Languages are constantly undergoing a process of change. Ideally, every translation should be revised each time any word or structure has changed to the extent that it no longer accurately or adequately reflects the intent or content of the source document.

Practically, however, due to the expense involved in editing, setting type, printing, and distribution, it is not common to make changes in a translation until a large number of changes can be made at one time. Emotionally, some people react to any such changes as if they constituted “tampering with God’s Word” rather than representing a prayerful and careful concern that the reader benefit from the most accurate and appropriate expression of God’s Word possible.

God’s Word does not change, but languages and word meanings do. The only way God’s Word can continue to communicate as it should is to update the translation periodically. In a very real sense the wording of the Scriptures not only stimulates Christian experience but is the product of it.

As “babes in Christ” grow to maturity and as a foreign translator grows in mastery of and creativity in the receptor language, it is quite true that the Christians, the translator, and the translation “grow up” together. After a period of some twenty years, better ways of expressing the content of Scripture should be available. 

This is an excerpt from The Origin of the Bible by F. F. Bruce, J. I. Packer, Philip Comfort, and Carl F. H. Henry. To read more, you can purchase this book from many Christian bookstores and online retailers, including

Elliot, R. L., et al. The Origin of the Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2020.