This topic is adapted from the Bryan & Tracy Dwyer YouTube channel.
Bible translation snobs are those Christians who elevate one translation of the Bible over other translations, usually to the point where they’re crossing over into legalism. Here are three Bible passages for those people to consider – in three different translations for good measure.
Matthew 13:13-15 (ESV) “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Translation snobbery can become a roadblock for people who are seeking a relationship with God. How does it land for the newcomer to your small group – the guy who is brand new to the Bible and brings his NLT paperback to group – when you make fun of every version but your ESV? If your snobbery prevents them from reading their simple translation, beware!
But let’s go a step further. What if somehow you do “proselytize” that newcomer? Is that person following Jesus and his heart, or is he following you and your snobbery? Test your own heart to see if it aligns with God, lest you “make him twice as much a child of hell” as you are.
And that leads to our second passage:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (KJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Paul is talking to a dysfunctional church – one that was focused on the wrong things. Paul was fed up, so he wrote his letter. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how gifted you are, which translation you use… if you don’t love actual people, you’re missing the point. Translation snobbery can slip into legalistic lovelessness.
And that violates Christ’s greatest commandment, which is our third passage:
Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT) “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
If you are a Bible snob, remember that it’s all about love. If your snobbery is causing you to violate the greatest commandment to Christ, you are wrong. Preferring one translation over another is not a bad thing. But if it hinders another person’s pursuit of God, being a snob about it is more than a preference – it’s a sin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- Which translation do you think Jesus or his disciples would use today? How do you think they would react to Bible translations snobs?
- Read Matthew 13:13-15. Why do you think Jesus was so put off by the Pharisees? Who would he be most annoyed with in the church today?
- Defend or debate this statement: “Bible translation snobbery is a sin.”
- What are some other forms of snobbery that Christians can fall into today? How does it affect the spread of the gospel?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.