Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments. Psalm 119:66 ESV
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:10-11 ESV
Bible Gateway recently removed The Passion Translation from their site, and some people may be having a difficult time understanding why. I would like to share some of the research I’ve done over the past year concerning this “translation,” as well as, share some of my reasons for no longer using it.
When The Passion Translation (TPT) first started coming out, I noticed it being used in inspirational memes on social media. And why not? The wording is flowery and beautiful…kind of like a warm hug. The words of this particular translation pair well with our favorite pictures of rainbows, sunsets, and flowers. I, too, shared these uplifting memes with reckless abandon, never even considering that these passionate words could be…inaccurate?
It wasn’t until I began coming out from under New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) teachings that I even considered taking a deeper look at this “translation” that had been commissioned to just one man through a visitation from Jesus. As I listened to Brian Simmons explain his vision, I realized that it sounded more like automatic/channeled writing (a demonic practice), than how a translation of the Bible usually comes about. (To learn more about automatic/channeled writing, please see my post: Spirit Guides and Channeled Material.)
So, I had some questions about The Passion Translation.
Was this translation accurate? Did Brian Simmons really have a vision? Or did he just make it up? If he did have a vision, was it really from God? Or from his own imagination? Or from a demon? How are new translations generally handled? From what I understood, translations required a team of biblical and historical scholars. Why is he releasing only a book at a time…shouldn’t he just wait until he’s finished? And shouldn’t there be some sort of peer review before release? Why does TPT use so much NAR language…seemingly veering away from the familiar voice of the Bible? By making the Bible sound more “passionate,” has Brian inadvertently (or worse, purposely) changed the meaning of the original text? Has he added to, or taken away from, the Bible (which we are specifically warned NOT to do)?
Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Proverbs 30:6 ESV
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19 ESV
The further I researched, the more questions I had. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one with questions.
In the following material, the reliability of The Passion Translation is examined in a biblical and scholarly manner (if time is taken to read through all of the offered analysis). If you are a fan of TPT, then you will probably not like what they have to say. I get it. Some have found The Passion Translation to be helpful in their walk with God. Beautiful, heartfelt language has a way of bringing hope and comfort. However, we need to be careful when it comes to simply “following our heart” and getting all up in our feels.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV
God has given us both heart AND mind to use to worship Him. When I was under the influence of NAR teaching, I remember often hearing that we “should be led by the Spirit, bypassing the defenses in our mind, because the mind can hinder the miraculous things that God wants to do through us.” Yet, we read in Matthew:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Matthew 22:36-38 ESV
Not only are we NOT told to bypass defenses in our mind, but are specifically told, by JESUS, that as part of the great and first commandment, we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul…and all our MINDS.
We are warned over and over to use discernment, test the spirits, and to avoid false teachers, false apostles and false prophets. God gave us His Word as a way to measure whether, or not, a teaching/word/translation/claim is true. Just like the Bereans, we are to take what is presented to us (even those things that may sound or feel good) and examine the Scriptures to see if the thing is true. And yes, sometimes things that seem helpful, comforting, and lovely ring false when weighed against the truth of Scripture. Remember, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and he knows the Word of God, well…I dare say, better than most Christians. He is able to twist it, just enough, that it still sounds right…especially to those who are not rightly examining Scripture, in context, with Scripture interpreting Scripture.
This is where we need to examine our own hearts and minds.
Do we really want the TRUTH? Are we willing to give up something we love, if we find out it is something that is appalling to God?
Or do we just want what we want…willingly making justification for disregarding what we, deep down, may know to be false?
Have we even given it any thought?
I, of course, cannot answer that for you. That is between you and God. What I can do is present material, and resources, that are worth our time and consideration. I pray that you take the time to examine this material, objectively, and that you would prayerfully weigh the claims, against the truth of Scripture…preferably using a version of the Bible that is complete, and that has been translated by more than one person.
This first video is by Revealing Truth. It jumps right into Brian Simmons’ claims about how Jesus commissioned him to write The Passion Translation. (Video length 12:32)
This next video is probably the one I most highly recommend (if you only want to watch one video). Yes, it is on the longer side, but genuine research does require more than simply reading a meme or watching a Tik-Tok. This discussion between Mike Winger and Melissa Dougherty gives a good overview of the concerns that many have with The Passion Translation. I also chose this video because they are able to handle the issue without belittling and name-calling. (Video length 1:00:14)
Mike Winger also enlisted a number of scholars to take a look at various books of The Passion Translation and provide their analysis. It is called The Passion Project, and you can find the playlist of videos on YouTube. I chose to share this video from the project, specifically, because I believe that I would have been receptive to their discussion, even while I was still under the influence of NAR teachings. (Video length 59:34)
To give an example of how translations are normally approached – especially in contrast to the approach of a single author – I am including a short video on how the English Standard Version of the Bible came about. (Video length 10:08)
This final video is an example of how Brian Simmons handles the Word of God. Curious…do you think he is properly interpreting what is being said in the book of Revelation? Is he teaching the Scripture in context, with Scripture interpreting Scripture? Is what he is teaching the author’s original intent? Or is it biased according to the one doing the teaching? If a Berean took this teaching to Scripture, would they come to the same conclusions as Brian Simmons? (Video length 11:11)
*In this additional video (added 3/12/22), Pastor Chris Rosebrough, from Fighting for the Faith, highlights more mishandling of the Word of God, by Brian Simmons. I am adding it because I believe the material is relevant to this post.
The work of a translator is to translate the intent of the original author, avoiding the translator’s own bias or “agenda.” When weighing Brian Simmons’ “translation” of the Bible to previous translations, we find much evidence of NAR language inserted into the text…language that is NOT found in earlier versions.
Much like the Gnostics, modern day apostles and prophets (NAR/Word of Faith) tend to focus more on “secret” revelation/wisdom, and experiences, than they do properly exegeting the Word of God. The problem with that is, how do we prove their experiences/visions/revelations are real, and truly from God? Is it possible to know, for sure? What should we do?
We need take our cue from the Bereans, and examine the Scriptures – in context, with Scripture interpreting Scripture – to see if the thing is true.
Praise God that He gave us His Word! He doesn’t leave us here to be tossed back and forth, full of doubt, trying to figure out what it is that He wants us to believe about Him. It is all laid out in the Bible. And we should take care in how we handle His words and precepts. Here are some verses to help guide us in this matter:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV (emphasis mine)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 ESV (emphasis mine)
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 ESV (emphasis mine)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV (emphasis mine)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 ESV (emphasis mine)
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. 1 Timothy 1:18-20 ESV
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18 ESV (emphasis mine)
A final thought.
We, as Christians, need to stop equating “nice” and “lovely” sounding things with TRUTH. Sometimes, “nice” things are deceptively twisted…and sometimes, truth is hard and unpleasant.
Satan disguises himself as “an angel of light.” What does that look like? What does that sound like? Can you identify examples of Satan disguising himself? It is time to critically think about these things.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV (emphasis mine)
Please know that I do not share this post with any kind of malice or hate. My goal is to always speak the truth, in love and concern.
I am not a cessationist. I am not afraid of the Holy Spirit moving. I am not a Pharisee, nor do I have a “religious spirit.” I love the Lord, and have experienced miraculous things. But my prayer has also always been that God would help me to be discerning, and that He would give me the wisdom to see where I am believing things contrary to what He has laid out in His Word. And where I have been found in error, that there would be a willingness to repent. I pray that for my Christian brothers and sisters, as well.
Truth doesn’t mind being questioned, examined, and scrutinized. I pray that you are willing to examine all of the material that I have presented here. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. As always, please take what is written here, to God, in prayer.
Thank you for reading this long, but necessary, post. May God richly bless you as you continue to follow Him.