“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14
Some bible critics ignorantly complain about the word “suffer” in verses like this one. They say “We don’t speak like that anymore. Who even knows what that means? We need a modern version (or several of them) that reads the way we talk today.”
What they are really saying is “I don’t believe that ANY Bible in ANY language is the infallible words of God, and I don’t really care about what the text says. I just want something I can casually read and understand.”
Well, the fact is, the English word “suffer” has a couple of legitimate meanings and both usages are found in the King James Bible, and in many others as well.
One meaning of "to suffer" we are all familiar with is “to undergo something painful or unpleasant, as an injury or grief” and the other (that is not even archaic) is “to allow or permit.”
We don’t need to dumb down our infallible Bible just because YOU (the Bible critic) don’t know your own English language very well.
It may surprise you to learn just how often the this word is used in God’s Book. The words “suffer, suffered, sufferest, suffereth and suffering” are found some 165-170 times and MOST of them have to do with the meaning of “to allow, or to permit.”
Modern Usage -
American Heritage Dictionary 4th edition. Suffer - transitive verb. TO ALLOW WITHOUT PROHIBITING OR OPPOSING; TO PERMIT. "They were not suffered to aspire to so exalted a position as that of streetcar conductor" (Edmund S. Morgan).
Oxford Dictionary - “ALLOW (someone) TO DO SOMETHING: “my conscience would not suffer me to accept any more”
WordNet 2006 by Princeton University. Suffer - TO ALLOW THE PRESENCE OF OR ALLOW AN ACTIVITY WITHOUT OPPOSING OR PROHIBITING. To put up with something or somebody unpleasant.
Webster’s New World College Dictionary 4th edition - TO ALLOW; PERMIT; TO TOLERATE
Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms - “Not to suffer fools gladly” - to have very little patience with people who you think are silly or have stupid ideas. Biblical Reference - “For ye SUFFER fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise.” 2 Corinthians 11:19.
Core Criminal Law Subjects: Crimes: Article 108 - Military Property of the U.S. - Sale, Loss, Damage, Destruction, or Wrongful Disposition - 2006
United States v. Aleman, 62 M.J. 281 (Article 108(3), UCMJ, provides for the trial by court-martial of a person who, without proper authority willfully or through neglect SUFFERS to be lost, damaged, sold, or wrongfully disposed of any US military property; in this context, suffers means to allow or permit; the five elements of the offense are: (1) that certain property was sold; (2) that the property was military property of the United States; (3) that the sale was SUFFERED by the accused, without proper authority, through a certain omission of duty by the accused; (4) that the omission was willful or negligent…”
Lord of the Rings 2003 - The Return of the King - "The dead do not SUFFER the living to pass." The correct meaning here is: "The dead do not allow the living to pass." So this memorable line from The Return of the King is not about suffering in the sense of suffering pain or anything like that. The ghost is merely saying that he won't let the living dudes go past. And the response, "You will SUFFER me!" is now easily interpretable as meaning: "You will allow me!" -
To “suffer” in the King James Bible (and many others as we shall soon see) occurs some 165 times, and most of them have the meaning of “to allow or to permit”. Here are some examples:
Genesis 20:6 - “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore SUFFERED I thee not to touch her.”
Exodus 12:23 - “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not SUFFER the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”
Exodus 22:18 - “Thou shalt not SUFFER a witch to live.”
Deuteronomy 8:3 - “And he humbled thee, and SUFFERED thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”
Job 36:2 - “SUFFER me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf.”
Psalm 16:10 “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou SUFFER thine Holy One to see corruption.”
Matthew 8:21 - “And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, SUFFER me first to go and bury my father.”
Matthew 17:17 - “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I SUFFER you? bring him hither to me.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 - “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not SUFFER you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
2 Corinthians 10:19 - "For ye SUFFER fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise."
Revelation 11:9 - “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not SUFFER their dead bodies to be put in graves.”
Mark 10:14 - “SUFFER the children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”
Not only does the King James Bible read "Suffer the children to come unto me" but so do Wycliffe 1395, Tyndale 1525, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew’s Bible 1549, the Bishops’ Bible 1568, Douay-Rheims 1582, the Geneva Bible 1587, The Beza N.T. 1599, Mace’s N.T. 1729, Whiston’s N.T. 1745, Wesley’s N.T 1755, The Thomson Bible 1808, The Revised Translation 1815, Webster’s translation 1833, The Pickering N.T. 1840, The Longman Version 1841, The Morgan N.T. 1848, The Commonly Received Version 1851, Murdock’s 1852 translation of the Syriac, The Boothroyd Bible 1853, Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Revised N.T. 1862, Noyes Translation 1869, The Alford N.T. 1870, The Revised English Bible 1877, The Sharpe Bible 1883, the Revised Version 1885, Darby 1890, Young’s 1898, the ASV 1901 - “SUFFER the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for to such belongeth the kingdom of God.”, Rotherham’s Emphasized bible 1902, Godbey’s N.T. 1902, The Clarke N.T. 1913, The Word of Yah 1993, the KJV 21st Century Version 1994, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, God's First Truth 1999, The Tomson New Testament 2002, The the American Bible Union N.T. 2008, The Bond Slave Version 2009, Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, the English Jubilee Bible 2010 - “And Jesus seeing it, became angry and said unto them, SUFFER the little children to come unto me and hinder them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”
God forbid that we should be so lazy and unwilling to learn another meaning of a perfectly good English word, that we would exchange the only English Bible believed by thousands even today to be the infallible words of God for a “modern speech version” that nobody believes is God’s inerrant words!
The King James Bible is always right.
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