2 Timothy 1:9 “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN” - an error in the KJB?
2 Timothy 1:9 KJB - “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”
Some version rummaging bible agnostics bring up 2 Timothy 1:9 in the King James Bible and claim that this is a poor translation. One such self appointed “expert” thinks his school boy knowledge of “the” Greek is far superior to that of the 47 or so scholars God used to give us His masterpiece in the King James Bible.
His name is Matias Granbacka, and he has an ongoing screed called King James Version Onlyism Refuted. He posts: “before the world began" - only thing there with counterpart in the Gr. is "before". Thus this is a paraphrase rendering out of thin air. No KOSMOS, "world", no "began", no "the". Total bluff on the part of the translators”
This man exudes an unmitigated hatred for the King James Bible and he constantly labels the King James Bible translators as being “legalistic” and repeatedly refers to them as “demon possessed.” So obviously we are not dealing here with man who is objectively unbiased or even with one whose mind is sound.
Does Matias Granbacka have ANY Bible in any language, translated or untranslated, that he honestly believes is or ever was the complete and inerrant words of God? Of course not. He is like so many others today - a self appointed, “also ran but not sent”, self important Bible corrector who is in the process of piecing together his own, personalized “bible” version that he wants YOU to accept as the final word in Bible translations.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the phrase “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.”
It should first be pointed out that no bible in any language is a strictly “100% literal” translation. Not the KJB, ASV, RV, RSV, ESV, NIV, NASB, NET, Holman, Youngs, Darby, the Geneva bible or any other Bible. If it were, it would then be very wooden, awkward, difficult to read and even more difficult to understand in many places.
The strictly literal rendering of this Greek phrase - προ χρονων αιωνιων - would be something like “before times ages (worlds)”, but hardly anybody in any language has ever transliterated it this way. There is a definite difference between a “transliteration” and a “translation”. The transliteration - “before times ages (worlds)” makes little sense to the common reader.
But to translate - Literally “to carry over” the meaning of the phrase into another language and make it something like “before the world began” does make sense and it theologically correct.
By the way, the Greek word aionos DOES mean “world” as well as “age”. The ESV, NIV, NASB, NKJV, Holman, etc. all translate it with both meanings. See my study on this here - The End of THE WORLD? or the end of THE AGE? Matthew 24:3; 28:20
Let’s look briefly at how some other bible versions have translated this phrase
Young’s 1898 - “before the times of the ages”. This is perhaps the closest to a “literal” rendering, but again there is no “the” nor “of” nor the second “the”. And he made a translation choice as to go with either "world" or "ages".
But does our rabid Bible critic think that Young’s version is the infallible words of God? Of course not. And because of the way Young often translated the word aionos he runs into some very serious theological errors.
See my article What About Young’s Literal? - http://www.brandplucked.webs.com/youngsliteral.htm
ESV 2011, NET 2006, - “before the ages began” - again, strictly speaking there is no “the” nor “began”
ASV 1901 - “before times eternal” - not a literal translation
Holman Standard 2009, NKJV 1982 - “before time began” Not literal. They omitted “worlds, or ages”, made a plural singular and there is no “began”
NASB 1995 - “from all eternity” - literally there is no “from” nor “the” nor “eternity”
Complete Jewish Bible 1998 - “before the beginning of time” - not literal
Worldwide English New Testament 1998 - “before he made the world.”
The Voice 2012 - “eons and eons ago” - not literal
Mace’s New Testament 1729 - “several ages ago”
Wycliffe’s bible 1395 - “before worldly times”
Coverdale 1535 - “before the time of the world”
Hewett N.T. 1850 - “before the times of the world”
Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795 - “before time had a beginning”
Agreeing with the TRANSLATION (not a transliteration) we find in the King James Bible of “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN” are the following Bible translations - The Great Bible 1540, the Bishops’ Bible 1568 - "BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN", (Tyndale 1534, the Geneva Bible 1587 and Beza’s New Testament 1599 all three had - “BEFORE THE WORLD WAS”), the Bill Bible 1671 - “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsely Version 1770, the Clarke N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, The Thompson N.T. 1816, Webster’s Bible 1833, The Pickering N.T. 1840, the Longman Version 1841, the Hussey N.T. 1845, The Commonly Received Version 1851,The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised New Testament 1862, the Noyes Translation 1869, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Dillard N.T. 1885, the Clarke N.T. 1913, Lamsa’s translation of the Syriac 1933, The Living Bible 1971, the Amplified Bible 1987 - “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, God’s Word Translation 1995, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, God’s First Truth 1999, the Bond Slave Version 2009, The Conservative Bible 2011, The Names of God Bible 2011 - “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”, The Hebraic Roots Bible 2012 and the Modern English Version 2014 - “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.”
Titus 1:2 - “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN”
The Bible agnostics criticize the same thing as found in this verse as well.
The underlying Greek text says = προ χρονων αιωνιων. But what does this phrase mean? Once again, we see that the vast majority of all bible translations, both in English and in foreign languages, do NOT translate this phrase literally, but rather attempt to give the sense or meaning of what the phrase expresses.
In a very strict and wooden literal way, it would be translated as “before times ages (worlds)”. But the meaning is “before the world began”, and many Bibles have correctly translated it in this manner.
Not only does the King James Bible say - “BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN” but so do the following Bible translations - Tyndale 1534, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, the Beza New Testament 1599, the Bill Bible 1671, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s bible 1833, the Pickering N.T. 1840, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Revised English Bible 1877, the Dillard N.T. 1885, the Clarke N.T. 1913, the New Life Version 1969, the Living Bible 1971, The Word of Yah 1993, God’s First Truth 1999, the Tomson N.T. 2002, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005, The Easy English Bible 2010, the Names of God Bible 2011, Conservative Bible 2011, the New Living Translation 2013, ISV (International Standard Version) 2014, and The Modern English Version 2014
Other Bibles - none of them are strictly literal
Wycliffe 1395 - BEFORE TIMES OF THE WORLD
Coverdale 1535, Douay-Rheims 1582, The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - BEFORE THE TIMES OF THE WORLD
Whiston’s N.T. 1745 - BEFORE ETERNAL AGES
Haweis N.T. 1795 - BEFORE TIME HAD A BEING
Notes Translation 1869 -FROM THE MOST ANCIENT TIMES
ASV - BEFORE TIMES ETERNAL
NASB - LONG AGES AGO
RSV 1946, Godspeed’s N.T., Moffatt’s N.T. - AGES AGO
The Koster Scriptures 1998 - BEFORE TIMES OF OLD
The Aramaic New Testament 2011 - BEFORE THE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE
Complete Apostle’s Bible 2005 - BEFORE TIME ITSELF
Young’s 1898 - BEFORE TIMES OF AGES (closest “literal” but no word for “OF”, and he made a translation choice between “ages” or “worlds”)
NIV 2011 - BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF TIME
The Voice 2012 - AGES AND AGES AGO
Worldwide English N.T. 1998 - BEFORE HE MADE THE WORLD
Context Group Version 2007 - BEFORE AGE ENDURING TIMES
NKJV 1982, Holman Standard 2009, NET, Common English Bible 2011 - BEFORE TIME BEGAN
ESV - BEFORE THE AGES BEGAN
The King James Bible's "BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN" is a very accurate and easily understood translation of the underlying Greek phrase. It is not an error at all.
The King James Bible is always right. Get used to it.
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