passage says:

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (NKJV)

The disturbing thing I discovered was the rendering of the word see or seen in Romans 8:24-25, in some so-called Bible translations. I discovered that some versions actually replaced the word see or seen with the word has or have. Bibles like the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), Contemporary English Version (CEV), New Century Version (NCV), etc.

For instance, the NIV and the NLT rendered Romans 8:24-25 as follows:

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. -- (NIV)

Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don't need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently. -- (NLT)

But thereís a problem with these Ďtranslations!í In fact, this is one of the dangers of using some of these so-called modern day versions of the Bible. In the original Greek the word used was see not have. Therefore, using the word have, instead of see, changes completely the meaning of the passage. Besides, the words see and have are not the same in Greek; or in English for that matter!

"What you see is what you see, and what you have is what you have."

Not even in the contextual sense of the passage can one interchange see for have. The two words just donít mean the same!

By the way, the word see in Greek is blepo. It means Ďto see,í Ďdiscern,í Ďto perceive,í etc. While the word have in Greek is echo. It means Ďto have, i.e. to hold,í Ďto own,í Ďto possessí etc. So, see is see and have is have!

What you see is what you see, and what you have is what you have. But what you see is not what you have! Likewise, what you have is not what you see. Just because you see something doesnít mean that you have it. And just because you donít see something doesnít mean that you donít have it. Just because I see a Mercedes Benz doesnít mean that I have a Mercedes Benz. Likewise, just because I donít see my brain doesnít mean that I donít have one (I know some of you would like to argue that)! Even in the spiritual realm, just because I donít see God or Jesus doesnít mean that I donít have a relationship with them!

So, to transpose the word have for the word see is not only careless but misleading.

Why am I dwelling on this? Itís to show you how one word can change entirely the meaning of a passage. It is also to show why itís important that we do due diligence in studying the Word, especially those of us who write, teach or preach the Word! And I canít say that thatís always the case, even with me.

In fact, in the original final draft of Unseen Hope, I didnít read or study Romans 8:24-25 in several translations or versions. And as a result didnít notice this anomaly until while working on the pre-release draft, when I decided to read and study the passage in other versions.

So, for those of you who use other versions of the Bible, apart from the standard versions like the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), etc., you may want to check your Bible to see how this passage reads. If it has the word have instead of see, that may not be a Bible you want to trust. Why? Because if itís off once, you never know where else it may be off again.

Should you get a new Bible? Maybe. Itís your call. However, if you like the way your version reads, and would like to keep it, Iíd suggest that you at least get another version of the Bible like the KJV, NKJV, RSV, NASB, etc. to be able to compare passages you want to study. Or even cheaper, you can use online resources like Bible Gateway (www.biblegateway.com) or Cross Walk (www.crosswalk.com).  To check out passages in different versions.

Now, are the recommended Bible versions flawless, in terms of being word-for-word translations? Of course not! But they are better translations, in that they are more word-for-word translations than the NIV, the NLT, the CEV or the NCV.

Having said that, let me say that the Bible itself is the inerrant (without error) Word of God. The few flaws in translations are manmade, consciously or unconsciously.

One of the problems with the NIV, the NLT, the CEV and the NCV is that they are more thought-for-thought translations, than they are word-for-word. Even though, the NIV and the NLT attempted to balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought. They still lean more toward thought-for-thought, than they do word-for-word. And the problem with thought-for-thought translations is that they often express the translatorsí interpretation rather than the actual word translation. As referenced in the examples above.

Let me also say that the NIV and the NLT may be easier to read than the other standard versions. But you have to decide what is more important to you? Correctness or readability? Would you rather sacrifice correctness at the altar of readability?

Eventually, the choice is yours.

Regardless of you what you decide to do, just keep in mind that what you see is not what you have. And what you have is not what you see!


Read Unseen Hope for the first part of this article.

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