Consider an example. In the formal equivalence translation of the New American Standard Bible, Colossians 2: 9-10 reads, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” Now consider the same two verses in the NIV, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Did you notice the differences? The NIV changes “him” to “Christ” for clarity. It changes the word “dwells” which is literally what the Greek says to “lives” which 21st Century folks understand a little better. So it is a matter of preference. Both are the Word of God and fully reliable and trustworthy.
There is a third option. The paraphrase has become extremely popular over the last several years. The important thing to note about a paraphrase is that it is not a translation at all. It is a restating of a previous English translation in a more understandable way. The Living Bible is a paraphrase as is The Message. Consider how The Message paraphrases Colossions 2: 9-10, “Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don't need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.” Wow, there is a lot of liberty taken there with the original language. But that is the point, the author of the Message is not translating but paraphrasing. Next week I will share with you the translation I personally prefer and some practical tips for picking a Bible.