“BE CONVERTED” - A Closer Look at Matthew 13:15; Matthew 18:3; Luke 22:32; John 12:40; Acts 3:19 and 1 Peter 2:25
There is a big difference between "Decisionism" (so commonly taught and practiced in the professing Church today) and "Conversion".
You may well "make a personal decision of your own free will to accept Christ", (None of which is found in the Bible) or you may "be converted", which IS Biblical and is something only God can do. The difference between these two actions are extreme and eternal.
“BE CONVERTED” - A Closer Look at Matthew 13:15; Matthew 18:3; Luke 22:32; John 12:40; Acts 3:19 and 1 Peter 2:25
A man named R. Daly is writing his own, personalized bible version and has taken it upon himself to criticize the King James Bible - (Wow! Imagine that ;-) It seems these self appointed “experts” all have a personal beef with the King James Bible.
One of the “errors” our Bible correcting friend claims he has found is in Acts 3:19. Mr. Daly writes:
I. Examples of grammatical errors in the KJV.
"Repent ye therefore, and BE converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." (Acts 3:19)
The phrase “BE converted" in the KJV leaves the impression that it is something that is DONE TO a person, rather than something they are capable of DOING; thereby making the person passive in God's plan of salvation. But in the Greek text, the verb (epistrepsate) is an imperative aorist active. The person is commanded to do something; to turn ! Translations such as the ASV-1901; NASB, RSV, ESV, NRSV, and NIV get it right. [End of Mr. Daly’s comments]
First of all it should be noted that all major Bible translations often translate passive verbs as active, and active verbs as passive. A few examples of active verbs being translated as passive are “a candle IS BROUGHT” (Mark 4:21 ESV, NASB, NKJV); “the eyes of all of them….WERE FASTENED on him” (Luke 4:20 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “this night thy soul SHALL BE REQUIRED of thee” (Luke12:20 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “she SHALL BE CALLED and adulteress” (Romans 7:3 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “and WAS TROUBLED” (John 11:33 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “IT SHALL BE DONE” (John 15:7 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “ye ARE WASHED”, 1 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV, NASB, NKJV), “to BE CLOTHED” (NASB, NIV, NKJV), “WAS STRENGTHENED” (Acts 9:19 ESV, NASB, NKJV), “the disciples WERE CALLED Christians” (Acts 11:26 ESV, NASB, NKJV, NIV), “which of them SHOULD BE ACCOUNTED worthy” (Luke 22:24 ESV, NASB, NKJV, NIV)
Secondly there are several verses in Scripture that speak of being “converted” or turned around, and some of them are in the active voice and others are in the passive.
We see the verb used in Matthew 13:15 “For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and SHOULD BE CONVERTED, and I should heal them.”
Though translated in the KJB as a passive verb, yet the Greek is an active. But many other Bible translators have also translated it as a passive verb “SHOULD BE CONVERTED” including “Wycliffe 1395, The Great Bible 1540, The Bill Bible 1671, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s Bible 1833, Etheridge 1849, Darby 1890, New Life Version 1969, The Word of Yah 1993, The Lawrie Translation 1998, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Last Days Bible 1999, The Resurrection Life N.T. 2005 (Vince Garcia), the Jubilee Bible 2010, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, The New American Bible 2010 - “should BE CONVERTED”, Conservative Bible 2011, and.The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011.
BUT in this same gospel Matthew 18:3 records Jesus saying: “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye BE CONVERTED, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
and here the verb is a passive and is so translated by Wycliffe 1395, the Geneva Bible 1587, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Webster’s Bible 1833, Noyes Translation 1869, Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, Worrell N.T. 1904, NKJV 1982, NASB 1995, Holman Standard 2009, Bond Slave Version 2008, Modern English Bible 2014.
BUT the ASV, the Catholic Douay, the Jehovah Witness NWT, the ESV, NET 2006, Lexham English bible 2012, translated it as an active verb (even though it is passive) saying: “unless YOU TURN (AROUND) and become like children…” and the NIV 2011, ISV 2014 and the Catholic St. Joseph NAB 1970 - “unless YOU CHANGE and become like little children”.
John 12:40 “and BE CONVERTED”
The same verse from Isaiah that is referred to in Matthew 13:15 is again repeated in John 12:39-40. Here we read: “Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and BE CONVERTED, and I should heal them.”
Once again we see that the verb “BE CONVERTED” is clearly a PASSIVE verb, meaning that God is the one who converts or does not convert.
And it is so translated - BE CONVERTED - in such Bible translations as Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, Webster’s Bible 1833, The Living Oracles 1835, Sawyer N.T. 1858, Darby 1890, Douay Version 1950, The Word of Yah 1993, the NASB 1995, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Lawrie Translation 1998, God’s First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, the Holman Standard 2009, Jubilee Bible 2010, New American Bible 2010, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, Conservative Bible 2011, The Far Above All Translation 2011, The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011 and the Interlinear Hebrew-Greek Scriptures 2012 (Mebust)
BUT once again the following versions translate this passive verb as though it were active, saying “and SHOULD TURN” - the Young’s 1898, the ASV 1901, the Jehovah Witness NWT, NKJV 1982, ESV 2011, NET 2006, NIV 2011, ISV 2014, the Catholic St. Joseph NAB - “to have a change of heart”.
Luke 22:32 KJB - “but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren.”
Here we have the case of Peter when he denied the Lord. Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would not fail. And when he would be brought back to the Lord, he would then strengthen his brethren.
The verb form here is an active verb, yet we see the reason why Peter came back to the Lord was because Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would not fail.
Bible versions that translate this as though it were passive - “when thou are converted” - are Wyfcliffe 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishop’s Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599, Whiston’s N.T. 1745 - “when thou ART CONVERTED”, Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s Bible 1833, The Longman Version 1841, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, The Revised N.T. 1862, the Emphatic Diaglott 1865 - “and when HAVING BEEN TURNED”, Darby 1890 - “when once THOU HAST BEEN RESTORED”, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, God’s First Truth 1999, The Tomson N.T. 2002, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, New European Version - “when YOU HAVE BEEN CONVERTED”, Conservative Bible 2011 - “when you ARE CONVERTED”, and The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011.
1 Peter 2:25
1 Peter 2:25 “For ye were as sheep going astray; but ARE NOW RETURNED unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
The same verb, epistrepho, is used here and once again it is in THE PASSIVE voice. In other words, it is the good Shepherd who said “Other sheep I have…them also I MUST BRING” (John 10:16) who did the action upon His sheep and it is He who actively RETURNED them to the fold, and thus they “ARE RETURNED.”
So read the Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1534, Coverdale 1535, The Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, Geneva Bible 1587, the Douay-Rheims 1582, Mace N.T. 1729 - “but now you ARE BROUGHT BACK to the pastor”, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, Webster’s Bible 1833, Living Oracles 1835, Sawyer N.T. 1858, Revised Version 1885, ASV 1901, Jubilee Bible 2010 “but are now converted unto the Shepherd”, Modern English Bible 2014 - “but now HAVE BEEN RETURNED TO the Shepherd”,
BUT once again we see that the following versions have translated this passive verb as though it were active and say “BUT YOU HAVE RETURNED to the Shepherd” or “YOU TURNED BACK” - Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, Jehovah Witness NWT, Catholic St. Joseph NAB 1970, the NKJV 1982, Catholic New Jerusalem bible 1985, NASB 1995, Dan Wallace’s NET Verion 2006, the ESV, Holman 2009, NIV 2011 and the ISV 2014.
Acts 3:19 Be Converted
Acts 3:19 KJB - “ Repent ye therefore, and BE CONVERTED, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
The Catholic St. Joseph NAB and the New Jerusalem 1985 both say: “Repent, and TURN TO GOD, so that your sins may be wiped out”, (even though there is no word for GOD in any text) and so do the NIV, The Voice and the Message.
The Common English Bible 2011 has - “CHANGE YOUR HEARTS AND LIVES! TURN BACK TO GOD so that your sins may be wiped away.”
Versions like the RSV, ESV, NET, NASB, Jehovah Witness NWT have “Repent and TURN AGAIN, (or TURN BACK) that your sins may be blotted out.”
The Geneva bible is pretty bad here, with: “ AMEND YOUR LIVES therefore, AND TURN, that your sins may be put away”
Bibles that read as a passive in English, showing that it is the Lord who converts, and read “AND BE CONVERTED” are Wycliffe 1395, the King James Bible 1611, the Bill Bible 1671, Mace N.T. 1729, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, John Wesley’s N.T. 1755, Worsley Version 1770, Haweis N.T. 1795, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Newcome N.T. 1796, The Improved N.T. 1809, The Revised Translation 1815, The Kneeland N.T. 1823, the Dickinson N.T. 1833, Webster’s Bible 1833, The Pickering N.T. 1840, the Hammond N.T. 1845, The Hussey N.T. 1845, The Morgan N.T. 1848, the Etheridge Translation 1849, The Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, Murdock Translation 1852, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, The Kenrick N.T. 1862, The Revised N.T. 1862, The Ainslie N.T. 1869, The Dillard N.T. 1885 - “BE CONVERTED”, Darby 1890, The Clarke N.T. 1913, the NKJV 1982, The Word of Yah 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Third Millennium Bible 1998, The Laurie Translation 1998, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The New European Version 2010 - “repent and BE CONVERTED”, The Work of God’s Children Illustrated Bible 2011, The Hebraic Roots Bible 2012 - “BE TURNED”, the Modern English Version 2014 - “BE CONVERTED”.
There are many commands given in Scripture that “in the Greek” are in the passive voice, and yet virtually every Bible version out there translates these “passive commands” as an active. Here are a few examples.
Acts 2:40 “Save yourselves from this untoward generation”, Jude 17 “remember”, Mark 1:25 “Holy thy peace”, Acts 21 24 “purify thyself”, 2 Timothy 2:1 “Be strong in the grace of God”, Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice”, Acts 20:10 “trouble not yourselves”, James 4:10 “Humble yourselves”, 1 Peter 1:17 “pass the time”
And likewise there are many verbs that are passive in the Greek language, that are NOT translated as passive in English, and they would be wrong if they were translated as passives. Here are just a few examples of verbs that are passive in Greek, but NOT in English.
This same verb, epistrepho (be converted, turn around) is also passive in Matthew 9:22 and in Mark 5:30 and 8:33 when it says "But Jesus TURNED him ABOUT, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort." Or in Matthew 8:11 "many shall come and SHALL SIT DOWN with Abraham", or "the grass WITHERETH" (1 Peter 2:24), or "those who HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP" (1 Thes. 4:14), or "that kingdom cannot STAND" (Mat. 3:24), or "he went and JOINED HIMSELF to a citizen of that country" (Luke 15:15), or "HE STAGGERED not at the promise of God" (Rom.4:20), or "they HAS DISPUTED among themselves, who should be the greatest" (Mark 9:34), or "while HE THOUGHT on these things" (Mat. 1:20), or "SHALL APPEAR the sign of the Son of man" (Mat. 24:30), "HAVE NOT SUBMITTED THEMSELVES unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3), "nation SHALL RISE against nation" (Mat. 24:7)
The point is, one language is not always the same as another language. "Grammar Rules" that may apply in one language, are not necessarily the same in another language. So for someone to take his "school boy Greek" understanding and try to apply it to how it should be translated into English or Spanish or French or Russian is not going to always be the same, nor should it be.
Only an ignorant, confused Bible corrector with his school boy Greek and an inflated sense of his own importance would take it upon himself to “correct” the greatest Bible ever produced in history by 47 of the greatest scholars God every assembled in one place.
The King James Bible is God’s masterpiece that has stood the test of time and battle and is the only Bible seriously believed by multiplied thousands to be the complete and inerrant words of the living God.
It is consistent in its pure, God exalting doctrines and in it's man humbling truths.
“TURN THOU US UNTO THEE, O LORD, AND WE SHALL BE TURNED; renew our days as of old.” Lamentations 5:21
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; FOR WITHOUT ME YE CAN DO NOTING.” John 15:5
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13.
All of grace, believing the Book - the King James Holy Bible,
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